YEAR: 2000

Keith Shadbolt, Bob McArdle & Dean Taylor

Dean Taylor experienced one of his most exciting moments in harness racing when Bruzem won the Nevele R Stud Superstars Championship at Addington. "Rare Touch finished second in the NZ Derby (to Ginger Man) was a huge thrill, as was Black Eyed Bailey's Ashburton Cup win, but this is certainly equal to them," he said.

Taylor has always thought highly of the Holmes Hanover gelding. He and Bruzem's owner Keith Shadbolt began this season intending to concentrate on the 4-year-old Sires' Stakes Series, but when the Superstars event fitted into the overall plan they decided to tackle it as well. "I had my reservations, but I knew if he made a clean beginning then he wouldn't be made a fool of," Taylor said.

Unbeaten in four starts prior, no-one told Bruzem how good his opposition were so he just went out there and did what he knew best. After beginning swiftly he and pilot Mark Jones went straight to the front and controlled the race; a last 800m split of 56.4 put his opposition to bed. "I knew at the half that we would be hard to beat because we had been left alone in front," Jones said afterwards. "Bruzem's as good as any horse I have driven that is coming up through the grades."

A lovely horse to look at in the way he holds himself on the track, Taylor says Bruzem has got a nature to match - but it wasn't always that way. "When I broke him in as a late yearling he was a dirty bugger and would just lean all over you," Taylor recalled. "But instead of taking a hard approach I went with him, and let him have his own way for a while. If I'd have fought him he would have just fought me, but he eventually came to it."

Bruzem's bid for Sires' Stakes supremacy as a 4-year-old is a sort of consolation for last year, because he had to miss the series due to injury. "Not long after his debut at Forbury Park last August he developed a little bit of filling in a fetlock, so we turned him out on the hills at Kaituna Valley for six months. I wanted to bring him back thin, because I knew he would put muscle on if I jogged and fed him through the winter. He was in a 500 acre paddock with five other horses, and it is a pretty rugged block of land that is uphill all the way. He was pretty pleased to see me when I went to get him," Taylor said.

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 20Sep00

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