Slow-poke aiming for hat-trick at Sandown

Once the butt of jokes for being one of the slowest horses in training at Cranbourne, Fort Charles is in line for a winning hat-trick when he runs at Sandown on Wednesday. 

After successive wins on heavy ground at Warrnambool, Fort Charles comes to town for the first time to contest the Ladbrokes Easy Form Handicap (2400m). 

Trainer Alex Rae said Fort Charles was “terribly slow” as a three-year-old and would not have beaten a horse home in half-a-dozen jump-outs. 

“In his early days he was the butt of many a joke at Cranbourne,” Rae said. “There’s a couple of jockeys, who will remain nameless, that told me I was wasting my time. 

“I suppose as a trainer, and spending so much time with the horses, that you almost take it a little bit personally, so I wanted to prove them wrong. 

“I know he’s only won a Benchmark 58 and a maiden at Warrnambool but you can see by his form that he’s come a long way and will keep on improving.” 

Fort Charles has ploughed through the mud at Warrnambool in his past two outings and Rae admitted to doing a rain dance hoping for significant rain ahead of Wednesday’s contest. 

The Sandown track moved into the heavy range on Tuesday afternoon with more rain forecast, which was pleasing for Rae as he said a heavy track was ideal for Fort Charles as he is not a fast horse. 

Rae sees an 18kg drop on the weight Fort Charles carried to win at Warrnambool as a benefit. 

“At Warrnambool last time with 73 kilos, he had no right to win, but he dug in for the fight,” Rae said. 

“His will to win is that great and he earned a lot of respect … no matter where he gets to in his career.” 

Rae is hoping for a good run from Fort Charles on Wednesday, but the gelding’s Grand Final is early next month — the Riverina Cup (3800m) at Wagga. 

“That race is a qualifier for the Jericho Cup and long-term, that is where we want to end up,” Rae said.