Retained led his rivals a merry dance in the Scotch Notch Memorial at Tabcorp Park.
The fairytale story that is Retained continued tonight when the former juvenile star claimed the Group 3 Scotch Notch Memorial at Melton’s Tabcorp Park.
A pacing-bred son of Safely Kept and family favourite to owners Jenni and Peter O’Byrne, Retained claimed the Redwood Classic at two before a health scare which threatened to end his life.
A twisted bowel was followed by a cavalcade of complications which saw him operated upon twice before a lengthy rehabilitation period under Jenni O’Byrne’s watchful and caring eye.
Incredibly, after being given up for dead, the John Justice trained seven-year-old announced his renaissance by winning The George Gath last November.
A deed he at least matched snaring the night’s squaregaiting feature tonight at Tabcorp Park.
“We don’t plan too far ahead with this horse but he’s close to the whole family because he’s been through so much,” Justice said.
“As you can see, my wife and my daughter are here with me, everybody loves this horse and he’s lucky to be with us, so I think he’s just a remarkable horse to be doing what he’s doing.”
A typically quick beginning from the standing start saw Retained roll to his favourite position at the head of affairs early in the Scotch Notch, a 2760m marathon named after one of Australia’s greatest ever horses.
A lead time of 94.3 seconds was followed by solid first half fractions of 30.2 and 31 as race favourite Mister Zion circled the field to sit parked after conceding the front line runners a 40m start.
Retained upped the ante once more through a 29.5 second third section before briefly being headed by Motu Young Jacob along the sprint lane but fighting back to score in a 29.7 second final split.
The narrow but convincing victory a great fillip for Jenni O’Byrne, who sadly could not be at Tabcorp Park for the almost pillar to post triumph.
“As a young horse this guy could have been anything,” Justice said.
“I’ve driven plenty of good trotters but one as honest as this horse I don’t think I ever have.”
Retained now boasts a record of 78 starts for 14 wins and almost $130,000 in prizemoney.