Village Smirker is a fitting name for the lightly raced, yet veteran Queensland pacer.
Trainer Bradley Forge and the bay gelding have been on a tumultuous journey together over the last decade.
The 52-year-old Forge says Village Smirker showed serious talent as a two-year-old, but for a myriad of reasons, it took until he was 11 years of age for the pacer to grab his maiden victory.
Miraculously, the son of Grinfromeartoear won his first race of his chaotic tenure as a race horse on Wednesday evening at Redcliffe’s Triangle track.
“I was rapt that he could win a race,” Forge said.
“We will take any prize money we can get with him, that is the way it is.
“He looked like being a really good two-year-old in his early days and I just put him away to let him mature and everything went wrong from there.
“He has probably come back as good as what we was as a young horse.
“He is better now; his last two runs have probably been his best two runs and he has pulled up well from the runs and hopefully he can push on and win a few more now.”
Village Smirker was knocking on the door before breaking through on Wednesday evening, as he was not beaten far running into second seven days prior.
He then started favourite on Wednesday night over 1780 metres and reinsman Leonard Cain did the job with ease, scoring by more than 10 metres in a romp.
Village Smirker did not have his first official trial until June of 2018 before not actually facing the starter on debut until the first month of the following year.
The maiden triumph came in his 18th attempt after running four minor placings prior.
There was an array of reasons why the talented pacer was kept away from the race track during the early stages of his life.
The Allenview-based trainer detailed one of them.
“We had to geld him when he was still young because he was wanted to serve the mares while he was still a baby foal,” Forge said.
“And, when we went to geld him, he knocked the front teeth out of the veterinarian when she went to geld him.
“He was a bit of a headache.
“He is a big, strong, heavy horse.”
Another reason for his prolonged absence from the track was that the pacer – as well as others Forge owned and wanted to race – were caught up in his divorce settlement, which took five years to be ticked off.
A couple of other trainers had a crack with Village Smirker before Forge eventually took the pacer back that he bred to prepare himself.
“He copped some interference in a race in his early days and needed to get tendon fixed, so it was back to the paddock, again,” the trainer said.
“I then decided to have a go with him myself and I just wanted to poke along with him.”
Despite now being classed in the veteran range, Village Smirker does not act his age.
“He is like a big kid,” Forge said.
“He is still immature, when he is in the paddock, he is getting into mischief.
“He has more tricks up to his sleeve than you can poke a stick.
“He has taken a long time to come around because he is so much older.”
The respected Forge is well-known in harness circles for being a master farrier and through his work with horses shoes.
Forge has lived between Queensland and Victoria in recent years and is set to relocate back to the southern state with his team of horses early in the new year.
By Jordan Gerrans