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Image: Darren Winningham

Stories don’t come much better than that of The Harrovian.

The star performer has been retired as a seventeen time winner from thirty-seven starts but, as is so often the case, the bare statistics don’t reveal the true measure of the horse who was at death’s door back in 2018, but who rebounded back to good health before going on to enthral racing enthusiasts, particular his Queensland fan base.

“When we got him from down south, he got travel sickness on the way up … so badly that we didn’t think he was going to survive,” said Cairns-based trainer Steven Massingham, to whom The Harrovian was being relocated from Victoria at the time, when recalling those dark days. “So, I think it was about the first seven weeks that he spent in Queensland that he was at the vet in Brisbane, who did a wonderful job with him.”

But survive he did … showing fighting qualities right there, something that was going to become a feature of The Harrovian’s racing prowess. That competitive spirit not only endeared The Harrovian to the racing public, but it was also represented a driving force that helped carry him to success after success as the son of Fastnet Rock surged through the ranks to put together a quite amazing record.

At first The Harrovian was a North Queensland Champion with his record under Stephen Massingham being close to perfect. The Harrovian had fourteen starts for the Massingham stable for twelve wins and two second places, the last nine wins coming in-a-row.

His wins in North Queensland included a Townsville Cup, a Cairns Cup, a Cairns Amateurs Cup and a Cairns Newmarket which were all part of an astonishing winning sequence which ultimately would be taken to eleven straight wins

Along the way, The Harrovian shunned the old racing theory that weight stops trains. His resolve was such that he often carried heavy weights to victory, the most being 67kg in a Cairns Open Handicap in which he gave the runner-up 12kg at the weights and a one-and-a-half length beating.

Overcoming that sort of weight disadvantage was a common theme during The Harrovian’s time in North Queensland. Again, he was bucking the odds, just as he had done earlier in his fight against travel sickness which, thankfully, by now was just a distant memory.

And so it was time to move on the greater challenges. Brisbane was calling.

The Harrovian was still under Massingham’s care for the first two runs he had in Brisbane. He won both to complete his time with Massingham, never flinching in signing off with nine straight wins for the stable.

But then the logistical problems of Massingham being based in Cairns and The Harrovian’s future lying in the Southern states necessitated that The Harrovian change stables, which he did … going to the Toby and Trent Edmond’s yard where he initially again carried all before him, in scintillating fashion, winning the Tatts Recognition and the Bernborough … both Listed races in successive starts.

That took his outstanding winning sequence to eleven victories … seven in North Queensland and four in Brisbane. He had taken the next step with relish.

They say the longer the winning sequence the closer you are to a defeat and The Harrovian had pushed that envelope as far as he could.

While he did not win another race … The Harrovian certainly did not disappoint with his trademark ‘give it your all’ attitude still clear for all to see in his runs against top quality opposition in subsequent races such as the Group 3 Shaftsbury Handicap, The All-Star Mile, the Group 1 Doomben 10 000 and the Group 1 Stradbroke, amongst others.

The Harrovian finished a highly creditable fifth in the $5 million All Star Mile where he had the likes of Sir Dragonet and Probabeel behind him. He finished third in the Doomben 10 000, coming home less than a length behind the mighty Eduardo. He finished sixth, just one-and-a-half lengths behind Tofane in the Stradbroke.

All of these runs, while not ending in victory, nevertheless underline and really emphasise just what a really good race-horse The Harrovian as been for not only his connections, but for the sport as he raised interest with so many punters taking The Big H into their hearts.

It has been a stellar career and one of which all of his loving connections can be suitably proud.

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