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PETER SNOWDEN Rubbing shoulders with kings and sheikhs

PATINACK FARM The business and the passion

THE BIG STEAL Great stories of great stings

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WONDERFUL WORLD Brown horse 2003, 16hh, Agnes World (USA) – Success Tale, by Success Express (USA)

A CLASSIC HORSE AND CLASSIC MILER Group One winner of the Caulfield Guineas Five times placed at Group One level Runner-up in Group One Cox Plate Third in Group One Blue Diamond Precocious two-year-old — winning a cheque at every outing Trained on at four to place in three Group Ones Standing in 2008 at Independent Stallions, Nagambie, Victoria


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Date: Sunday 13th July 2008. Where: Independent Stallions - 131 O’Neil’s Road, Tabilk Vic 3607. Starts: 1pm Includes lunch and local wines. Bus transportation will be available departing from Melbourne Airport at 11:30am and will return at 4:30pm. RSVP by: 30th June to or 03 5794 2248

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Wonderful Opportunities Launching Patinack Farm’s 2008 stallion roster Wonderful World Agnes World (USA) – Success Tale $22,000* Standing at Independent Stallions, Nagambie, Victoria

Casino Prince Flying Spur – Lady Capel $38,500*

PATINACK $1 MILLION BREEDERS’ BONUS Patinack Farms has launched the 2008 Patinack Breeders’ Bonus — a scheme that will see $1 million in bonuses divided between breeders and owners of metropolitan winners sired by Patinack Farm’s stallions*. This bonus emphasises the lengths to which Patinack Farm will support our stallions, and our clients. Our plan is to do everything possible for our clients to ensure them the best return, and the bonus applies not only for commercial breeders, but also for those who breed to race. This plan also includes supporting our stallions with the best of our high-quality band of broodmares; by a commitment to purchase the best progeny of our sires at the yearling sales; and our unique live foal guarantee.

Husson (Arg.) Hussonet (USA) – Villa Elisa (Chile) $30,250*

Beautiful Crown (USA)

An annual pool of $1,000,000 will be distributed 50/50 to both the breeder and the owner/s of every metropolitan race winner (does not include group races) sired by a Patinack stallion*. The break-up will be: $20,000 for each Saturday metropolitan winner in NSW or Victoria. $10,000 for each mid- week metropolitan winner in NSW and Victoria. $10,000 for each Saturday metropolitan winner in Queensland. * Not applicable to Beautiful Crown

Chief’s Crown (USA) – Beautiful Glass (USA) $16,500*

Casino Prince, Husson and Beautiful Crown standing at Patinack Farm, Aberdeen, NSW


For further information contact

Independent Stallions. Mike Becker. Mob: 0412 538 155. Ph: 03 5794 2248. Patinack Farm. Roger Langley. Mob: 0419 891 079. Andrew Bowcock. Mob: 0407 787 549. Phone: 02 6543 7329. *All prices inclusive of GSP and include Free Return

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PUBLISHED BY: The Slattery Media Group MANAGING EDITOR: Geoff Slattery PUBLICATIONS MANAGER: Alison Hurbert-Burns PRODUCTION EDITOR: Howard Kotton

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8 STAYING WITH SPEED Editorial by Danny Power




DESIGNERS: Joanne Mouradian, Beck Haskins

Writer Peter Ryan takes us into the unusual world of the horse dentist.

An essay by Stephen Moran about his experience travelling the world of racing.


The Darley buy-out of Woodlands Stud has made world headlines. Matthew Stewart talks to the head trainer Peter Snowden.

45 THE SILK DEPARTMENT Australia’s female riders are more than holding their own in the cut-throat world of racing.





Danny Power looks at the intriguing world of the rare white thoroughbred.

Sheikh Mohammed has breathed new life into one of Victoria’s most historic properties.



Stephen Howell talks jumping with leading trainer Robbie Laing.

Danny Power talks to Roger Langley, the man behind the big-spending Nathan Tinkler.

26 MOODY: ROUGH DIAMOND Peter Moody talks to Ben Collins about his long journey.

34 JOINING FORCES Bruce Elkington and Jamie Edwards have formed a unique training partnership.

60 THE BIG STEAL How leviathan bookie and punter Mark Read pulled off one of Australia’s biggest betting stings, by Rhett Kirkwood. NEW SIRE: Purrealist parades past the statue of Makybe Diva at Tony Santic’s Victorian stud, Makybe.

Adrian Dunn looks at the A.V. Hiskens Steeplechase. The last instalment of a series following the life of a young thoroughbred.

82 PICNICS, POLITICS AND PONIES From amateur rider to politician, Peter McGauran is the new CEO of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.


PHOTO EDITORS: Tom Kearney, Serena Galante, Natalie Boccassini PUBLICATIONS COORDINATOR: Penny McVey BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT (RACING): Tanya Fullarton, ADVERTISING SALES: Ben Day, CONTRIBUTORS: Bruno Cannatelli, Ben Collins, Adrian Dunn, Stephen Howell, Rhett Kirkwood, Martin King, Matthew Stewart, Stephen Moran, Peter Ryan. PHOTOGRAPHY: GSP Images Ph: (03) 9627 2600, Visit SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES: All correspondence to the editor, The Thoroughbred. AFL House, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, Vic 3008, ph (03) 9627 2600 Contributions welcome, visit


The Thoroughbred is published quarterly. Next edition, Spring 2008

A study of some of the first season sires for 2008.

The Slattery Media Group thanks Racing Victoria Limited for its support of The Thoroughbred. THE WRITERS Danny Power is the editor of Racing In Australia and a senior staff writer for the Slattery Media Group. Stephen Moran is the editor of Best Bets, host of the Racing Central program on radio Sport 927 and co-host on TVN. Matthew Stewart is a senior racing writer with the Herald Sun and host on radio Sport 927. Stephen Howell is a senior sports writer with The Age who covered the 2007 Hong Kong International races at Sha Tin. Ben Collins is a senior staff writer for the Slattery Media Group, and the author of numerous books, including The Champions and the Jason McCartney story, After Bali. Peter Ryan is a senior staff writer for the Slattery Media Group with a keen interest in racing. Adrian Dunn is a senior racing writer with the Herald Sun. Rhett Kirkwood is a former senior racing writer for The Herald and is working as a freelance journalist. ON THE COVER: Rugged horseman Peter Moody pictured at trackwork at Caulfield, by Sean Garnsworthy for GSP Images.

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POLISH PRECEDENT ex RAGERA (RAINBOW QUEST) • World Champion Miler • Six time Group 1 winner FEE: $19,250 (Inc GST and Free Return)


OCTAGONAL ex SHADEA (STRAIGHT STRIKE) • Three time Group 1 Classic winner • Yearlings sold up to $260,000 in 2008 FEE: $16,500 (Inc GST and Free Return)


FLYING SPUR ex COPA DE ORO (HECTOR PROTECTOR) • Group 3 winner, Multiple Stakes winner • A descendent of the illustrious Denise’s Joy family FEE: $11,000 (Inc GST and Free Return)

Racer’s Edge

RORY’S JESTER ex GOD’S GIRL (GODSWALK) • Group 1 winner • Churning out weekly winners FEE: $4,400 (Inc GST and Free Return)

Enquiries to Greg Willis or Alex Doble on (03) 5799 0560, or

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Staying with speed While several factors support Australian racing’s desire for speed, the irony is that more high-class staying stallions are standing here, boosting our ability to breed world-class fast stayers. WORDS DANNY POWER


t’s amazing how life continually crosses its own path. Recently while “googling” for some information on Gai Waterhouse, I came across an editorial comment, written in January 2008 (on Steve Brem’s excellent blog This Racing Game), by her husband, bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse, deploring the demise of the modern staying races in an Australian industry hellbent on speed. That same afternoon I attended the West Australian Turf Club media announcement that the Group 2 Perth Cup was to be reduced from 3200 metres to 2400 metres. The WATC decision comes in the wake of last year’s switch of the Group 2 Brisbane Cup, also from 3200m to 2400m. This leaves only three 3200m “majors” in the country – the Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington, Group 1 Sydney Cup (Randwick) and Group 2 Adelaide Cup (Morphettville). The Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (formerly the Duke Of Norfolk), run at Flemington, is the only other black type 3200m race in Australia. The “loss” of the 3200m Perth and Brisbane Cups also comes as calls grow in strength for the Group 1 Victoria Derby to be cut from 2500m to 2000m. Those who support these changes claim Australian racing is taking a realistic approach. Australia’s place in the world is to produce speed – and recent successes at Royal Ascot and Japan, as well as a dominance in the restricted racing of Hong Kong, underpin this approach. Those against say it is a concerted push by an over-

THE MODERN STAYER: Efficient (Michael Rodd) winning the 2006 Group 1 Victoria Derby at Flemington. The grey became the first Derby winner to win the Melbourne Cup as a 4YO since Phar Lap in 1930.

influential breeding industry hell bent on an emphasis on speed to the detriment of tradition, and the style of racing that once formed the Australian thoroughbred. The speed rush is born out of a push by owners and trainers for a quick return; a situation that Waterhouse acknowledged is difficult to defend in this commercial world. Waterhouse claims two major reasons for the loss of interest in distance racing in Australia. (1) What he says is the nearabandonment of the “handicapper’s tool”, the weight-for-age scale for non-Group races. (2) The state-based bonus prizemoney system such as VOBIS, BOBS and the restricted Magic Millions races that divert buyers from seeking “the best” horses in the market and push them towards “eligible” horses.

Waterhouse believes our handicappers now weight horses “on performance”, rather than an attempt to equalise their winning opportunities. He wrote: “The time-proven WFA scale has been supplanted by an inferior, dare I say, puerile scale. In simple terms, the new scale is very muted and inexplicably, ignores distance as a factor. This important change has never been ventilated or publicly debated. To illustrate the change, under the old WFA scale a threeyear-old in early November over 3200m would receive, until about 25 years ago, about 13 kilos from a four-year-old of equal standing. Under the modern official WFA, it is now about 10 kilos. But, under the current non-Group 1 scale, only 1.5 kilos is allowed – a huge difference.” Waterhouse claims this works to the detriment of our staying

handicaps that should benefit from the influx of three-year-olds to add excitement and fresh blood to the contests. He cites the fact that three-year-olds rarely run in the Melbourne Cup, yet they were a dominant force up until Skipton was the last 3YO to win in 1941. He claims that racing has gone down a protectionist path when the rest of the commercial world is freeing up markets. Waterhouse also quotes former leading Queensland trainer Bruce McLachlan blaming his loss in standing as a leading Australiawide trainer on the demands of his Queensland owners for him to buy only QRIS-eligible horses. I find it interesting that Sir Patrick Hogan’s famous Cambridge Stud in New Zealand has flourished thanks to two of our greatest sires of stayers, Sir Tristram (B h 1971, Sir Ivor (USA-


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Isolt (USA), by Round Table (USA)) and his son Zabeel (B h 1986, Sir Tristram (IRE)-Lady Giselle (FR), by Nureyev (USA)), yet Sir Patrick has not tried to replace the ageing Zabeel with one of his sons. His preference in the past few years has been to try to inject more speed into his Cambridge broodmare lines with the importation of Stravinsky (B h 1996, Nureyev (USA)-Fire The Groom (USA), by Blushing Groom (FR)) and One Cool Cat (Br h 2001, Storm Cat (USA)-Tacha (USA), by Mr. Prospector (USA)) and the purchase of Goodwood Handicap (1200m) winner Keeper (B h 1997, Danehill (USA)-Nuwirah (USA), by Pleasant Colony (USA)). This isn’t necessarily a result of a desire to breed for speed, but a realisation that, for Cambridge to keep pace, then Hogan’s stout female families needed outcrossing lest they produce dour hurdlers, rather than fast-staying Melbourne Cup winners. Take the Melbourne Cup, for instance. The quality of the race has improved dramatically recently. Past winners such as Gatum Gatum (1963) (Br g 1958, Star Of Baroda-Certa Ceta, by Merry Mathew (GB)) and Piping Lane (1972) (B g 1966, Lanesborough (IRE)Londonderry Air, by Piping Time (GB)) would not be able to live with the modern-day Cup winners such as Saintly (Ch g 1992, Sky Chase (NZ)-All Grace (NZ) by Sir Tristram (IRE)) and Makybe Diva (B m 1999, Desert King (IRE)-Tugela (USA), by Riverman (USA)), all horses capable of winning at weight-forage over shorter distances, and with the turn-of-foot at the end of 3200m that would win most 1600m races. Is this a by-product of the breed for speed approach? A positive, unplanned for byproduct. As the weights compress, and the speed is introduced, you need to be fast and strong to win Australia’s greatest race. We can

‘ As the weights

compress, and the speed is introduced, you need to be fast and strong to win Australia’s greatest race.

see the same approach in the Olympics: the 5000m middle distance event is as much a sprint these days, as was the 1500m when Herb Elliott dominated. But as the major races fall in distance, there is an upsurge in longer races for moderates with infinitely more 3000m races run in Australia than ever before. Moonee Valley runs a 3000m race at most meetings. Another irony exists in our stallion barns. In the past few years Australia has hosted more worldclass staying sires than ever before. Instead of plodding stout stallions of the past, thanks to the global breeding empires of Coolmore and Darley an Australian breeder can send a broodmare to the winners of the Epsom Derby (2400m), the Kentucky Derby (2000m), Preakness Stakes (2000m) and Belmont Stakes (2400m), and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m). This year alone we will have two of the world’s best staying horses in Coolmore’s Dylan Thomas (B h 2003, Danehill (USA)-Lagrion (USA), by Diesis (GB)) and Darley’s Bernardini (B h 2003, A.P. Indy (USA)-Cara Rafaela (USA), by Quiet American (USA)) standing in Australia. Such quality of horse would not have crossed the equator in the past – our studmasters would have secured the slow or unraced brothers or half-brothers of such champions. Surely this influx of their blood and the blood of the likes of Galileo (B h 1998, Sadler’s Wells (USA)-Urban Sea (USA), by Miswaki (USA), Montjeu (B h 1996,

Sadler’s Wells (USA)-Floripedes (FR), by Top Ville (IRE)), High Chaparral (B h 1999, Sadler’s Wells (USA)-Kasora (IRE), by Darshaan (GB)), Tiger Hill (B h 1995, Danehill (USA)-The Filly (FR), by Apiani (ITY)) and Artie Schiller (B h 2001, El Prado (IRE)Hidden Light (USA), by Majestic Light (USA)), and the Japanese stars Zenno Rob Roy (Br h 2000, Sunday Silence (USA)-Roamin Rachel (USA), by Mining (USA)) and Jungle Pocket (B h 1998, Sunday Silence (USA)-Dance Charmer (USA), by Nureyev (USA)), will result in a building of

high-class stamina into our breed. And now for the ultimate ironies. Stakemoney for staying races remains infinitely higher than what the sprinters are aiming for. And the stoutly bred yearlings are cheaper. Time is the only hindrance. But for people with the patience – perhaps equals money – to take advantage of the wealth of outstanding staying blood on our fi ngertips, you can bet “London to a brick” with Robbie Waterhouse that their racing experience will be a lot more enduring that what owning a 1000m “scamperer” will offer.

Join The Thoroughbred Directory Have you ever wondered how you might find a farrier in Forbes? Or a horse dentist in Hamilton? Or a track rider in Tocumwal? The Thoroughbred Directory is the answer.

for our printed Directory (out in September) – more words, display advertising, link to your website; whatever you choose, The Thoroughbred Directory is there for your needs.

This month, The Thoroughbred Directory has been launched online at thethoroughbred. All basic listings are free, as we want this directory to be deep and thorough. We are aiming for the sky with The Thoroughbred Directory, because we know what it has been like to find information that can assist your business – whether it’s the highest level of professional, or a new player learning from the bottom. Finding assistance has always meant being part of a professional network.

All data gathered online will also be published in the printed edition of The Thoroughbred Directory, which will also include a complete review of Australian racing from the current season – all the winners of Group racing, in comprehensive detail, all the lists of winning trainers and jockeys, all the tracks, all you need to know about the season just gone, and the season ahead.

The Thoroughbred Directory is there to help you find whatever you need to know. Build a website … print a brochure … find the nick for your precious mare … check out the new trainer on the block … book a jockey. The Thoroughbred d Directory has been built from om the ground up to assist the industry to grow.

The Thoroughbred Magazine and The Thoroughbred Directory are a great double. You can subscribe via our liftout in this edition of The Thoroughbred, or go online at This is the future. Join up now. Geoff Slattery Publisher, The Thoroughbred

Your listing is free, but you can upgrade your listing to make it stand out from the he pack. You can add any form m of premium listing, for online and


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kings sheikhs Rubbing shoulders with



n racing there had never been a bigger set of keys to a bigger kingdom, bar, perhaps, for the ones one-time Dubai policeman Saeed bin Suroor, now trainer for Godolphin, has jingled in his pocket since 1995. When global giant Darley Stud announced in March that it had bought the racing and breeding interests of the much-loved Ingham family – for a dizzy $760 million – an epic era closed and a gigantic door opened. The Ingham brothers were Australian racing’s greatest success story, home-spun heroes who started with a humble chook and built a horse racing and breeding empire. Jack wore his heart on his sleeve, Bob was more reserved, less visible; different men but inseparable siblings. Despite their phenomenal wealth, reported to be somewhere between $500 and $600

million, the Chicken Kings were never regarded as tall poppies. Their cerise army was as popular as it was successful. When Octagonal (Br c 1992, Zabeel-Eight Carat by Pieces of Eight) was beaten in his farewell race, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), at Randwick in April 1997 (by Intergaze), the lawns and stands were a sea of cerise banners and fl ags. There, in the middle, was Jack Ingham, high-fiving the crowd. The scenes were similar when the home-bred Lonhro (Br c 1998, Octagonal-Shadea by Straight Strike) bowed out in the same race, also in defeat (by Grand Armee), seven years later. Jack was not there, having died, aged 75, in 2003. Then late last year, the army was hit with a major bombshell, followed by another a few months later.

IN CHARGE: Trainer Peter Snowden in discussion with jockey Corey Brown.


Peter Snowden’s world has been turned upside down in the past six months. After a fruitful long-time association with the famous Chicken Kings, the Ingham brothers, the career horseman finds himself in charge of the Australian stable of global racing giant Sheikh Mohammed. Not bad for a battler from NSW’s Hunter Valley. WORDS MATTHEW STEWART.

10 T H E T H O R O U G H B R E D

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First, in the early part of last spring, long-time Ingham trainer John Hawkes announced he and his two sons Michael and Wayne were going it alone. Hawkes once said he would have to be sacked to part ways with the Inghams. He wasn’t, and his departure was hard to comprehend. Then, less than six months after the general declared he was off, it was announced the army itself would be marching into the sunset, or at least to a different tune. When Jack died, the soul of the operation passed on with him. Bob hung in there but things weren’t the same. The Ingham racing empire was not a hobby-horse and Bob was aware the next generation of Inghams, while committed racing men and women, would rather inherit a few horses than 1000. So when Darley bowled up with a truckload of money, Bob Ingham took it. If the racing world had been stunned by the consecutive Ingham bombshells, then what of the man who had been handed the keys to the kingdom when Hawkes walked out, and still held them when the sheikh walked in? Not surprisingly, career horseman Peter Snowden describes the past six months as the most bizarre in his life. “The first three weeks I was numb,” he said of the Darley buyout. “I was lost. I thought, ‘gee, what’s happened to my world’?” Snowden had been with the Ingham family for 20 years, about five years longer than Hawkes. Jack Ingham had been like a father to 52-year-old Snowden. Ingham would ring Snowden every second night. Two days after Jack’s funeral, Snowden broke down in the mounting yard at the races when he realised Jack wasn’t in his usual place, right beside him, leaning on the rail. Snowden was an Ingham man. “Jack and Bob have been more than bosses to me. When Jack died I was devastated. I lost my father

not long before Jack died and it was like losing my father all over again,” he said. So Snowden was heart-broken the day Bob Ingham summoned him to his Liverpool office and delivered what would become the most earth-shattering news of his life. That meeting was on Monday, March 3, two days after Snowden’s stunning five-win haul at Randwick, the ultimate kickstart to his fledgling career. Snowden was at the Warwick Farm trials when Bob rang and asked him to pop into the office. When Snowden arrived, Ingham was too distraught to deliver him the news of the Darley takeover; that he was selling up to a foreign stranger, so he motioned to his ever-present business manager John Hexton to deliver the stunning details for him. When he later composed himself, Ingham described Darley’s offer as “too good to refuse”. Snowden stood stunned as Hexton spoke with emotion. “Imagine the biggest shock you’ve had and multiply it by 10,” Snowden said later. “We were on such a high after winning five races.” Although shocked, Snowden quickly understood Ingham’s motives. “I was disappointed but once he laid out his reasons I didn’t begrudge him. I just thanked him from the bottom of my heart for what he’s done for me,” he said. While the cerise army will be reduced to a small platoon, with Bob Ingham to race up to 30 horses with Rosehill trainer Chris Waller, the empire Ingham leaves behind is expected to become bigger and stronger. Snowden will train a super stable. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum does not do things in half measures and Snowden is excited by the magnitude of what’s ahead. Snowden briefly considered training Ingham’s vastly reduced team – it was offered – but chose to go with Darley.

NAMESAKE: Peter Snowden, as the foreman for John Hawkes, with the smart galloper named in his honour, Snowden, after a win in Sydney.

“I could see a bigger picture,” he said, while admitting that recommending another trainer, Waller, to Ingham was “`like cutting off my right arm”. “The Darley people gave me an assurance, maybe even more so than the Inghams, that they could take the operation to a new height and I can say they will too.” Part of the changeover deal was that there would be little staff disruption. Ingham had 230 loyal employees on his racing books, including Snowden, and was determined no one would end up on the street. While the staff will remain, the direction will change, the bar raised. Combining previous assets with the Ingham acquisitions, Darley Australia now owns four major stud farms, two racing stables and a pre-training centre. Cerise army numbers – around 450 broodmares and 350 full-time racing stock – are not likely to increase dramatically, according to Snowden. But they will improve. “I think what will happen now

is the bar will get raised higher as the level of mares and stallions increases. Ones who don’t measure up will be culled. Probably 150 of the Inghams’ 450 broodmares were among the very best in the land, now that quality will go through the roof,” he said. This means the stock that will flood Snowden’s Warwick Farm and Flemington stables will be the best bred in the southern hemisphere. Some of the world’s great horses are also expected to come through Snowden’s hands when the sheikh ramps up his assaults on the Cox Plate and Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. “I imagine some of Darley’s best horses would come through the stable for the Cups and other big races, probably for longer campaigns than has previously been the case. I know the sheikh is very keen to win the Melbourne Cup,”’ Snowden said. Snowden said a passion for breeding their stock, and not buying outside horses in large numbers, had meant a relatively barren five or six years for the

12 T H E T H O R O U G H B R E D

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Pictured: Flying Spur – Leading Sire of Australia in 2007

Charge Forward


Red Ransom (USA) – Sydney’s Dream, by Bletchingly

Danehill (USA) – Confidentially, by Kaoru Star



Free of Northern Dancer 2008 Fee

$24,750 incl.GST

2008 Fee

$27,500 incl.GST

Flying Spur

Hussonet USA

Danehill (USA) – Rolls (USA), by Mr. Prospector

Mr. Prospector – Sacahuista, by Raja Baba



2008 Fee

$137,500 incl.GST

2008 Fee

$137,500 incl.GST

Not A Single Doubt

Redoute’s Choice

Redoute’s Choice – Singles Bar, by Rory’s Jester

Danehill (USA) – Shantha’s Choice, by Canny Lad



2008 Fee

$13,750 incl.GST

2008 Fee

$330,000 incl.GST


Starcraft NZ

Redoute’s Choice – Snippets’ Lass, by Snippets

Soviet Star (USA) – Flying Floozie (NZ), by Pompeii Court (USA)



2008 Fee

$33,000 incl.GST

Free Return. Terms and conditions apply. All stallions are BOBS nominated.

