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Saintly -  Profile of a Champion
Chestnut Gelding Born 1992
by Sky Chase out of All Grace

saintly1.jpg (18398 bytes)He was sent out as the 4/5 favourite in the Hill Stakes despite the presence of old foe Nothin Leica Dane. As they settled into stride Saintly was soon in fourth placing only two lengths off the lead in a tightly packed field. Passing the 1200m he had drifted back to fifth 5 lengths off the front and well behind the well fancied Nothin Leica Dane and Mahogany. Around the turn and Saintly was in a pocket behind a wall of horses consisting of Double Take, Nothin Leica Dane and Mahogany. With 300m to go The Penny was joined by Nothin Leica Dane as Saintly found a gap along the rails as Double Take dropped back. Given rein passing the 200m Saintly bounded away from the opposition and won the race eased down by 1 3/4 len from Nothin Leica Dane. Next he was sent out 4/13 fav in the Craven Plate and appeared to have the race at his mercy. Adventurous set out with a huge lead throughout under his 49kgs with Saintly travelling in third place then moving up to second on the turn. Saintly carted the field up to Adventurous and drew level down the straight. As Saintly hit full speed it looked as though he’d power past the 3yo but Adventurous fought back strongly. With the huge weight advantage under the weight for age conditions Adventurous fought back after being headed to win by a half head from Saintly with a gap to the others. After a similar run in the Metropolitan Hcp where Saintly ran up to the leader then wilted slightly at the finish as 10/9 fav behind Hula Flight the doubts set in again.

Several theories were discussed such as his thin skin causing him to resent the girth and whip riding but a major difference could have been his shoeing after a suggestion from a Canberra farrier. After seeing a head on newspaper photo of the Metropolitan finish the farrier noticed something looked wrong with Saintly’s action. It was suggested that his hind shoes be built up with ‘wedge heels’ to correct his galloping action. All this and the return to his preferred Melbourne way of racing resulted in the real Saintly returning for the major spring targets.

A small but select field assembled for the racing purists race of the year the WS Cox Plate. The field led out by Juggler included Octagonal, Filante, All Our Mob, the 3yos Anthems and Adventurous and expected leader Crying Game. As they settled into stride Adventurous raced to the lead under his lightweight from Crying Game then followed by Filante, All Our Mob, Juggler then Saintly from Anthems with Octagonal at the rear. With 1000m to go Crying Game joined Adventurous in front as the rest of the field were in single file and well strung out behind them. With 800 to go Crying Game took over as Filante followed All Our Mob, Juggler and Saintly started forward moves. Starting the home turn Filante hit the front from All Our Mob with Juggler outside him and Saintly wider still in the tightly packed field. Saintly got on the wrong leading leg around the home turn resulting in him running very wide and losing ground turning for home as Juggler, All Our Mob and Filante made a line of three in front. Filante kicked 3/4 of a length clear of the others as Saintly knuckled down to his task in the straight. With 30m to go Saintly drew level with Filante as All Our Mob kicked again but on the post Saintly had a 1/2 neck advantage to win from Filante with All Our Mob third and Juggler fourth with Octagonal many lengths away in fifth. Saintly returned to a hero’s reception with the ‘Saintly - Horse From Heaven’ banner flying high in the crowd and it was noted that he had run a track record for the 2040m of 2.5.73. It was apt that Darren Beadman was the jockey after earlier announcing his retirement from race riding at the end of the year to train as a minister of religion.

Unlike previous Cup runners from the Cummings stables Saintly stayed home on Derby Day with a stunning workout on the dirt track at Flemington his final fast workout in preparation for the Melbourne Cup. Before the race Saintly strolled around the mounting yard all but asleep he was so relaxed. As they settled into stride Darren Beadman guided Saintly to be on the rail in about sixth place throughout only 5 or 6 lengths off the leader Grey Shot. Around the home turn Saintly moved out to make his run from behind tiring horses. Passing the 400m Grey Shot was in front but being challenged by Nothin Leica Dane as Saintly started to power down the centre of the Flemington track. He hit the front at the 300m and by the 200m the race was in Saintly’s keeping as the only danger Count Chivas was under hard whip riding while Beadman hardly moved on the chestnut. At the post Saintly was 2 1/4 lengths in front of Count Chivas with Skybeau finishing hard to grab third place. The crowd again went crazy as he returned to scale - it was Bart Cummings’ tenth Melbourne Cup winner and Darren Beadman’s second. Saintly became the only horse to win the Australian Cup, Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup treble in the same year, joined Dulcify as the only winners of the Australian Cup and Melbourne Cup in the same year and became the fourth horse after Nightmarch, Phar Lap and Rising Fast to win the Cox Plate-Melbourne Cup double in the same year.

After the victory it was full steam ahead to the Japan Cup and after a guest appearance on the final day of the carnival Saintly was on the plane to Japan on November 11. A direct flight had been unavailable and Saintly travelled via Hong Kong and Taipei to get to his final destination. The trip took 23 1/4 hours in transit time and he reportedly suffered a slight bout of travel sickness and lightened off in condition. By November 22 his track workouts confirmed his fitness as talk before the race revolved around Hellissio and Saintly being the prime candidates to fight out the Japan Cup. Disaster struck on the night before the race though as Saintly appeared listless and his temperature was found to have soared to 39.8. He was immediately scratched as tests were done to determine the best treatment. Treated with antibiotics for a bacterial infection he recovered but Bart Cummings was reported as saying he wouldn’t take another horse to Japan without a direct flight again.

Saintly returned to the racetrack with an exhibition gallop on Feb 1 at Sandown running his last 600m in 34.3 in preparation for the Orr Stakes at Caulfield. Though he was sent out evens favourite victory looked impossible as they straightened for the run home. Five lengths back in seventh place with 300m with accomplished speedsters ahead of him even his greatest fans were worried. Regal Centre and Cut Up Rough were fighting it out inside the final 200m but then Saintly showed he’d lost none of his brilliant finishing burst as he flew down the outside to win. On the line he was in front by 1 1/4 lengths from Cut Up Rough with Star Dancer third.

It looked as if Saintly had the prime weight for age races at his mercy in the autumn but tragedy was to strike again only weeks later. On Feb 24 he put in another stunning gallop in preparation for the St George Stakes at Moonee Valley running his last 400m in 23.1 and his last 200 in 11.4. Two days later he was found to have injured his superficial digital flexor tendon high up just under his knee. Treatment involved that he be confined to his stall with only carefully monitored walks as exercise to start healing the injury. At one stage he suffered a further setback with a stress fracture to a cannon bone thought to be a result of being confined. The tendon injury itself was rated a seven on 1 to 10 (10 being extremely severe) scale and despite the best treatment available was given a less than 20% chance of making it back to the track.

In August 1997 he was voted Horse of the Year for the 1996-97 season when he polled 128 of the 159 votes with Octagonal receiving 25 and Mouawad 6.

Despite the odds Saintly entered training again in May 1998 and was eventually sent to Eagle Farm to prepare for his first up run in August 1998. The tendon was standing up well with no sign of problems as his workload started to include fast work. On July 18 he changed stride during trackwork and within two hours his good leg started to show signs of injury. It was decided that it was in Saintly’s best interests to be retired rather than go for another spell and rehabilitation and he was sent to Bart Cummings property of Princes Farm near Castlereagh in NSW for his retirement. Still a crowd favourite Saintly returned to Moonee Valley for the WS Cox Plate in October 2000 and led the field onto the track.

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