It wasn’t long ago that Australia was in the grip of Winx fever but was there ever a “Winx of the North West”?
Not a horse that had claimed 22 wins straight or anything like that but a horse that was a star in its own right.
Members of the Hunter and North West Racing Association threw a few names out there but one horse – a “magic horse” – stood out.
Racing enthusiasts said he had both talent and character in spades. His name was Tiny’s Finito.
TINY’S FINITO’S CAREER IN NUMBERS
Hunter and North West Racing Association secretary Bob Scherf was the first person to mention Tiny’s Finito and his owner Walter Doolan.
“The trainer was a character himself. Old Walter used to train him [Tiny’s Finito] in a 40-acre paddock in Glen Innes,” Scherf said.
Tiny’s Finito record was as impressive as his training was unique.
From 83 starts, the son by Blue’s Finito out of Tiny Court racked up 40 wins and 14 places.
Tiny’s Finito was a sprinter and won races such as the Ramornie Handicap – a race Big Money won in 2014 – and the Group 3 WJ Healy Stakes at Eagle Farm.
The magic horse had won $792,825 when he finished up in the mid 1990s which equates to well over $1million in today’s money.
However, while people spoke of Tiny’s Finito’s brilliance on the track and beautiful nature, the quirky stories about him also pop up.
Scherf told a story about a trip to Brisbane which Glen Innes’ Colin Say – who employed Walter Doolan at one point – retold from his firsthand account.
“I remember Walter once took him [Tiny’s Finito] to Brisbane to race and he was running late,” Say explained.
“We were waiting for him to come and then he walked in with the old horse.
“I said ‘Walter, you’re running late’ and he said ‘yeah, I couldn’t get the old bugger in this morning’.
“He was out in the paddock and the old horse decided he didn’t want to come in.”
The mother of all travelling horror stories goes to Walter Doolan’s grandson Jeff Doolan who was in his early 30s when Tiny’s Finito went around.
“I recall once going to Sydney to race him, we had a major breakdown with the trailer,” Jeff said.
“We unloaded him in the middle of Parramatta Road and I remember standing on the median strip with him.
“It was so busy. It was ridiculous. But he was quite calm about the whole thing.”
Jeff would travel around with his grandfather and father Terry as Tiny’s Finito went around winning races.
Despite admitting Tiny’s Finito didn’t like leaving his home property, Jeff described him as a “beautiful-natured horse” out on the farm and a “dogged campaigner” on the track.
“He jumped extremely quick every time. He hit the ground running and he meant business right from the jump,” Jeff said.
“He was an extremely well-balanced horse. He had winning in his mind and in his heart. He knew where that line was.
“All you had to do was keep him out of trouble, straighten him up for home and let him have it.”
Tiny’s Finito raced in all orange colours, loved the hard ground over the soft and there was one particular jockey who got the most out of the horse.
“John Hutchings. He was a champion jockey from Grafton in the Northern Rivers,” Jeff said.
“They were a team pretty much right through. Other jockeys rode him but John Hutchings knew how to ride him.”
With his quirks, Tiny’s Finito was a one of kind and without a doubt one of the region’s greatest.