Champion hurdler Black And Bent today claimed an Australian record 10th consecutive Australian jumps win with a nine-length victory in the $100,000 Jack Dow Memorial Hurdle (3300m) at Sportingbet Park (Sandown).
In a stretch that began with a win at Sandown in April 2010, Black And Bent has had to twice return from career-threatening tendon injuries to break the record set by Lots Of Time in 1969.
Speaking after the victory, trainer Robert Smerdon admitted that he thought the seven-year-old would never get the chance to break the record after his second tendon injury last year.
“He’s come off the canvas, I thought last year when he went amiss with a tendon injury for the second time that would be the end of his career,” Smerdon said.
“His soundness is good and he really surprised me with how well he recovered and responded to the rehabilitation so he’s back for the whole season hopefully.
“I had a fair few butterflies during the run but his jumping today was superb, especially in the testing conditions and it was a really big thrill.”
Jockey Steven Pateman settled Black And Bent ($1.40F) in third position early with Xaar Best ($6.50) opening up a ten length lead going out of the straight the first time.
After setting out to chase the leader coming down the side of the track, Black And Bent drew level with Xaar Best by the 600m mark before hitting the front at the top of the home straight approaching the final obstacle.
After putting in a perfect leap, the champion continued to extend his lead in the run to the post before eventually scoring from Xaar Best with Love Or Gold a further 1.5 lengths away in third position.
Pateman, who has partnered Black And Bent in his past eight jumps victories, said he believes the son of Black Hawk has returned in career best form.
“I think he’s honestly going better than ever, he’s come back from his injury great, he’s fit and he’s only seven years old so he’s got a few good years left in him at least,” Pateman said.
“He can only beat what he’s up against and carry the weight that he’s given, I think he’s the best hurdler that we’ve ever seen.”
“It’s great to be a part of this horse’s career and the history that has been made today.”
Story by Ben Asgari