Ngai Chun-Hung’s former New Zealand classic-placed Historian posted an unlikely win at the group I level Jan. 25 at Trentham when edging Lady Kipling in the Harcourts Thorndon Mile.
Making his third start off 93 weeks on the sidelines with tendon issues, the 5-year-old Choisir gelding raced midpack early under Rosie Myers, struck the lead 150 meters out, and repelled a late charge from group winner Lady Kipling to prevail by a short head.
Runner-up to Jimmy Choux in the New Zealand Derby (NZ-I) in March 2011, Historian was subsequently transferred to Hong Kong to race but never started after developing what appeared to be career-ending tendon problems. He was returned to New Zealand with the hope that he might be able to race again and joined trainer Gary Alton, who conditions the gelding on a treadmill.
“They gave up on him and he returned without having raced up there,” Alton told New Zealand’s The Informant. “He was spelling at (veterinarian) Murray Brightwell’s farm when the decision was made to give him another chance.
“I had trained other horses for his owner, and this horse came to us as we had a treadmill. He’s not the easiest horse to work on the track and the only time he works under saddle is about once a week when my partner Catherine (Cameron) takes him out in our arena.”
Historian was unsuccessful in his first two starts off the long layoff, finishing 11th in December at Te Rapa, and then 14th in the group II Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day. But the Thorndon Mile set up perfectly for him. Historian began advancing a half-mile out and was within striking distance with a quarter-mile to run.
“I was pretty disappointed with the way things worked out in those two races, especially the Rich Hill,” Alton said. “I knew he was well going into that race so I had a good bet on him for the Thorndon.”
Historian, who covered 1,600 meters in 1:34.51, improved to three wins, three seconds, and a third from 10 lifetime starts and provided Alton with his first stakes success. Myer scored consecutive wins in the Thorndon Mile following a victory by Say No More in 2012.
Race favorite Nashville missed the break and lost several lengths before finishing ninth in the 16-horse field.
Historian, a $40,000 NZ purchase out of the Lyndhurst Farm, agent, consignment at the 2009 New Zealand Bloodstock select yearling sale, was bred in New Zealand by Bledisloe Bloodstock out of the Marauding mare Cyclonic.