2008 Fee

$33,000 incl.GST

Prices are in Australian Dollars

HEAD OFFICE SYDNEY T 02 9223 8277 F 02 9223 5795 John Messara 0419 220 774 STUD OFFICE SCONE T 02 6545 3999 F 02 6545 3900 Sam Fairgray 0418 427 568 Michelle Nichols 0438 451 780 VICTORIAN OFFICE T 03 9626 2494 F 03 9626 2455 Nick Columb 0411 868 534


Inghams, before they changed tack and bought Mnemosyne (B m 2002, Encosta De Lago-My Juliet by Canny Lad), Camarilla (B f 2004, Elusive Quality-Camarena by Danehill), Forensics (B f 2004, Flying Spur-Prove It by Dehere), Musket (Br c 2003, Redoute’s Choice-Tugela by Riverman) and others for hefty sums at auction in the past few years. He added Hawkes’ departure – many outside clients went with him – left a void in the stable, one Darley will fill quickly. “In many ways we’re starting from scratch. We had 154 winners in Sydney last year and 59 outside horses that left with John,” he said. “You’ve got to keep injecting new blood and these blokes have got the resources.” As Hawkes’ right hand man, Snowden was virtually co-trainer. Hawkes often described Snowden as the backbone of the stable. Hawkes would watch his swarm go through their paces from the tower in the centre of the Warwick Farm track, eyes glued to his binoculars, while Snowden would marshal the troops at ground level. “I’d be putting riders on, seeing how the horses come back, report on how every horse pulled up, listen to the jockeys’ comments, the daily ins and outs, soundness, the lot,” he said. Snowden said his role did not become more difficult when Hawkes left, just more arduous, and said he could cope with Darley’s demands by delegating. “I want to stay as hands-on as I can. The most important part is looking at every horse three to four times a day. I need to save as many hours as I can by delegating the other stuff, like office work, which I can’t stand,” he said. “If I can’t delegate properly, it won’t work.” There is no hiding from the fact Snowden should be one of the world’s top trainers in the next decade, starting now. The numbers and quality of stock are irresistible, failure impossible to fathom. Since taking the Ingham

reins late last year, Snowden has been in phenomenal form, winning more than 50 races in NSW, and resurrecting the likes of Paratroopers and Forensics. The foundation, the form, is there. “That’s where I’m heading to. It might take a while, but I’ll get there,” he said of becoming one of the world’s most successful trainers. “`I won’t stop until I achieve it.” While hardly arrogant, Snowden is emphatic he will pull this off. He does not doubt himself for a moment. “My whole life has been racehorses. You might say I’ve been groomed for it,” he said. “I’ve had a 20-year apprenticeship. “The day I told my family I was training for the sheikh my wife said, ‘good on you, you’ve got what you deserve’.” So who is this 20-year lieutenant poised to become one of the most recognised and scrutinised figures in world racing; the man handed the keys to the kingdom? Snowden, 52, was born in Scone in the Hunter Valley, the son of Ross Snowden, a successful

‘ I’m just a country

bloke doing his best, I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of people who say how happy they are for me.

bush trainer and jockey. Snowden’s grandfather also trained. He has three siblings. “I’m the only one in racing, the black sheep,”’ he said. “All I remember seeing from the time I could walk was horses.” Snowden started working at his father’s stables from age 10 and was apprenticed at 16. He rode briefly in town for Vic Thompson snr – Thompson’s son, Vic jnr, would become the Inghams’ first trainer many years later – and returned to Scone. He outrode his claim by 18 but admits he was “just average”. “I did love it, but I was average,” he said. As a jockey, Snowden did it hard. He lived on diuretic pills. “It was killing me,” he said. He would give up racing only to be lured back, working at a local abattoir in the morning, breaking in horses during his lunch break, and returning to the meatworks until late. It was a “dark to dark” routine that lasted two years. He worked at a sawmill for five years, riding work in the morning, feeding up at night. The famous Segenhoe Stud, at Scone, offered Snowden a lifeline, as its private trainer. “The horses were mainly castoffs from Sydney stables and were a class above the bush horses. We had a really good run for a while,” he said. In the mid-1980s, Snowden was approached by Trevor Lobb, part of a new Sydney stable called Crown Lodge. Snowden started pre-training a few horses for the Crown Lodge owners, two brothers known as the Chicken Kings. Six months later, the Chicken Kings offered Snowden the role as second-in-command at Crown, to Vic Thompson jnr. “Being a young bloke, I thought I’d have a go and give it my best shot. The kids – Lisa and Paul – were really young back then so I gave it a go. “I was foreman right up to the time John (Hawkes) gave it away.” Snowden, whose son Paul runs

the Melbourne stable, said he trained similarly to Hawkes, with some subtle differences. For instance Snowden consults speed maps. Hawkes didn’t. “Everyone has their own way but the format is similar,” he said. While Hawkes preferred to live in the shadows, thrusting Snowden in front of microphones instead of himself, Snowden believes it is important he acts as an accessible shop window for Darley. “You’ve got to make yourself approachable, allow as many people to enjoy it as you can, which was a bit hard for me early because I’m a pretty shy person by nature,” he said. Snowden said he stayed up through the night to watch the recent Dubai World Cup coverage to gain some insights into his boss, Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai. “I thought I’d better get to know this boss a bit better. He’s such a wealthy person but he must have done 10 interviews during the night. He just wanted everyone in the world to enjoy what he had. He wants everyone to share his excitement,” Snowden said. As a global giant with long pockets and mysterious ways, and a boss who will rarely be here, let alone high-fiving racegoers at Randwick, Darley is unlikely to be regarded with the same warmth as the much-loved Chicken Kings. Undoubtedly, there is more to this buy-out than a change of racing silks. It is no longer a local success story, rather one seeking global domination. But in the modest Snowden, Darley can help create another local hero. “I’m just a country bloke doing his best,” Snowden said. “I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of people who say how happy they are for me. Total strangers have come out of crowds to shake my hand. “That means a lot to me, but it’s hard to put it into words. I’m just a battler who’s had a bit of luck.”

14 T H E T H O R O U G H B R E D

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white It’s not easy being


n the world of racing thoroughbreds, white horses officially have been around for more than a century (the first official Jockey Club-registered white thoroughbred was in North America in 1896), but their appearance on our racetracks has been as rare as a happy bookmaker; most people haven’t seen one. The tale of the white thoroughbred makes intriguing reading. There was a time, even well Into the 20th century, when superstition and ignorance faced breeders when a white foal surprisingly appeared. Some breeders regarded the event as “unlucky” and secretly culled their white foals. Others thought the white foals were albino, and thus faced a life with sight and other inherent issues, as albinos do in humans and other animals. The white offspring were sent to show homes rather than Bart Cummings. White thoroughbreds are not albino – albinos have a distinct blue eye, white

horses have dark eyes. White is a true colour, one of six thoroughbred colours, along with bay, brown, chestnut, black and grey – although it is extremely unusual. A white foal can appear from parents of any colour, although both parents need to carry the gene, whereas a grey foal must have one parent that is grey. The correct term for the white colour in horses is sabino. A pure white horse is maximum sabino. In some cases white horses also can harbour inherent problems, but in reality they have all the genetic racing capabilities of a Phar Lap or Weekend Hussler – the ability to run fast – it’s just that they look different. The white horse’s skin is pink. The dark patches that appear are not changes in hair colour but dark patches of skin. When a white horse is washed, the pink colour of the skin stands out like a flamingo among a murder of crows.


DANNY POWER looks into the intriguing world of the white thoroughbred.

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HEAD-TURNER: This rare pure white ďŹ lly, by champion sire Zabeel, sold to the bid of advertising guru John Singleton for $270,000 at the 2008 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sales. She is only one of about 100 registered white thoroughbreds in the world.

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hen hip number 583 stepped into the ring at the Magic Millions Gold Coast in March, eager photographers circled the ring like paparazzi; cameras whirled, flashes lit up the filly like a starlet on the red carpet in Cannes. The hum around the sale ring was long and loud, prompting the auctioneer to thump his gavel for attention. On paper, the yearling was attractive, but nothing out of the ordinary to draw such attention. The catalogue page read that she is a daughter of champion sire Zabeel (B h 1986, Sir TristramLady Giselle, by Nureyev) from the Star Way mare Carmina Burana (Ch m 1995, Star Way-Benediction, by Day Is One), a mare who has been disappointing as a broodmare (one winner from four foals of racing age) but who still holds some commercial bragging rights as a half-sister to one of our greats, the 1997 Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup winner Might And Power (B g 1993, ZabeelBenediction, by Day Is One), a dual Australian Horse of the Year. The selling agents had plenty to hang their hat on with lot 583 – “this filly is a three-quarter sister to a champion”. The bidding was brisk, and the hammer came down to the nod of Newcastle trainer Kris Lees at a price of $270,000. In stepped entrepreneurial larrikin John Singleton to claim the filly was bought on his request. He liked her pedigree, but he loved her colour, because in the flesh, this filly presented a vastly different story. A head-turner. An equine Marilyn Monroe. She gleamed under the lights, as white as snow. A rarity, one of only 100 or so registered white thoroughbreds in the world. Singleton, it seems, saw beyond her racetrack capabilities to the promotional advantage of owning a rare white thoroughbred – the filly was bought to help promote his Newcastle-based boutique beer label, Bluetongue. The white filly’s future was to be decided between

FLAMINGO PINK: The pink pigment of the skin of the rare white thoroughbred is never more evident than around their eyes and muzzle, or when they are wet. This Zabeel-Carmina Burana filly is a photographer’s delight.

her racetrack talents and her ability to “sell” a boutique ale. Such is the life of a celebrity, a mere corporate commodity of the rich and famous. The fi lly isn’t a freak or a mutation. A fluke maybe, and certainly a novelty, but nothing unearthed from the dungeons of a Frankenstein thriller. Her bloodlines carry the rare white gene despite the fact her parents have barely a speck of white on them. Zabeel is a true, black pointed bay, while Carmina Burana is a lovely, rich chestnut, like her sire Star Way (Ch h 1977, Star Appeal-New Way, by Klairon) and her dam. Zabeel is a dominant producing bay, meaning he hasn’t produced one chestnut, only bays, browns and grey (and only when the dam is grey, for example Efficient). Interestingly, like Zabeel, two of Australia’s other champion sires, Danehill (B h 1986, DanzigRazyana, by His Majesty) and his

Overo Lethal White Syndrome Overo Lethal White Syndrome is a condition that can occur in newborn white foals. The condition is genetic, and both parents carry the defective gene. Pure white horses don’t carry the gene, but overo white patterned horses (called frame overos) can. OLWS foals have blue eyes and are completely white at birth (in contrast to the colour-marked parents). The OLWS foal has an underdeveloped, contracted intestine that causes a failure with the gastrointestinal system. The condition is fatal. Fortunately, OLWS has been bred out of most of the world’s white thoroughbred bloodlines.

son Redoute’s Choice (B h 1996, Danehill-Shantha’s Choice, by Canny Lad), also are dominant producing bays, and due to their bloodlines, there is every chance either stallion could sire a white offspring if mated to a mare who carries the sabino gene. So where does this “throwback” colour come from in the vast history of the thoroughbred – a line of refined breeding that stretches back nearly four centuries to one stallion, the unbeaten champion Eclipse, and his two important Arab ancestors – the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian – and another Arabian, the Byerley Turk? Eclipse (Ch h 1764, MarskeSpilletta, by Regulus) and the three Arabian stallions appear in the pedigree of every racing thoroughbred in the world. The white colour of lot 583 has its source beyond the historic breeding farms of England’s gentry in the late 17th century – to the desert sands of the Middle East. It’s quite possible the white gene comes through the Darley Arabian, who was imported to England from Syria in 1700. Intense research by geneticists and lovers of this unique colour believe they have identified the link that produces what is called the maximum white gene. And its origins are not obscure. One of the “culprits”, it seems, is one of the most influential sires in history, England’s little chestnut champion Hyperion. In fact, that is not quite correct. It is more than likely that Hyperion’s pure bay dam, the wonderful matron Selene, is the source of the rare colour. Hyperion, because he is the founder of some of our most influential sire-lines, including Australia’s Star Kingdom line, in most cases has spread “the blood”, so to speak. Selene has had influence beyond Hyperion, through her other offspring, and she bobs up in the pedigrees of several white horses without Hyperion blood. Which is where Zabeel gets his ability to pass on the white gene.

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THE MATRIARCH: The white Glacial in full livery before a race at Kilmore in the 1960s. Glacial has started an unbroken line of fi ve generations of white thoroughbreds.

The third dam of his sire, Sir Tristram, is Selene’s daughter, All Moonshine. The Camina Burana filly is not the first time Zabeel has influenced the production of a white horse. His son, I Conquer, is the sire of New Zealand’s most recent racing novelty, the white filly Legally White (Wh f 2002, I Conquer-Matilda, by Hermod), who has a record of one win from nine starts on the south island. The other widely regarded source is England’s star sprinter of 100 years ago, the “spotted wonder” The Tetrarch (Gr h 1911, Roi Herode-Vahren, by Bona Vista), a registered grey but some people, including noted Victorian horseman, and lover and breeder of white thoroughbreds, Brendan Page, believe The Tetrarch’s true colour was white, or overo sabino, meaning an off-shoot of the pure white gene that is a mixture of white with colour. Page, who claims to have 21 white thoroughbreds on his

two Seymour properties, not all registered to race, but all descendants of a mare that raced in Victoria in the late 1960s, the white Glacial (Wh m 1966, Grey Marwin-Milady Fair, by Jambo). Page can probably boast the only “herd” of white thoroughbreds in the world that directly represents five unbroken generations of white, racing thoroughbreds. His white horses come via his late stallion Colourful Gambler (Wh h 1986, Khaleben from Lots Of Speed, by Live Arrow), a white son of Glacial’s son, Khaleben. The white Khaleben (1972, by Khalif) proved himself a good racehorse, winning at Flemington before being retired to limited opportunities at stud. When the Zabeel-Carmina Burana filly sold in March, it was widely reported that the last white thoroughbred to race in Australia was the Gai Waterhouse-trained filly The Bride (Wh m 1991, Star Shower-Salomeneo, by Idomeneo), who retired a maiden after 11 starts.

‘ Page had to

suffer jibes from his fellow trainers about his “circus” horse.

That statement couldn’t have been further from the truth. Only last November, Page raced his colt, the aptly named High Rail Curious (Wh c 2004, Highrail Danehill-Like A Gambler, by Colourful Gambler), at Benalla, in a 1206m maiden in January 2008. The powder white colt failed to beat a runner home, and Page had to suffer jibes from his fellow trainers about his “circus” horse, but the colt’s lack of racing talent is not because he is white. “He wasn’t suited in that short race. He’s bred to stay, so he won’t get warm until he gets over more ground,” he said. Page believes after studying photos of The Tetrarch that the brilliant racehorse, and influential sire, was white, with his coat spattered with the characteristic oblong dark patches as if someone had flicked a paint-laden brush in his direction. “I have no doubt he is white. It’s rare to find a pure white, they usually have some dark pigment on their skins like he did, which seems to develop as they get older. It’s just that in those days, the officials didn’t recognised The Tetrarch’s colour as white, and he was registered as grey,” Page said. Without being bogged down with a detailed, technical study of pedigrees, in simple terms multiple doses of The Tetrarch appear in the pedigrees of Page’s white horses through the influence of his famous daughter Mumtaz Mahal,

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Fred Hanson holds Glacial’s great, great granddaughter Like A Gambler (right) while Brendan Page’s daughter, Brenda, poses with Like A Gambler’s white sabino colt. Like A Gambler’s sabino yearling filly is at left.

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who is the granddam of the great sire Nasrullah. She also appears prominently in the pedigree of Northern Dancer’s granddam, the equally dominant Almahmoud, through her sire Mahmoud, like Nasruallah, also a grandson of Mumtaz Mahal. The Bride has quadruple crosses of Hyperion (and his dam Selene) blood. Hyperion is best known in Australia as the grandsire of the great Star Kingdom, the grandsire of The Bride’s sire Star Shower. There is no trace of The Tetrarch in The Bride’s pedigree, giving credence to the theory that there are two distinct bloodlines carrying this white gene. Zabeel also has the cross of both bloodlines. His dam is by Nureyev, one of Northern Dancer’s best sons. Northern Dancer, who has crosses of Selene and The Tetrarch in his pedigree, is one of the reasons so many of the modern-day thoroughbreds have so much white splashed all over their chestnut, brown and bay bodies. Such is the influence of Northern Dancer, we should stand by for more unusually coloured racehorses. A study of photos of Northern Dancer and paintings of his direct sire-line ancestor, the Darley Arabian, show a distinct similarity – both are richly coloured with three white shocks and a white

SPOOKY: This overo white yearling filly, by Highrail Danehill from Like A Gambler, is headed for the racetrack with Brendan Page.



CURIOSITY: Seymour breeder and trainer Brendan Page stands proudly with his lightly raced three-year-old colt High Rail Curious, a fifth-generation white thoroughbred.

blaze. Another Australian white horse who caused a stir around the same time The Bride appeared is a mare suitably named Our White Lady (Wh m 1991, Brazen Bay-Moncharm, by Charlton), who was exported to North America in 1998. Our White Lady, who was trained by Noel Doyle on the Gold Coast, was barred from training during the normal dawn hours because she was considered dangerous – her white coat frightened other horses as she galloped like a ghost through the morning gloom. Her only start was a distant last (beaten 53 lengths!) in a 1300m maiden at Eagle Farm in 1994. Page has had a similar trainingtrack incident with High Rail Curious. “Sometimes I jog him in a cart, and one morning he was trotting around the sand track at Seymour, when a horse and rider spooked at seeing him, and a girl was dumped on the track. She wasn’t impressed,” he said. A study of Our White Lady’s

pedigree shows she is by a Star Kingdom (Hyperion) line stallion, but it is her granddam Comme Un Éclair that is interesting. Comme Un Éclair is by Star Kingdom’s son Shifnal, from the mare Jean, by a son of Hyperion from a granddaughter of The Tetrarch. So here we have a triple cross of Hyperion (and Selene) and a healthy dose of The Tetrarch. When Our White Lady was three, Warner Bros. movie moguls tried to buy her. Amazingly, considering her lack of racetrack

‘ Such is the

influence of Northern Dancer, we should stand by for more unusually coloured racehorses.

ability, a price of $50,000 was rejected. Our White Lady now lives in luxury at Norsire Farm, Vancouver, where one of her sons, Pure White Gold (by the rare palomino thoroughbred Billionaire), a Jockey Clubregistered white thoroughbred, is standing at stud, but serving mainly non-thoroughbred show quality mares. The Bride, owned in Queensland by Elkington Park Stud, has produced only one white registered thoroughbred foal, a colt born in 2003 by Lordly Looker (B h 1988, El Gran Senor-Lifestyle, by Manifesto), a stallion riddled with the blood of Hyperion, Selene and The Tetrarch. Unfortunately, the colt, nicknamed “Spooky”, died of colic at the age of two. In 1999, a white colt was born to the mare Joyella (B m 1990, KoryoSupreme Joy, by Never In Doubt). The colt, by Piazzetta (Ch h 1983, Star Appeal-New Way, by Klairon), a brother to Star Way, hasn’t been registered to race, but he is used as a show stallion under the name Prince Of Snowden.


here is little Brendan Page hasn’t done in racing. A former jockey and harness racing trainer and driver, and highly respected horse breaker, he also has the ability to talk the leg off a wooden chair. To get bailed up by him is like being cornered by a blueheeler pup. Page’s passion is horses; he’ll talk about them until not only have the cows come home, but out and back again. And he likes to win, but you get the impression at his Seymour stables, as six coloured stallions sleepily stand nose to nose in their sandy yards, that he also loves looking at them. And if you are going to look at them, they might as well be pretty as a picture. What Page has developed is unique in the world. John Singleton didn’t need to spend $270,000 to buy his white horse; he only had to ask a fellow larrikin in Brendan Page for a loan of one – for a fee, of course.


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Great leap of faith Robbie Laing is a believer – in his methods and judgment. He loves what he does and he means business when it comes to spotting talent. This knowledgeable trainer is always looking to expand his horizons – and that extends well past the jumping season. WORDS STEPHEN HOWELL PHOTOGRAPHS SEAN GARNSWORTHY


obbie Laing is a good talker with a good memory that he describes as an illness, not an ability. He is a good trainer, too, and not just of jumpers, although it is that thoroughbred category that has put him in the headlines alongside Eric Musgrove as a likely successor to the late, great Jim Houlahan, who passed away in 2007. The word Victorian is redundant in front of successors here, because the state is the epicentre of hurdling and steeplechasing and, with the recent halt to jumps racing in Tasmania, it is only South Australia that soldiers on in the wake of the pacesetter.

HANDS-ON: Robbie Laing stands on his unbroken yearling, a colt by Desert King, to prove that trust can be established between man and horse, even on the fi rst day of the breaking-in process.

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And, while the introduction of modular jumps has brought a new boom in the “up and overs”, it is seen by traditionalists as diluting a once-thrilling sport. Unfortunately, with the thrills came too many spills that brought injury and even death to too many – brave jockeys and horses. Racing is a pragmatic game, and Laing is at the forefront of that pragmatism as he says of the new obstacles that look like big straw brooms placed upside down behind a ramp: “They’ve kept jumping alive. If you had big, hard fences and horses continually falling and having major injuries you wouldn’t have jumping racing. I take my hat off to the modular jumps.” Laing, 49 and the son of former trainer Eddie Laing, has spent a lifetime becoming the recent big thing in jumps racing. He reigns as the winner of the past two J. J. Houlahan Jumps Championships, but is adamant he is more than a jumps trainer. From a business point of view it is important he is known as an all-rounder so he gets young and fast horses to train, and he stresses this point in saying that he was the state’s leading trainer in January – when there are no jumps races – ahead of David Hayes, Lee Freedman and company. Of the 45 horses in work at his Pearcedale property, south-east of Melbourne, about 20 are jumpers. He has had four fl at Group 1 wins, ranging from his early 20s with Perfect Bliss (Ch f 1980, Sharp Edge-Allanora, by Niksar) in the 1983 Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield to Roman Arch (B g 1998, ArchwayCelestial Option, by Clear Choice) in the 2006 Australian Cup at Flemington. Now a nine-year-old, Roman Arch still thrills Laing and a large group of owners. Will he jump? “No, he’s won $2.2 million. I reckon he’s safe.” Laughter. Laing is not one to sit back and wait for owners to drop off horses into his yard. “I fi nd

A COUPLE OF LAINGS: Robbie Laing (left) is rarely far from the wise words of his father Eddie, a former leading trainer who retired in 2005, who spends plenty of time pottering around Robbie’s Cranbourne stables.

them myself,” he said of the jumping stock, many coming from interstate. ‘‘I go through the racebook fi rst for anything out of Sir Tristram mares or Zamazaan mares, horses that can stay or handle wet tracks, and I work backwards from there. “Funnily enough, I like them to have had plenty of racing. I’ve had a few people try and help me over the years, and they’ll go, ‘We’ve found a horse by Zabeel out of a Zamazaan mare, he’s only a sixyear-old and lightly raced’.” “I’ll go, ‘No deal’. “‘What?’ is the non-plussed response. “Why is it lightly raced? If it was in my stable, it would have had 50 starts. They’ve got to be durable, got to stand racing. Horses such as The Chilean (Br g 1989, Marscay-Mariotte, by Balconaje), Vowtinsk (B g 1992, Semipalatinsk-Vow, by Dignitas),

‘ I go through the

racebooks first for anything out of Sir Tristram mares or Zamazaan mares… and I work backwards from there.

