By Tony Megahey
Keen country form students assessing the historic TAB Inverell XXXX Gold Cup for New Year’s Day might well have thought it was a mistaken identity for a galloper named Mishani Honcho, accepting against the best regional opposition.
Almost three long years ago, a boom Queenslander tested the elite in his age groups. Mishani Honcho ran third in Sydney’s 2015 Group 2 Silver Slipper to Headwater in February, and fourth to the mighty Vancouver in the Group 2 Todman Stakes in March.Previously he dominated the 2014 Group 3 McLachlan Group from a hot field on the Gold Coast.
Mishani Honcho was rated amongst the top of his age group in the nation but then it all went horribly wrong.
“He’s had a lot worse than a hard time, but he’s back sound and thriving and he’s only five,” enthused former Queensland-based big race rider Shane Edmonds, now training at Inverell.
Edmonds is attempting to create local race history by winning the XXXX Inverell Cup for the third successive year. His now-retired Finishing Card won the previous two Cups.
"Honcho came to us after two years off the track. He'd had hock surgery, an infection and complications where he could even have lost a leg,” Edmonds explained. “And then he had teeth surgery and long-term issues again.
“Could have been all over for sure but we persevered because we knew how good he had been. My wife Trudy and I just put in the patience and hard work and eventually he just found the will again.” After all that time off, Mishani Honcho won a couple of open trials impressively and then had two race starts.
“He’s progressed fantastic,” added Edmonds. “I mean he’s only had 19 career starts. Most of them without a decent spell and then those serious issues. Trudy rides him work and treats him like family.
"He responds to her and he loves what’s around him here in a bush stable. She deserves the credit for getting him back on a racetrack. He’ll win races mate - guarantee.
“We set him for the Inverell Cup back in March because he was going so well. He’s not 100 per cent right yet as we missed a run at Lismore to top him off for the Cup, but he’s 85 per cent.
"He obviously won’t be as good as those two and three-year-old seasons after what he’s been through. But what this horse has done, and what he’s got left, might still be just too good for country Cup horses.
“His runs at Grafton and Mudgee have both been terrific and short of his best the way he races now.”
Edmonds also has Mishani Stealth in the Cup off a last start win in an Armidale Open: “He’s an eight-year-old, race fit and in form but drawn wide. But ‘Honcho’ has that touch of class and is something special to us after what he’s been through. He’s drawn to get a nice run and we like our chances. If he wins it’ll be really special for Trudy and myself.”