Five-year-old gelding Explosive Jack (Jakkalberry x Extra Explosive) lived up to his name as the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained stayer unleashed a devastating turn of foot to land the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The son of Jakkalberry won a trio of Derbys in his three-year-old season, with victory in the Listed Tasmanian Derby (2200m) a pre-cursor to triumphs in the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) and Gr.1 South Australian Derby (2500m).
The smart stayer had gone nine races without a win, including a lengthy stint on the sidelines due to injury, but had been building towards a return to the winner’s circle and the Sydney Cup had long been the target.
“That was absolutely fantastic,” a delighted David Eustace said.
“It’s been the plan for a long, long time. He had an injury after the 2021 Melbourne Cup (Gr.1, 3200m). We said months ago this is the race to have him spot on.
“It’s obviously a great thrill to get this horse back and a real credit to the whole team in managing him.”
Explosive Jack raced without blinkers, with Eustace paying credit to Maher for the call, after the gelding had run well for second in the Listed Canberra Cup (2000m) without the head-gear before disappointing when they were reapplied last start in the Gr.1 Tancred Stakes (2400m).
“The boss (Ciaron Maher) was pretty keen to take them (blinkers) off,” Eustace said.
“His run in the Canberra Cup (second) was very very good without them. He always wore them as a colt but he’s a gelding now and he’s not fast but he stays. But he showed a pretty good turn of foot there to his credit. He looked fantastic beforehand, we thought they’d go a little bit quicker in the run.”
The win provided jockey Dylan Gibbons with his first elite-level triumph.
“It’s the first time I’ve met him, so it’s not a bad meet and greet,” Eustace said. “He rode him great, timed his run beautifully.
“Midrace I was kicking and screaming because they were going so slow and it just wasn’t going to help any of our runners. It was a pretty good performance to come from where he was.”
Explosive Jack was purchased by Peter Moody, who was taking a break from training at the time, for $100,000 out of the draft of Luigi Muollo’s Novara Park at the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale at Karaka.
He is raced by a syndicate headed by Mick and Alise Johnston, who were involved in the ownership of globe-trotting Group One winner Jakkalberry, who stood at Novara Park for four seasons before his premature death from a gut infection.
Bred by Muollo’s Explosive Breeding Ltd, Explosive Jack is a half-brother to Pick Number One, the Champion Griffin in Hong Kong in 2017-18.
The pair are out of the Ekraar mare Extra Explosive, who won the Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) and is a half-sister to the stakes-placed Explosive Dance, the dam of the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Vin de Dance. – NZ Racing Desk