Hasta Manana (B g 2000, ZabeelCurtain Time, by Rassendyll), Mazzacano (B g 2000, King IvorFestival Rose, Gleam Machine) showed they can stay.” And who buys them? “I’ve got owners I know smouldering away that will be interested. When I get down to getting the horse vetted and the owners have said they’ll sell for $25,000 or $30,000, then I ring all the jumping owners in my stable and take it from there.” Laing has had some bargains, but he said he paid over the odds at times. “Hasta Manana was

$60,000 and I had a few people shy at me and say he wasn’t worth it,’’ he said. “He’d won $120,000 after his first five jumping starts – you buy a yearling for 60 and he wins 120 in the first 12 months you’ve had him, you’ve done a great job.” Laing has usually seen a horse he is interested in on television, but before making an offer would ring “the blokes who have been riding them, the trackwork riders, to see if they make a noise – that’s one of the hidden horrors, breathing problems”. Once past the vet test they are on the way to Pearcedale. “It’s a hobby looking for horses,” he said. “It’s amazing how many horses you can pick out. I pick them out from New Zealand, WA, Queanbeyan, anywhere. “There was one horse I went against the rule of not having many races. I remember I was sitting in the grandstand on a Sunday at Sandown, had the racebook open and the first race at Sunshine Coast was a maiden over a mile. There was a fouryear-old in there that had only eight starts ... his mother was by Dignitas, and when I looked closer the mare was actually Vow, the dam of Vo Rogue (the former weight-for-age star). “Dignitas produced very tough durable horses, and I went, ‘Gee, a half-brother to Vo Rogue by Semipalatinsk. This will be as tough as old boots’. I bought him for about $3000 and it was Vowtinsk.’’ Vowtinsk is a Laing favourite, and there are plenty of reasons for that. After Laing had won with the gelding he lost him to Houlahan, who could not get him to fire. “I ran into one of the owners two weeks after he’d run his fourth bad race and I said, ‘Jim hasn’t got the secret to him. I reckon I can get him going, that horse’. “Anyway, he came back to me and six weeks later he won at Flemington over the hurdles and


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I said, ‘Now, do what you should have done last year – give him a break and he’ll win a major race for you next year he’s so tough’. “He came back, was second to Planet Hollywood (Ch g 1990, Star Way-Full Of Greatness, by Great Nephew) in the 1999 Grand Annual, a certainty beaten ... then I think next start he ran second in the Lachal (Hurdle) to Marlborough (B g 1992, ZabeelBelle Venus, by Avaray), fourth in the Grand National Hurdle to Marlborough ... then I ran him in the Grand National Steeple and he won. “That was his last start (in 1999). I thought that was one of my training triumphs.” Laing said jumpers could be bought early as well as late. “Temporize (B g 1988, Ten BelowDecisions, by Bletchingly) was a terrific hurdler. I bought him as a yearling,” he said. “He got beaten a half-head in the Maribyrnong Trial over 900 (metres). At two and three he won up to 1100 and as a four-year-old he won up to 3800. I had bought him to run in the Magic Millions!” A good-sized horse with a stayer’s pedigree is the starting point for Laing, but he said they could come in all shapes and sizes and he cited Karasi (B g 1995, Kahyasi-Karamita, by Shantung), at only “15 hands and 450 kilos”. “He carries big weights, stays, he’s a great horse,” Laing said of Musgrove’s chaser who has been retired after breaking down at trackwork in Japan in April as he was preparing – at age 13! – to win his fourth million-dollar Nakayama Grand Jump on end. Get Laing talking about the top jumpers and he barely draws breath. “Manzeal (B g 1996, Zabeel-Karman Gal, by Persian Bold) was a great horse to watch when he was at his top, a brilliant front-running chaser,” he said. “Sissano winning the Hiskens was great. He’s beautifully bred, by Last Tycoon out of a Sir Tristram mare, Tristera. He had ability, quite often running on

at the end of his races at the Gold Coast. I rang up and tried to buy him and the owner actually made it down to a night meeting at Moonee Valley and introduced himself to me. He said, ‘You know you’ll never buy him. There’s 500 people in it – even if you give me half a million they’re going to walk away saying (only) $1000’. “I told him all the reasons I thought he’d make a jumper and he said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll give him to you’. First start in a jumping race he was narrowly beaten into third place in the 2005 Grand National Hurdle, fourth start he won the Hiskens.” Laing told the story minutes after Sissano, this season’s preparation well under way, won on the fl at at the Balnarring picnics. While recalling the good old days when he idolised horses such as Scottish John, Junction Lass, Rebound, Sir Cameron and Fine Beau, he suggested they were almost like hunters and wouldn’t live with today’s jumpers. “A fellow I listen to a fair bit, he’s 93 and he said that Mazzacano is as good a steeplechaser as he’d seen,” Laing said. “I said not as good as Crisp. He said Crisp fired overseas, but he used to race against hunters here. He said the modern-day steeplechaser can win in town on the flat, and he said your horse (Mazzacano) gives them 20 lengths start and beats them by 20.” Did Mazzacano, the superstar of last season who broke down winning his third on end, get Laing’s blood racing? “Oh yeah. The anticipation with him ... my thoughts were the same as the broadcaster three starts in a row at Sandown – here’s the favourite 20 off them at the top of the hill under pressure, and then on the home turn in each race had it all parcelled up, about to round them up and beat them. “I think with the big jumping races there’s a similar buzz to the Group 1s on the fl at.”

Trainer’s unwavering faith rubs off on his breed of youngsters The day The Thoroughbred visited Robbie Laing’s Cranbourne stables, it was a crisp, early-winter morning, and the raucous symphony of a marauding flock of cockatoos meant hand signals was the preferred method of communication between the staff. In the round yard was a colt, a yearling bought only three days earlier by Laing for a mere $3000 at the Inglis Autumn Yearling Sale. The lengthy bay colt is by Makybe Diva’s sire Desert King, and Laing lamented: “There’s nothing wrong with him, he’ll just need time. I’m a bit p…ed off, as last year I paid $9000 for a service to Desert King yet I can buy a nice colt like this for $3000.” With that, Laing walked over to the colt, rubbed his hands all over the youngster’s body, talking soothingly to him all the time, grabbed a handful of mane, and without fuss slipped on to the colt’s back. When asked how often the colt had been ridden, Laing replied matter-of-factly: “Oh, this is the first time, he’s only been here two days. It’s all a matter of trust. He has no fear of me. I won’t hurt him, he’ll remain happy.” Within a minute Laing was urging the youngster to walk around the yard, soon it was a trot.

But the chirpy Laing is a lair, especially when he has an audience. “He’ll even let me stand on him, because he’s not afraid I will hurt him,” he said. The bait was taken, the bet was laid, Laing removed his boots. It took less than a minute, and Laing was able to stand safely on the colt’s back. The youngster didn’t flinch. He stood waiting for his next command. Like a circus performer, Laing opened his arms to receive the accolades from his impressed onlookers. A less-than-convinced track rider trotted by, shook his head, and said: “You idiot”. Laing, 49, is a third generation horseman. His grandfather, Jock, kept Clydesdales on a farm at Carrum. His father, Eddie, was a capable apprentice jockey who became a leading trainer. Eddie, who gave training away in 2005, still potters around his son’s stables. The banter between the pair is one of two mates, rather than father and son. Laing followed in Eddie’s footsteps but increasing weight dashed any hopes of becoming a successful jockey. His riding days were finished by age 17. Laing has been training since 1980, and scored his first Group 1 winner in 1983 when Perfect Bliss (Ch m 1980, Sharp Edge-Allanora, by Niksar) won the Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield. – DANNY POWER


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MOODY I’ve loved horses since I could walk. My parents had a sheep and cattle property in Charleville in western Queensland, and were involved in horse racing at amateur level. My older sisters and I got into pony clubs and did local shows. We moved off the property and into town when I was about eight. I was like every other kid from the bush – I played cricket in summer and rugby league in winter – but everything was secondary to horses.

I was quite worldly for my age. I wasn’t an immature kid. That probably came from my upbringing in the racing industry, where I was always dealing with older people. Also, as a country boy, work ethic was instilled into us. It was never a case of jumping on the push-bike and playing pinball machines all day. You worked for everything you got, whether it meant mowing the lawn, putting out the rubbish, or jobs before and after school.

My contact with a couple of local trainers sealed the deal. They were Tony Facey and Frank Cavanough, the grandfather of Brett Cavanough, a mate of mine who trains up at Albury and does all my breaking-in. I was mucking out stables from the age of about eight and I quickly developed a real love of horse racing. I loved the horse element of it, and the competitive side of it. It’s a bug ingrained in me and I’ve run with it all my life.

Three years with T.J. (Tommy) Smith was an unbelievable learning curve. I’d had enough of school by the time I was 15. Brett Cavanough’s step-father, John Drennan, was T.J. Smith’s horsebreaker and they arranged a job for me at T.J.’s stables at Tulloch Lodge (Randwick). I rolled up the swag and off I went. I had a good work ethic, so I was given a lot of opportunities to look after good horses at T.J.’s. I was never a foreman there but I was the next best thing. I was lucky because T.J. had two terrific foremen – Terry Catip, who trains at Warwick in Queensland and is probably as good a horseman as I’ve ever worked with, and Tom Barker, the father of Noel Barker, the jockey who died in a track fall (in 1992). Along with T.J. and his brother Ernie, they were great blokes to learn from.

It was nothing to drive 500km to a race meeting. You had no choice but to do that if you wanted to be involved in the industry. From a very early age, long-distance travel became an accepted part of the racing caper for me. When people say that going to Ballarat or Sale or Ararat or somewhere is a long trip, I have to laugh because from my stable at Caulfield, that’s just around the corner and over the next hill for me.

In between two stints at T.J.’s, I went to Lindsay Park (the Hayes’ family property at Angaston in South Australia). I just


He is one of Australia’s best young trainers who feels more comfortable with a beer in his hand at a country barbecue rather than at a fancy restaurant at the top end of town. But that’s Peter Moody ... headstrong, never short of a word. When it comes to horses, he just goes about his business with a minimum of fuss. Since he was given his big break working with the legendary T.J. Smith, he has learned plenty but always stayed true to his values. INTERVIEWED BY BEN COLLINS.


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STRAIGHT-SHOOTER: A self-confessed “bushy”, Peter Moody has established a reputation as a no-nonsense competitor who doesn’t accept second best.

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You can learn a lot if you kept your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open. The great thing about being at Randwick with T.J. was all the experience around you. You came into contact with Bart Cummings, Colin Hayes, Neville Begg, and a lot of great old trainers like Pat Murray and Albert McKenna, and then the likes of Lee Freedman and David Hayes came on the scene. I was always looking and listening and learning. Even now, despite the fact I’ve got the biggest team of horses here (at Caulfield), I’m not afraid to investigate the methods of other trainers and ask them why they’re doing something – probably to the degree I annoy them sometimes. I felt such fierce loyalty to T.J. Smith that I’d fight over it. I’d have a blue with someone at the pub if they said a bad word against T.J. People aligned with other trainers were the opposition and you treated them as such. T.J. was the greatest. You’d walk past someone who strapped the horse for Brian Mayfield-Smith, who in that period had just beaten T.J. for the premiership, and you’d nearly spit at them. You had a lot of pride in what you did, and you were willing to bloody fight for it. Sadly, a lot of staff don’t have that level of passion now. The biggest problem we’ve got in the industry is staff. It’s just a job to most young people these days. There has been a change in values. I see it in my own kids: if I ask them to mow the lawn, they look at me like I’ve got three heads. When I was a kid, if you didn’t move when you were asked, you’d get a smack in the ear and a kick up the backside. You took pride in everything you did – not only in your work, but in your appearance. Now, you’re trying to have a beer and a feed in a pub and there’ll be three 20-yearold blokes with their jeans so low


wanted to have a look at their worldrenowned training set-up. I was there for only six months, but I got to see how they did things, which helped my education a bit more.

EVOLVING METHODS: Swimming forms a large part of Moody’s training regime.

that their bum cheeks are hanging out, and flies from their cracks are flying into your face. You feel like knocking them out with a piece of wood. I’m a bit backward in terms of knowing about this so-called ‘Y Generation’ and metro-sexuals and so forth, and I’m only 39, yet I feel like I’m 109 when I look at these bastards. And they’re the people we’re employing! If they don’t have pride in how they present themselves, how the hell are they going to have pride in their work? I was a headstrong young man. I thought I knew everything and I was going to set the world on fire. But I quickly worked out I couldn’t make a living in horse racing in Queensland because up there it’s more a hobby than a livelihood. I was (Sydney trainer) Bill Mitchell’s foreman, or assistant trainer, for 10 years. After five years with Bill at Randwick, I was going to train on my own, but he persuaded me to form a business partnership with him – to head up a satellite stable in Brisbane under Bill’s name. That worked successfully for another five years. We had General Nediym, who was a freakish horse and now a very good stallion. That started my aspirations to be a trainer of

note. With General Nediym being such a high-profile horse, I met a lot of people in the right circles – breeders and influential owners – and they’ve supported me right through to today. You worked with Bill Mitchell, not for him. He treated you as a member of the team, rather than just someone who should do as they’re told. He was tremendous. He gave you your say, and he basically let me run the team in Queensland as I saw fit. He gave me a great grounding. At some stage you have to stop polishing someone else’s balls and start bowling your own. If I had no other aspirations, I could have been doing the same thing

‘ At some stage you have to stop polishing someone else’s balls and start bowling your own.

now. It was sad, to a degree, to break up a successful partnership, but I always wanted to train in my own right. The extra five years I spent under the safety of Bill’s umbrella were what made me as a trainer because it gave me a readymade client base, and those people stuck with me when I went on my own. Many trainers kick off their careers with two or three horses, but I started with 50 or 60. I grew from that, which gave me confidence I was training the horses well and I was doing things right business-wise. It went smoothly from the start. The only change for us was the name in the race book from F.W. Mitchell to P.G. Moody. I had my first runner in my name on December 1, 1998 – 10 years to the day since I started with Bill Mitchell. My wife, Sarah, is a crucial member of my team. She’s not a Toorak wife; she’s a working wife – very hands-on. She was a jumps jockey in New Zealand and a very accomplished horsewoman in her own right, as her mother was. She travelled the world with horses before we met. We’ve been together 16 years and married for 12. She’s ridden trackwork for me, and she still wants to do it now. She’s been


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Relocating to Melbourne was about bettering myself. We’d done well in Brisbane, but after doing that for five years for Bill Mitchell, and a couple of years for myself, I was treading water. Sydney and Melbourne are the hubs of the industry in Australia and the fact Sarah and I had already lived in Sydney, we figured: ‘Melbourne is something new. That’s the place we want to have a crack at’. We had a young family at the time, so it was a big decision financially. But if it didn’t work, we weren’t going to pack up and go home to Queensland with our tails between our legs; we would’ve just worked for someone else. I had great backing from breeders like Stuart Ramsey, from Turangga Stud, (I still train for Stuart today), and Phillip Esplin from Twin Palms Stud (both in NSW). They were the two most influential people behind my move to Melbourne. While I was in Queensland, they gave me well-bred fi llies to train. But after I got them going they had to shift to Victoria or New South Wales where the better races were, and instead of losing those horses, I decided to go there myself. Amalfi wandered into the stables and we achieved real success. That was a phenomenal experience. Amalfi was owned by Ron and Judy Wanless (Ron is a former Australian speedway champion) and was a horse by a first-season sire, Carnegie. He was a stayer, not very fashionable, so a few people higher up Ron’s order of entry of training passed him over and I got him. The first time I trialled him, he won a half-mile trial at Eagle Farm and I thought: ‘Hell, this is a pretty good horse. He shouldn’t be doing this with his pedigree’. I cheekily rang up Ron and said: ‘We’ll win a derby with this horse’. To


as passionate as I am about the whole thing. She runs the financial side of the business and does a tremendous job.

PRECIOUS MOMENTS: Moody plans to spend more time with daughters Breann, Celine and Cara.

be proved right seven or eight months later ((Amalfi, b h 1998, Carnegie-Rationaine by Centaine) won the 2001 VRC Derby, Gr.1) was my greatest thrill because I’d always wanted to compete with Bart Cummings, John Hawkes, Gai Waterhouse, Lee Freedman, the Hayes’ stable, etc. Just to have a runner in the Victoria Derby (2500m) was great, but then to win it – my fi rst Group 1 winner – was something else. It’s the oldest classic race in Australian racing, so that was massive. At the time, my main stables were in Brisbane and we just had a satellite stable in Melbourne. But we decided: ‘It’s time to go holus bolus into Melbourne and make it our main base and have Brisbane as an outpost’. We continued to grow. We steadily got more clients in and 12 months later we decided Brisbane was distracting us from the main game in Melbourne, so we closed it down and made Melbourne our full-time base. I start my horses in the lowest company possible to teach them

to win. Winning can become a habit, and so can losing. I reckon I’ve won a lot of metropolitan races with horses who weren’t entitled to, against horses with more ability, because they’ve had a taste of winning in the bush and they’ve learnt how to – and want to – win. It can make a moderate little horse feel like it’s 10-foot tall and bulletproof. Racing history is littered with horses that had the potential to win better races than they did, but they found it easier to lie down and accept defeat. An early win is important when training for breeders. The prizemoney is nice, but it’s all about trying to enhance the horse’s pedigree, especially with fillies. If I can get a win first, even with a staying filly, it’s a massive boost to the pedigree and the pressure is off me. Then I try to make them a metropolitan winner, and then I try to make them a black type horse – all of which enhances the pedigree. Then when their halfsister or brother goes to auction, the breeders walk away happy.

I happily travel far and wide. When I first came to Victoria, most of my clients were New South Wales and Queenslandbased and they didn’t attend the races, so as long as the race meeting was on Sky Channel, it didn’t matter if I went to Donald, Bairnsdale or wherever – as long as people saw their horses race they were happy. People would rib me by saying: ‘Where are the races today – Mildura, Swan Hill, Hamilton?’ Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m a pioneer of it, but there are a lot more floats with the names of metropolitan trainers on the side of them further afield than there were five years ago. Now I say to them: ‘Are you coming with me today?’ People expect a lot from horse trainers. You’ll have runners at three race meetings on the same day and you can only go to one of them and people at the other two meetings will say: ‘Why isn’t he here?’ Everyone accepts it when their doctor or mechanic or plumber goes on holidays, but


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‘ Everything is bred finer and faster. You need to be more delicate and cuddle them more.


HIS OWN MAN: Peter Moody says he is ”introverted and shy“ but not afraid to voice his opinion.

if their racehorse trainer goes on holidays, they think: ‘Who’s looking after my horses?’ That’s where great support staff are instrumental to the success of any trainer. You can’t be everywhere at once. I’ve been fortunate enough to have good people around me all my life. I’ve never forgotten where I started. I’ve never put myself on a pedestal. I don’t have to sit in the finest restaurants in Double Bay; I can still have a beer and a pie with the blokes I was strapping with at T.J. Smith’s 20 years ago. That’s enabled me to call on people for help when I’ve needed it, and that covers the whole gamut of foremen, assistant trainers, farriers, vets, etc. I knew some of the vets when they were students, and the farriers when they were apprentices. It’s great working with people I’ve known and trusted for many years. I’ve had a working relationship with my assistant trainer, Tony Haydon, for 14

years. Tony was an apprentice to Bill Mitchell and under my wing in Queensland. We have a great mutual understanding. Jeff O’Connor, my racing manager, has been with us for four years. I knew Jeff when we were both strappers, and then he became an apprentice jockey at Caulfield, and a stable hand for Lee Freedman, and then he worked at Racing Victoria. He’s been a great acquisition to the business side of my team. I’ve never had an experienced mentor – probably to my detriment at times. A lot of people have had old trainers as helping them in the background. For example, Tony Noonan’s got Mick Robins, who trained a Melbourne Cup winner (Rain Lover, 1968 and 1969). I respect a lot of the old trainers, but I’ve shied away from it to some degree because I’ve wanted to make my own niche as a modern trainer. Whether someone like that

would’ve been a good addition to my team, I don’t know. The fellas who have worked for me have been from my era. At times, I’ve wished there was an old, wise head to call on, and I’ve wondered whether I would have been a better trainer for it. But at other times I’ve thought: ‘Would that have harnessed me, and would I have gone back to doing things that maybe I shouldn’t have?’ All in all, I’ve experimented and come out of it pretty well. Training methods have changed dramatically. Once upon a time, more was better, but that’s not the case now. The horses we train have changed a lot since I started at T.J.’s. It’s like any sport: everything is bred finer and faster. Where once there were big colonial horses with legs like tree trunks, now they’ve got legs like lead pencils. You can’t train them as hard, because they’re more fragile and just would not cope with it. You need to be more delicate and cuddle them more. There is a lot more finesse in horse training now. Swimming has become a massive part of my training regime. It allows me to get horses fit, without the weight on their joints and the wear and tear. Feed to your work and work to your feed. If they’re good doers and eat well, you work them hard; if they’re bad doers, you work them light. Once you get them fit, it’s just a matter of keeping their minds fit. Horses don’t lose their ability, but they lose their will to use it. By using different routines, I try to change their mindset to refresh them. A change is as good as a holiday, and it’s no different with horses. With older horses, you’re forever trying to rejuvenate them, so you need to spark their interest. Simple things like moving them from one side of the stable to the other, just to give them a different outlook, instead of doing the same old, dreary thing each day. It’s like a person who works a mundane, nine-to-five job – no wonder they lose interest. Horses are the same. It can be a pretty mundane life for

them – they’re locked in a 12 x 12 (foot) box for 20 hours a day, and they get out for a trot, a canter and a walk in the morning and a swim in the afternoon. I try to mix up their training with interval work, and working off ponies, and then I might send them off to the paddock for a week, or up to Peter Clarke’s property at Murchison for a fortnight. Some horses have played me off a break, but I reckon I’ve played others off a break and kidded them into doing things they never thought they could do. You need to be part-psychologist to play mind games with horses. With some horses, when we race here at Caulfield, we can walk them to the races, but I’ll put them in the truck and take them to Cranbourne and come back just so they think they’re on a trip away; whereas if they walk from the stables they think: ‘This is just another day of trackwork’. The opposite applies with some other horses – you try to unwind them because you don’t want them thinking too much. To get the best out of a horse, it needs to be pain-free. My horse chiropractor, Michael Bryant, has been invaluable to me, particularly with the older horses. He and Peter Clarke – who has a waterwalker machine at Murchison – complement each other’s work. If you told someone 20 years ago you were going to train a horse on a walking machine full of water, they would have looked at you like you had three heads. Peter Clarke is the grandfather of that and it has been revolutionary. I find it a massive aid for injured horses, and older horses who have been out of form and, after time at Peter’s, suddenly recapture it all. Peter is a very smart trainer and his set-up has been a massive part of my success. You can take the boy out of the bush, but not the bush out of the boy. My biggest downfall as a trainer is I’ve always been a private bloke who’s struggled with people. I’m a ‘bushy’. I always suggest to owners that we have a beer and a barbie rather


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than dine at a fi ne restaurant. I need to do that to get the merchant bankers and mining magnates on board. I’m not a piss-in-your-pocket type of bloke. There’s not much grey about me – I’m black and white. Some people can cop that, and thankfully my loyal clients can, whereas others need more cuddling, but that’s not my go. It’s too late to change now. I’m not intimidated by anyone. But that can come across as: ‘Look at that loudmouth’. I’m introverted and shy, but people can misread you after you come out with an opinion that opposes a Lee Freedman or a David Hayes. I’ve always stood up for what I believe. I’m not afraid to tell someone they’re talking bullshit. It probably gives people the wrong perception. I took on too many horses. I pride myself on having a great recall of the intricacies of each horse, but in the past season or so I outgrew my ability to do that because I had more horses than I could comfortably manage. That’s why we’ve downsized by about 50 per cent. I had more than 250 horses on my books, including about 85 at Caulfield and another 40 or so in pre-training, but I want to get back to 130-140 horses and a maximum of 45 at Caulfield. As much as I’d love to be mixing it on the premiership tables, I wasn’t getting the self-satisfaction because I wasn’t training at what I considered to be my best, and I wasn’t doing the right thing by the horses or the

‘ If I refused to train horses for every

person who wore a dark suit and dark sunglasses and drove a big black car in Melbourne, I‘d hardly have a client.

people. Some of my horses should have got better results. I want to get back to giving quality time to them. It’s about providing a better service. The Mokbel thing was blown out of proportion (an enquiry was launched in the spring of 2007 into the ownership of quality 3YO Pillar Of Hercules part-owned by Moody’s wife Sarah – Ed.). I don’t have anything to hide or be ashamed of, and I’ve been transparent with authorities the whole way through. It’s disappointing when your 10-year-old daughter comes home from school and says: ‘Mary’s mother, Mrs Jones, got Mary to ask me what Daddy’s doing on the front of the paper with Tony Mokbel’. For a start, Tony Mokbel never had anything to do with it. Then some two-bit journalist is out the front questioning my wife – ‘Are you a personal friend of the Mokbel family?’ We weren’t, but that’s no one’s business anyway. I train for a lot of overseas clients from Hong Kong and Malaysia, and for a lot of people in Melbourne – I don’t know what they do for a living. Our industry is probably built on the back of our Asian clients, but how would we know what they do for a living? There

must be 10 million ‘property developers’ in Hong Kong. If I refused to train horses for every person who wore a dark suit and dark sunglasses and drove a big black car in Melbourne, I’d hardly have a client. The hardest part of this industry is the sacrifice. It’s seven days a week, 12 months a year. It’s unrelenting and trying on family life. There’s no locking up the shop on a Friday night and coming back on a Monday morning. When most people are having the weekend off, it’s our busiest period. I’m not feeling pity for myself; I’m feeling pity for the industry. That’s just the way it is. I’m up at 3am each morning, trackwork starts at 4am, and if I go to the races, it might finish at 7-8pm. I try to have a nap, but most days we’ve got barrier trials or race meetings. It’s full-on and exhausting, mentally and physically – and not only on yourself, but the people around you. With a young family, it’s quite stressful. We have a couple of weeks on the Gold Coast each year, but I’m at the yearling sales and Sarah and the kids are on the beach. You try to take some sort of break, but it’s hard to plan ahead.

