Mustard Still Hasn’t Reached Used By Date

By: Ryan Clark
December 23rd, 2011

First timers to the track would be excused for thinking there was a typo in the race book when they come across Mustard for John McNair.

Indeed that 14 next to his age is entirely true, the gelding easily the oldest race horse in the country.

In fact he’d go close to being the oldest flat race horse anywhere in the developed racing world, almost certainly in terms of sprinters.

Naturally many criticise McNair for keeping the horse in work for so long, some fearing an ‘inevitable’ demise midway through a race.

McNair doesn’t buy into it though, he says the horse is not just strong physically but mentally as well.

 “The old horse is always playing mind games with me,” McNair said.

“I was having some trouble working him recently so I changed a bit of gear and made it easier to manage him. If he outsmarts me again, I’ve got to find something else to get him thinking. But that’s just Mustard – it’s always been a bit of a game to him.

“I think this is probably why he has that longevity about him because he loves what he does and is having fun. I often say he won’t retire because he’s too old, he’ll have to retire when I get too old to ride him.”

Mustard will have his 127th race start tomorrow when he runs in the Canterbury Park Handicap over 1250m.

As always there’s been some grumblings around his nomination and while McNair is no stranger to criticism he admits when it comes to Mustard some of it gets to him.

“You do get people taking pot shots at you for continuing to race him but I’m only doing what Mustard wants to do,” McNair said.

“Criticism usually runs off my back anyway, I don’t worry about it, but when it comes to Mustard, it does annoy me.”

On the other side of the coin there’s undoubtedly a huge legion of supporters that follow Mustard as well.

So much so that McNair has even called on the ATC to sponsor him.

“I see Mustard in the bookmaker’s ring at 80/1 but on the tote he is 20/1,” McNair said.

“Obviously there are a lot of people in Australia who back the horse. He’s got a following, that’s for sure. Horses like him are good for racing.”

Mustard has had a compatriot in England throughout his career, another 14 year old called the Tatling.

He had a career which spanned a huge 176th races but was drawn to an end at Wolverhampton last week.

Amazingly he did receive the fairytale send off with win number 18 to the cheers of fans around the nation.

There’s no doubt McNair would love the same ending for the horse he rates as part of the family but as yet he’s unsure when that will be.

“He’s going great at the moment, I’m really happy with him and he will be competitive (tomorrow),” McNair said.

“You can see in his eye he wants to compete, the fire is still burning.

“Wouldn’t it be phenomenal if Mustard could win a week after The Tatling? I’d love to retire Mustard on a winning note – but I’m not saying he is going to be retired just yet.”

Incredibly tomorrow’s meeting will be the first time Mustard has travelled to Canterbury throughout his entire career.

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