Joan Walker’s Amadeus returned to Pakenham Racing Club to defend his $180,000 VOBIS Gold Bullion title on an exciting and rejuvenated Pakenham Cup day.

Ensuring that their stand-alone Saturday race meeting returned to its former glory, the locals made the most of the feature regional raceday with a crowd of 10,000 in attendance.

Packenham racing club’s chief executive Michael Hodge, was thrilled with the turnout, showing that country racing is most definitely “alive and well”.

Over 1400 metres, the Mick Kent-trained Amadeus (Amadeus Wolf {GB}) went back to back at his favourite track to take out the VOBIS Gold Bullion for the second year in a row.

Now unbeaten in three appearances there, the 6-year-old is likely to have a start at Flemington over summer before chasing more VOBIS riches at the VOBIS Gold race day at Caulfield in April.

Kent was thrilled to claim the lucrative VOBIS prize money offered, with the first prize of $82,500 along with $30,000 in VOBIS bonus money swelling Amadeus’ prizemoney to nearly $350,000 after his fourth career win.

“He’s a 78 graded horse racing for great money which he wouldn’t be able to get against his own rated horses. Everyone’s getting on board with VOBIS Gold, which is getting bigger and bigger and that’s great.” Kent said.

“We set him for this race and after his start at Moonee Valley we gave him a bit of time down the beach. We were really happy with him and he’s got the job done which is good.”

Ridden by Craig Williams, a loyal supporter of the VOBIS scheme, Amadeus shot clear at the top of the straight and just held on from the fast-finishing Mr Money Bags to win by a short head, with Jesta Dreamer a long neck away third.

“When I jumped him out at a barrier trial on Monday, I could see how he’d actually developed. His neck had really filled out and he has grown from a boy into a sire.” Williams said. “He drew an outside gate, but we were positive and confident. He loved stretching his neck out to the wire.”

Pakenham VOBIS Gold winner Amadeus is a homebred for Joan Walker, a life member of TBV and many were thankful for her tip, that she humbly gave out to breeders at the Thoroughbred Breeders Victorian Awards night.

“I am exhausted with excitement. It was a very special win as he was just so badly injured as a three-year-old. He is just the gentlest horse for an entire, exactly like my Reckless, his temperament is identical. He is brave and determined, it was déjà vu,” Walker said.

Amadeus’ racetrack career began promisingly, having won his first two races, he ran a smart second to the good filly Silent Sedition in the Listed Bendigo Guineas.

However, heartbreakingly, at his next start at Caulfield, he was galloped on so badly his hind leg was stripped to the bone.

“Many would not realise how bad it was, he is so lucky. His skin was hanging on the ground and if it wasn’t for the brilliant care and management from Mick Kent and his vet Stuart Webb he would have been lost. Mick is a brilliant horseman, he rebandaged the wound and cared night and day for eight months. He said one more millimetre and it would have been through the tendon, so it was a wonderful feat to get him back and racing.”

Having bred for generations, Amadeus is from the brilliant thoroughbred family Joan’s family have been breeding from since 1930.

“It is an unbroken line on the female side. My grandfather bought the first at the Sydney Easter sale called Androver, and since her, we have always kept a filly to breed with.”

“My father after leaving the army, having walked out of his medical practice when he joined up, used the small payment he received for serving in the War to buy one horse from our family property at Yering. Having an eye for a horse, he chose the filly, called Spitfire.”

A daughter of Hostile (Simeon’s Fort (IRE)) out of Androver (Andrea (GB)), Spitfire went on to win the 1950 VRC Oakleigh Plate before a career as a broodmare.

“Each year Dad, who was President of TBV, would send Spitfire to Ted Underwood’s property, Warlaby Stud to be covered by one of his stallions. That was where George Smith started his career on the farm, when he was just a young boy.”

“Dad and Ted became great mates, and through racing and breeding Ted became very friendly with the Queen after her visit to Australia, so much so that she sold one of the first horses ever from the Royal Stud to Ted, a stallion called Landeau.”

“Unfortunately, Dad couldn’t afford the high service fee Landeau asked as he was a hobby breeder and with the wartime, and a family to look after, money was tight. So, he sent Spitfire to Warlaby to an affordable option. One night, Ted rang and let him know that Spitfire was in foal, and that generously, that the sire was Landeau. The resultant foal was a gift horse from a great friend.”

“Spitfire was the first horse I remember from the family, as Dad gave the foal to my mother and I as a belated birthday present. Our birthday was in March, so we thought he had forgotten as usual, but come August, Spitfire foaled a beautiful filly, that we called Impulsive, and we knew it was worth the wait.”

Trained by Tommy Woodcock, Impulsive’s first start was as hot favourite in the Maribyrnong Plate at Flemington. It was the very first time they had used starting gates, like the barriers today.

“Before then we had a strand start. Well, Impulsive anticipated the start, and went straight up in the air and knocked Geoff Lane the jockey, clean off.”

“Impulsive worked it out at her next start and broke the track record at Caulfield. She beat the record Adored held for 32 years. It was over 900 metres, before metric came in.”

“We lost Dad to a heart attack shortly after when only 52, when I was only in my early twenties. My father was a brilliant doctor and a research professor at the Peter McCallum Institute. He had the most incredible memory and could remember six generation pedigree from any good horse at the time.”

“As mum and I were grief-stricken, Tommy decided to get Impulsive out of the paddock from her spell and put her back into work quick smart. When I protested and said it was too soon, he was shrewd and said, “but Mrs Walker, it’s my livelihood” and I knew dad would have killed us if we didn’t look after Tommy.”

“Tommy Woodcock was such a dear friend of the family, and he called me Mrs Walker from the day I was married and every day since. When I would say, please call me Joan, Tommy would answer, “yes, Mrs Walker.”

“So Impulsive was ready to return to the track, and again I didn’t feel ready to go to the races after losing Dad, but Tommy was too clever again and said that “I had to be there, it’s a rule of racing that the owner must be on the track when their horse starts.”

“Looking back, Tommy was street smart and subtle – He gave us joy again, he got my mother and I back to racing and we shared that win with Dad. Thanks to Tommy, we are still involved in racing to this day.”

Impulsive then won the next two races and was declared the best two-year-old of her year.

“Unfortunately, when she went to stud the theory was that the stallion was king, and the mare was unimportant. The fact that she was Champion two-year-old of her year, cut no ice with any stallion masters. They didn’t care about the mare, and we couldn’t afford the best stallions like Star Kingdom and the French stallion, Wilkes.”

“So, I started a saving account from my job at the Alfred Hospital and after a couple of years I had saved up enough to send her to the third best stallion, Better Boy, and the result was Reckless!”

Reckless is related to Amadeus, as they all directly trace back to Joan’s wonderful mare, Impulsive. A son of Amadeus Wolf, Amadeus, is out of Dangerous mare, Jaywalk.

“We have a two-year-old from Jaywalk by Reward For Effort that we will keep to race in the new year, and we may put her foal at foot, also by Reward For Effort in a sale. We would love to keep them all, but they are beginning to multiply. We would if we could, but there has to be a moment of truth.”

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