THURSDAY: September 12, 2019: ANOTHER “legend” hit the winning trail at Hawkesbury today – and jockey Blake Shinn would have taken a keen interest even though he is thousands of kilometres away in Hong Kong.
Lightly-raced five-year-old Pacific Legend, raced in the same Hong Kong interests as exciting The Everest prospect Classique Legend, broke through for Hawkesbury trainer Matthew Vella in the Pink Finss Charity Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1300m).
Sydney’s premier jockey James McDonald was in the saddle for the gelding’s fifth start, but it was Shinn – who clinched a Happy Valley success last night to kick off his new Hong Kong sojourn - who partnered him in an unforgettable Randwick barrier trial on August 13 last year.
Then an unraced four-year-old, Shinn was unseated when the saddle shifted and fell from Pacific Legend, who then crashed through the rail.
Shinn sustained a serious neck injury and missed the entire spring carnival, not returning until successful on Dawn Passage at Randwick on Australia Day this year.
“Pacific Legend has had his issues, and subsequently joined my stable from Les Bridge (Classique Legend’s trainer) after that Randwick incident,” Vella said this evening.
“I’ve got a great association with his owner Mr Ho and especially his racing manager Carmel Size, and I’m delighted to be associated with them.
“I go in to Randwick a couple of times a week to help out with Les, and learn from the best.
“Pacific Legend has been a work in progress, and that’s why he has raced only five times.
“But I feel we’re getting on top of him, and today’s win no doubt will give him plenty of confidence.
“He is a big strong horse with plenty of ability who is definitely going to be better at 2000m.
“But it’s a step at a time with him. There’s no point trying him at a middle distance unless he can show that he is on the straight and narrow over shorter trips, and today’s result was certainly a move in the right direction.
“We can now look to increase the distance of his next race.”
Pacific Legend ($5) was given a perfect run by McDonald and was strong to the line to lead home a Hawkesbury trifecta.
Terry Croft’s Foxy Rocket ($5.50) ran home strongly to finish second and is close to a breakthrough also, whilst Brad Widdup’s Lady Tavista ($9) was excellent on debut, holding on well after sitting up on the pace.
Vella, a renowned horse breaker and pre-trainer (he broke in Winx’s half-sister Covent Garden, by Exceed and Excel, earlier this year), has only a few horses in work at Hawkesbury and also prepares Nicconi five-year-old I’m A Legend for the Ho-Size combination.
He has won two races – at Goulburn and Wyong – with the gelding this year.
Size outlaid $270,000 on Mr Ho’s behalf to secure New Zealand-bred Pacific Legend (Lot 277) at the 2016 Inglis Australian Easter yearling sale.
His sire Ocean Park won the 2012 Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley and his dam, the Volksraad mare Eloa, won three races in New Zealand, including a Group 3.
Classique Legend, beaten only once from four starts and a member of Bridge’s Randwick team, was broken in by Vella. He fetched $400,000 at the 2017 Inglis Classic yearling sale and will begin his The Everest campaign in Saturday week’s Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick.