Capel trainer Gary Hitchcock has breathed new life into resurrected galloper Mulga whose comeback to racing gathered momentum at Ascot on Saturday.
Mulga gave notice of his potential as a three-year-old when he ran third to multiple black-type winner, Heart Starter, for previous trainer, Bruce Watkins.
But after finishing third to Mosseratti at Belmont in 2016, the son of Vital Equine’s career looked over and decidedly bleak after he suffered a serious tendon injury.
However, Hitchcock’s faith, persistence, hard work and horsemanship in guiding Mulga back to peak fitness is beginning to reap rich dividends for the low-profile trainer.
After an 18-month injury layoff Mulga scored a top first up win at Albany and yesterday he struck again in the J.J Richards & Sons Handicap (1600m).
Digging deep for jockey Aaron Mitchell, Mulga fought on strongly from ninth at the turn to defeat a gallant Taxadermy, who raced wide throughout, by a neck.
Hitchcock said his confidence in Mulga grew after his Albany success.
“I was pretty confident after his Albany win,” Hitchcock said.
“It’s a big story because I had the horse given to me.
“They said that he would never race again.
“I went and picked him up and two starts two wins is pretty good.
“Johnny Parker, a good mate of mine did all the early work on him.
“John knows what to rub in their legs and everything.”
Earlier Eleven Seconds, in similar vein to Mulga, launched his return to racing in fine style for the in-form Chris Gangemi stable, racing away to comfortably take out the Amelia Park Handicap (1400m).
Eleven Seconds had not raced since running third to Material Man in the Bunbury Cup (2200m), a broken splint bone keeping the Encosta De Lago gelding away from the race track for nearly a year.
Despite racing wide throughout, Eleven Seconds, who gave jockey Shaun McGruddy extra reason to celebrate his birthday, defeated Wrinkly by 1 ¾ lengths with Flying Roar third.
“He blew them away and it was a great win,” Gangemi said.
“He is a good horse.
“We always thought he was a good horse and the enforced break may have done him the world of good because that was impressive over 1400m first up.”