I might not be training in 10 years. I certainly don’t have an ambition to be training when I’m 60. When my children have completed their education, I’ll have fulfilled my obligations. I love what I do, but I’d like to say in my mid-40s: ‘Let’s have a break and maybe try something different’. The first thing I’d love to do is travel. Just take off across the world. I’m sure I’ll always have some form of involvement in racing, but I have reservations about it being as a large commercial trainer. Sarah is one of many horseracing widows. I’m lucky she was raised in a similar vein because I think someone coming from outside the industry would struggle to put up with a partner in it. Sarah has been a virtual single mother – she’s basically raised the children on her own – and she’s made a lot of sacrifices along the way. But there’s a line in the sand. I’ve got a family I need to be part of. I’ve got three beautiful daughters (Cara, 13, and 11-year-old twins Breann and Celine) that I don’t spend enough time with. I’ve far exceeded my life’s ambitions. I’ve never aimed to win a Melbourne Cup or a Cox Plate. I’ve got no aspirations to get in the racing Hall of Fame, or train 300 Group 1 winners. I went past my highest expectations 25 years ago when I went to T.J. Smith’s as a strapper. All I want is a happy, healthy family.


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Can champion jockey Craig Williams make it a hat-trick of Scobie Breasley Medals? Who will take home the prestigious Fred Hoysted Award as Victoria’s champion trainer? And can Craig Durden add an astonishing eighth Tommy Corrigan Medal to his already burgeoning trophy cabinet? The coveted Country Racing Victoria Awards will also be presented to honour the Club of the Year, and champion country racehorse, jockey and trainer. DATE Saturday 2 August 2008 TIME 7.00pm for 7.30pm VENUE Palladium at Crown DRESS Black Tie TICKETS $150 per person (inc. GST) BOOKINGS 1300 139 401 or online


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Joining ƒorces he clocking tower sits near the middle of the Geelong racetrack. Its interior light shines in the 5am darkness. Octangular in shape, it bears a battered, lived-in appearance, like a well-worn air traffic control tower. Inside is Bruce Elkington – the humble and well-liked 54-year-old Geelong trainer who first began working with horses as a 10-year-old helping his famous training father. A.E. Elkington, forever known as ‘Meggs’, died in 2005 without anyone having said a bad word about him. Elkington greets me like a friendly man with work to do, taking his eyes off the horses on the track for just enough time to make a warm handshake. The room contains half a dozen chairs and a rubbish bin not yet brimming with discarded takeaway coffee cups. On one of the shelves sits a racing calendar, a clock radio that is turned off, a couple of stopwatches and a set of exercise books overflowing with information. Although Elkington can tell me Bow Mistress (Gr m 1979, Burglar-Nerada by Sovereign Edition), the Tasmanian galloper he trained in the early ’80s, ran third, beaten a nose and a nose in the 1984 Oakleigh Plate, he does not rely on his memory any more when it comes to trackwork notes. He writes down times as soon as they are clocked. Elkington uses a saying as he does so: “A blunt pencil always beats a sharp mind”.



It grew out of a chat, a discussion similar to many they had from the time that Jamie Edwards based himself in Geelong. Here was a chance to establish a unique racing partnership – two trainers unrelated by anything but their fierce desire to be successful at their craft. Bruce Elkington and Edwards complement each other and their union has benefited both as they continue to expand their operation. PETER RYAN discovers what makes this partnership tick.


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BACK TO BACK: Bruce Elkington (left) and Jamie Edwards have established Victoria’s fi rst non-family training partnership. It is a decision born from not only a desire to succeed, but also to share the intense workload.


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Meggs’ legacy In 2007, before Elkington and Edwards joined forces, Edwards won the ‘Meggs’ Elkington Young Achiever award presented by the Geelong Thoroughbred Club. It was a thrill for Edwards to receive the award in honour of Elkington’s father. Meggs began his life in racing as an apprentice to Fred Hoysted during the war years. He ran a stud in Dandenong, before starting to train at Mentone in 1958. He trained Rashlore (B h 1959, RashleighJoyance by Millie’s Hope) to win the 1964 Newmarket Handicap and Begonia Belle (Ch m 1964, Court SentenceNear Belle by Near Blue) won the 1967 Thousand Guineas, 1967 Sandown Guineas, 1968 Lightning Stakes and 1969 Newmarket and Alister Clark Stakes. He left Mentone when the track closed in 1968 and moved to Caulfield for seven years before establishing Carawatha, a training property at Buckley, near Geelong. He and Bruce trained their horses from there until he retired in 1999 with horses such as Birchwood, Bow Mistress, Venus and Mars and Vitalic (Br h 1985 Noalcoholic (Fr)-My Evita by Nonoalco (USA)), who won the 1988 Caulfield Guineas. Effectively Bruce and Meggs trained in partnership, although they were required to race their horses under individual names. When asked which training philosophies Meggs passed on to his son, Bruce’s answer is succinct: “Get a good horse.”

Meggs Elkington

It was inside this room that Elkington first expressed his idea of forming a training partnership to his friend and fellow trainer, the young-looking 40-year-old Jamie Edwards. It was in May 2007. The two were chatting, as they often had in the five years since Edwards arrived from Kyneton to set up his stables at Geelong. The discussion turned to their prospects for the upcoming season. Both admitted each of their teams was light on in certain areas. Elkington bounced an idea off Edwards: “You know what we ought to do: think about joining up, joining forces and making ourselves a bit more competitive.” Edwards stopped for a second. Both were used to sharing ideas about their horses, helping the other when a question emerged. But this would be a big step. His reply was positive: “Yeah, maybe it’s something we should think about.” A partnership, the first non-family training partnership in Victoria, had reached the starting stalls. Both trainers took the idea to their owners. All were supportive. Elkington confided in trusted friends, mostly men who had owned horses he trained. Edwards did the same. Both were reassured when those they consulted considered it a smart, proactive step. Although many trainers appear to follow an old-fashioned code, the best practitioners are innovators, thinkers; entrepreneurs possessing minds that tick over at faster than even time – all the time. Elkington jotted down potential issues as they arose: Who would deal with owners? How would they keep the message consistent? Who would make the final decisions on horses? They kept working through each question until they found workable solutions. Elkington’s brother, Kevin, a lawyer, went through the legalities. On September 1, 2007, Racing Victoria ratified the Edwards-Elkington application to train in partnership. The historic partnership was born. A commonsense approach to the

business of training horses had been formalised by Racing Victoria in 2006-07. The concept of an individual running a complex business was clearly required, but the racing world moves slowly. The first formal partnerships, both family oriented, were confirmed when Colin and Cindy Alderson (father and daughter) and Bruce and Jean Purcell (husband and wife) formed two separate partnerships in 2006-07. Although New Zealand has had training partnerships for some time, they did not have similar licence rules or regulations so Victoria had to build the criteria from scratch. Twelve months later, and the positives abound for Elkington and Edwards. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” says Edwards, as he returns to the clocking tower after speaking to a track rider astride one of their horses. He shares his thoughts with Elkington about the horse before an easy agreement is reached. The regard each has for the other is clear. Often, Edwards will ride work himself, sitting in the saddle as he had done when he was an apprentice jockey in Canberra. He does so safe in the

‘ But when a final

decision needs to be made about a horse, Edwards takes charge.

Training partnerships in Victoria Jamie Edwards and Bruce Elkington Colin and Cindy Alderson Sheila Laxon and John Symons Fran Houlahan and Brian Johnston Terry and Karina O’Sullivan

knowledge Elkington can observe any of their other horses going around in work closely. “Most trainers can handle training 10 or 12 horses themselves,” he says. “They can train their horses well and deal with the owners properly, but once you get out to 20 horses you need someone to help out.” When he was a sole operator Edwards once had nearly 40 horses in work, an indication of the extent of his ambition. He soon realised he was stretched and was smart enough to change tack. The Edwards-Elkington team now has 30 horses in work. Their stables are at the Geelong racetrack and horses work on the highly regarded Thoroughtrack surface. A 25-hectare property is also being developed at Freshwater Creek, a 15-minute drive from Geelong. When it is ready by Christmas, it will have an all-weather racetrack and spelling paddocks. When necessary, the horses will exercise along the beach at Thirteenth Beach, near Barwon Heads. By specialising in defined roles, the training partners say they can serve their clients better. Edwards focuses most of his energy on horses in the stables. He manages the staff. Elkington is responsible for administration and communication with the owners and clients. He also does a lot of preparation work such as monitoring the horses while on agistment and networking visits to stud farms before yearling sales. Both watch trackwork on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. They spend a few hours every Monday discussing each horse on their roster, fine-tuning their program, determining their plans. There are no demarcation zones, but understood areas of expertise and responsibility. Edwards is comfortable with the owners, too. Elkington remains in touch with the horses. But when a final decision needs to be made about a horse, Edwards takes charge. “One captain,” says Elkington. Accountability works. Both bring fresh minds to the


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difficult task of working out ways to make the horses run faster and ensure owners know how their horse is travelling. And if one needs to do something they consider important, such as watch their sons play sport, flexibility – a rare commodity in the racing game – exists. That’s a bonus from the arrangement they had not anticipated. They walk outside to the narrow porch ringing the clocking tower to watch two horses gallop. Elkington looks through the binoculars and holds a stopwatch. Edwards is all eyes and ears. He carries a stopwatch but his hunches on the times his horses are running are uncannily accurate. The following dialogue provides an insight into their connection: 95 per cent is business, five per cent banter. Elkington: The filly on the outside is going good. Your filly is not going real good at all. Edwards: I won’t do any short, sharp work with them. Give them a jump out on Wednesday and then Saturday morning. We’ll go over 1200 rather than the short, sharp stuff. It’s useless doing that. The plan, immediately pencilled in by Elkington, will be confirmed at their Monday meeting. I ask them what Elkington meant when he referred to one of the fillies as “your filly”. They chuckle. I’ve stumbled across an in-joke, one to make the cold winter mornings pass a bit quicker. If a horse is slower than they would like, Elkington will tell Edwards it’s “your horse”. Both brought good credentials into the partnership. Edwards trained Lazer Sharp (B g 2003, by Zariz-Scadabbaby by Scenic) to win the 2007 Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville and VRC Listed St Leger (2600m), at Moonee Valley. The gelding was then sold (an action recommended by Edwards) and sent to the David Hayes stable. He had trained Dream The Dream (B m 2002, Encosta De Lago-Dream Of The Dance by Islero) to Group 2 success in the South Australian Oaks

CONFERENCE: Training partners Bruce Elkington (left) and Jamie Edwards in discussion after trackwork at Geelong.

(2500m), also at Morphettville, the season before. He maintains a soft spot for the great old handicapper, Sand Belt (B g 1996, HuntingdaleBackbeat by Undercut), who won 12 races for Edwards, often grabbing prizemoney with impeccable timing. Elkington has been training for 28 years, involved in training winners such as Venus And Mars (Ch c 1978, Sobar-SoAmi, by Martian), Birchwood (Ch c 1978, Exalt-Silver Flame, by Buisson Ardent), Bow Mistress (Gr m 1979, Burglar-Narada, by Crocket), Palomine (Ch h 1978, Exalt (GB)-Try Blue, by Exbury), Gay Tulip (Ch m 1980, Gay Bachelor-Pavane by Better Boy) and Valdazair (B g 1989, NoalcoholicGay Tulip, by Gay Bachelor) in a long, illustrious career, much of it spent alongside his father. When Edwards leaves the room, I ask Elkington what he has learned about his partner. “He’s certainly very dedicated. He’s a very good horseman and takes a lot of notice of his horses. He’s always prepared to try something different with the horse. If something isn’t working, he’ll

try something different.” On September 3, 2007, their fi rst runner as a partnership, De Arias (Br g 2003, by Montjeu-Miss Fonteyn by Citidancer) won at Bendigo, and the duo received phone calls of congratulations from everyone. The good vibes have continued. So far this season the partnership has trained more than 25 winners with a winning strike rate at 15 per cent. It put them in the top 20 trainers in the state by the middle of March. Elkington knows the best publicity they can get is by training winners. Without horses saluting the judge, there is little chance of being noticed. Family life now gets the time both would like to give to it. Elkington is enjoying watching his teenage sons, Grant (19) and Thomas (16), play sport occasionally, knowing Edwards has things under control. Edwards says his wife Janet is not having to put up with such a grumpy husband any more and he loves the chance to spend more time with their three sons, James (11), Darby (10) and Brad (4).

In two months they will formally evaluate how the arrangement is travelling. Any concerns will be expressed. The positives will be reinforced. Both are taking a mature approach. “A partnership is a bit like a marriage – you need to work at it,” says Elkington. The difference here is this is a business, now required to support two partners, and two families. Although they were supporting themselves as individuals, there are different imperatives to fulfil in a formal partnership. The clocking tower light dulls as the morning sky turns the colour of dishwater. They have three horses in at Geelong that day. Edwards will go back to the stables to look at all the horses and prepare those racing later. Elkington is off to watch his son play in a local cricket Grand Final. He will then return to the races to look after the owners. I leave them standing against the running rail chatting. Another one of Elkington’s sayings is ringing in my ears. It’s one he inherited from his father: “Keep yourself in the best company and your horse in the worst.” It’s a motto he appears to be living by.

Why partnership? With heavy racing schedules, trainers rely on assistant trainers and forepersons to manage stables. The licensing arrangements and rules reflect this reality. Experienced forepersons and assistant trainers will be able to become trainers without having to start from scratch in the country. Partnerships encourage older trainers to take on junior partners, lifting opportunities for young people in the industry. They benefit families involved in racing and allow women to take on a higher profile. A partnership enables trainers, especially those mid-tier and below, to rationalise costs.


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THE HORSE’S TOOTH: For Mark Burnell, horse dentistry is not from the dark ages, but an exact and necessary science in the modern world of thoroughbred racing.


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Straight from the horse’s mouth Mark Burnell has the gift of the gab and loves to joke, but he is deadly serious about matters of the mouth – a horse’s, that is. Burnell, whose clientele includes some of Australia’s leading trainers, knows how important a healthy set of teeth is to maintaining performance. The key to the future hopes of owners and trainers can lie in his experienced hands and medieval implements. WORDS PETER RYAN PHOTOGRAPHS MICHAEL WILLSON


ark Burnell is a horse dentist who has cared for the teeth of nine Melbourne Cup winners. His business extends through three generations, and the Cup winners of those generations, all the way to Hall Mark in 1933. Burnell knows the profession might sound strange to some but maintaining the teeth of thoroughbreds is a serious business, with serious consequences for poor management. There are about a dozen full-time professionals in Victoria who care for thoroughbred horses’ teeth. Burnell has been at it for 24 years, taking over the business from his mentor Ted McLean and assuming a clientele that included George Hanlon, Bart Cummings, Angus Armanasco and Geoff Murphy. On a Tuesday morning he is in action at Danny O’Brien’s stables. The two-year-old colt Quinquatria (Ch c 2005, King Charlemagne (USA)-Landgold by Nureyev (USA)) stands in

his stall. Burnell approaches the unraced horse. Quinquatria is quiet and Burnell is calm as the consultation begins. He pats the chestnut and performs what he calls the “hello, how are you” greeting. It’s a simple ritual born out of Burnell’s understanding of horses. Burnell watches Quinquatria’s eyes, waiting for a wink. The simple movement will indicate the two-year-old is relaxed. Burnell puts a thumb into the horse’s mouth. “We want to get him chewing because that is something he likes,” said Burnell. He places the end of a rasp into the horse’s mouth, slowly but with confidence and purpose. The sawing motion used to file back the horse’s teeth begins. The filing is done by sound and feel and Burnell is an expert at hearing how the rasp is running. He pulls the rasp out to examine removed tooth matter: enamel, dentine and cementum marks the implement. “My job is to rasp off what they can’t naturally wear away,” said Burnell. “The worst thing I could do to this

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horse is to do too much to his teeth because then his teeth will go from oat-crushing machines to oatbruising machines.” Burnell does not travel light. He carries a bucket of water with his tools resting in it. There are a set of rasps, an incisor extractor, a wolf tooth extractor, and cap extractors. Burnell admits the tools of his trade have not changed much for generations; their medieval look more alarming to humans than horses. When asked whether rasping might hurt the horse he jokes, “I’ve had no written complaints” before explaining that the material he rasps away does not have nerve endings as a human’s teeth do. Burnell talks as he works, a gift of the gab that reveals not only his sense of humour but how much he knows about horses. Horses have between 36 and 42 teeth with the 12 front teeth (incisors) used to tear feed off. Their teeth are tough: harder than their bones but they wear away and drop out. Between the ages of twoand-a-half and four-and-a-half – when many horses are at the peak of their racing career – a horse will lose 24 milkteeth or deciduous teeth. They are called caps and will be replaced by permanent teeth (horses get two sets of teeth). Burnell can tell by feel that Quinquatria has a cracked tooth with a little bit of food floating around it. He removes a deciduous tooth from the horse’s mouth. “He is a young horse and another one will come up behind it. It’s rare for horses to lose permanent teeth.” With the job done, Quinquatria

RASPING: The horse’s mouth is braced open as Burnell rasps along the sharp edges. The horse is relaxed and feels no pain.

‘ When they’re standing

dribbling, they look like something Sigourney Weaver would kiss in Alien .’ returns to the corner of his box and starts eating, an indication he is happy with the consultation. It’s apparent Burnell’s job is not just a line costing $60 on the trainer’s bill. Horses must eat well to do enough work on the track to be primed for raceday. Evidence abounds that a connection between eating well and training well exists. Gone are the days when steroids (or going even further back, arsenic) were used to stimulate the appetite. Now, keeping a horse happy is paramount. A healthy set of teeth keeps a horse contented and therefore eating. Horses don’t just need to eat, but eat properly. Chewing food properly ensures the feed is digested and it becomes fuel to drive their efforts on the track. Good teeth also enable horses to avoid illness. The more chewing a horse does, the more saliva it generates. Saliva acts as a natural buffering agent against stomach ulcers. Unchewed food – often the effect of a sore tooth – will come out the other end in exactly the same shape as it goes in, but it risks leaving the horse in

worse shape. Colic and indigestion are real dangers when this is happening. A horse may also “quid” the food, rolling it into balls and dropping it to the ground rather than chewing it. Even if the illness is avoided, work is missed and racing at their peak becomes impossible. It’s not just about feed. Sharp teeth can damage a horse’s tongue or cheeks. In technical terms, the outside edges of the upper molar and the inside edges of the lower molars become sharp. The sharp edges need to be filed to prevent damage. It is important horses are comfortable while they’re wearing a bit. More ring bits are being used and jockeys are riding shorter, putting more pressure on the horse’s mouth. The Charlie Waymouth-trained Sequalo (B h 1990, Rustic Amber (IRE)-Dash Around by Thatching (IRE)) often developed ulcers because of the speed he travelled and the subsequent pressure on his mouth. Waymouth knew that constant care of the horse’s teeth was important to maintain performance. Burnell performed the work and the horse

EXTRACTION: Burnell clasps a tooth freshly removed from his patient. A new cap will grow back quickly.

Becoming an equine dentist To become an equine dentist, you need to complete a Certificate in Equine Dentistry through the Racing Victoria Education and Training Centre. The course is two years full time. The path to becoming a horse dentist has evolved from being a crude apprenticeship to become a nationally accredited course, the only nationally accredited course of its type in the world. Graduates of the course have worked in England, Ireland, Japan, NZ, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Macau, Malaysia, South Africa, Germany and Ireland.


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won 10 races and more than $800,000 prizemoney. Most horses receive a visit from a dentist about four to five times a year. The idea is to stop trouble before it starts. When a horse returns from a spell to go back to work the rule of thumb is they will be shod, wormed and have their teeth done. Burnell has a routine, seeing to horses regularly when they are in the stable. He keeps notes as he goes, recognising which horses need what care and when. To recognise a problem that might emerge, he relies on the awareness of strappers and trainers. It is one of the reasons he is on first-name terms with every stablehand who walks past. The most obvious sign of trouble is a change in chewing habits but there are other indicators too. “You look for bad breath or a change in their saliva. When a horse is losing a cap or has cuts or ulcers in their mouth, the saliva is thick and gelatinous. When they’re standing dribbling, they look like something Sigourney Weaver would kiss in Alien,” Burnell said. Throwing their head in a race or hanging might indicate a problem with their teeth, too. “It’s either the primary problem, in which case they have a cut or ulcer on one side of the face or it could be secondary where they maybe have issues with their feet or fetlocks or knees or something else,” he said. Burnell works in conjunction with the trainer and vet to establish whether the teeth are the cause of the hanging or not. Often, they are not. Each horse’s behaviour tells a story. When the Bart Cummingstrained Weekend Delight (Br m 1987, Racing Is Fun (US)-Silver Fleet (NZ) by Olympiad King (USA)) threw her head everywhere in the 1990 Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m at Flemington) it cost her the race. On the Monday, with the trainer’s blessing, Burnell checked her teeth and found she had caps and wolf teeth. Wolf teeth are small teeth that sit in front of the first cheek teeth.

MEDIEVAL TOOLS: The instruments of the horse dentist have not changed for generations.

