On Saturday 26, Timoko will be coming under orders behind the mobile gate at Cagnes for the final time on a French track, before heading to celebrate his jubilee in Richard Westerink's Dutch homeland at Wolvega.
We're gonna have to face it, Timoko is on the verge of his final race here in France. The evergreen champ and all time richest French trotter will be performing over the mile for the final time at his beloved Cagnes-sur-Mer. Mentor Richard Westerink looked back at his stable star's awesome career in n°244 of LeTrot's 'Trot Infos' magazine:
"I started off with nothing, and anyway, I never chose my friends according to how wealthy they were." Bas Crebas was the first one to advise him to leave Holland, suggesting that running for purses of 400 or 500 euros wasn't worth it. "He told me go to France or the States. Although I was attracted by the US, I opted for France as I already had horses here with my dad and ex wife."
So the Smeding stables took him on at the turn of 2000. But that didn't last long, and he landed up at Michel Charlot's yard on Robert Lacroix's advice. "I had a car accident involving a deer and what I earned just covered repairs and petrol. As I wanted to set up my own operation, I needed a work contract to take out a loan. So I worked part time in a tinning factory and told my boss not to expect me to stay for long. I worked from 4 am to 1 pm, then trained my horses in the afternoon with my ex wife. When Or du Rhin won his first race at Toulouse, i resigned!
The first time I set my eyes on Timoko, i said to myself he's so ugly! He looked more like a donkey with his long hair and big belly. But it was all so easy breaking him in. Without a doubt, his Critérium Continental triumph marked me most. He was long recovering from Lyme's disease and I didn't know whether he would ever get over it. He produced an incredible race with only twelve 500-metre intervals under his belt. As we went past the post I cried...Looking back, I think if ever he should've landed the Prix d’Amérique, it was that year as a 5yo. I was still leading 75 meters from home, but I had to ease him up as I could feel him going off stride. If he had never fallen ill, we would've won."
But Timoko's dual Elitloppet triumph partly compensates for the Amérique failure. The Swedish press nicknamed him 'Rocky Balboa'. "That's spot on because a warrior always gets back on his feet" says Westerink. "When I think of all the supporters Timoko has worldwide it really warms my heart. That's one of the reasons why I had had a statue of him made. Trotting is a wonderful sport and we must sell it to the public by opening up our gates to everyone. Otherwise horses will soon just be numbers."
On his last French bid, Timoko is taking up a final challenge : remain unbeaten seven times at Cagnes. No better way for the awesome champ to bow out.
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