IT SHAPED as Henry’s last run but turned out to be one of the big chestnut’s greatest triumphs.
Henry is 10-year-old gelding The Jackal and the “it” was last Friday’s $25,000 Julie Green Real Estate Lightning Handicap (1100m) at Quirindi.
The Jackal had run last at his previous two runs in Brisbane and retirement loomed for a gelding who had won 14 of his previous 66 starts.
Friday’s Lightning was something of a retirement gauge, with former regular jockey Robert Thompson – who won two Ramornies on The Jackal – reuniting with Henry for what could have been one last time.
Owner Paul St Vincent had trained The Jackal for most of his career before sending the son of Bite The Bullet up to his son, Kane, at the Sunshine Coast.
So when Paul St Vincent floated The Jackal back to Tamworth for Friday’s race last week it might have been his last trip.
That idea was dispelled in just over 60 seconds on Friday when The Jackal crushed his rivals and went within a hundredth of a second of the 31-year track record (1min 01.40secs) set by Lanwryst Star.
Paul St Vincent was amazed, again, by The Jackal.
“Kane deserves all the credit,” St Vincent said of his son.
“I took him up there and left him with Kane.
“He had him perfect – spot on.”
Fit and strong, it was just a matter of whether The Jackal had lost his zest for racing, St Vincent said.
While he had worked well up north, the St Vincents weren’t sure whether he wanted to race.
His two runs back at Eagle Farm hadn’t engendered any confidence in them that Henry wanted to
Friday’s swamping win showed he did have that zest and Thompson knew before them.
He said The Jackal felt like the horse of old just by his work around to the barriers.
“He was also coming back a long way in grade too,” St Vincent said.
“He’s a Group horse.
“But he’d also been two years without a pay cheque.”
There had been persistent feet problems with The Jackal as well.
However they are now all right.
The chiropractor, Don Tanner, has been over Henry with “a fine tooth comb” and corrected some “little niggles”, St Vincent said.
“The tooth man has been too,” he said.
“Everything is sweet.”
Now the next test is to find another suitable race.
St Vincent is hoping the Armidale Newmarket might be a race for him during the Armidale Cup Carnival on Monday, March 18.
That depends on what weight he will receive.
He carried 62.5kg to win the Lightning at Quirindi and St Vincent expects to go up plenty from there if he was to nominate at Armidale.
“I’d love to take him to another country meeting,” St Vincent said.
“Quirindi was amazing.
“Everybody wanted to grab my hand and shake it.”
The reception, pre and post-race, was spine-tingling.
They gave The Jackal a round of applause when he went out onto the track thinking it might be the million dallar galloper’s last start and then the shouts and “good on ya Saint” calls came loud, fast and with feeling after the race.
Funnily enough, it was the first time The Jackal had raced at Quirindi.
If he goes to Armidale for their Newmarket on Armidale Cup day, it will be his first start there too.