Of the many horses selected to advance the breed, few make the transition in careers with the cheers of adulation still ringing in their ears. Signing-off your track career with a grand flourish is elusive, but 4-year-old Show a Heart managed it in the $1 million (Australian funds) Stradbroke Handicap (Aust-1) on June 10.
To win Australia's richest contest at 1,400 meters, Show a Heart had just 123 pounds and while that seems no great impost it was enough for him to concede every other of the 19 runners weight save one. Falvelon, Australia's top sprinter, had beaten Show a Heart at their previous encounter, in the Doomben 10,000 (Aust-1) over 1,350 meters at weight-for-age.
Hopes of turning the tables at his last race before preceding Falvelon to the Glenlogan Park Stud, Queensland, roster by 12 months were seemingly dashed for his 61 year-old trainer and jockey Dan Nikolic when he drew 22, coming in four slots when the emergencies weren't required. Things were evened out in his personal battle with the dual Hong Kong International Sprint (HK-II) winner as there was give in the ground, Falvelon's preference for a firm track.
Several lightweights were fancied ahead of the high class pair, Falvelon at 13-2 and year younger Show a Heart at 10-1. There was a certain amount of sentiment in those ratings an emotion generally lost in today's reality of racing as a product. A less than breakneck speed seemed to bode ill for the future residents of Glenlogan out the back with Show a Heart last but one, Falvelon just five places ahead.
The situation was so desperate for Nikolic at the final bend he elected to ride last season's Caulfield Guineas winner for luck, making ground near the rail before weaving through the traffic to the outside in midstretch. As he did, who should he meet but Falvelon. Damien Oliver vainly tried to keep Show a Heart shut in, but the genie was out of the bottle: the son of Brave Warrior and the warrior son of Alannon zoomed home in tandem. Within 100 meters from the wire they were roaring past the others and it become apparent they had the finish between themselves. The fans responded in kind.
This time the Stradbroke would deliver a memorable finish. At the wire it was Show a Heart the 110th winner by a half neck. Oliver later admitted to be amazed any horse could outsprint Falvelon. Kingsgate was another three-quarters of a length away in third after being trapped wide throughout. The 1:21.70 was 1.5 seconds outside the record held by Toledo, the wonderful Roberto grandson to be retired a few days before this year's race.
There was an element of luck in Show a Heart's fourth group I win at his 33rd and final start. But for a sprinter-miler whose career has been often dogged by ill-fortune it was fitting, particularly as he made his own luck. His sire didn't win a group I despite many brave attempts and the Star Kingdom line horse died prematurely leaving only 80 runners -- and 55 winners.
His braveheart son is a stallion who deserves a really great time at stud, and a year's start on Falvelon at Glenlogan can't hurt.