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Groves lets Moscini do the talking ahead of battle of the Bush Final

Dale Groves does not prepare his team of horses like most other trainers in Queensland.

The Darling Downs-based Groves smiles and declares he is not one to have set routines with his gallopers.

The majority of stable's in the Sunshine State run around a strict routine for when a horse will gallop and what kind of work they will complete as they edge closer to their upcoming start.

For Groves, who lives at Yalangur behind Toowoomba, he has a simple approach.

"I just let the horses talk to me," he details.

"Having a small team, I think you can do that and have that one on one connection and feel with them, spending that quality time with them.

"At the end of the day, they are animals and they love affection and I am getting rewards on the track by doing that."

He is a true horseman.

The 43-year-old has worked for many of the leading barn's that have been based at Clifford Park over the years as well as absorbing knowledge from his father-in-law Graham Banks.

He will often take his horses on long rides across the Darling Downs himself, or potentially spin them around his arena with a lead pony, instead of heading into Toowoomba's track to gallop like the majority of the other trainers near the town.

Before turning his hand at training thoroughbreds, Groves cut his teeth riding bulls.

"If they need to go to the track and put a bit of legs under them, I will go to Toowoomba for some fast work," he says.

"If I have them all up racing at the same time, there is no rhyme or rhythm if I Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday – I do not lock in my gallop's day for the horses – I just play it by ear and see what they need."

The Groves stable this weekend heads into the big smoke with a leading chance in the Battle of the Bush Final for 2022 – Moscini – who won through to the decider following a dynamic Nanango triumph.

Just over a week out from the BOTB Final, Groves is on the gelding's back going around his arena as jockey Nathan Fazackerley, who will ride him on Saturday, watches on.

"I have had him up for a long time so I mix his work up to keep him fresh, the aim is have your gelding's feeling like colts and your mare's feeling like fillies," Groves said.

"Once they are at fit – you cannot get them any fitter that is my belief – you just need to tick them over.

"I will take them up the road, down the paddock or swim them, I will even ride him and lead another one off him – I turn every horse here into a lead pony so that when they are finished, they are horses."

The 24-year-old Fazackerley has recently purchased a property down the road from Groves' stable as the pair have worked closely with Moscini.

The tall Fazackerley has won on the son of Mossman three times this year and believes Groves' approach to training is key.

"He just keeps them happy, doing the one percenters," Fazackerley said.

"He is a great trainer and a good bloke, as well."

Groves has two children with former jockey Kristy Banks.

Banks' race riding career came to sudden end when she was paralysed from the waist down after a bad race fall in late 2011.

Kristy's father – Graham – as well as both Gollan's – Darryl and Tony – and Lindsay Hatch have all mentored Groves over the years as he built towards eventually training in his own right.

"I got my grounding from Graham, he is an outstanding horseman," Groves said.

"I think he just turned 70 and he is still riding breakers as well as still doing gallops and fast work.

"He is very thorough and I worked for a number of good trainers as well.

"I took a little bit out of everyone's book and then wrote my own script."

A number of contenders for the 2022 BOTB decider have opted to book high-profile Sydney and Brisbane-based riders for their bush gallopers this Saturday.

Groves was having none of that, sticking with his mate Nathan, despite the hoop battling with his weight recently and will need to work hard to get down to 55.5kgs for the mount in the $200,000 show-piece.

"We have forged a really good partnership," Fazackerley said.

"He has been a really good supporter of mine since I moved up to Toowoomba.

"It is tough for me with my weight but every time he has one with my weight, he throws me one, and I have been working hard for him ever since.

"We are good mates on and off the track."

Like most jockeys, Fazackerley will make a mistake every now and again, but Groves is happy to stick by him as he says he also is not perfect.

"Nathan and I have formed a good relationship on and off the track," Groves said.

"He does not get it right all the time – and neither do I – but he is a good young kid, hopefully we can grow together and keep getting results.

"I am happy to keep putting him on.

"He has not done much wrong for me.

"When I first met him, he was always well-mannered and respectful, he must have had a good upbringing from his parents.

"He is doing a good job for himself."

Groves, who has only been training himself for the last four seasons, did not even consider going after a big-name rider for Saturday's BOTB decider.

"If I was to run last on Saturday, ok then, I would rather run last with a bloke that stuck by me than put another jockey on," Groves said.

Moscini underlines just what the BOTB concept is all about.

Since the calendar ticked over to 2022, the bay gelding has faced the starter at St George, Monto, Miles, Bell and Dalby – scoring a pair of track records over 1200 metres.

As Groves was desperate to qualifier for the popular BOTB Final, he even nominated him at Quilpie, which he did not accept for, as well as Burrandowan and Jandowae – with both those meetings washed out.

The larrikin trainer has enjoyed his trips to the regional towns around Queensland, declaring he has met plenty of good characters around the place, who all rave about the BOTB concept.

Moscini has won in town before but Groves thinks he is just a length or so slower than the competition in the city, but he has most certainly found his niche in the bush.

He has won five times this year, taking his career tally to 11 victories.

"He has been a great horse for me and my career, it has been a six month long plan but the horse has been good to me," Fazackerley said.

"He is a lovely looking horse and is great to do anything with."

Fazackerley and Groves think they have a "live chance" for Saturday's decider.

The TAB has Moscini rated as a $7 chance in the BOTB Final. 


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