Curly Burgin won again at The Valley last Friday

Curls gets the pearls again at The Valley

By Ben Caluzzi

Immediately after Curly Burgin saluted at The Valley on November 19 at odds of $31, many form analysts were left scrambling for the form guide as to how they had left him out of their quaddie. And to be fair, they weren’t really to blame. ‘Curly’ was coming off a 19 length defeat where he had just run stone motherless last at Kilmore, some 12 lengths off the second last horse.

“And Curly Burgin last all of the way,” racecaller Terry Bailey said in a sombre tone as the son of Melbourne Cup placegetter Lucas Cranach walked over the line, several frames after the rest of the field had crossed the finish line.

He had appeared completely disinterested at the back of the field, took no part in the finish and even his rider Billy Egan questioned trainer David Bourne post-race as to why he was “mucking around with this thing for?”

So, if it wasn’t a diamond in a rather rough looking form guide that the punters had missed, what was it? Well, it was the gear report of course. Start 14, blinkers first time. A masterstroke from Bourne, and boy did it work. The five-year-old gelding improved the length of The Valley straight to claim the TOTE Bar & Dining Handicap, giving the Seymour based trainer his first metropolitan winner of 2021.

Not only was it a terrific result for the stable, but it was also a rich result for his owners who had taken the luxurious price and backed him, thanks to the recommendation from Bourne.

“I just said to them these blinkers could really make a huge difference,” Bourne said.

“When they go on, you have to follow him in because it could be a big turning point for him.”

And a big turning point it was.

The cheers of Curly Burgin’s owners echoed throughout the grandstands of The Valley as he saluted the judge first, drowning out what would’ve been quite the eerie silence had they not been there.

Curly Burgin then went on to run a terrific fourth on December 3, before lightning struck twice last Friday night at The Valley. Accompanied by a terrific steer by Lewis German, Curly Burgin won again in the PTA Landscapes Handicap. Sent around at the generous odds of $21 once again, he settled back in the field and was the strongest horse late, diving through a gap to land the spoils over 2040 metres.

Lewis German was the eighth different jockey Curly Burgin has had this year, usually not a statistic that holds great promise, but having won three races already this preparation Bourne isn’t too worried who rides his horse – nor does he like to over complicate them with instructions.

“Josh Richards won on him, but he was committed to another horse for his next start, riding for his boss Mick Kent.

“Lewis is a bit of a left hander and if the horse has a tendency, it’s to lay in.

“In terms of instruction I just said to take him back stepping up to 2000 metres.

“If I don’t have anything good to offer then I don’t offer anything, but it was a great ride in the end.”

Described as a “bit of a lad” by trainer David Bourne, Curly Burgin has now taken his prizemoney earnings to $113,000 and is proving himself a more valuable purchase with each run. His latest victory at The Valley brought up win number 1,600 for Bourne, who now has plans to step him up in grade next start.

“There’s a Benchmark 70 on New Year’s Day over 2000m at Flemington. He’ll likely head there all being well.”

Named after a local legend whose name originates from an in-house joke, Curly Burgin might’ve begun his career with only modest expectations from his connections, but going for three city wins in one campaign is not something to sneeze at. A no fuss operator who looks to have finally turned the corner, the world is certainly Curly Burgin’s oyster in 2022 and Bourne says the journey is far from over.

“He’s developed a terrific association with The Valley. We just have to decide whether he runs in the Cox Plate or the Moonee Valley Gold Cup!” Bourne said jokingly.

Whether he can reach those heights remains doubtful, but Curly Burgin is taking his owners on one hell of a ride and they don’t want it to end any time soon.