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PART-OWNER Mark Pilkington reckons Extra Zero might buy himself a ticket into Living Legends if the “good honest citizen’’ wins at Flemington on Saturday.
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Nothing to do with sentiment or symmetry, “Pilko’’ says, although it will be Extra Zero’s 100th start, and quite possibly his last.
“I might be being a bit of a romantic or something but I’d say he’s nearly earned it,’’ Pilkington said.
The scoreboard would deny Extra Zero entry. In fact old Zero’s not even on it, not compared to Legends residents like Might And Power and Silent Witness.
But scoreboards only reveal numbers, not stories.
Extra Zero is a perennial. Racing has few of them. He’s 10 years old. A measure of his age, and of David Hayes’ penchant for fiddling, is that he’s had 24 gear changes in a racing career that began in April 2011.
When Hayes was going dusty a few years back, old Zero was (metaphorically) by his side — and out of form.
The former top class three-year-old looked shot. He’d had a run of 14 “outs” and Pilko and his mate Rob Minney were keen to buy him off Zero’s owner-breeders and send him to Darwin for the Cup. After that, maybe the up and overs.
“Now Hayesy wasn’t exactly flying back then and he arked right up,’’ Pilkington said. “Besides, he loved the horse and thought he had something left to give, probably as a jumper. So he bought in, as well as a heap of others.’’
The “heap’’ of others included a handful of bookmakers, an up and coming AFL administrator called Gillon McLachlan, a “Rake-like’’ lawyer, a handful of well-to-do’s and a handful of less well-to-do’s.
They paid $60,000 for him.
Extra Zero got as far as a Cup lead-up at Fannie Bay. The 2013 Cup was called off because of the tragic fatality of Simone Montgomery in an earlier race.
He hated the sump-oil kickback anyway, and Darwin was never going to suit. He jumped like a stag — and had a handful of jumps starts for the new owners — but hated the wet, and jumps races are run mostly in winter.
So Extra Zero became Lindsay Park’s stalwart — glamorous mates have come and gone, old Zero has stayed.
He’s had 57 starts for his second owners for $718,000.
He won a restricted hurdle at Ballarat, but has been a bit-player in a handful of big races, particularly over 2000m at Flemington — two wins and 12 placings from 36 starts — where the curtain is likely to be drawn on Saturday.
He’s a $26 shot for his farewell. “A darn good place bet,” Pilkington said.
Zero’s people, the lawyer, the bookies, the AFL boss (perhaps), will be at Flemington to say farewell to an average old horse who is also great; part money muncher, part cash cow, one of many, one in a million.
Originally published as Add another Zero to his name, he’s earned it