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Spirit is strong in renewed Jonker

6 min read
When Jonker transferred to Tony Gollan's stable ahead of his 5-year-old campaign, there was a real sense of déjà vu for the Eagle Farm trainer, who had prepared his sire, Spirit Of Boom, during an illustrious sprinting career which featured Group 1 wins in the William Reid S. and the Doomben 10,000.

Spirit Of Boom, now forging a stud career of considerable success at Eureka Stud in Queensland, was rewarded late in his race career for his tremendous consistency, with his two Group 1 wins coming at 6-years-old in what was his 15th and 17th start at the top level.

In the Eureka sire's 18 Group 1 runs, he was placed on five occasions and finished fourth on five further occasions. His victory in the 2014 William Reid S. was a triumph of persistence for Gollan and owners.

The owners of Jonker also know plenty about persistence, with his stunning success in his first start for Gollan in Saturday's Listed Keith Noud H. his first win in 1058 days.

Jonker's previous win had come in the 2017 Wyong Magic Millions 2YO Classic, some 18 runs ago, but he is now being touted as a possible Group 1 sprinter after winning by 4.5l and breaking the 15-year-old 1200 metre Doomben track record set by the great Takeover Target (Celtic Swing {GB}).

Gollan is not wanting to get too far ahead of himself, but he knows one thing about the 5-year-old entire, which he hopes can help him reach his potential.

"He's just like his father and he has got the same temperament as his father. Out of all of the Spirit Of Booms I have had, and I've had quite a few and seen a lot of others, he's the most like him of any of them," he told TDN AusNZ.

"He's in his image. His dad won Group 1s and this guy hasn't, but he has been in good races without winning them. He's got good ability and he's easy to work with and very easy to train.

"Spirit won his Group 1s at six and this guy is only five, and maybe he can follow the same path. I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, it was only a Listed race at Doomben. Due to the time, people are getting excited, but for me, it is good just to see him winning races."

Spirit Of Boom | Standing at Eureka Stud

Gollan's caution is understandable as Jonker's record stands at three wins from 21 starts. But all of the ratings experts are raving about the time and manner of Saturday's win, which came as an unexpected bonus for his new trainer.

"I was surprised, I didn't go out there thinking he was going to sit outside the lead, forge to the front, and run a track record. I knew the horse was going particularly well. That was a pretty breathtaking performance and I didn’t expect that," he said.

"I knew the horse was going particularly well. That was a pretty breathtaking performance and I didn’t expect that." - Tony Gollan

"The horse has got a high amount of ability and it’s just good to see him back and winning races, hopefully he can go on from here."

Jonker may have endured a near three-year winning drought, but it was hard to fault his form through that time. After he was knocked off his feet in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic, he was spelled until his 3-year-old season, where he was close-up in most of his races, including placings in the G2 Run To The Rose and then the G2 Arrowfield Sprint, where he was beaten by subsequent The Everest winner Classique Legend (Not A Single Doubt).

Tested out up to a 1600 metres in his 4-year-old spring campaign, he lost his form a bit, but towards the end of his final campaign for David Atkins, he did recover that, and was third in the Listed Ramornie H. at Grafton in July.

A new beginning

He arrived at Gollan's stables as a happy and healthy horse, who it was hoped would appreciate a change of scenery.

"I can't comment on what has happened in the past as I haven't trained him, but I know he came to me in great order. He's an easy horse to train. I'm probably a beneficiary of getting him at the right time and I think, most importantly, getting him on good ground. His sire liked good ground and this horse is the same," Gollan said.

"His father never liked wet ground. He won on it early on, but it was never his favourite. He really loved to be on top of the ground and that turn of foot would really come to the fore."

Spirit Of Boom was particularly effective when ridden with a sit and Gollan feels Jonker may be the same, although he is prepared to be proven wrong.

"I think if this horse can be ridden that second and third pair back and used late, he will be better. Then again, he showed sustained speed on the weekend and did it to good effect," he said.

Tony Gollan

The immediate plan for Gollan is to head to the G3 George Moore S., at Doomben on December 5 before a likely shot at some Magic Millions redemption in January.

"We will see what happens after the George Moore. Obviously Magic Millions is where I'd love to run him, but it depends on what race we go through between those two races," he said.

"It will depend on how I feel about him after his next run. He peaked on the weekend, but I'd imagine there is more in him. How much more, I'm not sure, but I guess we need to see what transpires from there."

The flagbearers

Among his rivals in the George Moore will be another Gollan-trained member of Spirit Of Boom's first crop in Outback Barbie.

That pair are likely to be the flagbearers for Gollan through the summer, with a few setbacks with his other stars in the past few weeks.

Outback Barbie at the Gollan's stable

"We lost Zoustyle to a minor injury and we lost another couple of horses that would have been thereabouts in other races through the summer. Then we had Isotope have an issue the other day in the barriers," he said.

"We've still got a good, strong summer team, it's just that things haven't been happening with the horses that I thought would be my flagbearers. For this horse to pop his head up, he probably headlines the stable now with Outback Barbie, who will return in the George Moore as well.

"I probably need a 2-year-old to step up. I'm not sure if I have one there just yet but we will see what happens in the next month."