Well travelled pacer Jilliby Rio found a new lease on life when he landed in Tasmania four years ago and while his wins have been well spaced his recent form suggests he may still have plenty to give in the right type of races.
In Hobart last Sunday night he produced a powerful finish to grab victory in the shadows of the post in a C4-C6 event over 2090 metres.
It was the 11-year-old’s fourth win since joining thestable in December 2011 but he has managed to earn prizemoney from 18 of his 36 starts for Howlett.
Jilliby Rio is part-owned by Paul and Elizabeth Geard who are the trainer’s parents-in-law.
The gelding did everything right on Sunday night with talented young reinsmanaboard.
“We were three-wide for most of the last lap but he always felt like he was going to win,” the teenage driver said.
The trainer said Jilliby Rio is a pleasure to have in the stable.
“The horse tries hard every time he goes around and you can’t ask for more,” Chris Howlett said.
Jilliby Rio began his career in Victoria where he raced unsuccessfully as a two-year-old and he was three before he won for the first time with Kerryn Manning in the sulky.
He contested the Breeders Crown series in 2005 after which he was spelled.
At his next campaign he won his way through the classes and as a five-year-old he won the $20,000 The Stampede listed classic final at Moonee Valley.
Jilliby Rio had a stint in NSW before making his way to Tasmania in July 2009.
Brighton mentortrained Jilliby Rio when he first came to Tasmania and the gelding won for him at his first start in the state with another win and a handful of minor placings following in quick succession.
He won two more times for Jacobson before ending up in Howlett’s care.
“Jilliby Rio suffered a foot injury but when he was almost recovered we had a horse Pure Wish that needed to be trained with other horses and as I only had one or two in work the owners suggested the horses swap stables and that’s how we came to get Jilliby Rio,” Howlett said.