When trainer John Bell called his close friend Gerald Mosse to let him know he was naming a horse after him, the globe trotting jockey replied: "He'd better not be a donkey".
Yesterday, just five starts into his career, and still unbeaten, the word donkey was the last thing on the minds of Ellerslie racegoers when Mosse came from an impossible position on the home turn to win the Group III $70,000 Aussie Butcher Concorde Handicap.
Last turning for home, and being all but written off by commentator George Simon, jockey Jason Waddell weaved a magical path through the field on the giant-sized sprinter, collaring Demophon, Durham Town and Trapiche in a thrilling long-neck, head and dead-heat finish.
"I wasn't enjoying it at all until the last 50 metres," Bell said.
"It was a terrible feeling when he missed the start and when he was last on the turn I was thinking all that work [wasted]." But Bell was quick to credit Waddell for the way he handled the four-year-old in the home straight.
"That was a very professional ride and he obviously knew what the horse could do.
"And he's tortured himself for weeks to get his weight down for this race."
Waddell, who normally cannot ride any lighter than 54.5kg, said he'd "done it tough" losing the extra kilo to make Mosse's weight.
"It might not sound a lot but when you're at your absolute minimum already . . . I haven't been eating a lot but my partner helped me. I've had salads, chicken and fish, but only very small portions."
The day before Waddell played badminton with his sweat gear on and sat in the spa pool.
"When I went to bed last night I still had just over a kilo to lose but I felt fantastic this morning, I rode work then had a spa." Riding in the first two races yesterday helped and an hour or so in the jockeys' sauna saw the last half-kilo drop.
"I'm actually feeling better than I thought I would," said Waddell.
"I'm lost for words. I didn't plan on being at the back but he was so relaxed he just dawdled out, and they went so hard in front." Waddell said when the split second arrived and he had to make a decision on which way to go, he elected to go back in, rather than risk checking another horse by barging his way out.
"He also seems to concentrate a lot more when he's coming through them. He loves chasing horses. He towed me through a few gaps to be honest." Bell said he hated to use the word but "freak" came to mind when analysing the run.
"It's scary because he's still a little boy. When he grows up I hate to think what power he will have."
Bell revealed that the kind-natured O'Reilly gelding already had a fan club, people taken by his size and name.
In his victory speech, on behalf of co-owner Hong Kong's Benedict Sin, he invited anyone to send him an email if they wanted to know more about him.
Bell thanked everyone down to the man who cleans the boxes at his Cambridge stable, but in particular track rider Brent Doyle - "they used to call him whiz because he was a champion apprentice" - and Carl Gately, who helped Laurie Laxon look after former Melbourne Cup winner Empire Rose.
All going well, Mosse would progress to the Railway Handicap on January 1, "and hopefully get in on a rating that will allow us to be competitive".
- © Fairfax NZ News