FRIDAY: December 11, 2020: FORMER jockey John Higgins bowed to better judgement when his wife Judy two years ago decided to bid online for a horse who had been “barred” for running off the track.
At Queanbeyan yesterday, that same horse The Towers repaid the couple with his second win for them – and both have been there.
In the process, Higgins became the 21st Hawkesbury trainer to be successful in the 2020-21 season.
Ridden by Brendan Ward, The Towers ($11) ran home too strongly for $2.40 favorite Genoveffa in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1600m).
Ward was also aboard when the now six-year-old son of international sprint star Choisir won a similar race at Queanbeyan over the same course in March, again at double figure odds ($10).
Previously a member of a leading Sydney stable, The Towers broke through in a 1600m Maiden Plate at Nowra on December 9, 2018 before falling foul of RacingNSW stewards at Newcastle 13 days later.
He failed to finish in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (2360m) after hanging out and running off the track near the 900m.
As it was the third occasion The Towers had run off the track in a race, stewards barred him from racing again until he had trialled twice to their satisfaction.
He was put up for auction through bloodstockauction.com in January last year and entered Higgins’ Hawkesbury stable when the 26th bid secured him for $5500.
“I wouldn’t have bought him, but Judy did,” Higgins said this morning.
“It has taken a lot of time and work to get him right, as he was also a bit of a bolter.
“The Towers likes Queanbeyan. He has had four starts there for two wins and a third.”
Ward also rode the gelding when he finished third at $51 in another Benchmark 58 Handicap over 1460m at his favorite track in September.
After his purchase and as per the stewards’ order, Higgins trialled The Towers twice at Warwick Farm in April last year to successfully have him reinstated to continue his racing career.
He ran placings at Wyong and Scone last year before breaking through for his new stable at Queanbeyan in March.
Higgins, 62, was apprenticed to the late Bernie Byrnes at Royal Randwick, and never has more than three or four horses in his care.
“It’s a hard game,” he said. “I still ride my own horses in trackwork.”