An age-old story It is possible to determine a horse’s age by their teeth, although it remains an estimation only. The 1971 Group 1 AJC Derby (2400m at Randwick) winner Classic Mission (B h 1968, Persian Garden II (GB)-Angelet (NZ), by Alcide (GB)) became famous when experts claimed in the week leading up the race that his teeth indicated he was a four-year-old. The controversy raged in the week leading up to the race until he was declared a three-year-old and free to run. Burnell said the teeth of several horses were advanced beyond what their birthdate indicated. He cites Zeditave (Ch h 1985, The Judge-Summoned by Showdown), the dominant colt who won 14 of 17 races including the 1988 Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m at Caulfield), as an example of a horse with fast-maturing teeth. “Physically he looked like a three-year-old when he was two-and-a-half (years old) and his teeth mimicked that. He was just a fast-maturing horse. If he was a kid, he probably would have shaved when he was 14 (years old),” Burnell said.

Because it is difficult to determine which wolf teeth will affect a horse’s performance, they often come out as a precaution. Burnell told Cummings that Weekend Delight’s caps and wolf teeth should come out. Cummings agreed and six teeth were removed three days before the Group 1 VRC Oaks. Weekend Delight won the 2500m race after settling well in a Norton bit (for horses who pull hard, a Norton bit has two rings, two mouthpieces and a nosestrap) and winning. The Brian Smith-trained Circles Of Gold (Ch m 1991, Marscay-Olympic Aim, by Biscay) – the dam of stars Elvstroem and Haradasun – won the 1995 Group 1 AJC Oaks in Sydney. When she arrived in Sydney for the spring, she had cuts in her mouth and wolf teeth. The wolf teeth came out and the sharp edges were removed. “I was a bit presumptuous and suggested it wouldn’t be a bad idea to swim the horse or lead it because its mouth is cut so badly,” said Burnell. It was impossible because the horse was, according to its trainer, at its winning weight. Other options were discussed for the horse who was known as an aggressive track worker. “I recommended a type of rubber bit called the ‘happy mouth’ bit. They were new on the scene and apparently apple fl avoured. He (Smith) tried one and she stopped pulling because she was happy,” Burnell said. Circles Of Gold won the 1996 Group 3 Coongy Handicap (2000m at Caulfield) before running second to Arctic Scent (Ch m 1992, Blazing SwordPolar Rose by Marscay) in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m at Caulfield) and then second in the Group 1 Fruit ‘N’ Veg Stakes (1800m), at Ascot, in Perth. Such successes are the art of dentistry at work. Burnell takes pride in his horsemanship, his care for horses evident in his practice and comments: “You don’t know how they’re thinking or feeling. You really have to watch their behaviour.”


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The Silk


The barriers for female participation on the racecourse le for recognition came down a fair while ago, but the battle olvement in is far from over. Women cherish their involvement ave to outshine racing as much as men do, yet they still have their male counterparts to be accorded the treatment ny women, the they so richly deserve. In the eyes of many question is, why? By STEPHEN HOWELL.


oday’s female jockeys don’t have to go to the lengths Wilhemena Smith did to ride winners in the mid-1900s, when, as Bill Smith, she arrived at Queensland courses with riding gear on under street clothes. It was only on her death in 1975 that the racing world was officially told Bill was really Wilhemena. And that was only four years before New Zealander Linda Jones and Queenslander Pam O’Neill were licensed to ride against men in Australia. Plenty of water has flowed under the proverbial bridge in the decades since then, and it has irrigated a rich crop of stories about women in racing. Around the world female riders have had startling, albeit limited, success: from Julie Krone, who was America’s darling in a magnificent career that brought Triple Crown success in 1993, on Colonial Affair in the Belmont Stakes, and more than 3500 winners; to New Zealander Lisa Cropp, that country’s leading rider; to Canadian Emma-Jane Wilson, who rode against the men in an international invitation series in Hong Kong last December and won a brief contract there; to Nina Carberry, who in March repeated her success of the previous year

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in a steeplechase plechase at England’s famous Cheltenham meeting. In Australia, stralia, Smith, Jones and O’Neill eill have been followed by scores of women, including: g: Tasmania’s triple champion ampion jockey Bev Buckingham, ham, whose riding career ended nded in 1998 when a race fall put her in a wheelchair for months; hs; the Payne sisters (Therese,, Maree, Brigid, Bernadette, Cathy and nd Michelle), with Michelle still winning ning races across Victoria; Cherie Buchiw, uchiw, whose successful South Australian ustralian stint was cruelly curtailed d when she had a leg amputated below thee knee after hitting an exposed running rail in a fall; Andrea Leek, who has won a Grand National Hurdle; Kathy O’Hara, a regular winner in Sydney; and Clare Lindop ndop and Nikita Beriman, who have won n Group 1 races. The constant onstant is that they have had to fight harder der than their male counterparts in an industry dustry that gives nothing easily. The Thoroughbred oughbred spoke to a handful of those who ho devote their working lives to racing. To a woman, they said females did it harder rder than males in chasing their dreams in n the job they love.

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Sally Wynne, a successful race rider for half her 33 years, is best known for her relationship with Sensational Swing (Br g 1999, Celtic Swing-Dual Sensation, by Prego), whom she has ridden in 82 starts for seven wins. Another “sensational” horse, Sensational Spot (Ch m 1999, Swamp King-Spot On Time, by

Rancho Ruler), also trained by her mother Dianne, provided Wynne’s special moment in racing, when she won at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day in 2004. “That was pretty special, the work that went into that horse,” Wynne said. “She was mum’s best horse.”

Silks and sulkies GAI WATERHOUSE The daughter of training legend Tommy Smith, who has set a high standard for women in racing throughout the world. Waterhouse has won four Sydney metropolitan training premierships, and she has trained 83 Group 1 winners. DOROTHY SHEIL She was only 22 when her horse Precocious won the 1932 Grand National Steeplechase at Flemington, making her the first woman to train a winner at Flemington. She was able to do so because of a loophole in the rules, which allowed owners to train horses without a licence. HEDWICK “GRANNY” MCDONALD A pioneer trainer in New Zealand, McDonald trained the 1938 Melbourne Cup winner Catalogue, but under the rules of Victorian racing wasn’t allowed to hold a trainer’s licence in Australia. She continued to train the horse to win the Cup, but the 8YO gelding raced in Australia under the name of her husband, Allan. There are several people in racing who believe the VRC should posthumously give McDonald credit for being the fi rst woman to train the winner of the Melbourne Cup. SHEILA LAXON Came from the shadows of her husband Laurie (who trained the 1988 Melbourne Cup winner Empire Rose) to train Ethereal to win the 2001 Caulfield and Melbourne Cup double. She is the fi rst woman to officially train the winner of the Melbourne Cup. Laxon now shares a training licence in Victoria in partnership with John Symons. KERRYN MANNING Burst on the international harness racing scene when she drove, at the age of 20, the outstanding Australian trotter Knight Pistol to win a Group 1 race in Sweden, at the famous Elitlopp meeting in 1997. Since then, the Victorianbased Manning has dominated harness racing in Australia as a driver, and lately as a trainer. KELLIE KERSLEY The daughter of Fred Kersley, harness racing legend and thoroughbred trainer of the great Northerly. Kersley became the fi rst woman to drive the winner of the Miracle Mile, when she steered Norms Daughter to win in 1996. NATALIE RASMUSSEN Her horsemanship is unquestioned as the trainer-driver of the champion pacer Blacks A Fake, winner of the past three Inter Dominion Pacing Championships – harness racing’s version of the Melbourne Cup.

Wynne, whose father is former top jumps jockey Kevin Wynne, is bred to fight for what she wants in racing. She tells a story of her mother about 50 years ago, when she was 12-year-old Dianne Arnold and “she was the first female to step inside the white line” that split the sexes on a racecourse. Wynne said her mother led a horse trained by the late Geoff Murphy about five miles (8km) in pouring rain to Caulfield racecourse, and “when she got to the mounting yard she was whisked away by two security guards”. Wynne said Murphy was fined 50 pounds. There’s no line now, but Wynne said it was harder for female riders. “The milliondollar question is why?” she said. “If anyone can give me an answer, I’ll give them a million. “For example, I ride a little trackwork for Greg Eurell of a morning (at Cranbourne), the horses some can’t hold – I can. I’ve got the strength of most guys, I hit as hard as nine out of 10 boys ... I suppose guys have a special bond, a mates thing.” Wynne said women had to be careful not to step across the line that made them a “kitschy little girl or butchy she-man”, but added that she did not “take any crap from the boys. I give it back”. “I think it is harder now than when I started,” she said, adding that of those riding when she started only Donna Mott is still at it, and she had a few years off. “You’ve got to take a lot of knocks, but it’s got to be like water off a duck’s back ... it does get to you at times.” Lindop, riding a winning wave with super two-year-old Augusta Proud after winning the Adelaide Cup on Exalted Time in 2006 (when it was still a Group 1 race), said: “I believe a lady rider is less likely to be given a second chance.” She was adamant women should not be treated

Michelle Payne,23 189 wins from 2028 rides* WHY RIDE? “I never, ever had any other ideas. I used to watch them (her siblings) ride and I used to ride trackwork from a young age, so I knew the horses. I thought I could do a better job, so I couldn’t wait to get out there and do it the way I thought it should have been done.” FIRST WIN? “That was one of the best moments of my career. I always wanted to ride and the week before I was running around the track every day playing the race in my mind. It ended up working out exactly how I planned. The horse won – Reigning (B g, 1993, Fairy King-Cold As Christmas, by Icelandic) for my dad in a race at Ballarat on a Saturday (in February 2001).” IS RACING A GOOD EARNER? “It’s great money for someone my age. I own half my house with my sister Cathy and I own another house. At my age I don’t think many people can say that, but it’s not really the money – I love it. The money’s a bonus.” DOWN THE TRACK? “I can’t see myself riding much past 25-26, I’m 23 now and I’ve been doing it for seven years already. It’s so hard and taxing on your body ... I’ll give it my best shot while I can and if I’m not at my best by, then I’m never going to be any better. And I want to do other things with my life, too ... I wouldn’t mind doing a stewards’ job, putting some of my ideas in place that might help the industry.” (* = in the past five seasons to April 1. From


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Sally Wynne, 33

Jade Da Rose, 26

Clare Lindop, 28

Nikita Beriman, 22

98 wins from 1777 rides*

32 wins from 808 rides*

428 wins from 3420 rides*

182 wins from 1540 rides*

WHY RIDE? “Pretty much since the time I could walk I was going to ride ... there’s nothing else in the world that gets the heart rate going like riding in a race. It’s a challenge, it’s so much fun with your mind working at 100 miles an hour making splitsecond decisions.”

WHY RIDE? “You just fall in love with the horses. You couldn’t have a better job, couldn’t dream of a better job. It’s a very early start but you’ve got the rest of the day off if you’re not riding.”

FIRST WIN? “On Opinions Differ (B g, 1992, Epidaurus-Foreign Coin, by Amyntor) at Dunkeld on November 18, 1995. In the early days I did all the country courses in western Victoria. I did the hard yards ... I worked hard to get lucky.”

WHY RIDE? “I didn’t go to school long enough to have a great education and it’s the only thing I know how to do ... it is the love of my life, obviously. I wouldn’t know how to work a nine-five job.”

FIRST WIN? “It was at Warracknabeal on Galeola Flyer (B m, 1986, Galeola-Sugar Glider, by Option) within my fi rst 10 rides. I was just 16.” STRIKE RATE? “It looks ordinary on paper, but I’m a lightweight so I don’t pick and choose, I ride what I get. There are some no-hopers and not many favourites. For what I ride, my strike rate’s OK.” DOWN THE TRACK? “I’m going to be a trainer. I’ll go on riding as long as I enjoy it. In earlier interviews I said I’d retire at 30, but 30 came and went and I’m not retired yet.”

FIRST WIN? “At Bairnsdale for Nick Harnett, Hula’s Boy (B/br g, 1995, Hula Grey-Proprio Presto, by Encouraging). He won three in a row, my first three winners.” BEST WINS? “I won the first ladies’ race at Moonee Valley (in October 2006), Sharipova (B m, 2000, FaltaatEastern Magic, by Mercury) for Damien Williams. I rode a winner for my mum and dad at Bendigo, that was special – Much Vanity (Ch g, 1999, Keltrice-Vainly blue, by Let’s Get Physical). He lives in my paddock at home now. He gets a special feed every day. He’s got a little mate, a little pony.” DOWN THE TRACK? “When I stop riding I will train.”

‘ I can’t see myself riding

much past 25-26, I’m 23 now and I’ve been doing it for seven years already. It’s so hard and taxing on your body.’ - Michelle Payne

WERE THERE MORE HARD YARDS? “When I came out of my apprenticeship I could barely get a city ride in Adelaide. I actually started a small business management course at night school in case I had to get out. That gave me more motivation, the skill to market myself better in a business sense.” RIDING IN THE MELBOURNE CUP? “The fi rst Melbourne Cup in 2003 (when 19th on the roughie Debben) was unbelievable ... it really lifted my profile, set me on the path to success.” RIDING FOR LEON MCDONALD? “In 2002 the stable rider (Jason Holder) went to Hong Kong. I filled in gaps and the relationship grew. I call it a partnership, we’re very much in sync ... the whole family. There’s Pam (Leon’s wife), Andrew Gluyas (foreman and married to Sue McDonald, Leon’s daughter), Christine McAuliffe (Leon’s daughter, married to racecaller Terry). They call me the third sister. They’ve welcomed me into the family and the business environment.”

FIRST WIN? “My fi rst ride was a winner on a horse called Lightning Tears (B g, 1998, Lacryma Cristi-Ride The Lightning, by Military Plume), by the same sire as Tears I Cry (her Group 1 winner). It was May 26, 2002, at Echuca. All my family was there.” WHY DID YOU CONSIDER QUITTING LAST YEAR? “I rode a double the meeting before the Emirates (the Group 1 win) and never got a thrill out of it. All I wanted to do was have a break. I got sick of racing, sick of horses, sick of doing everything, sick of getting up at 4 o’clock in a morning, sick of not having a normal life, not being able to eat properly or go to the movies with friends ...” GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT? “That would be being recognised as a female rider in the metropolitan area. I had good opportunities, I went to Lloyd Williams and Jim Mason, I’ve ridden for Lee Freedman, I’ve ridden for the top stables.” DOWN THE TRACK? “I want to stay riding. My ultimate goal, in the distance, would be to win the Caulfield Cup – Caulfield’s always been my favourite track. I wouldn’t complain if I won a Melbourne Cup, but I’d love to win a Caulfield Cup.”

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differently. “I hate the good female jockey bit,” she said. “Why not, good jockey?” Why not, indeed? But it needs to be recorded that Lindop is the first female to ride the winner of the Magic Millions (this year on Augusta Proud), and the first Australian female to ride in the Melbourne Cup (in 2003 on the unplaced Debben). Beriman, whose Group 1 win came on the 100-1 chance Tears I Cry in the Emirates Stakes on the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival last year when she was contemplating quitting riding, said there was discrimination. “It is a male-dominated sport,” she said. “You’ve got to be prepared to cop a little bit ... not so much sexual harassment or something like that – you don’t tolerate that. But you’ve got to be able to cop it and give it back. Good enough give, good enough take.” Beriman said women had to work twice as hard to get recognition. “It’s always been known as the sport of kings. I think I was quoted in another article, ‘Move over kings because the queen’s coming in’.” Payne continued the theme, saying: “I think if a male makes a mistake, bad luck; but if a girl does, it’s, ‘oh, put a male jockey on, that girl’s no good.’ It’s always going to be like that and that’s why we’ve got to work doubly hard. “There have been times when it has been really hard, but there’s never been times when I think, ‘do I want to give it away?’ At the end of the day it’s your job and everyone has parts of the job they don’t like ... it’s what I love doing and I won’t be in it for a long time, so I want to get as much out of it as I can.” What are the high points? “Riding winners and seeing the owners’ faces and how excited they get,” Payne said. “They’ve put their money into it and you see them before the race and they’re all hyped up. To come back in and see their faces is just the biggest buzz you get. “That, and the satisfaction, the

feeling you get for yourself after all the hard work you’ve put in.” Payne, whose image is as racing’s sweet, young thing, said she gives as good as she gets? “You only have to ask Patrick (her brother, who is training after a successful riding career). He has a go at me sometimes because I’m a bit too hard on people, but that’s just the way I am and our family is. “I think some people would be surprised if they really did know me. I’m not as nice as I come across. Once I get out there, it’s business. I’m as competitive as anybody else.” Jade Da Rose, who rides mainly for trainer Robbie Laing, said there were owners who would prefer to put males on “but Robbie’s been good”. All bar Lindop said people, mainly family, had failed to talk them out of going racing and Lindop said her parents, tertiary teachers, were shocked when she wanted to leave school at 14 to become an apprentice. But when they saw the passion she had they offered full support, even driving her from Warrnambool to Dunkeld the day she rode her first winner – at a non-TAB meeting. Payne’s family’s point of intervention came when she fractured her skull in a fall at Sandown. “I remember Patrick and dad and a few of the others saying maybe I should think of something else, it’s too dangerous,” she said. “But I just thought, you can’t leave doing what you love doing.” Beriman said her parents, both of whom were jockeys, did not try to talk her out or race riding. “I do remember a time dad sat me down,” she said. “I was about a month off starting my apprenticeship and we had a horse running at Benalla and it was actually the day Andrew Gilbert was killed in a race fall (in February 2001). Dad said, ‘That’s the lows of racing, you’ve seen the highs. You’ve seen what people get out of it, but you can also lose your life. Don’t think it can’t happen’.”

Key moments for female jockeys in Australia May 7, 1979: New Zealander LINDA JONES is the fi rst registered jockey to win against men in Australia, on Pay The Purple at Doomben. May 19, 1979: PAM O’NEILL has a treble at the Gold Coast, her fi rst day riding against men. July 24, 1982: sisters CARLENE, RAMONA and LEONIE WEHR run 1, 2, 3 in a race at Alice Springs. November 29, 1986: BEV BUCKINGHAM rides five winners at Mowbray (Launceston). Buckingham wins three Tasmanian premierships before a race fall in Hobart on May 30, 1998, ends her career. May 18, 1987: New Zealander MAREE LYNDON wins the Group 1 Adelaide Cup on Lord Reims, becoming the fi rst female to ride a Group 1 winner in Australia. November 3, 1987: MAREE LYNDON is the fi rst woman to ride in the Melbourne Cup, finishing 20th on Argonaut Style. November 7, 1989: New Zealander LINDA BALLANTYNE rides in the Melbourne Cup, finishing eighth on Plume D’Or Veille. March 24, 1990: apprentice MONICA RYAN has four winners as women ride all seven winners at a non-TAB meeting in Wondai, Queensland. July 29, 1994: THERESE PAYNE rides four winners at Warracknabeal. April 16, 2001: MELISSA SEAGREN rode all six winners at Einasleigh in Queensland. November 4, 2003: CLARE LINDOP becomes the fi rst Australian woman to ride in the Melbourne Cup, fi nishing 19th on Debben. The next season she wins the Adelaide jockeys’ premiership. October 22, 2005: Apprentice RACHEL MASON rides four winners at Doomben. November 12, 2005: SHEREE DRAKE wins four races at Toowoomba. March 13, 2006: CLARE LINDOP wins the Group 1 Adelaide Cup on Exalted Time, and becomes the fi rst Australian female to ride a Group 1 winner. December 2, 2006: Female jockeys win six of the seven races at Toowoomba. November 10, 2007: NIKITA BERIMAN wins the Group 1 Emirates Stakes at Flemington on Tears I Cry, becoming the fi rst female to ride a Group 1 winner in Victoria. March 12 and 24, 2008: CLARE LINDOP wins Magic Millions races for two-year-olds in Adelaide and on the Gold Coast on Augusta Proud. April 2008: There are 953 nationally listed jockeys, of whom approximately 10 per cent are women.


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ghost Here lies the

of Windbag DANNY POWER has been visiting historic Northwood Park for almost 17 years.


HISTORY: The grave of the 1925 Mebourne Cup winner Windbag, who stood at Northwood Park, continues to be a revered monument to the past for new owner Darley.

he sense of history hits you as soon as you turn into the driveway at Northwood Park. The magnificent ghostly gums, as tall as church spires, line the long, straight drive to the homestead. Like octopus arms, their thick limbs intertwine and form a canopy that allows a welcome respite from a hot, summer sun, and a resting place for a flock of squawking cockatoos and arguing galahs. The fences are new, the security guard polite and helpful, but the ground and the flora remains as it has been for more than a century. Prime land, Goulburn River alluvial fl ats, nestled neatly between Seymour and Nagambie, one of Victoria’s premier areas for beef cattle and thoroughbreds,

and of course, wine. It takes about a kilometre before you are suddenly brought starkly into the present, as the sheer size, opulence and detail of the newly built stallion barns represent all that is modern in the world of thoroughbred breeding. A commercial world indulged by some of the world’s richest people. Northwood Park, for more than 100 years a jewel of a rural farm, and a family home, is a small part of the global business of an oil-rich sheikh. No ordinary sheikh this one. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the ruler of Dubai, and horse racing is his passion. The historic property has been renamed Darley, the name he has given to the breeding arm of his empire. Darley Victoria follows

his purchase and development of a similarly magnificent property on the banks of the Hunter River at Aberdeen in the Hunter Valley. They are two contrasting properties. The Aberdeen farm rose from land not previously used for thoroughbreds. Like a piece of modern architecture rising between two colonial structures in Pitt Street, Darley NSW sits surrounded by some of the famous horse-breeding farms in the Segenhoe Valley. Northwood Park is a different story. Here was a farm that had functioned and served two previous masters since 1903. There was an infrastructure, a history, a belonging that could not – and should not – be disturbed. Sheikh Mohammed’s high-quality staff has done an amazing job not


He returns to this famous Victorian farm for the first time since the ruling prince of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, bought a major slice of the 900-hectare property in 2006 and renamed it Darley.


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to destroy the history of their new farm, but to rebuild, modernise and enhance it. Alec “A.G.” Hunter developed Northwood Park as a farm in 1903, although the land played a significant part in early Seymour in the mid-1800s when it was part of a major rural area, known as Northwood, owned by a wealthy publican of Scottish background, John Clarke. Clarke was gone in 1853, and Hunter developed Northwood Park as a prime cattle and horsebreeding farm. Hunter also was heavily involved in standardbred (harness) racing and he soon was reaping the rewards of his farm as the stock from Northwood Park began to win races in Victoria and NSW, both on racetracks and trotting tracks.Northwood Park plays a significant part in the

breeding and history of harness racing in Australia. Just after World War I, Hunter bought the outstanding pacer Globe Derby as a racehorse and sire. The magnificent horse was trained at Northwood Park from 1922 (he retired to full-time stud duties there in 1924), and it is reported he broke an Australian record for a mile (1609m) when sent against the clock in training on the farm. Hunter’s disagreement with his trainer, and some disillusionment with the returns of harness racing at the time, caused Globe Derby to be sold in 1927 to another legendary harness name in Edgar Tatlow, who then stood the horse in Tasmania. Globe Derby’s early Northwood Park crops and soon enough his Tasmanian progeny dominated racing in Australia.

Globe Derby became the “father” of the breed for decades as his sons carried on his bloodlines with great distinction – the Eclipse, Star Kingdom or Northern Dancer of his time. Ironically, even though Hunter shed his harness horses to concentrate on his thoroughbred breeding, he became the chairman of the Trotting Control Board, and it was his foresight that brought about the introduction of night harness racing at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds in 1947. The famous A.G. Hunter Cup, regarded as the premier handicap race in the world, is named in his honour, and the fi rst winner Silver Peak was a direct descendant of Globe Derby. One of the first thoroughbred horses that Hunter bought to

THE FARM: The impressive long, straight gum-line driveway at Darley (top). The property has been re-developed to a showpiece modern stud farm (bottom).

