It was only last year when Joan Walker’s husband, Roland, passed away that she pondered whether she wanted to continue as a small-time breeder which along the way had produced the Tommy Woodcock trained Reckless.
She put Jaywalk, the dam of her current racehorse Amadeus which is part of the family that Joan’s family has been breeding from since 1930, on the market.
The reason why she finally kept Jaywalk wasn’t that she couldn’t find a buyer but rather not the right one.
Amadeus won his first Listed race on Saturday in the Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m) at Flemington and his victory will probably add more value to Jaywalk’s other progeny which Joan still owns.
“My family have had this family since the 1930s and Amadeus is exactly like Reckless,” she said.
“Unfortunately, I am the only one around who remembers Reckless, and Amadeus has exactly the same temperament and all he wants to do is please and he really would rather be a person than a horse because he really wants to be in the conversation.
“But when he gets to race day he is really competitive.”
Joan said that it’s not only the horse’s successes which are keeping her in breeding, but also the personal satisfaction of his performances are playing a big part in her life.
“It got to the stage, and I lost my husband last year, and I just felt that I couldn’t keep going,” she said.
“But I think it was my husband up there who was telling me that I’d better keep going.’’
Joan is also racing a Reward For Effort filly, Reward, out of Jaywalk, and has a yearling filly out of the dam and same sire which she will soon sell with some reluctance.
“And she is in foal now to Sun Stud stallion, National Defense, who is a son of Invincible Spirit, so I’ll certainly be keeping her until that foal comes along and we’ll see what happens after that,” Joan said.
Joan said while she was only one of three partners in Amadeus, his Flemington victory lifted his prize money to $557,350 and admits the returns make a big difference and instead of being stressed about things, it makes it easier to enjoy it all.
“It pays for everything you have on the ground at the moment,” she said.
After winning his first two races of his career in 2016, Amadeus ran second in the Bendigo Guineas (1400m) to Group 1 winning mare Silent Sedition, but he was galloped on and his hind leg stripped at his next race at Caulfield.
“When he came back to the mounting yard the flesh was lying on the ground and it was stripped down like peeling a banana,” Joan said.
“It was just so awful.
“I am grateful to that wonderful horse as he is so brave and has such a fantastic temperament.”
It was the skill of his trainer, Cranbourne based Mick Kent and his veterinary staff that allowed Amadeus to make a successful return to the racetrack.
The injury makes each win and race so much more satisfying for Joan, especially on Saturday.
“It was very, very exciting and it was satisfying because that poor horse has had so much injury and if hadn’t been for Mick Kent I wouldn’t have a horse today,” Joan said.
“That is really part of the excitement and Mick has done such a fantastic job with him and I really find it hard to describe it.
“As a three-year-old, Amadeus was stripped to the bone and is the reason he didn’t have any more races as a three-year-old because he was in the paddock.
“He has been carefully patched up and put together.
“Mick Kent is a wonderful horseman and really loves his horses and both he and I say: horse first and owner second. And I’m really happy with that.”
Amadeus has also become a Pakenham and VOBIS specialist and was shooting for his third consecutive success in the $180,000 Gold Bullion last month but finished second at odds of $17.
As well as Amadeus, Joan has a three-year-old half-sister called Reward (Reward for Effort) which is also trained by Kent who has had Joan as client for 30 years. She also has a Reward for Effort yearling filly.
“One has to go to the sale because as much as I’d like to keep them all there comes a time when you have to be sensible,’’ Joan said.
Amadeus – by Amadeus Wolf – traces back to Reckless’ dam Impulsive which was by Landau. Joan saved her money to send Impulsive to Better Boy and the result was Reckless.
Joan, who races Amadeus with her son Roland Jr. and friend Neil McMillan, had another reason to celebrate the victory of the seven-year-old entire.
She also has fond memories of the late Sir Chester Manifold who the race was named after.
“I was absolutely delighted to win a race named after him,” she said.
“Sir Chester was the epitome of racing. These generations that are here now don’t really appreciate or understand that without him, we may not have had racing as it is.
“He was the father of the TAB and he started it because he realised if something wasn’t done at that time, drastically and immediately, we would be in huge trouble.
“And not only that but he was a breeder himself and he bred Crisp (champion hurdler/steeplechaser).”