Frank and Tate's feel-good win with Cyclone Jordy

By Michael Guerin

As comebacks go this was one of the sweetest and most deserved Alexandra Park will ever see.

And while the $110,000 Breckon Farms Young Guns Final was sandwiched between two great open class races on Friday night, it was a whole different kind of special.

The two-year-old dash was taken out by Cyclone Jordy who used speed and manners to hold out the dashing late run of Youretheonethatiwant, the runner-up confirming she is a very special freshman filly.

But the story behind the winner was more than that of the heavily-backed favourite whizzing home in 27.7 seconds to make the punters happy.

This was the story of young trainer Tate Hopkins' first Group 1 victory. And the man who helped get him there.

Cyclone Jordy is majority owned by Frank Cooney (and wife Ann), Cooney being the master horseman who taught Hopkins much of what he knows.

But Hopkins had to grow up real quick and take the reins of their partnership when Frank was badly injured in an Alexandra Park race smash in 2012.

He ended up in a coma in critical care and while he drove at the workouts again he never drove in another race.

“I had one drive at the workouts and realised I shouldn’t be out there any more,” says Cooney.

His track work driving days were gone too, complicated further when Cooney suffered a stroke years later.

But through all that Hopkins has been there, keeping the business together, aided by his wife Tiffany.

Cooney may talk a beat slower but he still smiles just as much and his eye for a horse is just as keen, as he showed when selecting Cyclone Jordy from the Karaka sales last year.

His breeders, brothers Kyle and Heath Mills, Gareth Dixon, Mark Lyon and Ant Strachan came back in for 25 per cent but Cyclone Jordy is mainly the Cooneys and that means the world to Hopkins.

“To train my first Group 1 winner is great but to train it in those colours is what is really special,” says Hopkins.

“Everybody know what Frank has done for me and how much we have worked together and what he has been through.

“So to get this for him is what it is all about.”

Of course that isn’t how Friendly Frank sees it.

“Don’t write a story about me, write it about Tate,” he insists.

“He does all the work. I go down the stables but I reckon Tate gets sick of me sometimes because he tells me I should be taking Ann out to lunch.

“I think he only says that to get rid of me.”

Some people might get offended if you asked them about their medical history but not Frank. He has always been the same, affable, a gentleman, a person you left feeling better after talking to.

So, Frank, how is the noggin?

“It’s not bad,” he says, smiling.

“Not as good as is used to be, but not bad.”

Good enough to still pick Group 1 winners out of the crowd at Karaka. Good enough to be at Alexandra Park, cheering them home and holding court, the centre of attention.

And good enough to even sneak two small celebratory beers with some international cricketers and ex-All Black ownership mates in the winner’s circle.

“But don’t tell Ann about the beers, she isn’t supposed to know,” smiles Cooney.

 

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