With a spectacular performance in The Illawarra Mercury Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange on Saturday, Detonator Jack delivered a second consecutive New Zealand-bred victory in the A$1 million race.

The Gong was introduced in 2019 and had previously been won by the Kiwi-bred Group One performer Riodini 12 months ago. Detonator Jack was among the favourites to follow suit, having run strong placings in the A$1 million Five Diamonds Prelude (1500m) and A$2 million Five Diamonds (1800m) in his two previous runs. The five-year-old was sent out as a $4.60 chance on Saturday and produced a breathtaking performance.

Ridden by expat New Zealand jockey Jason Collett, Detonator Jack settled in the second half of the field but began to creep closer coming down the side of the track. By the time he reached the home turn, Detonator Jack had moved up into fourth and was poised to pounce.

Collett pushed the button in the straight and Detonator Jack exploded, bounding clear and winning by two and a quarter lengths. The largely New Zealand-owned Loch Eagle crossed the line in second place, with Kiwi-bred Osipenko third.

“We were in a lovely spot, and I think the blinkers definitely helped him today,” Collett said. “When I needed him to be there, he was there. The softer ground was probably a bit of an advantage too.

“I thought I got there a bit soon, it’s a long straight, but he’s a powerful horse and he had enough left in the tank. That acceleration would have looked pretty impressive, and it felt good too.”

Trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, Detonator Jack has now had 15 starts for six wins, seven placings and A$1.3 million in stakes.

“This horse has been in really good form and our team have done a super job with him,” Maher said. “He hit that little flat spot last start, so coming back in trip today, we thought it might be an ideal time to put blinkers on.

“He just travelled so sweet. I was pretty confident throughout the race. Jason gave him a great ride. We didn’t have to tell him much, he knows the horse pretty well.

“This horse has always threatened to win a big one, and he’s gone pretty close in his last couple. It’s been a fantastic preparation.

“I think we’ll go to the Ballarat Cup (Listed, 2000m) in a couple of weeks. A lot of the owners are Ballarat locals, so hopefully he can carry on this form there. But it was an unbelievable effort today.”

Bred by Craig Dunphy and his wife Steph, Detonator Jack is a son of the late Jakkalberry and the No Excuse Needed mare Red Delicious, who is also the dam of the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) winner Madison County.

Detonator Jack races for Darren Dance’s Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock. Dance was involved in the ownership of the international top-flight winner and Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) placegetter Jakkalberry, who retired as the foundation sire at Luigi Muollo’s Novara Park in 2014, but sadly succumbed to an intestinal infection four years later.

Dance has understandably kept a close watch on the progeny of the Storming Home stallion and when opportunity knocked in the form of Detonator Jack he sealed the deal, subsequently syndicating the gelding and remaining in the ownership.

“I raced Jakkalberry and he was sold to Luigi after he finished racing and I was always keen to race some of his progeny,” he said.

“I got a phone call out of the blue from Mike Rennie and said he had been out to dinner with a mate of his (Cambridge horseman Mark Brooks) and he had a Jakkalberry that he owned half of with his partner.

“He broke it in and reckoned it had a bit of x-factor. I looked up the pedigree and ended up buying it off his word.”

Rennie, now Waikato Stud’s Business Manager, had previously recommended Yogi to Dance and the Raise The Flag gelding went on to win eight races, including a race at Listed level.

“I’ve known Mike for a long time and dealt with him when he was working with Michael Wallace as an agent and we became quite good friends,” Dance said. – NZ Racing Desk.

Article Credit: Breednet

Photo Credit: Steve Hart

NOTE: Detonator Jack may remain in Sydney to contest the $2m The Ingham at Group 2 level over 1600m despite Ciaron Maher mentioning the Ballarat Cup in this story.

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