Invercargill identity Jack Faul walked the proudest and happiest 50 metres of his life at Ellerslie racecourse on Sunday night.
The 87-year-old heating, ventilation and air conditioning businessman who is patron of Hospice Southland and his distinguished 84-year-old wife Alva (QSO) a former chairperson of the board of Southland Hospital and later Health Commissioner, were present to see the 2-year-old filly Ruud Awakening, part-owned by Jack, outclass her rivals in New Zealand's richest horse race, the Karaka Million.
''I was honoured to lead her back to scale after the win which is one of the biggest thrills of my life, certainly in racing, and one I will cherish for all time,'' Mr Faul said from Auckland yesterday.
''The experience was absolutely incredible for me. She is a very easy filly to handle, being so placid.''
He was thrilled to point out that another Southlander, Bluff woman Helen Christian, was also a shareholder in the North Island-trained filly, meaning Southlanders owned 20 percent of a juvenile racehorse that had already won four of her five starts for $600,500 in stakes. Sunday's win earned connections $550,500.
The Southlanders share the ownership with rugby legend Sir Colin Meads and seven others. The star filly is trained by Stephen Marsh, of Cambridge and was ridden by visiting jockey Craig Williams who won last year's Karaka Million edition on Ockham's Razor.
Ruud Awakening's owners last year responded to a Sunday Star Times advertisement placed by syndicator Albert Bosma to buy into the Watson Bloodstock bred and Westbury Stud consigned daughter of Bernardini to the National Sale.
''Helen enthused to me she was absolutely ecstatic after the win and reckoned the horse was much better to her than the sharemarket,'' Mr Faul quipped.
Ruud Awakening's winning stake was clearly the biggest ever won by a Southland owned or part-owned galloper in New Zealand racing history.
''We were fed and watered wonderfully well all day in our Go Racing Syndicate's hospitality tent on course...the celebration party last night was also tremendous but, at 87 years of age, I was one of the earliest to head off to bed,'' Mr Faul said.
A former long serving chairman and trustee of Hospice Southland and vice president for four years of the Southland Racing Club, Mr Faul inherited his love of racing from his late father Clive, a former deputy mayor of Invercargill who won the 1968 Southland Guineas with the Rex Cochrane-trained Tulson, ridden by racing legend Bob Skelton.
One of Jack Faul's finest winners before Sunday was Alfee, trained by Mike Lawson and raced in partnership with the late Invercargill orthopaedic surgeon Doctor Paul Wilson, who incredibly gained 34 seconds and thirds in addition to its four wins.
The Dawn and Peter Williams-trained duo Dame Clay (10 wins) and Nicinda, whom he bred to win six races, were other favourites.
''Dame Clay won the prestigious Kumara Gold Nuggets which, to coasters is the West Coast Melbourne Cup''.
Among other distinctions Mr Faul was a foundation member of the Invercargill North Rotary Club,
served as its president and is also a Paul Harris Fellow.
- The Southland Times