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Remembering Annus Mirabilis after an annus horribilis

For many people 2020 was annus horribilis (‘horrible year’), thanks to the impact of COVID-19.

However, just four years ago, people were celebrating Annus Mirabilis (‘remarkable year’), after the horse of the same name captured the 2017 Adelaide Cup.

Annus Mirabilis won the 3200m staying test in convincing style, completing a remarkable 48 hours for young jockey Regan Bayliss, who won his first Group 1 race at Flemington aboard Redkirk Warrior (trained by David Hayes) in the Newmarket Handicap two days earlier.

The Morphettville victory coincided with the 20th birthday of Bayliss, who described the win as “absolutely awesome”.

“I can’t believe it really,” Bayliss said post-race.

“Obviously I won the Newmarket on Saturday then I turn 20 today and win the Adelaide Cup… it’s truly a great thrill.”

‘Remarkable’ is an apt word for the 2017 Cup story, given Annus Mirabilis was sourced by trainer Stuart Webb from the Lloyd Williams’ stable as a jumps prospect.

“We bought him and another horse as potential jumpers, but we were lucky enough that his new environment and some schooling over fences sparked his enthusiasm for racing,” Webb recalled this week.

“He won a Bagot Handicap at Flemington before that… so he was a nice little find.”

Webb described the Adelaide Cup win of Annus Mirabilis as dominant, but believes he should have two Cups to his credit.

“I had a horse called Firetaine that won the lead-up to the 2002 Adelaide Cup, when it was in May, the old Carlton Draught Stakes,” he said.

“Then he ran fourth, beaten a very small margin in the Adelaide Cup, behind The A Train.

“But Firetaine should’ve won. He had no luck; got beaten head, head, nose, bumped all up the straight. Two bobs and he wins.

“But we got there 15 years later.”

Webb is currently running a horse farm on the Mornington Peninsula.


Image: Regan Bayliss salutes after winning the 2017 Adelaide Cup aboard Annus Mirabilis. PHOTO: Just Horse Racing

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