It may have been a Class 2 Handicap at Goulburn, but it had Group 1 connotations as far as Hawkesbury trainer Wayne Attard was concerned.
Attard’s labour of love with “family horse” I’m No Phony reaped a satisfying reward when the six-year-old notched his first success in almost three and a half years.
With Robbie Brewer aboard, I’m No Phony ($16) overcame a wide draw, then was taken on in front before repelling all challenges in the straight and was strong at the line in the 1400m Class 2.
I’m No Phony had not won since January 4, 2014 – in a 3YO Maiden (1000m) at Kembla Grange – which was his only previous success.
Like his horse, it also was hobby trainer Attard’s second victory. His first was with For You Dad (named in honor of his father John) at Wyong on January 2, 2008. But he did not train for a number of years between the 2008-09 and 2014-15 seasons. And that’s where the real story begins.
I’m No Phony, initially prepared by Gerald Ryan at Rosehill Gardens, made an auspicious debut when as a colt he was a strong-finishing third to Whittington and War in the Breeders’ Plate (1000m) at Royal Randwick in October, 2012.
His Kembla victory whilst still under Ryan’s care came at only his third start.
Attard took up the training “bug” again in the second half of 2014 to prepare the now gelding, whom he says is a “big powerful horse who weighs over 500kg and needs lots of attention”.
“He had four runs for me in that first preparation, and then developed a tendon problem,” Attard explained.
“I gave him a good break, and then got him back in 2015 and was getting him ready for the Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury but he had only two starts before another tendon problem arose in his other foreleg.”
Attard described the situation as being so grim that his vet considering putting him down.
“There was no way we were going to do that, and I tipped him out,” he said.
“Our vet kept scanning him every three months and after about a year said I should start rehabilitating him.”
I’m No Phony had not raced since August 7, 2015 (when third at Wyong) and, with painstaking care and love, Attard got him back to the races on his home track on March 13 this year when he finished fourth, beaten just over a length, over 1100m.
Five runs later, the rising seven-year-old made it back to the winning list at Goulburn yesterday – winning a Class 2 as a Class 1 horse - and Attard, understandably, was chuffed. “It wasn’t the money, and it didn’t matter whether it was Goulburn or anywhere in the country,” Attard said.
“This was so satisfying to win another race with him given all the problems. It was a terrific thrill. He has always had the ability, but we have to manage him carefully, and he gets the best of care.”
Pleasingly, Attard reported this morning I’m No Phony had come through his Goulburn triumph unscathed.
“He cleaned out his feed bin, and I took him for a pick at 7 am and his joints were fine,” he said.
“I’ll leave it for a few days and keep an eye on him before deciding whether we find another race for him in the next few weeks or give him a break.”
HOOFNOTE: For the record, Wayne and fellow Hawkesbury trainer Jason Attard are not related.