A strained hamstring restricted handy mare Juan Diva to just two starts back in the autumn so co-trainer Richard Freedman hopes she can make up for lost time in the spring, starting at Gosford on Wednesday.
The five-year-old, whose best form is on good tracks, looked in for a solid preparation earlier in the year when she kicked off with a closing second on a soft track but her beaten margin of 13 lengths second-up at Hawkesbury is not a true indication of the story.
Juan Diva was heavily backed in that race and was badly checked out of it. Freedman suspects the hamstring issue was a result of that so gave her the time she needed.
An impressive trial win at Rosehill earlier this month showed her readiness to resume in the Ranvet Handicap (1100m) at Gosford.
“She’s been good this time, she’s been trouble-free,” Freedman said.
“I’ve only given her the one trial, she trialled well, and she may improve with the run but she does go well fresh.”
While Juan Diva hasn’t won first-up in the past Freedman said that may be misleading as prior to her second placing last prep her other first-up runs were a close fourth on debut and an unplaced effort on a soft 7 track.
“She hasn’t had a lot of racing and a lot of the times the tracks have played a role in that,” he said.
“All I know is she performs well fresh and performs well on firm ground.”