By Julieanne Horsman
If Jayko lines up in the $50,000 Bega Cup (1600m) next Sunday, he’ll be the toast of the racecourse regardless of where he finishes.
The race will be his 100th start – a feat achieved by very few thoroughbreds.
The nine-year-old gelding won the Benchmark 60 Bega Cup Prelude (1600m) at Sapphire Coast this afternoon, earning automatic entry in the feature race on Sunday 5 February.
Owner/trainer Chris Hensler will wait until next week to decide whether he accepts though.
“It will be a much harder race so if I look at the field and it’s beyond him we won’t go,” Hensler said.
“We’ll have to see how he pulls up tomorrow.”
Jayko, with apprentice Melinda Kinny on board, was quick out the gates.
He took up the lead at the 1200m and never looked back, finishing more than three lengths ahead of the field and notching his third win on the trot.
“We were wrapt,” Hensler said.
“We thought he would take up a trailing position but Melinda decided he was going too well to do that.”
It was also a super day for Kinny, who rode a treble and was won the on course Jockey Challenge.
“ She is a great little jockey, tries her heart out,” Hensler said.
“She is based at my home track at Moruya and rides a bit of trackwork for me as well.”
Hensler attributes Jayko’s recent surge in form to swimming.
“He’s an old horse and I’ve been swimming him for Summer,” Hensler said.
“He is in the river three times a week and it keeps his joints cool.”
Chris and his wife have owned Jayko from his first start because the original owners gave up on him after a barrier trial.
He now has a record of 13 wins and 24 places from 99 starts and has earned in excess of $174,000.
Among his notable wins are the Braidwood Cup and Merimbula Cup.
“You fluke a horse like this once in a blue moon,” Hensler said.
“I’m getting on a bit so I think he is going to retain his position as the best horse I have ever had.”