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stand at Northwood Park was the 1925 Melbourne Cup winner Windbag (B h 1921, MagpieCharleville (NZ), by Charlemagne (GB)). Windbag was a magnificent racehorse and he became a sensational sire. A monument above Windbag’s grave, opposite the old stallion boxes, which have been preserved, and restored, stands like a place of worship in memory of the wonderful history of this farm. Windbag’s 17 stakes winners at stud included the sensational miler Chatham, the winner of 21 Stakes races, including two Epsom Handicaps, two Cox Plates, three Craven Plates and three Linlithgow Stakes. Windbag also sired Bragger, the horse who kick-started the stellar career of legendary trainer Tommy Smith. Hunter developed a thoroughbred female line called the Teppo line – in honour of the foundation mare, the imported Teppo (mare 1908, Ladas (GB)Dum Dum (GB), by Carbine (NZ)) who left an incredible seven Stakes winners. Five of her progeny won what would be considered Group 1 races in today’s world, including the brilliant Thrice (by The Welkin), winner of the equivalent of six Group 1 races, including the VRC and AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes and the Caulfield Guineas, and a highly successful sire. One of Teppo’s daughters Trey (by The Welkin), winner of the Maribyrnong Plate, is the dam of Trivalve, the outstanding racehorse and winner of the 1927 Melbourne Cup. Modern-day stars such as Group 1 winners Let’s Get Physical (Gr h 1982, Oenjay Star-La Star, by Star Affair) and Paratroopers (Gr g 2002, Commands-Crew, by Sanction) are just two horses who trace directly back to Teppo. Other stallions of note to stand at Northwood Park include the royally bred import Nilo (GB) (B h 1945, Nearco (ITY)-Dodoma (GB), by Dastur (GB)), a threequarter brother to Nasrullah,

GLOBAL: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, owns historic Northwood Park, one of Victoria’s rural jewels, which he has renamed Darley.

and Neapolitan (GB) (B h 1943, Nearco (ITY)-Sundae (GB), by Hyperion (GB)). Nilo sired 15 Stakes winners including the enduring Samson (B g 1957, Nilo (GB)-Hora (GB), by Big Game (GB), winner of the Doomben Cup and Liston Stakes; the multiple stakes winner Nilarco (B g 1956, Nilo (GB)-Redeswood, by Delville Wood (GB) (AJC and VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes) and Pride Of Egypt (Ch h 1951, Nilo (GB)Civic Pride, by Ajax) (Victoria Derby). Neapolitan sired nine Stakes winners, including the high-class fi lly Just Caroline (B m 1949, Neapolitan (GB)-Throttle, by Windbag) (Wakeful Stakes), a descendant of Teppo. Robert Hunter, later to become a VATC committeeman, took over Northwood Park after the death of his father in 1953. The farm remained in the Hunter family until the mid-1970s. It was in the early 1970s that the wooden homestead dramatically burned down, but it was rebuilt when

‘ Northwood Park

deserved to have a big commercial operation like Darley bring it up to become a modern commercial farm.

well-known real estate agent Barrie Griffiths and his wife Midge bought Northwood Park in 1978. It was under Barrie’s care that some of the famous features of Northwood Park were nurtured. “Midge and I decided to try and bring it back to what it was when A.G. had it. We got maps of the old place and worked on re-building the place from there,” Griffiths said. Transforming 900 hectares (2200 acres) of country property was no easy task, but Northwood Park, with a new, modern, tastefully designed brick homestead, became a wonderful home for the Griffiths family, and a great meeting place for many of Australia’s leading horsemen. Griffiths also restored the capabilities of this great property as a thoroughbred nursery. In his 28 years at Northwood Park, Griffiths bred, raised and spelled 10 Group winners at Northwood Park. The list that wore Griffiths’ blue and yellow colours includes 1989 Group 1 Melbourne Cup winner Tawrrific (B g 1984, Tawfiq (USA)-Joyarty (NZ) by Noble Bijou (USA)), 1992 Group 1 Caulfield Cup winner Mannerism (B m 1987, Amyntor (FR)Northwood Manner, by Knightly Manner (USA)), 1994 Group 1 VRC Oaks winner Northwood Plume (B m 1991, Military Plume (NZ)-Couldn’t Miss (GB), by Forli (ARG)) and the 1992 Group 1 Thousand Guineas winner Azzurro (B m 1989, Bluebird (USA)-Amhara (GB), by Priamos (GER)). Griffiths said he had no real plans to sell Northwood Park, but his real estate instincts kicked in when Darley’s men – Australian general manager Ollie Tait and director Henry Plumptre – drove along the famous driveway to make an offer. The deal was done amid mixed emotions. Griffiths said he was not sad when he and Midge locked the door behind them. “We knew it was a new chapter in our lives. We had done

as much as we could do with this property, and Northwood Park deserved to have a big commercial operation like Darley bring it up to become a modern commercial farm,” he said. Griffiths sold half the property to Darley, the southern section, with about four kilometres of Goulburn River frontage. He kept 450 hectares (1100 acres) on the northern side, and bought another 400 hectares (about 1000 acres) next door. Good real estate agents never leave a good thing. “What Darley has done has been a pleasure to watch,” he said. “They have kept and restored some of the old (National Trust certified) buildings, and they tried hard to retain some of the older stables, but they were beyond repair. Midge and I often drop in, what they have achieved is magnificent. Northwood Park is the signature farm in a productive region of Victoria that has become Victoria’s thoroughbred breeding mecca. Northwood Road also houses Swettenham Stud and Wadham Park (formerly Newlands). A tremendous amount of development has been made in the region with showpiece studs and farms including Gerry Ryan’s Limerick Lane, Rick Jamieson’s Gilgai and Bob Scarborough’s Wood Nook. Other thoroughbred farms in the area are Erinvale, Paringa Park, Chatswood, Milford Park and Independent Stallions, while further north around Euroa is Blue Gum, Lindsay Park, Phoenix, Rangal Park, Hollylodge, Larneuk and Ealing Park. Sheikh Mohammed’s racing empire Godolphin has achieved plenty in world racing, but there are two elite races that have eluded him – the Kentucky Derby and the Melbourne Cup. He will be hoping some of the Melbourne Cup history of Northwood Park, and the ghost of Windbag, will change his luck next time the Godolphin blue steps out at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.


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Come racing with

Rick Hore-Lacy the ‘Stallion Maker’

Rick trained: Redoute’s Choice, Australia’s champion stallion Dash for Cash, Victoria’s champion stallion – purchased by Rick as a yearling. Rick has trained nine individual winners of 18 group 1 events, including the Golden Slipper, the Blue Diamond and the Australian Guineas (twice). Rick specialises in forming racing partnerships at his Caulfield stables and welcomes new clients. Buy into a horse for as little as $2000 plus training fees.

Redoute’s Choice

Rick Hore-lacy Half Ad copy.indd 1

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Photos courtesy of Slickpix

Dash For Cash

Visit or call Rick on 0418 332 018 6/6/08 10:55:19 AM

6/6/08 2:15:27 PM



business passion and the


itting down with Roger Langley is a bit like participating in an aerobics session. The action hardly stops. Time whizzes by as though everyone around us is in slow motion. Breakfast becomes lunch quicker than you can say foccacia. Langley is animated, passionate, purposeful. This is a man in a rush, a human bullet train – speeding along, controlled, knowing exactly where he is going. Langley had just learned that his boss, the once battling Muswellbrook electrician-cummillionaire coalminer, Nathan Tinkler, was named Australia’s youngest multi-millionaire, at number 94, on BRW’s top 200 rich list. The magazine claims Tinkler, 32, is worth a cool $426 million. The publicity-shy Tinkler isn’t keen on the attention as every media outlet in Australia clamours for an interview. Tinkler has gone to

ground, leaving Langley to defend the onslaught. It’s part of the job. He plays the game as well as any political minder. More than that, he is the face of Patinack at the sales and the racetrack, and acts as a spokesman for the company. Tinkler has been in the news for more than just being young and wealthy. He has hit the racing world like no other before him. A spending spree unmatched in Australia by any sheikh or pools magnate or chicken king. Since January, the comet that is Tinkler’s Patinack Farm, and his team headed by Langley, has bought enough yearlings to fill Lee Freedman’s Markdel stable complex almost three times over – more than 220 of the best-bred, bestconformed youngsters handpicked from the best of Australia’s and New Zealand’s premier sales. The total spend on bloodstock – weanlings, yearlings, broodmares, stallions and farms –


Patinack Farm, racing’s new kid on the block, is attracting plenty of interest around the country as the company broadens its frontiers. The key players behind the emerging force are two men from different backgrounds united with a common goal. DANNY POWER discovers an operation going places in a hurry.


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TOP PRICE: Patinack’s Roger Langley with the Redoute’s Choice-Lady Capel colt, bought at the Magic Millions Yearling Sale on the Gold Coast for $2.2 million.

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THE STUD: Wonderful World, one of four stallions who will stand under the Patinack Farm banner in 2008.

each other. It is important for the relationship that Langley speaks his mind. Tinkler speaks his. Tinkler needs someone he can trust, and Langley is his man. In some ways they talk to each other like brothers do – without fear or favour and no recriminations for what is said. “He’s a larger-than-life person,” Langley said of Tinkler. “He has strong views and strong thoughts. Those are the things that make him successful in business. “He and I have that relationship where I have to be able to speak my mind. If I couldn’t, then it just wouldn’t work. We don’t always agree, in fact some of our own people say ‘we need to get you to agree’ more succinctly. We need to be singing from the same hymn sheet. “So we have work to do on our


will top $100 million. Close to $70 million in bloodstock alone. Tinkler and Langley come from opposite sides of the tracks, but they gel as a partnership. Tinkler is the battler made good, but at 32 he is the same age when Langley, 53, started his first business. “I ran my own recruitment business, which for 20 years grew on the back of the call centre industry,” Langley said. “I sold that business in 2005, so then I just wanted to follow my interests. Racing is what I was interested in, I bought a farm at Bunyip and I was breeding a few but I found the yearling sale part of the business tough. I was doing some work for Chris Ward, of Triple Crown, doing some of his broodmare aggregation (booking mares enmasse to stallions to gain the best discount for breeders), and Nathan rang me to book some mares in. “A friendship developed, and, this is when it becomes frightening – it was only in March last year that he rang me to go to the Inglis sales and buy some weanlings.” It was after another splurge at the Gold Coast weanling sales that Tinkler approached Langley to help him take his burgeoning interest in the commercial side of racing much further. And in 2008 they hit the racing industry harder than a Newcastle Knights’ front-rower. Tinkler and Langley are tough. When they disagree, and it can be often, Gordon Ramsay blocks his ears, but they understand

THE TEAM: Nathan Tinkler and Roger Langley at the races.

relationship and where it goes – it’s challenging. There is vigorous debate going on. I have never got to the point to be at a level that we are satisfied, in any element. We are always pushing to challenge why did we do this, why that. How better can it be done? A lot of analysis is done. “At 32, I was impetuous as well. He is impetuous. Sometimes he makes a decision that he can’t be changed from. In the last six months, he’s learned different things from what I have. I try to put questioning behind some of the reasons behind his decisionmaking.” Langley is conscious of the gossip – and in racing circles gossips spreads quicker than equine influenza – from those who think this is a case of the tail wagging the dog. “I am aware that is going to happen, especially when you come into the industry as an unknown, but if you understand Nathan, it is all part of him bringing a non-traditionalist approach into the business. Deal with a fresh set of eyes on how things could be done. I think we have sought pretty good counsel to advise us,” Langley said. Tinkler’s passion for racing, and breeding, is matched by Langley’s pragmatism. Sometimes Tinkler is miffed when Langley reports that yearlings Tinkler has selected from the catalogue based on a

detailed pedigree study – often late at night by the bedside light – are rejected at sales time. But the process of selection has a system, and Tinkler’s pedigree analysis is only part of the equation that also includes conformation and value. “Not everything is pure business – passion also comes into it as well, otherwise you wouldn’t have bought 220 horses,” Langley said. “If it was my money, would I spend it differently? Yes, but it is Nathan’s money, he is very passionate about what he is doing. I am there to help him, and for him to get a good return and enjoyment on that passion.” Langley said the thrill of being part of big-time racing in the past few months has not only fuelled their passion but also raised their expectations for what lies ahead. “We have stood together at the races when Casino Prince (B h 2003, Flying Spur-Lady Capel, by Last Tycoon (IRE)) has headed out on to the track for a Group 1, and we pinch ourselves and say we are right at the coalface now,” he said. “Casino Prince is a horse that largely was ready-made, how is it going to feel when it is a horse that we have bred or selected lines up in a major race? That’s what is exciting. “I have told Nathan ‘don’t forget you have to spend time on the farm, come and see the mares you have bought, see the foals on the ground, see how they grow


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and develop, so that when you do stand in that mounting yard, and your horses run out, you can remember it as that little scrawny thing that was on the farm two or three years ago’. “There has to be an infrastructure in place that will allow Nathan to keep tabs on all his horses at any time. One of my objectives is to build that reporting system. “What Nathan enjoys is planning his horse’s campaigns with trainers. He has one-on-one sessions with all the trainers, talking about each horse, making decisions on jockeys. That’s the sort of thing he really enjoys. I don’t want to take what he enjoys away from him.” Langley believes that despite the amount of money Patinack has spent on yearlings – tallied to be a record single season outlay by any individual – the company is below budget and believe it has got value for money. Patinack burst on the scene when Tinkler, Langley and trainer Anthony Cummings stunned a racing world at New Zealand Bloodstock’s Karaka Premier Sale in late January. The bloodstock industry was reeling from the effects of the equine influenza, and wondered about the support from a buying bench suffering from the uneasiness of a sliding stock market. A man whose fortune came from black coal became the industry’s white knight. Langley said the intention was to buy a half-dozen yearlings, but encouraged by a report from Cummings that quality at the sale was at an unprecedented high Tinkler opened the purse strings. “Throughout the sale we kept finding nice individuals from those traditional New Zealand families. So we ended buying 24 yearlings. They are now over here, broken in, and going through the process. They are a very exciting group of horses,” Langley said. The spend was $A6.92 million. Tinkler and Langley then focused on the Inglis Melbourne

Premier Sales in March, which, due to equine influenza was the first of the major Australian yearling sales for the year. EI had left a cloud of doom and gloom. “People thought Melbourne wasn’t going to be that good. There were 60-70 yearlings, because of EI, that would have normally gone to the Magic Millions, and that lifted the

‘ Not everything

is pure business – passion also comes into it as well, otherwise you wouldn’t have bought 220 horses.

quality of the horses substantially. We bought very well,” he said. The spend was $3.5 million. “We then moved to the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast and obviously there was a bit of a hype going. We thought that this would be the weakest sale of the lot. The Inglis Easter catalogue was out, and it was just an unbelievable catalogue of quality horses. “There was an enormous variation in horses on the Gold Coast, and people struggled to get through the 900 horses in the catalogue in four days. Once again, we divided up the horses really well, put prices on them and in the first two days we just bought under the estimates we put on. It was a lot harder to buy on days three and four when people changed their expectations about

Battling family’s punt pays off Nathan Tinkler comes from a racing family. His grandfather Norm Tinkler, a blacksmith and timber-cutter, trained a few at Grafton in NSW’s Northern Rivers. His father Les, who has earned a living in earth moving in Port Macquarie, has passed on his keen interest in racing to his son. Both have kept a family tradition of hard work, and the love of the punt and a cold beer. Nathan has made a good living out of the coal-mining industry, working as an electrician. He’s a graduate from the Muswellbrook TAFE.

the market, and the horses were making more money.” The spend was $19 million on 59 yearlings. Langley said the decision to take a lower profile at Inglis was a deliberate ploy to avoid obvious, and expected, bidding duels with the big guns – the international conglomerates Darley and Coolmore, and a cashed-up Bob Ingham – all, they expected, to be itching to have a ping at the upstarts. No better place than a clip over the ears on the international stage of the Inglis Easter Sale. But Langley cleverly dodged confrontation. He took a back seat while the bidding was left to Patinack’s trainers Cummings and Paddy Payne, who nodded and winked their bids – sideways and around corners.

Tinkler’s racing spending spree $3.5 million for five quality French broodmares at Deauville in 2007. $2.9 million for the Gold Coast stables of Gillian and Hoss Heinrich.

But he is more than an ordinary “sparky”. Nathan had a flair for business, and by the age of 26, he had employed 25 workers in a mine machinery maintenance business that grew on the back of the global resources boom.

$6.92 million for 24 yearlings at the Karaka yearling sales in New Zealand in late January.

Four years ago, the Tinklers formed Serene Lodge in their hometown of Port Macquarie, a racing and breeding operation that dabbled at the lower end of the bloodstock market.

$3.5 million on 24 yearlings at the Melbourne Premier Sales in March.

The Tinkler family fortunes dramatically changed in 2006 when Les and Nathan formed Custom Mining, and speculated into buying the Middlemount coal mine, in Central Queensland, for $15 million. Within a year they had sold a 70 per cent interest in the mine for $265 million – $65,000 in cash and $200 million worth of shares in the new owners, Macarthur Coal. Last month, Tinkler cashed in his stake in Macarthur Coal for $440 million. A masterstroke that his father said is the result of hard work. “What we have got we have worked for,” he said. The Tinklers have gone their separate ways in their racing investments. While Nathan has splurged at the top end under a new name in Patinack Farm (named after the small Irish farm of one of his grandfathers), Les has kept a lower profile with his purchases under his banner of Serene Lodge. Much has been made of Tinkler’s reluctance to meet the media, but he denies he is deliberately dodging the press. “I am not shy, I am just busy,” he said at a pre-race meeting dinner at Newcastle to celebrate Patinack’s sponsorship of the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1400m).

$8 million to buy Alanbridge Stud (Hunter Valley). $3 million for Riverslea Stud (Hunter Valley). $19 million on 59 yearlings at the Magic Millions sales in March. $7.8 million on 31 yearlings at the Inglis Easter Sale in April.

$10 million (approx) on Australian broodmares.


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Langley said Tinkler’s initial plan was to have two stallions in the Hunter Valley, racing a bunch of yearlings and grow from there. A bunch of yearlings turned out to be 220 – about 100 more than Langley expected. A couple of stallions became four. The Aberdeen farm will stand Casino Prince, Husson (Ch h 2003, Hussonet (USA)Vila Elisa (CHI), by Roy (USA)), and Beautiful Crown (B h 1991, Chief’s Crown (USA)-Beautiful Glass, by Pass The Glass (USA)), while Wonderful World (Br h 2003, Agnes World (USA)Success Tale, by Success Express (USA)) will stand at Independent Stallions, Nagambie, in Victoria. For Tinkler and Langley, Husson (fee $30,250 inc GST) is an especially exciting prospect. He was unbeaten in five starts in Argentina, including three at Group 1 level. His win in Argentina’s Golden Slipper equivalent, the Group 1 Gran Premio Raul y Raul E. Chevalier (1400m) at San Isidro, by nine lengths, showed an explosiveness reminiscent of the great Australian sprinter Vain. While Patinack feverishly followed the yearling sale circus around Australia, Langley also was faced with the logistics of not only organising the breaking-in and pre-training of the youngsters, but also buying stallions, broodmares and weanlings, re-branding a Hunter Valley farm, hiring staff, organising brochures and developing marketing plans… he also attempted to buy a second property in Victoria (a deal that eventually fell through at the 11th hour). It’s Bob and Jack Ingham’s Woodlands Stud model that Patinack wants to emulate, with stud farms and pre-training and spelling farms complementing the large racing team. In Patinack’s rush it is not a case of the cart before the horse – there is not a cart in sight. Even so, the Patinack vision has a worldwide focus, certainly

into Europe and possible North America. So where will Patinack be placed in five years? “I would like to see us with a significant standing in the Hunter Valley,” Langley said. “Somewhere between five and eight stallions. A good representation in Victoria. A major pre-training complex in Victoria or NSW. And I would also be looking for us to have started to develop an increased profile in Europe. “The plan is to be able to shuttle our stallions into Europe, possibly France, and we want to race horses in Europe. Be it horses we buy there or horses we take there. “It is about trying to develop global operations. While America is not our primary focus, that could also be a following step. Whether that is within five years or the next stage, we don’t know. America is a significant market in that sense.” In the meantime, Langley said he did not feel there was any pressure to have an immediate impact on racing, despite the obvious murmurings that would come from the bleachers if racing’s new player did not bounce from the blocks in the new season. “We go into next year’s 2YO season with a wonderful array of horses to start the season. They won’t be pushed too hard. We are not hell-bent on being a leading 2YO stable. The horses will tell us when they are ready. Obviously, from a stallion point of view, you need to target the right Group 1 races with your best two-year-olds, but we won’t push our horses unnecessary,” he said. Cummings and Payne will train most of the horses, along with Victorians Mick Price and Tony Noonan. Lee Freedman and Gai Waterhouse have one each. Tinkler also has supported young trainers Jamie Neilson (Gold Coast) and Jason Coyle (Newcastle) with a team of youngsters.

VALUABLE: The Redoute’s Choice-Gypsy Dancer colt.

30 of the best Patinack Farm’s yearlings* Sire – dam



Redoute’s Choice – Lady Capel (C)


Magic Millions

Redoute’s Choice – Gypsy Dancer (C)


Magic Millions

Encosta De Lago – Oceanfast (C)


Inglis Easter

One Cool Cat – Diamond Cashel (F)


Karaka Premier

Encosta De Lago – St Katherine (C)


Magic Millions

Redoute’s Choice – Redwood (C)


Magic Millions

Red Ransom – Palia (C)


Inglis Easter

Exceed And Excel – Accupuncture (C)


Magic Millions

Redoute’s Choice – Strawberry Girl (F)


Magic Millions

Encosta De Lago – Battonage (C)


Magic Millions

Encosta De Lago – Rose Pompadour (F) $NZ680,000

Karaka Premier

Redoute’s Choice – Tully Thunder (F)


Magic Millions

One Cool Cat – Tricia Ann (F)


Karaka Premier

Redoute’s Choice – Bright Gleam (F)


Magic Millions

Zabeel – Silk Slipper (C)


Karaka Premier

Tale Of The Cat – Plastic Lady (C)


Magic Millions

Redoute’s Choice – Piper Star (C)


Magic Millions

Pins – High Grove (F)


Karaka Premier

Encosta De Lago – Segments (F)


Magic Millions

More Than Ready – Rose Of Latakia (F) $A400,000

Magic Millions

Zabeel – Better Succeed (C)


Karaka Premier

Encosta De Lago – Royal Sash (F)


Inglis Premier

One Cool Cat – Dawn Run (F)


Karaka Premier

Fastnet Rock – Wheatland Lady (F)


Magic Millions

Encosta De Lago – Shanghai Moon (C)


Magic Millions

More Than Ready – Meriene (C)


Magic Millions

Hussonet – Siren Miss (C)


Magic Millions

Dehere – Palme D’Or (F)


Magic Millions

Zabeel – La Voleur (F)


Karaka Premier

Fastnet Rock – Custodial (C)


Karaka Premier

*Doesn’t include all Inglis Easter purchases.


