Veteran jumper Bashboy produced an outstanding performance to return to jumps racing with a tough victory in the Thackeray Steeplechase at Warrnambool yesterday.
Bashboy was having his first start over the jumps since he finished second behind Wells in the Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) at Sandown in July last year and he was settled in the second half of the field in the early stages of the race before jockey Steven Pateman clicked the veteran up during the Houlihan Treble.
The eleven-year-old took up the running with over 2000 metres left to run, but Bashboy was never left alone in front and the likes of King Triton and Mannertone made sure that he did not have it his own way in front.
Grand Annual winner Regina Coeli hit the front with four jumps left to run and with less than 500 metres left to run there was nothing separating Regina Coeli, Bashboy and Mannertone, but Bashoy outstayed his rivals in the final stages to record his third straight Thackeray Steeplechase from a very game Mannertone.
Pateman has steered Bashboy to victory in all three of his Thackeray Steeplechase victories and the leading jumps jockey believes that there is now no doubt that the son of Perugino is the best steeplechaser Australia has seen in many years.
“That was an unreal performance,” Pateman said after the race.
“He just got pressured the whole race, everyone quite rightly were making it hard for him and he was just too good.
“I’m thrilled to bits.
“He’s been the best ‘chaser there has been in the modern era by far.
“I’m not going to get carried away, but he’s probably the best ‘chaser we’ve had since Crisp.”
Trainer Ciaron Maher elected to give Bashboy three race starts over the flat ahead of the Thackeray Steeplechase and he was delighted that the champion jumper was able to win in his return over the sticks.
Maher confirmed that Bashboy would head towards the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat on July 26 and he is confident that his star jumper will take plenty of improvement out of his Thackeray Steeplechase victory.
“He’s just an old marvel,” Maher said.
“There are some younger horses on the way up that are starting to put pressure on him but he dug deep.
“He’s got a bit of fight of him the old fella and he had the conditions to suit today.
“We aim to peak him in the (Grand) National each year and this is his kick-off point.
“You can see he’s had a good blow there so he should improve.”
Mannertone was only narrowly denied by Bashboy, while Regina Coeli wilted in the final stages of the race and will likely be sent to the spelling paddock.