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Unloveable winner aims for second victory

Wendy Roche has twin boys aged under four and they’re a dream to handle compared to her problem child.

The Warwick Farm trainer also has a recalcitrant four-year-old mare to contend with and Ardanza continues to test her patience despite starting her racing career with a surprise win at Newcastle on April 8.

Ardanza had a warning placed on her by stewards because she was difficult to load before she beat 10 rivals home over 1400m.

Roche thought the warning was harsh considering two other horses were more unruly, and one was eventually scratched – but she concedes Ardanza can be tough to love.

“I don’t like the horse personally, I only ride her when the track workers have the day off,” Roche said.

Roche is one of seven part-owners of a horse they only acquired as a debt repayment.

“She’s cantankerous. She has a mind of her own and that’s why she’s taken so long to get to the races,” Roche said.

“She’s lazy and she works on her own in the dark, between four and five in the morning, because in daylight she doesn’t want to go out on the track.”

That reluctance was evident at a jump-out at Warwick Farm when Ardanza – who wears winkers and ear muffs – dumped her rider at the gate and took 20 minutes to corral.

Roche thought Newcastle was an aberration because Ardanza is usually happy enough to stroll into the barriers – it’s the exit which is an issue.

In her only trial, Ardanza gave the field a five-length start.

“The only reason I never told anyone to back her is when a horse misses a kick by three to five lengths they very rarely win the race,” Roche said.

Ardanza gave her rivals a three-length break before apprentice Rachel King coaxed her into a rails run and she scored by a nose at $101.

Sheis again the outsider for her Sydney debut at $15 in a six-horse field at Canterbury on Wednesday in the BM67 Ranvet Hcp (1550m).

Roche opted to watch Winx blitz the Queen Elizabeth Stakes rather than Ardanza’s debut but she will be trackside this time and relatively optimistic.

“It’s unusual to win first-up over 1400 when you miss the kick,” she said.

“She’s gone forward in leaps and bounds. She’s racing fitter and she’s up in distance which should suit her.”

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