A mixture of relief, excitement and sadness has underscored the triumphant comeback of Our Boy Malachi in the Expressway Stakes at Rosehill.
In the year since the death of his managing owner Col Donovan, the sprinter has served an enforced three-month ban for a bleeding attack in the Doomben 10,000 followed by a life-threatening battle with colic.
Our Boy Malachi won 14 of his first 15 starts in Queensland and Rockhampton-based Donovan sent him to Sydney and the Hawkes Racing team to try his luck.
His comeback began with a brilliant barrier trial win followed by one that was less impressive and he eased from $1.90 favourite to $3.30 for Saturday’s Expressway (1200m).
With a confident Tommy Berry aboard, Our Boy Malachi went straight to the front and never looked under threat, with Solicit, the $2.60 favourite, chasing him all the way but finishing three lengths adrift.
“I was watching him at the top of the straight and I was confident then,” co-trainer Michael Hawkes said.
“I admit when he got to the line it was emotional.
“Col’s family is here and it’s great they could be here to see him win.
“We thought we had him right but you never know until they do it.”
Berry said during the week he had not bustled Our Boy Malachi in the barrier trial.
“There were a lot of people potting him because of that,” he said.
“But he missed the start a length in the trial so I just let him lob along at the back.
“If he had jumped in front he would have won.”
Berry said the gelding jumped well in the Expressway and led unchallenged.
“I thought unless Tiger Tees wanted to go forward he would lead,” Berry said.
“But Tiger Tees can take a while to muster early speed so I let him go under his own speed.
“He wanted to roll along. He is a go-getter. He’s a winner.”
Hawkes said he was uncertain where Our Boy Malachi would go next.
“There’s not a lot for this type of horse so he may have to go to Melbourne,” he said.
“We’ll get him back to the stable and see how he is and then we’ll think about it.”