VETERAN horseman Joe Bajada received the perfect tonic at Maryborough yesterday.
Battling illness, Bajada was trackside to watch The Defiant capture Victoria’s first two-year-old race of the season in impressive fashion.
Having bred the colt, Bajada shares ownership with trainer Michael Azzopardi, who admitted the victory was an emotional time for all involved.
“Joe has been crook for a while, but is getting better and this win certainly lifted his spirits,” Azzopardi said. “To see the smile on his face and a little tear in his eye after the win even got to me a bit.
“He still had a pep in his step this morning. Usually he heads down to feed them about 9:30, but he was up and at it a couple of hours earlier today.”
Driven by Craig Demmler, The Defiant led throughout from barrier two to account for Tossup and Mygoldengrinner in 2:01.2 for the 1690 metres.
“It’s only early days, and you never want to get too exciting, but he has a lot of raw ability,” Azzopardi said. “I worked him at Melton during the week and he ran two minutes, with the last half in 56 seconds.
“He’s got the potential to be a very nice horse and hopefully he can live up to that.”
The Defiant is by top sire Blissful Hall, which holds court at leading breeding establishment Empire Stallions, which also the home of Rocknroll Hanover – sire of the first New South Wales two-year-old winner of the term.
Although Rocknroll Hanover died in 2013 before his breeding career truly began, his legacy continues in promising types such as Redbank Blaze.
A member of the in-form Paul Kahlefeldt stable, Redbank Blaze rated a stylish 1:59.1 over 1730 metres to score by 16-and-a-half metres from Ruth Shannon, with Rosemary Shannon a half-head away third.
- PAUL COURTS