Julius, the runner-up in the Group 1 Railway at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, deserves a special mention … not just because he gave his all and was brave in defeat, but because of the back story to his career that everybody thought was already well and truly over back in late 2018.
In October 2018 Julius was officially retired after a scan showed him to have a hole in his near-fore tendon seemingly leaving trainer John Bell no option but to make that retirement call. Julius at that stage had won six of thirteen starts and been placed on the other seven occasions.
And that, for all intents and purposes … as far as his racing was concerned … was that!
Interestingly enough, before calling time on Julius’s career, Bell had been planning to race Julius in the 2019 Railway Stakes but instead was forced to concede saying … “He’ll retire at my place and share the back paddock with Mosse. Just a couple of horses that can reminisce about what they could have been in they had stayed sound,”
But Julius had other ideas.
Over a period of time, Julius’s progressively boisterous behaviour in the paddocks of a sheep station led Bell to believe that the horse was on the mend and so he set about planning a measured, steady build-up designed to help advance Julius’s possible return to racing.
So it was that a year after Bell first targeted the 2019 Railway Stakes for Julius, his amazing come-back was completed in the most successful fashion possible as Julius beat out the Toby Edmonds trained Winter Bride to win the 2020 Railways Stakes in what was, for obvious reasons, a very emotional victory for all of those involved with the high-quality son of Swiss Ace.
Now, another year on and Julius showed that he had lost none of his zest for combat, running the very smart Avantage to a quarter length when going down but fighting to the very last stride in the 2021 Railway, a race in which he was attempting to score back-to-back victories. Remember, this was a nine-year-old (Julius) taking on a still improving five-year-old (Avantage) and, for good measure, Julius was giving his younger rival a 1kg advantage at the weights.
That on-going competitive streak and commitment, in spite of all Julius has been through, stands as an enormous credit to both the horse and trainer.
There can be no argument here.
Some horses just love their racing!