A $1.5 million yearling has found a new lease on life and won his first race as a jumper at Warrnambool.
Five-year-old gelding Gravitas was bred for glory being by Redoute’s Choice from stakes-winning Zabeel mare National Treasure but was a maiden until he broke through for his first success in Monday’s Northpoint Hurdle (3224m).
Fran Houlahan, who with her husband Brian Johnston trains Gravitas, was thrilled with the photo finish win which came after a stirring two-horse duel over the last 600 metres with 2008 Perth Cup winner Cats Fun.
“I am rapt that the horse has won a race,” Houlahan said.
She said Gravitas was a promising young horse but failed badly on the flat.
Patrick Payne took him as a potential jumper but when it looked like he was going to struggle to make the grade he found a home with Houlahan and Johnston.
“He is extremely well-bred and a lovely animal and pleasure to have around the place,” Houlahan said.
Having only his second jumps start, Gravitas, won the first Victorian jumps race of the season which was launched at Warrnambool and Houlahan is hoping he can train on to figure in one the feature hurdle races at the track’s traditional three-day May carnival.
She already has stable star Tarawera earmarked for the Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Despite a total of 10 horses running in the two hurdle races at Warrnambool and insufficient numbers for the Steeplechase to be programmed, Houlahan remains optimistic about the new season.
“It is a little hiccup but we will get over that,” Houlahan said.
A total of 70 jumps races will be programmed across the state for the season, which continues until September 19.
A highlight of the season will be $1.72 million J J Houlahan Championship which includes feature races in Victoria and South Australia.