Tuffy’s tough road to long-awaited maiden victory

After rewarding connections for their persistence and decision to buy long-term maiden pacer Tuffy, horseman Trent Hodges is eager to see if there are more victories in the gelding.

Coming into this year, the six-year-old was a 57-start maidener.

In his last five runs before the calendar ticked over to 2024, Tuffy did not look like finally breaking through at all.

His best effort was sixth around ‘The Triangle’ track at Redcliffe and he was beaten by more than 19 metres on every occasion.

In those five defeats, which were all at Redcliffe, he was collectively beaten by more than 160 metres.

But, trainer Hodges and his uncle Shane Parrish – who owns the pacer – stuck with Tuffy and he gave them some deserved reward for effort at his next start.

The first triumph of Tuffy’s career came at the Peninsula-based track last Thursday afternoon with champion reinsman Nathan Dawson in the seat.

“We just kept persisting with him,” a proud Hodges said.

“He was just in the right race at the right time. We had the right driver as well, Nathan drove him well. Nathan got him in the right position to get him over the line.”

Dawson was able to begin from the inside alley over 1780 metres and sit behind the leader for much of the trip.

The top driver was able to get around the leaders turning into the final bend and the gelding had enough in the concluding stages to score the first victory since his debut effort in the middle of 2020.

The margin was almost two metres in the finish.

Hodges says the stable did not do anything new to freshen up Tuffy’s work or preparation to lead to last Thursday’s much-improved performance.

The son of Sunshine Beach returns to Redcliffe on Wednesday evening in a bid to make it two wins on the bounce.

The 34-year-old Hodges – who has been training for well over a decade – thinks the gelding should take confidence from his first victory ahead of his coming assignment.

Alongside stable mate Kiwi Royalty, Tuffy lines up in the last event from Redcliffe on Wednesday night, which will be run over the same trip he scored over last week.

Tuffy and Nathan Dawson following last week's big win.

“It is a hard race as he has stepped up a grade,” Hodges said.

“I have two horses in the race. He has got the right draw, drawing behind the one horse.”

Tuffy, as well as the entire Hodges stable, is a family affair.

Hodges works his team of horses alongside his uncles Shane and Noel Parrish as well as fellow uncle Kevin Annetts.

Noel Parrish takes the drive on Tuffy on Wednesday and is a regular reinsman for the gelding.

Tuffy was sold to Shane Parrish in early November of last year and has gone through a handful of stables in his career as a race horse, including being with Queensland horseman Darren McCall at one stage.

Tuffy and Nathan Dawson during last week's big win.

“He was pretty happy with his win,” Hodges said of his uncle Shane’s reaction to the victory.

“He always thought the horse had a bit of ability. He was just happy that he got up and got the win.”

The Hodges stable heads to Redcliffe on Wednesday night with four chances.

Another long-term maidener of the team’s – Singer Snap – will also be aiming to snap her lengthy winless run on Wednesday.

Singer Snap has gone 65 efforts without scoring.

She has only placed on three occasions.

“She has a pretty good draw,” Hodges said of Singer Snap.

By Jordan Gerrans