Racing: 60 years later Brooks family salute

By Mike Dillon

Volkswagin (right) lands in front of Myths and Legends. Photo / Supplied
Volkswagin (right) lands in front of Myths and Legends. Photo / Supplied

Many think it would be a great achievement to live to age 80.

It would be a much, much greater thing to be 80 and look like Jim Hely.

Sixty years to the day on Saturday, Jim Hely rode what was to be the first of the countless steeplechase winners, Sandy, that made him possibly the greatest jumps rider this country has seen.

Appropriately that was at Te Rapa. Within a year he won the Waikato Steeplechase for Harold Brooks on Royster, which made Hely the perfect personality to present the trophy for the $35,000 Vernon & Vazey Truck Parts Waikato Steeplechase to Harold's grandson Mark Brooks, whose Myths And Legends put many punters on the start of the slippery slope in Saturday's massive Pick6.

Hely looked as though he could have ridden Myths And Legends himself. The eyes are as sharp as they would have needed to be 60 years ago and the back is dead straight. He could be a suit model in a men's catalogue. His own immaculate suit was clearly tailored.

And here's the perfect trivia question - which Maori tribe does Hely descend from?

Answer - none. I once asked Hely that exact question and he provided the answer that would shock everyone that has met him even once.

"I'm part French and part Irish," he says. "I have no Maori blood."

Boy, could you have made a million dollars betting on that fact.

Back to Myths and Legends. Mark Brooks races the stylish black with his parents, Heather and Roger.

Roger Brooks had a busy day, he chose Saturday to move into the Cambridge Racecourse Rd property the family recently bought off Paul Duncan, who has relocated to Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

If the mid-week demise of pre-race favourite Climbing High eliminated an important element from the race, the contest did not lack excitement.

Volkswagin, who had pressed Climbing High two weeks earlier, was the $1.70 favourite and an anchor on many Pick6 tickets, looked certain to win when he jumped the last fence.

But Isaac Lupton, replacing an injured Jo Rathbone, refused to concede. He rode Myths And Legends hard and with the favourite starting to feel the effects of a track that was fractionally worse than he prefers, Myths And Legends grabbed him in the closing strides.

If Pick6 punters were disappointed, not so Lupton, racing's most humble rider.

"I've been a good thing beaten in this race at least three times and it's great to finally win it," he said.

To complete a good family and community feel about the race, the presentation was made by Waikato Racing Club president Dave Smith, who was co-owner of Myths And Legends' sire Rainbow Myth.

Roger Brooke remembers buying Myths And Legends cheaply as a weanling, but not the exact price. He thought it wasn't much more than $1000.

He was too slow to win on the flat, but he has banked $87,000 from his jumping victories and his second in last year's big one, the Great Northern Steeplechase suggests he might be able to go one better at Ellerslie this time.

Borrack managed to land the prize for the huge band that installed him favourite in the $35,000 Dunstan Feed Hurdles, but only just.

A bold move by former European jockey Daniel Oakden on runner-up Arose nearly paid off. Perhaps recognising that the front-running Borrack may have been gifted one or two of his previous five hurdling victories by being left alone in the lead, Oakden attempted to put pressure on the favourite in the back straight.

Each time it happened, Cody Singer gave Borrack a bit more rein and Arose would drop a length or two behind. Over the last hurdle, Borrack had a commanding lead even though he put in an extra stride and topped the obstacle and this time when Arose attacked there wasn't much left in the tank.

Just enough though to last by a short neck.

"He's so brave," said 21-year-old regular rider Singer, who says he is not sure whether he has the ride on Borrack if he goes ahead with the plan to tackle the A$200,000 Australian Grand National in mid-July.

Borrack's effort to lump 69.5kg to victory created a 3kg record since metrics were introduced in 1974.

- NZ Herald

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