BY Wilkes (Fr by Court Martial) from Elated (by Orgoglio)
Featured Image: Portrait by Paul Fitzgerald Victoria Race Club
During my professional career now spanning more than 50 years since 1967 I’ve been extremely fortunate to have kept company with some of the modern era’s great sires, broodmares and even racehorses. I’ve just completed another Scone Literary Long Week End. I met special guest and author Don Watson from Victoria who admitted to a weakness for thoroughbreds. He’s a broodmare owner. Don declared for Vain. See below. This is my considered response Don.
There may be adumbrations of braggadocio but my list is both a long and strong one. Todman (‘tricky’), Biscay, Convamore, Vain, Rego, Kaoru Star, Biscay, Pipe of Peace, King of Babylon, Persian Book, Persian Lyric, Sky High, Lunchtime, Bletchingly, Marscay, Gunsynd, Baguette, Imagele, Rain Lover, Eleazar, Planet Kingdom, Luskin Star, Rancher, Canny Lad, Last Tycoon, Octagonal and Lonhro are all on my ‘hit list’. Lesser lights include Just Great, Corifi, Coeur Volant, Faringdon, Osmunda, Village Square, Red Gauntlet, Gaul, Writ of Error, Outback, Renegade, Arrivederci, Biarritz, Vibrant, Raimondo, Right Honourable II, Spoiled Lad, Soroco, Minor Portion, King Apollo, Dalmacia, Alderney, Red Lord, Elounda Bay, Raffindale, Namnan, Rory’s Jester, Rutland, Pilgrim’s Way and many, many others now confined to the scrap heap of jaded memory. I’m often asked it the best horses have ‘aura’ and ‘presence’? They do. Just managing to escape my clutches is the recent cluster of Danehill, Redoute’s Choice, Flying Spur, Encosta De Lago, Fastnet Rock, Street Cry and Exceed and Excel. Super sensational sire Snitzel might yet eclipse them all although Danehill’s record looks secure? It’s worth remembering that all horses have a residual value of nil; or less. Many flatter only to deceive.
There’ve also been some handy racehorses such as Kingston Town in his early days. I’m occasionally asked which is my selection from the elite cadre? It’s difficult but I’ll plump for Vain by a short half head from Biscay and Bletchingly. I owe the latter a lot! All were magnificent. Jim McFadden was a long term Keeper of the Australian Stud Book. He said that based on performances both Vain and Luskin Star would have rated as the best 2yos in the world each in their juvenile racing year. I wouldn’t doubt it. Vain was certainly very special; even explosive. I had a lot to do with him throughout his outstanding stud career at Widden. Even magnificent is an unworthy accolade.
Trained by Jim Maloney and ridden by Pat Hyland Vain raced a total of fourteen times for 12 sensational victories and two ‘explainable’ defeats. His stakes winnings were $146,335. Vain’s 2yo form was spectacular. Wins in the Debutant Stakes, Maribyrnong Plate, Merson Cooper Stakes and VRC Sires Produce Stakes by cumulative winning margins of 18 lengths were trumped by Vain’s triumph in the Golden Slipper Stakes by 4 lengths in 1969. He annihilated the short priced favourite Sydney filly Special Girl (by Todman ex. Wenona Girl) trained by Neville Begg. Following a shock ‘wet track’ defeat by Beau Babylon in the 7 furlong AJC Sires Produce Stakes Vain atoned in the 6 furlong Champagne Stakes a week later. His time in winning by 10 lengths was the fastest time ever recorded by a 2yo.
In the spring of 1969 Vain stamped himself as the champion sprinter-miler in a sequence of wins that included the Caulfield Guineas, Craven “A” Stakes, Linlithgow Stakes and the George Adam Handicap by a total cumulative winning margin of 22 lengths. He suffered only one defeat by Daryl’s Joy NZ 9 by Shifnal) which was reversed two weeks later. Vain was awarded the title of Racehorse of the Year in 1970. Vain sired the Golden Slipper winner Sir Dapper (bred by Dan Buffier, Wingara Stud, Bylong Valley) in 1982 when he was Champion Sire. Dan also bred Birthday Card.