New Zealand-bred superstar Im Themightyquinn overcame a sudden illness the day before the $1 million Interdominion pacing championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night (March 2), producing one of his greatest harness racing performances to come from a seemingly hopeless position to snatch a thrilling victory over 50-1 outsider Mysta Magical Mach.
The 7-year-old son ofwill now enjoy a spell before ace Western Australian trainer Gary Hall Sr prepares him for his next challenge - the New Zealand Cup at Addington in November.
An hour after driver Gary Hall Jr had given another superb exhibition of his ice-cool temperament to guide the champion to a magnificent win, his father, revealed the drama which surrounded the gelding the day before the big race.
He was distraught when he discovered Im Themightyquinn looking extremely sick in his stall at the family training establishment in Hazelmere on Thursday morning.
"He had his head between his front legs and was badly affected by a fever," Hall said. "He had a temperature of 38.9 degrees and I called in the vet, who took blood tests."
He was relieved to discover on Friday morning that the horse had recovered and his temperature had dropped to 36 degrees.
"We found that he had eaten up all his feed," Hall said. "My vet told me that there was a 50-50 chance of the horse recovering in time to start. He said that sometimes a horse can get over this type of problem in 12 hours."
Hall Jr said Im Themightyquinn had looked "real sick" the day before his sensational performance in a race which exploded into action 250m after the start when second favourite Smoken Up broke into a fierce gallop when challengingfor the lead.
Later it was discovered that the connections of Smoken Up had decided to replace a conventional sulky with an American-style sulky. Smoken Up had contacted this new sulky with his hind legs, causing him to race fiercely.
At this stage Im Themightyquinn had been restrained to the rear from his wide barrier at No7 and this unexpected development had Hall Jr contemplating his tactics.
"A hundred million thoughts went through my mind," he said.
"But I stayed where I was and then when I was still back in the field it crossed my mind at least a dozen times to take off like I did at the 1000m mark in a heat the previous week. But the best way to drive him is to save him for one late burst."
Hall stuck to his plan, but the vast majority of the big crowd of more than 15,000 gave him little hope when Im Themightyquinn was in eighth position with only 350m to travel, just after Hall had taken the gelding three and four wide for a final charge.
was beginning to wilt and , who had raced on his outside from the 1200m, was getting the upper hand.
But's challenge was short-lived as Morgan Woodley took Mysta Magical Mach three wide approaching the home turn.
Mysta Magical Mach, who had raced without cover for about 1000m before enjoying the perfect one-out, one-back trail, charged to the lead 225m from home and the seven-year-old held Im Themightyquinn at bay down the home straight before finally the 5/4 on favourite made a desperate lunge to get to the front in the final 20m to score by a half-length.
by Barry LICHTER (courtesy of the SUNDAY STAR-TIMES)