Jackal racing to be fit for Ramornie
A HOOF problem threatens to derail crack sprinter The Jackal's bid to become the first horse in 73 years to win a hat-trick of Ramornie Handicaps.
Not since the late 1930s, when Cuban Song ruled the Ramornie for four straight years, has a horse been able to conquer the time-honoured race three years in a row.
However, with the hoof injury taking longer than expected to heal, the race against history is starting to become a race against time for the Paul St Vincent-owned and trained gelding.
“At this stage there are question marks on whether The Jackal will run (in the WHK Ramornie),” the Tamworth-based trainer said.
“He's had a little bit of time off, but is not completely over it.
“My intentions are to take him for sure ... but if things don't change we risk losing time.”
The Jackal is unbeaten this preparation, winning the Listed Falvelon Handicap (1200m), before claiming the Group Three Star Kingdom Stakes at Rosehill (1100m) on March 21.
The rising seven-year-old and owner of the 1200m track record at Grafton, has not raced since his Rosehill triumph, and has only been able to do light work.
St Vincent said he would delay any decision about the Ramornie for another week or two, but warned rival trainers to watch-out if his charge takes his place in the field on July 15.
“To win one Ramornie was great, to win a second was out of this world and to win a third would be a trainer's dream come true,” he said.
“If he goes he will probably go fresh ... but he will be able to handle the pressure.”
The Jackal races well fresh, winning last year's Ramornie on the back of a month's break between races.
A Ramornie without The Jackal would be a blow for July Racing Carnival punters, with the much-loved gelding enjoying a huge following.
“The Ramornie is the best country sprint ... it's like racing in front of you're own family,” St Vincent said.
“People like to see a country horse do well.”
Clarence River Jockey Club CEO Bradley de Martino Rosaroll agreed, but remained confident the Ramornie would still attract a class field.
“A lot of Grafton punters, even visitors, would have been following him,” he said.
“They would have liked to see him again and get him up over the line.
“The handicap will still attract a quality field and hopefully one will be able to stand up.”
St Vincent said he was planning to launch another assault on the carnival regardless of whether The Jackal was fit.
“The boys (sons Kane and Aiden) and myself look forward to it (the carnival) all year ... Grafton is like a second home to us,” he said.
“We won about five or six races last year and we'll bring about eight to 10 horses again.”
Jockey Robert Thompson, who has ridden The Jackal to his two Ramornie wins, would become the first hoop in the race's history to win three consecutive Ramornies with a victory in this year's race.