Owner Tony Ottobre always knew there was plenty of talent hidden away in Pride Of Jenni, but first she had to dispose of her wayward tendencies.
It took the best part of three years for Pride Of Jenni to eventually show Ottobre that talent when she racked-up back-to-back Group 1 victories at Flemington during last year's Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Pride Of Jenni was a star of the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival with back-to-back Group 1 wins; picture Racing Photos
Pride Of Jenni returns to racing on Saturday in the Group 1 C F Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and Ottobre is looking forward to that and the autumn campaign ahead, including next month's All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield.
"She's in top order and if anyone had a look at her last week when she did that gallop at Sandown, they could see how strong she was," Ottobre said. "She's a beautiful animal and her physique at the moment is in top order."
Ottobre said Pride Of Jenni had been a work in progress over time after commencing her career as an erratic three-year-old with David Brideoake.
"When we purchased her, she was fine, but when she hit the racetrack, she was outrageous," Ottobre said. "She won her maiden at Mornington, then her home track, with Jamie Kah on board, when she was very fractious, then she won her next start and Jamie Kah came back after winning on her for the second time and said she was not getting back on the horse because she was too erratic.
"That's how she started and from then on it has been about trying to get her to relax, settle, playing with a fair bit of gear, and also the different trainers as well."
After a stint with Brideoake, Pride Of Jenni moved to Warrnambool and Symon Wilde, and although winless for her new trainer she did run second at Group 2 level.
While Pride Of Jenni did start to relax, she developed some muscular and skeletal problems, and the decision was made to transfer her to Ciaron Maher.
"He's got some amazing people at Ballarat and Cranbourne that could fix her up and get her to reach her full potential, the talent I always knew she had," Ottobre said. "It's taken time, but she's matured, got a bit calmer, a bit smarter now."
Pride Of Jenni has developed a good association with Declan Bates who partnered the mare to her two Group 1 wins last spring and ran second at Group 2 level as a younger horse. Ottobre said the association came about after a luckless autumn campaign.
"After her last autumn campaign, we didn't have a lot of luck with jockeys and the top jockeys are hard to get, riding for the top owners, and that's when I remembered Declan," Ottobre said. "He rode her when second in the Rose Of Kingston Stakes when with Symon and ran second.
"He has no problems going to the front and letting her bowl along. I think a lot of jockeys worry about those sort of riding tactics as they are open to criticism if they get it wrong, but it suits this mare.
"Declan ended up being the perfect jockey for the perfect horse."
Ottobre concedes the 1400m journey on Saturday is short of Pride Of Jenni's best at Group 1 level, but he said the draw was favourable.
"Buffalo River has drawn barrier one and we're in three," Ottobre said. If Buffalo River wants to have a red-hot go, we can just sit outside him.
"I hope she will run a good race. The 1400 metres is not her ideal Group 1 distance. She's won at 1400 metres before, in lower class, but I think she's in a very good headspace."