Racing: Never a dull moment with jumping Jack: A character promises high jinks at Kelso. Greg Wood reports

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The Independent Online
YOU ARE only as good as your last run, they say, but Jinxy Jack might disagree. The grey has won 18 of his 45 races in Britain, and attempts to set a new record at Kelso today by winning the Morebattle Hurdle - now renamed in his honour - for the fifth successive year. Yet to many backers he is only as good as his run at Wetherby in April 1988, 42 outings ago.

Jinxy Jack had been knocked down for 100,000gns, which equalled the record for a Flat horse going jumping, at the Doncaster Sales six months earlier. It was hardly a figure that many punters would find easy to forget. After an impressive winning debut, Jinxy Jack was twice a beaten favourite, and arrived at Wetherby with his reputation already in need of redemption. Favourite once again, this time at 1-2, he pulled hard, blundered badly at the fourth, jumped violently right three from home and ran out shortly afterwards. He's a rogue, we all muttered. What a waste of money.

Six years later, Jinxy Jack has won almost pounds 90,000, and that initial investment does not look so daft. He is a courageous, consistent performer, who led until the final flight in last season's Champion Hurdle and overall won five of his 10 starts. The early kinks have long since disappeared. 'He was a bit erratic, a bit highly strung,' was how Gordon Richards, his trainer, politely put it this week. 'But he's all settled now, even I can ride him. He's one of my favourites, he's a character.'

Yet still backers remember the upsets, the failures. Mention Jinxy Jack and fences and the memory is not of his three handicap chase victories in 1991- 92, but of a sequence of four falls in five outings in his novice year. It was said that Neale Doughty, Jinxy Jack's regular jockey, had abandoned his whip in favour of a parachute.

His immediate return to hurdles looked like an admission of defeat, but in fact ensured that Jinxy Jack would guarantee himself an enduring place in the record books. On his first outing back over the smaller obstacles he won his second Morebattle Hurdle, by 20 lengths. The following year, the same race drew out his fighting spirit, as Precious Boy was defeated by a head, but there was no need for heroics 12 months ago, when he won in a canter at odds of 1-8.

That fourth consecutive win was unprecedented, but the feat was matched two months later when Morley Street won his fourth Aintree Hurdle. Jinxy Jack will be a strong favourite to reclaim the outright record today, and could yet add another success next year.

'There's an odd hurdle in him if I can place him right,' Richards said, 'and there'd be a handicap in him if the handicapper didn't crucify him. But he's definitely not going to any big ones anymore. We're taking good care of him.'

Jinxy Jack deserves it. His debt has long since been repaid.