New Zealand jumper Tallyho Twinkletoe has equalled the feats of a champion jumper of yesteryear with his dominant victory in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat.
Tallyho Twinkletoe became the first horse since Mosstrooper in 1930 to complete the Grand National Hurdle/Steeplechase double in the same year.
Patrick Payne calls himself the “puppet trainer”, having taken over from Kevin Myers just days before the gelding’s Grand National hurdle victory at Sandown on August 4.
Sent off favourite in Sunday’s 4500m-race, Tallyho Twinkletoe, under New Zealand rider Aaron Kuru, recorded a nine-length victory from Spy On You with sentimental favourite Wells, aiming for a fourth win in the race, another 2-1/4 lengths away third.
Tallyho Twinkletoe’s victory followed the success of Sea King for Payne in last year’s Grand National Steeplechase.
“I used to love Sea King, but this horse is the best horse,” Payne said.
“He can take the race by the scruff of the neck.
“It’s silly to say but from the mile he had them covered and took over 1000 (metres) out and not many horses can maintain a gallop like that.
“For a steeplechaser to win the Grand National Hurdle last time and come out and do it again today, that shows his class.”
Tallyho Twinkletoe won the New Zealand Grand National Hurdle in August, 2015 before a series of niggling tendon injuries kept him off the track until March, 2018.
He had a light campaign followed by another extended stay on the sidelines before he was prepared for his Australian campaign.
Payne was happy to deflect the glory to Myers and part-owner Jo Rathbone.
“All the work was done before he came to my place,” Payne said.
“The smartest thing I could do was not change anything, keep him the same weight and just produce him the same and thank God they put a great foundation under him.”
Payne said to get the better of a champion like Wells was so pleasing.
“What he (Wells) did in the Crisp Steeple, surely jumps fans appreciated his effort,” Payne said.
“He was out on his feet at the 200-metre mark and he fought back and beat my horse (Slowpoke Rodriguez) and I was pretty happy to see him win.
“So for this horse to get the better of him, it says a fair bit.”
Craig Durden, husband of Wells’ trainer Kathryn, said they could not be prouder of the jumper’s performance in his attempt at a record-breaking victory.
“He’s been beaten by a good horse,” Durden said.
“He was admirable, what more can you say.”