Jonker, the five-year-old son of Spirit Of Boom set a new track record of 1.07.83 for the Doomben 1200m on Saturday when he roasted his opposition, smashing them into submission as he dashed to the line 4.50 lengths clear of the second placed Deep Image.
The track record he broke had previously been held by no less an equine identity then Takeover Target, whose record had stood for fifteen years.
Back in 2017, Jonker had been one of the coming stars of his generation as a two-year-old. He had won his first two career starts by a combined margin of seven lengths in the lead-up to the 2018 Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic, a race in which he started as a strong fancy at $4.80.
But another Spirit Of Boom runner was to be Jonker’s undoing that day … not in the sense of being beaten by a better horses, but in the most unfortunate of circumstances when the Tony Golan trained EF Troop crossed the field when not sufficiently clear of other runners going into the first turn, a move which led to significant interference in which Jonker, who struck the rail hard and was never seen again in the race, came off the worst … finishing last!
Jonker had escaped any serious injury … but just how much that incident affected him is difficult to assess. Certainly, he did not shirk his task when returning to action following a six-month spell after the Magic Millions. He had three runs in his next preparation in Group 3 and Group 2 company (twice) … his best result there being a third-place finish in The Run To The Rose.
Three runs later, in April 2019, Jonker finished second to Classique Legend in the Group 2 Arrowfield, just 1.30 lengths back. The same month Jonker returned to Queensland and finished third in the Group 2 Victory Stakes, behind I Am Excited and Redzel.
Classique Legend and Redzel (twice), of course, are both winners of The Everest while I Am Excited went on to win the Group 1 Galaxy.
Still Jonker took on the heavy lifting. In his next ten starts he ran in the Silver Eagle and the Sydney Stakes (both $500 000 races), the Golden Eagle (a $7,5 million race), the Hunter and the Gong (both $1 million races) … against the likes of Kolding, Behemoth, Sunlight, Arcadia Queen.
As game as those runs were the fact remained that since those two wins at the start of his career, Jonker had been unable to claim a place in the winner’s enclosure in the eighteen starts he contested between December 2017 and July 2020.
It was at that stage that it was decided that Jonker would relocate to Queensland and join the stable of Tony Gollan. Trainer David Atkins had done a great job with the horse, but a change of scenery was now on the agenda.
It would be three months between Jonker’s last run for Atkins (a third place finish in the Ramornie) and his first run for Gollan and so, when Jonker took his place in the line-up for the Listed Keith Noud Stakes at Doomben on Saturday, it was just a couple of weeks shy of three years since he had last won a race.
That statistic changed in in a 68 second blitz in which he emphasised in no uncertain terms that he can not only still win races, but he could break a long-standing track record for good measure.
It was a magnificent performance with the clear intent of setting the record straight.
The was a touch of irony in the fact that Jonker was winning for trainer Tony Gollan, whose horse EF Troop arguably cost him so much, not only in the Magic Millions but over the six months that followed that drama-filled race.
So, in a way, Gollan was also helping Jonker set the record straight.
Gollan did acknowledge the part played by David Atkins in helping to bring Jonker to this point in his career saying, ‘He came to me in great shape from Mr Atkins, so I can’t take all of the credit.”
That is very well said but, if the quality of Saturday’s win is anything to go by, this horse and trainer combination is only just getting into stride.
Just when you were starting to wonder whether Jonker would ever win another race … it looks like there could be many more wins on the horizon.