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Special horse for special time

In The Bag is a special horse for trainer Yannick Valenti and his partner, jockey Jessica Gray, who arrived at an important time in their lives. The couple have forged an unflappable bond with the eight-year-old and they’re hoping to share one more triumph with the gelding.

In The Bag, who has been tearing it up at Broome this season with a string of wins, will take to the racetrack for one final time in next Saturday’s Broome Cup (2200m).

Valenti and Gray have shared a wonderful journey with In The Bag and to go out on a winning high in Broome’s biggest race will deliver another emotional moment.

In The Bag handed Valenti his first training success at Broome in June, a personal milestone that reinvigorated his love and dedication for racing. The former jockey was on racing’s scrapheap after a third drug ban in 2015 and turned to training this year after giving up riding because of weight issues.

In The Bag came to Valenti when he was needed the most.

As for Gray, she’s been up and close as a regular partner of In The Bag. She has ridden the son of Slater in 19 of his 49 races, more than any other rider since his debut five years ago.

Gray says In The Bag means more to her than just the races he’s won.

“He’s just got a special personality,” Gray told The Races WA. “He does everything his own way, which cracks us up and he’s very demanding, does exactly what he wants, but he tries very hard.

“He’s a horse that teaches you to be humble, he knows he’s stronger than you and if you don’t show him any respect you can’t hold him. He’s also Yannick’s first real horse as a trainer and to come out and win four races at Broome this season has been huge.

“He’s basically paid for our wedding as well, which has been massive because we probably would have had to get a loan for the last little bit. He owed us nothing, we didn’t think he had to win a race to pay for the wedding, but he’s been huge for us that he has.

“It’s helped us out so much and set us up. He makes us so happy and has given Yannick so much confidence.”

In The Bag has found a liking for Broome this season, going undefeated in his four races. The only flaw in a dream preparation was the Derby Cup (1800m) when as favourite he beat just the one runner home.

Gray believes In The Bag will be a worthy contender in the Broome Cup, but admits his record at the trip is a concern. In The Bag’s had one attempt beyond 1800m and failed when third-last to Stafford’s Lad in the Kimberley Cup (2020m) a year ago.

“The biggest question is the distance, whether or not he will get it,” Gray said. “But going on this year you can’t fault him; he’s absolutely loving the Broome track.”

No matter what happens in the Broome Cup, away from the track, In The Bag, Gray and Valenti’s partnership will extended beyond his final appearance next Saturday.

“He’s as handsome as hell and will be my next showjumper,” Gray said. “He was always going to stay with us and has a home forever. I couldn’t even imagine parting with him. He will live with us until the day he dies.”

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