Saturday, December 3, 2022

Little bit of our heart and soul in Jericho winner

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Wil John Jericho Cup Winner 2021.
Wil John Jericho Cup Winner 2021. Photo: contributed

A commemorative race day in honour of our WWI heroes – Centenary Year

Russell Healy, Oakford Thoroughbred Farm, Tarrangower Times

What a race. What a concept. What a result, the Maher Eustace trained Wil John powered over the top of Budd Fox after the gruelling 4600m contest to claim the fourth running of the Jericho Cup.  

Here at the farm, we cheered harder than most, having bred and sold both his dam and grand dam.

Tiffany’s Best and Aronhanui as a yearling.
Tiffany’s Best and Aronhanui as a yearling.

A homebred for Janice and Colin McKenna, Wil John is named after their grandson and raced by a group of friends. The couple raced his dam Arohanui with Ciaron Maher after Ciaron bought her from our draft at the 2010 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

The Jericho came around too late for the matriarch of our favourite family. Who could forget Tiffany’s Best bold front running style, leading the field by 20 lengths in the 2002 Bagot Handicap and gritting it out to finish second; the 4600m would have been perfect for her. Arohanui, who unfortunately died a little over a week ago, was a handy galloper in the mold of her mother and had only five starts including two wins before her career was cut short by injury.

In addition to Arohanui, Tiffany’s Best has produced seven winners from 10 named progeny including Tiffany’s Lass who ran fourth in the Australasian Oaks, 10-time winner Bel’s Lad and the quality hurdler Xaar Best. We retired Tiff from breeding duties last year, however we are fortunate enough to have a couple of her daughters on the farm producing some lovely foals like the Palantino filly out of Tiffany’s Belle (pictured) foaled on 16 November.

‘Santa’s Little Elves’ (the McKnight’s grand-daughter Addi and friend Pip) who came early to attend to a new born a few days ago. A boy!! A great experience for them. They loved it. Photo: Russell Healy.

The Jericho Cup is a fantastic contest that draws together both the digger spirit and horse racing, two of the strongest threads in the fabric of Australian society. The race honour’s the sacrifice, bravery and deep connection of the servicemen and their mounts. It is a massive credit to Bill Gibbons for making the race a reality, sharing the story and striking a chord with so many people.   

It gives us great pride to have a connection to the winner of a race that is preserving what it means to be Australian and is fast becoming a highlight on the Australian racing calendar. The race sums up our approach to breeding and racing horses, through care and deep connection with the horse we can achieve anything together. 

Tarrangower Times

This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 10 December 2021.

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