Memories of Jezabeel’s Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) triumph will be rekindled when her colours are in action at Ellerslie on Tuesday, exactly 21 years after the first leg of her notable staying double.
Tolemac, a visitor from Melbourne contesting the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Auckland Guineas (1600m), will be sporting the colours worn on Jezabeel by a then-apprentice Opie Bosson to win the 1998 Auckland Cup and later in the same year by Chris Munce in an even more momentous win in the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Sharing in the three-way ownership of Jezabeel were Adrian Burr and trainer Brian Jenkins and the pair have a strong interest in Tolemac.
Burr is a part-owner of Tolemac and Jenkins’ two sons, Morgan and Wyatt, are also in the ownership, while Jenkins is supervising the New Zealand preparation of the Camelot gelding on behalf of his brother, Queensland trainer Paul Jenkins.
Tolemac’s connections are testing the water with a view to possibly staying on for the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) on March 2.
“We didn’t want to go to Sydney and we’re considering Brisbane in the winter,” Brian Jenkins said.
“We decided to come across for a couple of races and if he comes up we’ll look at the New Zealand Derby. If not, he can spell here on the good New Zealand grass and get ready for the Queensland Derby (2400m).”
Jenkins originally prepared Tolemac for the breeze-up sales in Melbourne, but he failed to reach his reserve.
“He was passed in at $80,000,” Jenkins said. “He’s got a good action and I liked his character so we got the syndicate together.”
Jenkins retired from training three years ago and his racing interests are now with another Cranbourne trainer, Francis Finnegan, who is best remembered in New Zealand as the trainer of 2009 Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) winner Eileen Dubh.
Jenkins and Burr also share ownership in the Finnegan-trained Wolfe Tone, who was third in the Listed VRC St Leger (2800m) and seventh in the 2017 Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.
Tolemac earned a crack at the Gr.1 Victoria Derby last November after winning his debut over 1600m at Moe, running second over 1800m at Flemington then finishing fourth in the Listed Geelong Classic (2200m) last October. He finished unplaced in the Victoria Derby for Finnegan.
“I’m not sure he’s a mile and a half (2400m) horse,” Jenkins said. “He’s best suited at a mile and a quarter (2000m), but we’ll find out.
“We didn’t get a true line on him in the Victoria Derby. As usual, he went forward and in hindsight that was a mistake. He was still there at the 300m, but all those in the first half of the field finished up in the last half.”
Tolemac has been temporarily transferred to Paul Jenkins’ care and will later return to Finnegan’s stable.
“Francis and his wife are busy with their team so didn’t really have the time to come over here with just one horse,” Jenkins said.
Tolemac arrived in New Zealand on December 14 and three days later he lined up at the Te Awamutu trials in an open 1150m heat and finished a creditable fourth.
“It was a little bit close off the plane, but it was the last lot of trials here for the year and it would have been two months without a run if he hadn’t lined up,” Jenkins said.
“He’s still learning and it was a good hit-out for him.”
Jake Bayliss was aboard in the trial and will again take the reins on Tuesday.
“Jake and I go a long way back,” Jenkins said. ”I gave him his first race ride and he rode a winner for me, so did his father Jamie when he made a comeback, and so did his brother (Regan).”
Tolemac has been based at Shaun and Emma Clotworthy’s stables at Byerley Park and Paul Jenkins has been keeping close tabs on his progress.
“Brian can look after him for this one and I’ll be over for his next run,” Paul Jenkins said. “He’s in good hands.” - NZ Racing Desk