Students of racehorse training and ownership would be hard-pressed to find a more suitable case study than Desert Jeuney over the past 12 months. It was a thrill to see him score so well at Racing.com Park, in the Browns Sawdust & Shavings Cup (2000m). Persistence, initiative, caring staff, talented track riders, patient owners and a great jockey have been the key ingredients to deliver this victory.
Having showed talent since his first gallop at Flemington, Nigel and his owners progressed the horse affectionately known as “DJ” or “Desi” through the grades from his maiden win at Pakenham, to three metro wins on the trot (Morphettville, Sandown and Flemington), to a Sydney Autumn Carnival in 2014.
In the Spring of 2014, DJ gave us a great thrill to place in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield and Group 2 Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley, before an injury in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes on the final day of the Flemington Carnival. Surgery to remove a bone chip was followed by several months recuperation well into 2015. So it has always frustrated Nigel and connections to see just the four wins in DJ’s form guide.
The challenges did not stop there. Various times upon his return to racing, DJ has been fractious in the barriers, most notably at Flemington when rearing as the gates opened and missing the start hopelessly. Some re-education, a few barrier trials and then the addition of pacifiers fixed that problem at Caulfield in late August, only to see DJ refuse to compete in the run – perhaps “pacified” too much according to rider Glyn Schofield.
Nigel went back to basics, believing that DJ’s mind was wayward temporarily and he was not necessarily forming lasting bad habits. Some beach work and subtle changes in routine started to pay dividends first at Ballarat (4th Gold Nugget) and then at Moonee Valley (4th G3 JRA Cup). Most significant was the return of Michael Walker to the saddle, who had won twice on DJ previously. Quite simply, Michael already knew the horse well, but attained even more knowledge of him following these races at Ballarat and Moonee Valley.
Before the race at Racing.com Park (Pakenham), Michael warned owners on-course that he will see backsides as long as possible into the straight, and only allow DJ to see daylight at the last possible moment. And didn’t Michael ride to that plan perfectly!
Heartwarming congratulations to the big group of DJ’s owners. No horse is more deserving of another win. Your patience and perseverance this year in particular has been important to allow Nigel to achieve this result. We now plan for more success over the Flemington carnival.
Congratulations to the staff here at Flemington and our partners at Corinella also. DJ is not the easiest horse to handle on or off the track, and he takes some care and attention to keep him in an optimal state of mind. Our vets have also performed a wonderful job since the Emirates Stakes last year.
So this victory is a true “team result”.