WHEN training jumpers patience is not only a virtue but a necessity which Henry Dwyer demonstrated when he took out the Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) at Ballarat with Brungle Bertie.
In 2022 Dwyer set Brungle Bertie for the Grand National Steeplechase but they couldn’t find a jockey to ride him, so they instead ran him in the Benchmark 120 Steeplechase which he won.
Dwyer reset from that moment for the 2023 Grand National Steeplechase and told Brungle Bertie’s owner Peter Balderstone that it was likely that was the only race he could win for the season.
That prediction proved spot on as Brungle Bertie outstayed his rivals to defeat the Andrew Bobbin trained Bell Ex One and the Mitch Leek trained third placegetter Castrofrancaru.
“This year, we said to Peter that we could go this whole season without winning a race as he wasn’t going to be competitive in any race until today,” Dwyer said on Racing.com.
Dwyer always has a few jumpers in work and Brungle Bertie’s success in the Grand National Steeplechase is his biggest win as a trainer.
He has won feature races with Riding High and The Dominator in recent years.
Dwyer said on RSN on Monday morning that Brungle Bertie was a stable favourite.
“He’s an eight-year-old so he’s been in our system for a few years. As a result we’ve gotten to know him so well. It’s so special winning a race like this,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer said a lot of hard work and thought went into winning the Grand National Steeplechase with Brungle Bertie.
“With stayers a lot more thought goes into it. There’s a lot more subtlety required. There’s so much more work to do to get them to the required fitness and as a result there’s more injuries you’ve got to contend with.”
Dwyer said even in the past month since Brungle Bertie had contested the Crisp Steeplechase where he finished fourth they had had to work hard to get him fit enough for the race.
He said in the Crisp Steeplechase Brungle Bertie was knocked down by a riderless horse and was a bit sore.
“We gave him a quiet nine or ten days then we gave him two jumps outs at Geelong Wednesday twelve days ago,” he said.
“He went in one trial, then we walked him for 20 minutes and then gave him another trial. He pulled up a bit scratchy from that so we took him to St Leonards and then he’s been working on a treadmill ever since.”
Dwyer has taken his time with Brungle Bertie as he has only had 24 starts as an eight-year-old.
He paid credit to his owner and breeder Peter Balderstone saying he had a few unfashionable broodmares but could breed a good horse each year.
It gave Horner his third win in four years in the Grand National Steeplechase as he also won on Bee Tee Junior in 2020 and Inayforhay in 2021.
It also gave him a winning double as he also won the first race, the Ian Larkin Memorial Maiden Hurdle on South Pacific who is trained by his wife Amy McDonald.
The victory was the highlight of what winning jockey Lee Horner said had not been a great year as they were his only wins for the season.
It was a big day for the Horner’s, as his brother Darryl also rode El Diez to win the Gotta Take Care Hurdle for Eric Musgrove.
It was Darryl who sprayed champagne over his brother as he was doing his interview on Racing.com.
Horner paid tribute to Dwyer’s ability to set a horse for a race and get them to fire on the day.
Horner said he was confident throughout the race especially when he saw the odds-on favourite Stern Idol drop out before the turn that Brungle Bertie would win.
Horner said Brungle Bertie would be an ideal Grand Annual Steeplechase horse for next year.
Horner also said he felt for Richie O’Donoghue who was going to ride Brungle Bertie in the Grand National Steeplechase but got injured in the lead up to the race.
“I feel for him as that’s the horse he needed to get a feature race win. I felt bad asking Henry but he was injured and someone had to ride him.”
The feature hurdle event the J.J. Houlahan Hurdle (3250m) went to the Symon Wilde trained Fabalot who put in a dashing display leading throughout to win by 12 lengths.
The victory gave Wilde his 13th win for the jumps season and he won the Victorian Jumps Premiership for a second successive season.
Fabalot gave Chris McCarthy his second feature win for the season to accompany his Grand Annual Steeplechase victory but unfortunately his topsy turvy season continued as he fell from Twin Spinner in the next race.
In good news for McCarthy he was cleared of any fractures or serious head injury on Monday morning according to VJA chief executive Matt Hyland.
Wilde paid tribute to McCarthy saying he was brilliant on front runners.
“It was a good, daring ride and the horse can really stick on. He’s coming of age and I’ll set him for the Galleywood Hurdle next year," Wilde said.