Trainer Brendon Hearps is enjoying a purple patch of form on the racetrack with his only two horses both last-start winners.
But he says the stable’s stellar run cannot compare to the news his family received last month.
“It’s been a great time but the success on the track is secondary to the news we received last month that my 11-year-old grandson, Ryder Enright, had recovered from lymphocytic leukaemia,” Hearps said.
“Nothing could make me happier than when we got that news.”
Since then, Hearps has been on a winning streak with the only two horses he has in work claiming three races between them.
Vungers put together successive wins in the Donald and Wodonga Cups and on Sunday his other galloper, Zoutons, won his second start at his home track of Bendigo.
Vungers will try to complete a hat-trick of wins at Flemington on Saturday when he lines up in the the #Lovethehorse Trophy (1600m) for which he is a $3.50 favourite with TAB fixed odds.
Hearps said Vungers had always tried hard but had taken his form to another level this preparation as a seven-year-old.
“He ran a great race at Flemington in the race we set him for when he finished fourth in the Country Championship and he should have finished third as he was taken off his course with 100 metres to go,” Hearps said.
Vungers has since employed his front-running tactics to win at Donald and Wodonga by a combined total of 7-1/2 lengths.
The only explanation Hearps can find for Vungers late-career surge is the addition of a water walker at his training facility at Bendigo.
“He goes in the water walker three days a week and that means he’s not pounding the ground having to gallop and that’s made a difference to him,” he said.
Vungers will be ridden by apprentice Melissa Julius, who will claim three kilograms, reducing his weight to 59 kilograms.
“A couple in the race go alright but I don’t think their form is any better than his,” Hearps said.
“I think it’s a pretty level playing field and he’ll go to the front and give his all as he always does.”
Hearps said he would probably spell Vungers after the Flemington race and bring him back for the Swan Hill Cup next year.