Group One Glory for Comeback Hero Julius (NZ)Thursday, Jan 2, 2020
The story of Julius (NZ) (Swiss Ace) has taken many twists and turns, but it hit a well-deserved pinnacle on New Year’s Day with Group One glory in the $200,000 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie – the first leg of the NZB Insurance Sprint Triple Crown.
Bought for $44,000 at the 2013 Select Sale at Karaka, the striking son of Swiss Ace has always shown X-factor. He won seven of his first 11 starts, including scintillating victories in the Group Three Concorde Handicap (1200m) and Darley Plate (1200m) – both over the same course and distance as Wednesday’s Railway.
He also ran second in the Group Two Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa, beaten by a mere nose by the subsequent nine-time Group One winner Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands).
But Julius has also been plagued by bad luck, and in late 2018 it appeared that a serious tendon injury had ended his racing career.
Julius had other ideas, making a complete recovery from his injury and charging around a west coast sheep station with such gusto that his connections decided to have another shot at the racing dream.
His comeback had already been a winning one, capturing last month’s Group Three J Swap Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa. But the Railway was the fairy-tale result of the New Zealand racing season.
As usual, he was ridden by Jason Waddell, who has described the horse as his best mate. He showed terrific speed out of the starting gates and took the lead inside the first 100 metres, and he never relinquished that position.
He was tested every step of the way by the multiple stakes-winning Australian raider Winter Bride (Not a Single Doubt), but Julius had a response to everything the Queensland mare threw at him.
He refused to let Winter Bride past, holding her out by a neck in a desperate finish.
“This horse is just an incredible horse, he’s one of a kind,” Waddell said.
“I saw something coming out of the corner of my eye, and he does labour a bit when in front, but with a couple of big screams, we did it! I’m so proud of my horse, and I just love him to bits.”
Trainer John Bell expressed similar sentiments.
“It means everything, and just to have him here was an absolute honour and a privilege,” he said. “To see him do what he did to such a class field was just wonderful.
“He did himself the injury, so he went out on to 3500 acres and started tearing it up, so we thought we’d better bring him back in to get him under control.
“It was just a wonderful effort, and now I’m just hoping it all stays together for the future.”
Evalina (I Am Invincible) was a length behind the first pair in third – a highly creditable result for the last-start Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) winner, who had drawn gate 16.
Now the winner of nine of his 16 starts, Julius has earned $394,275 in stakes – nine times his purchase price.
Westbury Stud will offer a half-brother to Julius, by Reliable Man, as Lot 145 at Karaka 2020.
Bell indicated that the next target for Julius is likely to be the second leg of the NZB Insurance Sprint Triple Crown – the $250,000 Group One JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on January 18. Te Rapa’s $200,000 Group One BCD Group Sprint (1400m) will complete the Series on February 8.
The Sprint Triple Crown is one of three NZB Insurance Triple Crown Series introduced this season to boost the prize-money associated with some of New Zealand’s most prestigious summer and autumn races.
The Weight-For-Age Triple Crown got underway on Boxing Day when True Enough (NZ) (Nom du Jeu) won the $200,000 Group One Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (2000m) on at Ellerslie. It will be followed by the $400,000 Group One Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 8, and the $200,000 Group One Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on March 7.
The third Series is the Fillies and Mares Triple Crown, made up of the $70,000 Group Three Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on March 14, the $200,000 Group One Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 4, and the $100,000 Group Two Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on April 25.
In each of the three Series, there is a $100,000 Triple Crown Bonus available for any horse who can win all three races.
|Purchaser||John Bell Bloodstock & Racing (Cambridge)|
|Breeding||Swiss Ace – Oh So Royal|
|Sale||Lot 833, 2013 Select Sale, $44,000|