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B gSteal

Mark Read had just bought an expensive mansion in the plush Sydney suburb of Elizabeth Bay. So how did the prominent bookmaker pay off the mortgage so quickly? By masterminding a massive betting coup at Canterbury that took leading Sydney and Melbourne bookies to the cleaners. WORDS RHETT KIRKWOOD


eeks of meticulous planning aimed at pulling off what is still considered Australia’s most celebrated and best-executed betting coup almost came undone moments before the money went on. Big bookmaker Mark Read had planned things down to the minute for a team of punters to back his horse Getting Closer (Br h 1978, Long Row-Petwood, by Petingo) at a particular time before the start of the Domain Stakes at Canterbury, NSW, on January 9, 1982. In addition to having trusted commission agents placed at tracks all over Australia – from northern Queensland, the Northern Rivers tracks of NSW and even Kalgoorlie – Read also flew 25 race “rookies” from a Melbourne suburban football club to place the bets on course in Sydney. “They knew nothing about racing, nor why they were being flown to Sydney that morning,” Read said. “This was intentional because I didn’t want anyone with close racing ties to be involved because of the risk of them talking to other racing people. Everything was top secret and remained so until the people got off the plane in Sydney and were put in a bus to go to Canterbury. “They were then each given an envelope with $2000 in it and the names of two bookmakers with

whom they were to place bets on Getting Closer. The instructions were to swap bets between each bookmaker they had to cover and to keep putting the money on with them, regardless of the price, until the money was gone,” Read recalled. “Timing was critical, they all had to start at once. The signal to begin was to come from my wife Shari waving a white handkerchief in the air soon after the second price call. It was also to be at the time when the horses came in to the mounting yard. This meant a lot of punters left the ring to look at the horses and, the fewer the number of punters in the ring, the easier it would be for my agents to place bets,” Read said. In addition to the football team rookies, Read also had racing-savvy close friends on standby at Canterbury to place credit bets with big rails bookmakers. While the signal from his wife was to start a betting frenzy at Canterbury, Read’s agents at provincial tracks around Australia started placing bets at a particular time. “Their timing was not as critical as at the city courses,” Read said. “In those days it wasn’t possible for bookmakers at the big provincial rings to bet back in the city. Mind you, they were very solid betting rings and you could get set for more in some of those places than you could in the city.” Read thought Getting Closer might open at 20-1 or so and then get out a bit for the second price call

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‘ The careful planning

by Read and his trainer Henry Davis had paid off handsomely.


and couldn’t believe it when some bookmakers opened him at 100-1, and, in isolated cases, better odds. Regardless, everyone remained patient waiting for the white handkerchief to go in the air. Just before the punters were to swamp the betting ring, Colin Tidy, a then commission agent and now a bookmaker friend of Read’s, sauntered up to Read and casually mentioned that a punter had phoned him that morning to have $1000 on Getting Closer. Seeing the big odds being offered, Tidy was curious about the horse’s chances. Realising that Tidy could steal the best odds and upset Read’s meticulously planned plunge, Read simply said, “Stay here. Don’t move. Your bet will be covered.” “He would have stuffed up everything if he had gone into the ring,” Read said. Moments later, the handkerchief went into the air and Read’s agents began swamping bookmakers with bets. Leading the charge was Shari Read, who, on seeing bookmaker Ray Hopkins offering 200-1,

TRIUMPH: Part-owner Mark Read leads Getting Closer (Greg Hall) back to scale after winning the 1984 Group 1 Rothman’s 100,000 at Doomben, two years after the maiden colt landed a huge, meticulously planned plunge at Canterbury.

The Getting Closer plunge – the players THE HORSE Getting Closer proved to be an outstanding racehorse. He won two Group 1 races – the 1984 BATC Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben and the 1983 WATC Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot. He also won the 1982 Group 2 WATC Lee Steere Stakes (1450m); the 1983 Group 2 St George Stakes (1800m) and the 1982 Group 3 VATC Schweppes Cup (1600m). He served 193 mares in 13 years at stud, but failed to leave a stakes winner. He died in 2002. THE OWNER Mark Read established the corporate bookmaking firm International All Sports (now the publicly listed IASbet) in 1996. In 2006-07, IASbet declared a turnover figure of $1.2 billion. Read remains one of the dynamic figures in

Australian bookmaking. He recently returned to horse ownership with immediate success when his filly Flame Of Sydney, under the care of Lee Freedman, won the Listed Great Western Stakes (1400m) at the 2006 Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington. THE TRAINER Henry Davis left Melbourne to train in Queensland. He lives in retirement on the Gold Coast. His daughter Kim married jockey Greg Hall. Promising apprentice Nick Hall is his grandson. THE JOCKEY Malcolm Johnston was a champion jockey who won three Sydney jockeys’ premierships, his first as an apprentice in the 1975-76 season. Johnston’s riding career spanned 23 years.

He rode 49 Group 1 winners, and he is best known for his association with the champion Kingston Town. Johnston tried his hand at training in 1997, from a base at Hawkesbury, where he trained two stakes winners Stella Marie and Shags. Johnston is employed as a training officer, tutoring young jockeys for Racing NSW in the Hunter Valley region. Johnston claims he was given “a $10,000 sling” for his winning ride on Getting Closer. THE TRACK RIDER Michael Fraser also learned the art of form analysis from Mark Read. He was employed as a racing analyst for Read before branching out on his own. He has developed a media career as an expert form analysis on Sky Channel.

claimed him for $20,000 to $100 in her first bet. After a few minutes it was the bookmakers who were flying the white fl ag as the money kept going on Getting Closer no matter how quickly they reduced his price. Tidy quickly understood why Read had asked him to stay out of the ring. Several of Sydney’s biggest bookmakers faced massive payouts. Robbie Waterhouse stood the horse to lose $100,000 in two bets alone. Dominic Beirne was also facing the same payout in a few bets. Bill Waterhouse had written tickets of $20,000 to $1000, $10,000 to $200 and several of $7000 to $1000 while ‘Digger’ Lobb said he was taken “several times” for bets of $20,000 to $400. In Melbourne, bookmakers were also hit with liabilities of more than $150,000. The total payout in Sydney alone was estimated to be $1 million – massive money 26 years ago. Ridden by Malcolm Johnston, Getting Closer bounced to the front from barrier one and led throughout to score by two lengths to land the biggest betting coup for decades. “The instructions to Malcolm were simple. We told him we thought the horse could win and he was to jump out and set the pace. He was also told not to even look sideways in any direction from the time he was on the horse. We didn’t want any possible signal being conveyed to anyone that the horse could win,” Read said. The careful planning by Read and his trainer Henry Davis had paid off handsomely. Davis, though, remained in Melbourne. Not only was it a throw-off, it was because Davis was prone to getting nervous when it came to big betting. (On a previous plunge occasion he had slept in a separate room from his wife for fear he might talk in his sleep!) Luck had also played a part. Initially, Read had wanted to start Getting Closer the week earlier at Randwick (on New Year’s Day), but, because of his


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poor form – he was a maiden who had fi nished 11th in his only starts at Ballarat and Sandown in November – Getting Closer was balloted out. Read said that, in hindsight, it was fortunate that Getting Closer missed that race as the winner was subsequent dual Group 1 winner Dalmacia (B h 1978, Sir Tristram-Gay Juss, by Persian Garden). “He was a lot more experienced at that time than Getting Closer and he would have blown us away. We’re very lucky to have been balloted out that day,” Read said. Considering Getting Closer’s poor form, it is hardly surprising that bookmakers offered such big

odds at Canterbury, but Read, Davis and his track rider and strapper Michael Fraser, knew a few things about the horse which others didn’t. After his first two runs, Davis trialled Getting Closer over 800m at Flemington and, despite carrying a lot more weight than an open class stablemate, Our Prestige (Ch g 1977, Bold EdgeKia Lu, by an unknown sire), Getting Closer fi nished on terms with him. The following week Our Prestige won in the city, after which Davis trialled the pair again. This time Getting Closer, ridden by Fraser, beat the last-

THE BAGMAN: Mark Read made a name for himself as a flamboyant and fearless bookmaker and punter.

The Torbek Sting Steve Moran talks to one of the main players in the famous Torbek plunge, a cross-Tasman sting that sent bookies around Australia reeling. It happened at Seymour on April 18, 1979. The New Zealand-bred Torbek was heavily backed into 5-2 to win his maiden, at his first start, in one of the great betting coups. Torbek (Br g 1975, Palm Beach (FR)-Dollar A Deal (NZ), by Gold Sovereign (GB)) was considered a weight-for-age class horse and had little trouble beating the 9-4 favourite Brent Regent by three lengths with another six lengths to Mikoto, third. He was ridden by Robert Heffernan and “trained” by B.F. (Barry) Fawdry. Stephen Burridge and Dale Short (now training) and Garry Murphy (still riding) were among the beaten jockeys. The Seymour meeting was chosen as it coincided with AJC Oaks day at Randwick, which meant greater betting opportunities as the Randwick ring during carnival time was one of the strongest in Australia. Valley Of Georgia, for Pat Courtney and Gary Willetts, won the Oaks. They also raced at the now-defunct Albion Park track in Brisbane that day. Barry Long, then working for AMP and later to become a part-owner of Torbek, recalls the plunge: “Torbek was prepared in New Zealand by Alan Jones and we’d established an alliance with him over the previous couple of years. He told us that Torbek was the best horse he’d had but we couldn’t afford to buy him at the time. He decided to send him over in any case and offered us the option to buy him later for $40,000. “He was unbeaten in trials in New Zealand and had been trialling against weight-for-age horses. The New Zealand horses had a bit of an aura in those days and Jones’ reputation was well known

so he transferred him to (fellow Kiwi trainer) Barry Fawdry a couple of weeks before Seymour. “The horse was so good I vowed I’d never get involved in the punt again if he got beaten. I went to Randwick where there were plenty of big bookies operating – names like Bruce McHugh and Bob Bland. I had about 25 bets with Bob Bland before he asked me whether I’d just like to put the lot on. From memory he was 25s into 5-2 and we probably averaged about 7-2. “When I saw Melbourne bookies John Attridge and John Griffiths in the Sydney ring, I realised we weren’t the only ones who knew. I suppose we were more confident when we saw them backing Torbek but it meant less odds for us. Reports at the time had us winning millions but truth be known it was about $200,000. Mind you, that was a fair bit of money then.” Long and his partners exercised their option to buy Torbek after the maiden win, and he was transferred to Wayne Walters. Despite suffering a cancerous growth to an eye, Torbek’s record was outstanding. He won the Group 1 Marlboro Cup (1400m)-Toorak Handicap (1600m) double in 1980; the Group 2 C.F. Orr Stakes (wfa 1400m) in 1983 and the Group 2 St George Stakes (wfa 1800m) in 1985. He also ran Manikato to a half-head in that great horse’s fifth straight win in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m, at Moonee Valley). “The people loved him,” Long recalls. “He was only tiny, had the cancer and bookies wanted to oppose him on looks, so he was often good odds but always ran to his ability. He was a great horse.” These days Long maintains a strong interest in racing but much of his time is taken up with property development.

start metropolitan winner, setting Read on the path to planning a big betting coup. “For the plunge to be successful, we had to ensure that as few people as possible knew about the gallop,” Read said. “Because Getting Closer was virtually the same colour as another of our horses, Cold Chisel (Br h 1977, Zephyr Bay-Rebelle, by Battle-Waggon), who had been heavily backed the previous fortnight to win at Seymour, track watchers believed that it was Cold Chisel who had won the gallop. “The next issue was to stop tongues wagging in the stable. This was solved when Henry came back saying that the horse had broken down. He began putting ice packs and bandages on the horse’s shins and then said he should go straight back to my farm at Romsey. “We put him in my farm horse-float and headed off. Not to Romsey, but straight to Sydney.” It was also arranged to send two stablemates to Sydney, to act as galloping companions. Fraser rode Getting Closer in work in Sydney and did a good job of keeping the horse up to the mark – while at the same time making it appear that he could not handle the Sydney turns during workouts. He made sure Getting Closer fi nished behind his two stablemates, with the result that track watchers paid little attention to the maiden from Melbourne. “We knew he was very fit and it was really only a matter of getting him acclimatised to the Sydney way of going,” Read said. “It was a fantastic result for everyone involved. Even I hopped off my stand to take the last 6-1 off Robbie Waterhouse after he asked me if the commission money had run out. “I had $60,000 to $10,000 with him and he didn’t alter the price. I said to him I’d have the same bet again if he liked, but he declined. He knew then that we meant business.”


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Read, who was just a face in the crowd watching the race on television at Canterbury, has never officially revealed how much he won on Getting Closer. Suffice to say that, only days beforehand, he had bought one of Australia’s premier mansions, Boomerang, in Elizabeth Bay, for $3.1 million. (An indication of how times have changed is that it is now worth $20 million-plus). “We had a big mortgage on the house when we bought it,” Shari Read said. “That was cleared after Getting Closer won.” Read continued to plunge heavily on his horses with Davis. Only two weeks later he backed Getting Closer again, but believed that bookmakers would be unlikely to accept any big bets. This was solved when a television news crew said they wanted to show footage of Read in action at the races. “I approached Bob Bland and Bruce

‘ The next issue was

to stop tongues wagging in the stable. This was solved when Henry came back saying that the horse had broken down.

McHugh on their stands to have $50,000 with each of them at 4-1. Knowing the cameras were there they said yes, costing them $200,000 each after the horse won again. It was an ego thing. If there wasn’t a camera there, they wouldn’t have set me for that amount,” Read said. Another plunge involved Read’s commission agents placing $400,000 on another of his horses, High Signal, who Read says is the best horse he has owned. “Getting Closer won the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (then named Rothman’s 100,000 at Doomben)

and the following week, High Signal (B or Br g 1981, CenturyChire, by King Of Babylon), who had never set foot on a track, beat Getting Closer in a gallop. “He was a certainty in the race we set him for, but to divert attention about possible betting plans, I made it known in the newspapers that Shari and I were to be holidaying in Venice at the time of the race. “This put the bookies off a bit, but in reality I organised everything from Venice. We backed High Signal from 10-1 to 7-4 that day.” The link between Read and Davis ended after about three years, with the pair combining to win millions of dollars in plunges. “Henry said to me early in the piece that he had two ambitions – to become a millionaire and to train a Melbourne Cup winner.” Read said. “He achieved the first and when I said he still had one to go, he

said it was too difficult, and he drifted out of the game. “I also ceased involvement in owning horses and concentrated solely on bookmaking.” The founding chairman of corporate bookmaking company IASbet, Read said he might be tempted to become involved in racing horses again down the track. “But it’s not like it used to be. Racing for me was about punting on my horses,” he said. “That was my fun then. Nowadays being involved in horses is more like Formula 1 car racing. “Owners get to put their logos on cars. They’re only passionate observers. Only bit players. I don’t want to be involved in horses like that.” And oh, Colin Tidy, who Read says behaved like a “perfect gentleman” in staying out of the ring, received the payout – and then some – for the bet that he did not place!


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Big punting owner Felipe Ysmael carried the media nickname of the “Filipino Fireball”, but to those who knew him best he was simply “Babe”. Kevin Mitchell has fond memories of his time riding for Ysmael, especially when he won on one of Ysmael’s horses. “I liked riding for him. ‘Babe’ was a very generous man. He rewarded you well,” he said. Mitchell, who rode until 1989, aged 61, is now 80 and retired to a life of golf and bowls. He was a rider known for his nerves of steel, and was often the preferred hoop when the owners wanted a bet. A money rider. Mitchell fi tted well with Ysmael and his trainer Charlie Waymouth, who prepared a large string of young horses for the big-spending, big-betting businessman. Mitchell was involved in Ysmael’s most successful “sting” when Red Diver (Br h 1965, Red Gauntlet-High Dive (NZ), by Ballock (GB)) won at Moonee Valley in January 1968. It certainly wasn’t Ysmael’s most lucrative betting spree, but one that gave him great satisfaction. According to Mitchell, the idea of pulling off a betting plunge, to outwit others, greatly appealed to Ysmael’s ego. Ysmael, a crony of disgraced Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos, had money to burn and he relished “a scheme”. Mitchell believes the stable should have got more out of Red Diver. “Nobody was supposed to know about the horse, but he opened at 7-2 when he should have been 10-1 or 12-1,” he said. Mitchell believes it was Waymouth’s lack of faith in his jockey that caused “the leak”. “We were working the horse in the dark, very early at Mentone. Nobody could see the horse, not even Charlie, he had to rely on me to tell him how well the colt

THE BABE: Felipe Ysmael (foreground), surrounded by his family, enjoys a day at the races at Moonee Valley during his heady days as the biggest punter in Australia.

was going,” he said. “But that didn’t suit Charlie, he wanted to see for himself, so he worked the horse in the daylight. I remember him saying, ‘Don’t worry, nobody will notice him’, but in those days it was different from today, there was always a tout at the track, and I am sure that the word got out about Red Diver.” Despite the reduced price, Ysmael’s commission agents attacked bookmakers on all tracks around Australia. Like terriers they refused to yield. Price became irrelevant, the money had to go on. Red Diver’s odds tumbled to 4-6, and still they came. Mitchell remembers the ride well. “There was never a moment’s worry. I let another horse lead me and I sat second. Red Diver was cantering. It was never in doubt.” In reliving the Red Diver story after the death of Charlie Waymouth in April 2007, his son Norman, a stable apprentice at the time, told the Herald Sun: “We were all sworn to secrecy. I remember Bill Collins (race broadcaster) saying they’ve jumped out of trees to back Red Diver. We had a big kitchen table at home and they put down suitcases full of money and started stacking it up. Just to see that was amazing.”

Ysmael had some memorable betting duels with bookmakers, particularly Sydney’s leading bookie of the time, Bill Waterhouse, who was always willing to accommodate a big punter and ride the bumps of any losses, because in the end he was sure he would get his man.

with that I turned around and I looked at him. I looked him straight in the face, he stopped in his tracks it was a crowded day. I turned to the board and I went 9-2 Red Handed.”

Following is a transcript from the wonderful ABC-TV series The Track, in which Bill Waterhouse talks about taking on Australia’s big bettors:

“Calculated. And I knew he’d be suspicious. He came straight to me and he said ‘$250,000 General Command’.”

“It’s a duel to the death if you like. One of you will break the other ... you’ll break him as a gambler. Or he’ll break you as a gambler. You’re just concentrating on one man and you put yourself into his mind.” And he did. To Felipe Ysmael. “He’s the fi rst guy who ever put a million dollars on a horse with me,” Waterhouse said. On Melbourne Cup Day 1967, Waterhouse had decided that Red Handed would beat the 4-1 joint favourite, General Command. He was sure that Ysmael would come for him in the Flemington ring. “I knew Ysmael was going to back Red Handed in the Cup. General Command and Red Handed are the two favourites,” Waterhouse said. “I saw him coming through the crowd, out of the corner of my eye, and

Blatantly, he was offering “The Babe” better odds on Red Handed. Taunting him to wonder why.

Roy Higgins duly rode the Bart Cummings-trained Red Handed to victory. General Command came in sixth. In December 1968, not long after Ysmael’s colt Always There won the Group 1 Victoria Derby at Flemington, the stable was embroiled in controversy over the run of Follow Me (Ch h 1966, Coronation Boy (IRE)-Mary Kildare (NZ), by Pride Of Kildare (IRE)) in a race at Moonee Valley. Follow Me was ridden by George Hope, and fi nished last. Ysmael had backed another runner in the race. Hope, trainer Charlie Waymouth and Ysmael were charged by the VRC stewards for not allowing Follow Me to run on his merits. They were disqualifi ed for two years. A disillusioned Ysmael sold up his racing interests. He died in Manila in 1984, aged 56, of a heart attack. – DANNY POWER


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A brilliant dual Gr.1 winning champion by FUSAICHI PEGASUS. Out of AJC Oaks-Gr.1 winner CIRCLES OF GOLD (by Marscay). A half-brother to 5-time Gr.1 winner ELVSTROEM (by Danehill).

]HARADASUN was the most talented

horse I’ve ever ridden, he was brilliant at a mile but had the speed of a champion sprinter. For a 3-y-o to do what he did in the Doncaster Handicap & George Ryder Stakes was remarkable. The only thing more impressive than his turn of foot was his physique, he was absolutely faultless. It was a privilege to have been involved with him.^

Glen Boss, jockey.

Haradasun & Glen Boss after victory in the George Ryder Stakes-Gr.1 over Mentality, Apache Cat, Casino Prince, Cinque Cento & Jokers Wild

Fee: $55,000 (inc. GST) Coolmore Australia, Denman Road, Jerrys Plains NSW 2330, Australia. Tel: 02 6576 4200. Fax: 02 6576 4299 Contact: Michael Kirwan Tel: 0411 171 069, Tom Magnier Tel: 0423 389 255, Peter O’Brien Tel: 0411 852 149, Colm Santry Tel: 0412 344 566, Henry Field Tel: 0419 022 275 or James Harron Tel: 0432 050 940. In New Zealand: Gordon Calder Tel:+64 218 41612. Web Site: Email:

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Racing around the world It doesn’t quite rival the “around the world in 80 days” deeds of Phileas Fogg, but attending four major international race meetings, from the Far East to the Middle East to the US, in less than two months proved quite an adventure for STEPHEN MORAN.


ubai’s World Cup began a pilgrimage that extended to Hong Kong and Singapore but all expectation centred on a first-time visit to the Kentucky der-bee. It was high on the “bucket list” – things to do before you “kick the bucket” – and didn’t disappoint even if mint juleps are overrated, the coffee appalling and once is enough probably the verdict. After all I got to see Big Brown (B c 2005, Boundary-Mien, by Nureyev). He may be a oncein-a-lifetime horse and possibly a potential saviour of US racing against the backdrop of noisy criticism of tracks and breeding from animal welfare activists. Never mind that I was quite rightly and regularly reprimanded for my dar-bee pronunciation (when in Rome…) of America’s one iconic race, which, incidentally, offered many ideas that could be exploited here. There are ideas aplenty from each destination. More on that later. The Churchill Downs track, a narrow, stretched oval in shape, is magnificent. The horseflesh and racing is splendid (dirt and all), the crowd abuzz, the party raging, the beer cold, the cigarettes cheap and I sided with Henry Ford to declare history bunk and be aboard Big Brown in the signature race. Racing journalists generally have all the vices you know. It’s supposed, I think, that we’re

resilient enough to support the rest of the population with the taxes imposed on what we enjoy. And for those, and our “expert selections”, we’re often pilloried. I chuckled, nonetheless, at the folly of my kind in the lead-up to the Derby. Only a couple of 30-plus turf-writing experts polled (in Louisville’s Courier Journal) tipped the favourite Big Brown – all citing history and inexperience and the barrier draw as factors certain to deny him. Even speed ratings guru Andy Beyer declared Big Brown no hope despite rating him among the fastest horses he has measured. Fortunately, at home, we learned to throw all that nonsense out

‘ I wonder where

the Derby sits now in the psyche of the American sports fan.

Down the pecking order, I suspect.

with the dishwater (or American coffee) after Irishman Dermot Weld took our Cup with Vintage Crop (Ch g 1983, Rousillon-Overplay, by Bustino) in 1993. Speaking of which, there’s no doubt that Australians have parochially (perhaps myopically) believed that no race meeting in the world rivals our Melbourne Cup. That I can


report is not quite true. The Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, home of Muhammad Ali and KFC, and about 70 miles (113km) from the picture-postcard horse country of Lexington and Keeneland. It may not surpass the Cup but it’s one heck of a show, even if the touted attendance figure of 157,000 seems exaggerated. Every inch of the infield (middle of track) is utilised for spectators. Seems an obvious path there for Moonee Valley to follow. Few cars are parked anywhere near the track. Shuttles run from nearby venues – sporting stadia and shopping centres. Access is quick and easy and use of space maximised. I love the Derby barrier draw. The order is drawn by lot and then the connections of each horse, in turn, choose their barrier. Great theatre … as it is when the Derby runners are walked, with connections in tow, along the track from the stabling area to the mounting yard. But the Derby and US racing sound some warning bells for us as well. At the risk of fawning to my new-found colleagues, there’s a real flair to the best American

KENTUCKY, USA: Big Brown wins the 2008 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

turf writing but the reality is that the coverage in the major dailies is minimal (often non-existent) outside Derby time. It may be some time off but I fear we head that way. Sports editors measure the interest in racing by attendees, not bettors, and giving up the quest for “bums on seats” will come back to bite Australian racing administrators. I wonder where the Derby sits now in the psyche of the American sports fan. Down the pecking order, I suspect. All appears rosy on the day when they run for the roses. Patriotism, misguided or not, aplenty and tingles down the spine when the huge crowd rises to the singing of My Old Kentucky Home. Yet for all this fervour, on what is still one glorious sporting day, the Derby does not hold the


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Globetrotting South Africans

Hong Kong

DUBAI: The home of the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup, at Nad Al Sheba.

