A tumultuous era ended for John Thompson this week but in filly First Seal he might already have the horse to underpin his future.
The dispersal sale of Patinack Farm stock wound up on Wednesday and with it Thompson’s official ties to owner Nathan Tinkler.
Thompson remained Tinkler’s head trainer even as the former mining baron’s fortunes dwindled and often in the face of trying circumstances.
“It was a good learning experience to run a big team and to run a stable which, over the last few years, was on a pretty tight budget. Or sometimes, no budget at all,” Thompson said.
So it was with mixed emotions that Thompson watched horses he had cared for go through the ring at the Gold Coast this week, alongside the man who gave him his first opportunity as a trainer in his own right.
“Nathan and I sat down for a little while. It was good,” Thompson said.
“It’s looking now like his property has sold today as well so it’s just about over the line.
“It was sad to see a lot of the horses go. I’ve spent a lot of time with them but we’ve got to move on.”
A truly independent Thompson will chase his first Group One winners outside the Patinack banner at Randwick on Saturday.
Along with Epsom Handicap hopeful Hooked, who sold for $600,000 to prominent owner Sean Buckley at the Patinack sale, Thompson will saddle up First Seal in the Group One Flight Stakes (1600m).
A last-start winner of the Tea Rose Stakes, the emerging filly is vying for favouritism with the Chris Waller-trained Winx in what markets indicate is a race in two.
Blake Shinn again has the ride as he looks to continue a solid start to the spring.
Shinn provided Thompson’s last feature-race winner for Tinkler when he steered Hooked to victory in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle.
On Saturday he hopes to deliver Thompson’s first Group One victory of the post-Patinack Farm era.
“It would be lovely. He’s faced a tough time over the past six months, he deserves a Group One,” Shinn said.