Giant galloper Julius gave his rivals weight and a beating when he ground out a gutsy victory at Te Rapa on Saturday.
Having just his second start after recovering from a tendon injury that saw him officially retired just over twelve months ago, the John Bell-trained eight-year-old had to call on all his undoubted talents to take out the Gr.3 J Swap Contractors Sprint (1400m) and register his eighth win from just 15 starts.
The Swiss Ace gelding had only been tested once before at a distance further than his pet 1200m journey when winning a rating 65 1400m contest at his fifth start. Asked to carry 60kgs against a tidy field on Saturday, Julius looked to be making heavy weather of the task as he laboured to get on terms with pacemakers Donna Anne Billy and Tinkalicious early in the run home after enjoying an economical trip in transit throughout.
Regular rider Jason Waddell asked his charge for a final effort at the 100m with Julius responding as he put in two giant bounds to thrust his head in front where it mattered most and take out an exciting contest.
Bell was swamped by well-wishers in the Te Rapa birdcage, with the normally loquacious conditioner struggling to find words to describe the result as the emotion of seeing his stable favourite return to the winner’s enclosure washed over him.
“A lot of work has gone into this as you know,” Bell said.
“A lot of work by Jason and the team, so to have him back is great.
“It was a top win, very good.”
Bell had earlier indicated that he would use Saturday’s contest as a stepping stone, as he aims Julius at a start in the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, which had been last year’s major summer target prior to his injury. Waddell was also feeling the emotions as he described the effort by his mount.
“What a fantastic job they’ve done to get him back,” he said.
“I ride him in work five times a week and he’s my best mate.
“He’s arrogant to a point where he tows me around the track every morning, but we just love him to bits.
“I reckon he is as sound as he’s ever been and I wanted him to get an extra kilo (rehandicap) for the Railway as it makes my job easier.
“He is bang on track.” Bred by Westbury Stud owner Gerry Harvey, Julius is the second foal of Danzero mare Oh So Royal and is the older half-brother of Reliable Man three-year-old Battenburg who finished third in the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick back in October.
Westbury Stud will offer another Reliable Man half-brother to Julius during Book 1 at the 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka next month.
– NZ Racing Desk