Brendon Hearps has trained better horses than Vungers, but few gallopers have had more impact on the Bendigo trainer and his staff.
Hearps made the call to retire Vungers this week after the eight-year-old had his own "Chautauqua moment".
Much like when champion sprinter Chautauqua refused to jump out of the barriers in the twilight of his career, Vungers refused to gallop at trackwork on Monday.
"He just didn't want to go and he followed me off the track,'' Hearps said.
"That's not like him. He loved his work, he'd tow the riders out there and they'd have trouble holding him.
"It was the right time to retire him. He's no superstar, but as far as personality and toughness goes he's right up there. The owners paid $28,000 for him, he won $360,000 in prizemoney and they had an absolute ball with him. It certainly wasn't easy with him, but geez we had a lot of fun."
Vungers won six races from 42 career starts, including the Donald Cup and Wodonga Cup, and was placed a further 18 times in 42 career starts.
Five of those 18 placings were at metropolitan level - a far cry from an inglorious last of six on debut in a Manangatang maiden.
"He was a nightmare the first couple of years, he'd eat you alive,'' Hearps said of Vungers.
"Jack Peat broke him in and Rob Kirkpatrick started riding him and without Rob the horse probably wouldn't have made the races.
"He'd drop riders all the time back in the early years and then run off.
"Even 18 months ago he dropped Rob, but this time he just stood there and waited for him to get back on.
"It was all a joke for him. He'd play up on the training track, but on race day he wouldn't put a foot wrong."
Vungers' cheeky personality is what Hearps will miss most around the stable.
"He's clever, you'd think he's half-human sometimes,'' he said with a chuckle.
"If you're not careful he'll knock your beer off, put it between his teeth and take a swig. People think he gets his love of beer off the trainer, but it's more the owners than the trainer. The trainer is a pretty straight sort of a fella."
Hearps will long remember Vungers' spring campaign in 2020.
The tough on-pacer ran a gutsy fourth in a $500,000 Country Mile final at Flemington on Oaks Day before smashing his rivals in empathic style to win the Donald Cup and Wodonga Cup at consecutive starts.
"His two country Cup wins were sensational,'' Hearps said.
"He was in the zone and nothing was going to beat him those two days. He equalled the course record at Donald and broke the course record at Wodonga.
"He was a bit unlucky to not win a few more races as well, but we can't complain, the old bugger gave his all."
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