In a sport that is a largely for the traditionalists, the win of Zaman in the $100,000 JJ Houlahan Hurdle (3400m) at Sandown on Sunday was one for the most traditional of traditionalists.
Zaman is co-trained by Fran Houlahan, a jumps racing stalwart and the daughter of a legend of the sport, Jim Houlahan, the man the race commemorates.
“It means a lot, that’s for sure,” Houlahan said.
“We set him for the ‘Jim’ a few months ago because we didn’t think he was up to a Grand National.
“Dad would have loved to see this. He would have loved the price too.”
Thanks to the presence in the race of the $1.40 favourite Brungle Cry, Zaman started at $11 and scored by three lengths from Dubhdara ($7) with a similar margin to Kirribilli Gold ($5) in third place.
Brungle Cry, the only other runner, slipped at the second last hurdle and trailed home last of the four.
Despite being the outsider of the field, Houlahan fancied Zaman’s chances against the horse regarded as the best hurdler in training.
“I know Brungle Cry had a slip-up but we were happy to have a crack at him today,” she said.
“Our horse was very full of himself.
“He pulled me around the yard this morning, he was feeling very well.”
While he has been relegated to racing’s lower tier, Zaman is a well-related thoroughbred being a half brother by Zabeel to the Group One winner and successful sire Show A Heart.
Houlahan picked up the horse for $16,000 and Sunday’s winnings took his prizemoney total over the jumps to more than $160,000.
Trainer Robert Smerdon said Brungle Cry had taken no harm from his mishap, but would be sent for a spell.