HONG KONG: Sha Tin is a centre of international racing.


Nothing stops the Derby

SINGAPORE: The country’s stocks are rising in the global racing scene.

pride of place it once did. “Yes, it’s still in the top 10 sporting events in the country but probably in the bottom half,” is the damning praise of Saratoga journalist Mike Kane. That’s the way racing has gone in the States. But, at least, on Derby day it still holds a captive audience for two minutes. But for how much longer in the wake of the deaths of Barbaro and this year’s runner-up Eight Belles? I fell in love with Churchill Downs. You feel you can touch the horses down the back stretch, let alone in the home straight. The stands are a mix of the 1890s and the 2000s and the track smaller and with tighter turns than you might expect. But you’re right on top of the action with grandeur and intimacy combined beneath the twin spires. The turf track neatly and sweetly skirts by magnificent natural hedge. Can there be a safer running rail nor one as inexpensive? The dirt produces better racing than I would have imagined. Tough, fast horses going hell for leather from

barrier rise. Leaders win, stalkers win, late closers win. It plays fairly from what I saw unlike much of what I’ve observed in Dubai where it’s first three out, first three home. Mind you, the days of dirt might be numbered given the reaction to Eight Belles’ shocking demise. Or are we creating weaknesses in the breed? American trainers say synthetic tracks may be fine but can also precipitate injuries – of the soft-tissue kind. These are issues brought to a head by the 134th Kentucky Derby. And they would have claimed all the headlines save for Big Brown. I fancy I saw a truly great horse. Rival trainer Eoin Harty quipped, pre-Derby, that Big Brown might be the “second coming of Secretariat”. Maybe Harty is prescient. The horse is now fairly tagged the best horse of his generation in North America and just maybe the best we’ve seen for a long, long time. Maybe he’s the best, at least, since 1973 when the all-conquering

The Kentucky Derby has been run 134 years straight at Churchill Downs. Stopped by nobody and nothing, not even war. Mind you, through World War I the infield housed a potato crop that funded the Red Cross and, during World War II, army barracks were set up in the same spot.

Secretariat claimed the Derby. Maybe he’d give Weekend Hussler (B g 2004, Hussonet-Weekend Beauty, by Helissio) and Light Fantastic (B g 2004, Danehill Dancer-Leica Or Not, by Kendor) or the English and Irish 2000 Guineas winner Henrythenavigator (B c 2005, Kingmambo-Sequoyha, by Sadler’s Wells) something to chase. Wouldn’t it be something to see them clash? Guess, now, it’d have to be on a polytrack! Big Brown became the first horse in 93 years to win the Derby at only his fourth appearance. He is the first horse since 1929 to win from barrier 20. These points led to the reservations from the “experts”. He defied all, including “the colourful

Dubai Duty Free form How good was Seachange’s sixth in the Dubai 1770m feature? Very good. Jay Peg (1st), Archipenko (3rd) and Creachadoir (8th) won Group 1 races in Singapore, Hong Kong and England next start. The mares Darjina (2nd), Vodka (4th) and Finsceal Beo (5th) were next-start seconds respectively in Group 1 races in France, Japan and Ireland.



Trainers Mike de Kock and Herman Brown are showing the way with lightly raced, improving horses targeted at the Middle East and Far East majors. No after-thoughts! De Kock won with Sun Classique (Ch m 2003, Fuji Kiseki (JPN)-Elfenjer, by Last Tycoon (IRE)) in Dubai and Archipenko in Hong Kong while Brown’s Jay Peg (possibly Cox Platebound) scored in Dubai and Singapore.


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racing identity” history of his trainer. It was the career highlight for 48-year-old Richard Dutrow who, 10 years ago, was living in a stable at Aqueduct and wallowing in drug use after the murder of his girlfriend. He was soon to deal with the death of his father, who had disowned him, and drug charges with his horses. “I was messed up. I got myself involved in all sorts of nickel-and-dime scrapes. I would get myself into trouble with marijuana and cocaine. I just hurt myself,” Dutrow told USA Today on the eve of the Derby. Dutrow’s resurrection began with the unexpected support of a major investor and the Derby completed it. “It’s an exhilarating feeling. Great to win the Derby. Great for me and great for everybody associated with this horse,” he said post-race. With mint julep (a concoction of syrup, mint, ice and whisky) in hand, I salute the Kentucky Derby. Unlike Dubai (especially) and Hong Kong and Singapore, it has the elements that elevate it from meeting to carnival and it stirs the passion like the Cox Plate or the Cup. It has a special place, like Melbourne Cup day, but not necessarily a place elevated above those race days in the Far East. Singapore is emerging and mimicking the dynamic Hong Kong. And there’s Dubai – it leaves you agog even if no betting leaves you agape. And that, unlike everything else Dubai, is not about the money. There’s just something about putting your money down, no matter how modestly, to say you’re cleverer than the next bloke. Mind you, there’s a representative of an English bookmaking firm lurking in every corner! And the money is going down in different ways. Dubai is just plain extravagant. There’s no other word for it. World Cup night’s major races already have legitimacy after just 13 years. Money can buy that in this game . . . $27.5 million on offer for about 12 minutes of action. But, like the city itself, on World Cup night I’m still searching for its

TAKING SINGAPORE: Australia’s champion sprinter Takeover Target wins the Group 1 KrisFlyer (1200m) at Kranji in Singapore.

soul. It’s the place where the level of construction is such that even ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum wrote, in The Wall Street Journal, of the joke that the crane should be designated as Dubai’s national bird. The city is still taking shape, as is the racing. There will be, almost certainly, more and more international competitors lured to Dubai and perhaps 2010 is the time to visit with the opening of the new racing, residential and commercial complex Meydan. This will feature a $2 billion grandstand to replace one they opened just seven years ago. There are opportunities, I believe, for enterprising Australian trainers through the Dubai carnival. Tony Noonan showed the way last year in the minors while South Africans Mike de Kock and Herman Brown, along with the Americans, have plundered the big money. Godolphin’s success has waned and while the powerful Europeans come (they can’t resist the money), I suspect they can’t bring themselves to have their horses fully wound up so early in their season. Hong Kong racing has the buzz you would expect in such a vibrant city. Oh, and the money goes down here – right at the betting windows. Consider this. Hong Kong has about one-third of Australia’s population and yet its annual tote betting turnover (2006-07 figures) is about the same as ours ($HK9 billion) on about 2000 fewer race meetings!

Imagine this. Given those numbers in Hong Kong, imagine the size of the pools possible in mainland China – population conservatively estimated at 1.4 billion – if betting is broadened beyond Wuchan, where it has been approved from September this year. Existing pari-mutuel operators simply couldn’t compete. And Singapore, a fledgling Hong Kong if you like, is looking to follow suit as it confirms a place for itself on the global racing stage. Singapore has less entertainment and gambling competition but from these jurisdictions we can learn that less can be more, that you have to spend money to make money and maintain a place in the mainstream and that a limited pool of horses can be attractive to punters. And these jurisdictions, with all or most expenses-paid invitations to rich races, are likely to increasingly deprive our carnivals of the likes of Takeover Target. As much as I’m sure we all love to see our horses take on the world, we can ill-afford to lose our headliners. The racing world is shrinking. From Dubai we saw Archipenko (B h 2004, Kingmambo-Bound, by Nijinsky) and Jay Peg (B h 2003, Camden Park-Laptop Lady, by Al Mufti) progress to win in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively. The recent Lockinge winner Creachadoir (B h 2004, King’s Best-Sadima, by Sadler’s Wells), in England, had previously raced in Hong Kong in December. I’ve become a racing snob. It’s easy to become absorbed

in the competition at the highest level and to marvel at Curlin (Ch h 2004, Smart Strike-Sherriff’s Deputy, by Deputy Minister) and Big Brown and Takeover Target (B g 1999, by Celtic Swing-Shady Stream, by Archregent) who was roared home, from the top of the straight, by a vocal crowd at Kranji. Or to be swept away by that passionate, punting roar of crowds – not distracted by jumping castles or fashions on the field – at Sha Tin or Kranji. Or to be dazzled by 30,000-plus watching racing, under lights, at Happy Valley amid the skyscrapers in the heart of Hong Kong Island. And you remind yourself, after 30 years of mixed adventures on the punt, that it’s a fair bet they’re all trying in these major races that usually run true to form.

International Takeover Joe Janiak’s superstar scored his 17th win in the Group 1 KrisFlyer (1200m) at Kranji in Singapore but it was his first going lefthanded on a turning track. He has won in four countries – Australia, England, Japan and Singapore – a feat that has been beaten in the modern era by only two horses, Fantastic Light and Falbrav, who have stood at stud in Australia recently after winning in five countries. Fantastic Light (B h 1996, Rahy (USA)-Jood (USA), by Nijinsky 11 (CAN)) won at all Group levels in England, Ireland, USA, Hong Kong and Dubai, while Falbrav (B h 1998, Fairy King (USA)-Gift Of The Night (USA), by Slewpy USA)) won in England, France, Japan, Hong Kong and Italy (all Group 1s). The crack mare Ouija Board matches Takeover Target with four wins – England, Ireland, Hong Kong and the USA (all Group 1s).


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Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes Flight Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren Beadman Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterhouse Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Ki Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) Breasley Tom Hales Roy Higgins George Moore Darby Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Jack Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associa (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Chester Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thompson Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Might and Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Coo Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike Neville Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de Mestre George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Maurice McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Green James White Wootton Heroic Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Duncan Harry White Bill Williamson Lee Freedman Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Asso Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Ajax Better Loosen Up Gloaming Poseidon The Barb Edgar Britt Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack Purtell John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Bob Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham Gunsynd Todman Pat Glennon Ron Hutchinson Jack Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack Geoff Murphy Associates Sir Patrick Hogan Bert Wolfe Makybe Diva Amounis Shannon Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten John Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes F Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren Beadman Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterhouse Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Kingston Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) B Tom Hales Roy Higgins George Moore Darby Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Jack Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associates W.H. (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Ches Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thompson Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Might and Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Cook Mick Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike N Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de Mestre George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Maurice McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Theo Green James White Wootton He Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Duncan Harry White Bill Williamson Lee Freedman Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Associates Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Aja Loosen Up Gloaming Poseidon The Barb Edgar Britt Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack Purtell John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham Gunsynd Todman Pat Glennon Ron Hutchinson Jack Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack Denham Geoff Murphy Associates Sir Patrick Bert Wolfe Makybe Diva Amounis Shannon Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten John Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes Flight Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren B Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterhouse Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Kingston Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) Breasley Tom Hales Roy Higgins George Moore Da Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Jack Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associates W.H. (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Chester Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thom Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Might and Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Cook Mick Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike Neville Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Maurice McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Theo Green James White Wootton Heroic Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Du Harry White Bill Williamson Lee Freedman Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Associates Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Ajax Better Loosen Up Gloaming Poseidon The Barb Britt Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack Purtell John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Bob Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham Guns Todman Pat Glennon Ron Hutchinson Jack Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack Denham Geoff Murphy Associates Sir Patrick Hogan Bert Wolfe Makybe Diva Amounis Sha Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten John Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes Flight Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren Beadman Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterho Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Kingston Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) Breasley Tom Hales Roy Higgins George Moore Darby Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associates W.H. (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Chester Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thompson Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Mig Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Cook Mick Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike Neville Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de Mestre George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Mauri McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Theo Green James White Wootton Heroic Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Duncan Harry White Bill Williamson Lee Fre Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Associates Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Ajax Better Loosen Up Gloaming Poseidon The Barb Edgar Britt Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack P John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Bob Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham Gunsynd Todman Pat Glennon Ron Hutchins Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack Denham Geoff Murphy Associates Sir Patrick Hogan Bert Wolfe Makybe Diva Amounis Shannon Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes Flight Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren Beadman Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterhouse Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Kin Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) Breasley Tom Hales Roy Higgins George Moore Darby Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Jack Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associa (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Chester Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thompson Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Might and Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Coo Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike Neville Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de Mestre George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Maurice McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Green James White Wootton Heroic Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Duncan Harry White Bill Williamson Lee Freedman Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Asso Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Ajax Better Loosen Up Gloaming Poseidon The Barb Edgar Britt Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack Purtell John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Bob Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham Gunsynd Todman Pat Glennon Ron Hutchinson Jack Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack Geoff Murphy Associates Sir Patrick Hogan Bert Wolfe Makybe Diva Amounis Shannon Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten John Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes F Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren Beadman Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterhouse Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Kingston Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) B Tom Hales Roy Higgins George Moore Darby Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Jack Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associates W.H. (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Ches Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thompson Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Might and Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Cook Mick Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike N Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de Mestre George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Maurice McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Theo Green James White Wootton He Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Duncan Harry White Bill Williamson Lee Freedman Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Associates Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Aja Loosen Up Gloaming Poseidon The Barb Edgar Britt Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack Purtell John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham Gunsynd Todman Pat Glennon Ron Hutchinson Jack Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack Denham Geoff Murphy Associates Sir Patrick Bert Wolfe Makybe Diva Amounis Shannon Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten John Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes Flight Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren B Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterhouse Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Kingston Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) Breasley Tom Hales Roy Higgins George Moore Da Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Jack Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associates W.H. (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Chester Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thom Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Might and Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Cook Mick Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike Neville Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Maurice McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Theo Green James White Wootton Heroic Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Du Harry White Bill Williamson Lee Freedman Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Associates Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Ajax Better Loosen Up Gloaming Poseidon The Barb Britt Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack Purtell John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Bob Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham Guns Todman Pat Glennon Ron Hutchinson Jack Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack Denham Geoff Murphy Associates Sir Patrick Hogan Bert Wolfe Makybe Diva Amounis Sha Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten John Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes Flight Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren Beadman Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterho Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Kingston Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) Breasley Tom Hales Roy Higgins George Moore Darby Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associates W.H. (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Chester Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thompson Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Mig Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Cook Mick Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike Neville Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de Mestre George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Mauri McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Theo Green James White Wootton Heroic Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Duncan Harry White Bill Williamson Lee Fre Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Associates Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Ajax Better Loosen Up Gloaming Poseidon The Barb Edgar Britt Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack P John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Bob Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham Gunsynd Todman Pat Glennon Ron Hutchins Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack Denham Geoff Murphy Associates Sir Patrick Hogan Bert Wolfe Makybe Diva Amounis Shannon Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten Tait W.S. Cox Family Flight Grand Flaneur Darren Beadman Arthur Ward Fred BeDra Percy part ofSykes history at Australian racing’sSuper night Impose Monday 1 September 2008Best Gai Waterhouse Harry Tancred Bernborough Carbine Kin Date Town Phar Lap Tulloch A. (Scobie) Breasley Tom Halesbestowed Roy Higgins Darby Munro Bart Cummings Colin Hayes Jack Holt James Scobie Tommy Smith Associa of nights. See the greatest honour onGeorge TimeMoore 6.30pm for 7pm (Bill) Collins Sir Adrian Knox Sir Chester Manifold A.B. (Banjo) Patterson The Thompson Family (Widden Stud) Manikato Might and Power Rising Fast Sunline Wakeful Billy Coo the new Hall of Fame inductees and celebrate Venue Palladium at Crown Dittman Bobby Lewis Jim Pike Neville Selwood Angus Armanasco Etienne de Mestre George Hanlon Fred Hoysted Maurice McCarten Associates Ken Howard Sol Green Australia’s most outstanding thoroughbreds Dress Black Tie White Bill Williamson Lee Freedman Walter Hickenbotham Frank McGrath Asso Green James White Wootton Heroic Malua Peter Pan Tobin Bronze Vain Billy Duncan Harry (inc. GST) $185 Britt per person Bert Bryant The Inglis Family Ajax Better Loosen Up Gloaming PoseidonTickets The Barb Edgar Rae “Togo” Johnstone Jack Purtell John Hawkes Jim Houlahan Lou Robertson All will be revealed at the 2008 Australian Associates Robert Cooper Bagot Jack & Bob Ingham Eurythmic Galilee Chatham1300 Gunsynd Todman Pat at Glennon Ron Hutchinson Jack Thompson Richard Bradfield Jack 139 401 or online Bookings Racehorse the Year and Hall FameMakybe Awards Diva Amounis Shannon Frank Bullock Ron Quinton Tom Payten John Tait W.S. Cox Family Dr Percy Sykes F Geoff Murphy Associates Sir of Patrick Hogan Bert of Wolfe Grand Flaneur Super Impose Darren Beadman Arthur Ward Fred Best Gai Waterhouse Harry Tancred

Australian Racehorse of the Year & Hall of Fame

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Santic’s new adventure DANNY POWER takes a look at a new farm with a new stallion, one

of more than 40 first season sires to stand in Australia in 2008.


ou have to say that Tony Santic’s move into the gamble that is standing commercial stallions is somewhat slower than Patinack Farm’s Nathan Tinkler. Both men come from battling backgrounds, they are private and extremely wealthy. Santic’s fortune came with a splash from fishing tuna, Tinkler’s from fossil fuel, black coal. But while Tinkler has burst on to the scene like a rocket, Santic’s rise is far less meteoric. It was about 12 years ago that Santic was buying the cheap “walkers” at the Karaka Ready-To-Run Sale in New Zealand, to race for fun on his home patch in Port Lincoln. And now, thanks to canny investments and a large stroke of luck in keeping a small, insignificant weanling filly – later named Makybe Diva (B m 1999, Desert King (IRE)-Tugela (USA), by Riverman USA)) – to become a triple Melbourne Cup winner, Santic, at his palatial Victorian property, Makybe, Gnarwarre, west of Geelong, will stand his first stallion. The disappointment of losing the handsome and royally bred colt Purrealist (Ch h 2004, Tale Of The Cat (USA)-Surrealist, by Kenny’s Best Pal) as a racehorse, due to injury, has been balanced

by the excitement of a new phase in the racing life of Santic, and his fledgling farm, formerly the abode of departed TV funnyman Steve Vizard. Last month, Santic and his new bloodstock manager Dean Harvey (ex-Darley) paraded Purrealist at Makybe to a media pack and invited guests. The rich chestnut son of Tale Of The Cat did not disappoint. Purrealist is a fine specimen, and a fitting addition to Victoria’s stallion ranks. Purrealist was retired – after only five starts – after an injury finished his three-year-old career early in the spring of 2007. He was on the verge of something special. The colt, trained by Danny O’Brien, had raced to the top of betting markets for the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m at Caulfield) after beating Marching in the Group 3 Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield, but it was to be his last race. Harvey, 34, who joined Makybe as bloodstock manager, is taken by Purrealist. “He was an expensive yearling ($700,000) who has grown into what he should be. A lot of costly yearlings don’t develop, but he is a big, strong 16.2h stallion with a massive hindquarter, powerful forearm and gaskin,” he said.

Bookings to the young horse are encouraging. “By the first week in June we had 75-80 mares on his books. Tony is going to seriously support the horse with up to 35 of his own mares,” Harvey said. Harvey said Santic was taking a different approach to his breeding business, by trying to “make” a stallion rather than taking the expensive route of buying a readymade prospect off the racetrack. In the latter case we are talking up to $10 million for the right horse.

‘ Purrealist is a

fine specimen and a fitting addition to Victoria’s stallion ranks.

The next likely stallion for Makybe is the exciting, Santic-bred rising 3YO Exceedingly Good (B c 2005, Exceed And Excel-Common Smytzer, by Snippets), who was the dominant pre-Christmas juvenile this season. If Exceedingly Good, already a Group 3 winner, can take the next step into Group 1 company, then Makybe’s future as a stallion farm will be assured. Harvey, a Geelong boy, said he was enjoying his relationship with Santic. “He’s given me my head to make decisions to some extent,

he trusts me, which is why he employed me,” he said. “This type of job is what I have been working for, it is the dream job.” Purrealist is one of more than 40 first season sires to stand in Australia this season. Harvey said support from several broodmare farms in the Geelong district has been excellent. The stallion’s fee is $8800 (inc. GST). Victoria’s stallion stocks continue to raise with the inclusion of the first season Group 1 stars Wonderful World, Magnus and the Hussonet sons Host and El Cumbres. Wonderful World (Br h 2003, Agnes World (USA)-Success Tale, by Success Express (USA)) will stand, on behalf of Patinack Farm, at Independent Stallions, Nagambie. The decision to send the entire to Victoria was due to the fact Wonderful World reserved his best racing to Victoria’s righthanded racing, where he won the 2006 Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m at Caulfield) and last spring ran a career-defining second behind the dominant El Segundo in the Group 1 Tattersall’s Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley. His fee is $22,000 (inc. GST). Magnus (B h 2002, Flying Spur-Scandinavia, by Snippets) has been earmarked to retire to Eliza Park Stud, Kerrie, near Romsey, while he continues to race. As this


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edition of The Thoroughbred was going to press, Magnus was in England making a final attempt to win at the Royal Ascot carnival. Last year Magnus ran a tremendous third to Miss Andretti in the Group 2 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) on the famous course. This year that race has been elevated to Group 1 level. Magnus ran to his best form when second to Takeover Target last month in the Group 1 KrisFlyer (1200m) at Kranji in Singapore, and an international win will allow the son of Danehill’s son Flying Spur to join the lucrative shuttle circuit. Magnus, who has chased some of our greatest sprinters – Miss Andretti, Takeover Target and Weekend Hussler – at the highest level, won his Group 1 feature in last year’s The Galaxy (1100m) at Warwick Farm. Magnus’ fee, at $27,500 (inc. GST), will be cheap if he can beat the best at Royal Ascot. The deeds of Weekend Hussler (B g 2004, Hussonet (USA)Weekend Beauty, by Helessio (FR)) and Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Reaan (B c 2005, Hussonet (USA)-Ribe, by Danehill (USA)) has focused enormous attention on their sire Hussonet (Ch h 1991, Mr. Prospector (USA)-Sacahuista (USA), by Raja Baba (USA)), who stands at Arrowfield Stud. Host, who stands his first season at Swettenham Stud, Nagambie, joins a rush of high-class sons of Hussonet to stand in Australia. Other Group 1-winning sons of Hussonet also to stand this season are Husson (Patinack Farm, NSW), El Cumbres (Mornmoot Stud, Victoria) and Trotamondo (Yarraman Park, NSW). Host (Ch h 2000, Hussonet (USA)-Colonna Traiana (CHI), by Roy (USA)), a three-quarter brother to Husson, proved himself outside of South America with a strong win

PROUD MOMENT: Tony Santic parades Purrealist, the first stallion to stand at Santic’s impressive farm, Makybe, in Victoria.

in the 2005 Group 1 Shadwell Mile (1600m) at Keeneland. In his wake was a crack field that included champion Australian mare Alinghi. Host’s fee is $19,250 (inc. GST). El Cumbres (B h 2002, Hussonet (USA)-Marscara Roja (CHI), by Cresta Rider (USA)) won twice at Group 1 level in Chile, including the Chilean Two Thousand Guineas (1600m), and will stand at a fee of $11,000 (inc. GST). The brilliant Husson (Ch h 2002, Hussonet (USA)-Villa Elisa (CHI), by Roy (USA)) was unbeaten in five starts, including three at Group 1 level, and will stand for a fee of $30,250 (inc GST). Trotamondo (Ch h 2001, Hussonet (USA)-Movie Producer (USA), by Give Me Strength (USA)) joins Yarraman Park’s roster as the

winner of three Group 1 races in Chile and a Group 3 race in North America. His fee will be $22,000 (inc. GST). Who knows where the Hussonet dynasty will end? The decision by Darley to stand Hard Spun (B h 2004, Danzig (USA)-Turkish Tryst (USA), by Turkoman (USA)) – for a fee of $33,000 – at its Seymour farm is a huge boost for Victoria. Hard Spun was the most brilliant 3YO in the USA in 2007. A clear guide to his talent comes from the fact he was named North America’s Sprinter of the Year, thanks to his brilliant win in the Group 1 King Bishop Stakes (1400m) at Saratoga (on the dirt), but this versatile horse also ran second to fellow Darley newcomer Street Sense (B h 2004, Street

Cry (USA)-Bedazzle (USA), by Dixieland Band (USA)) in the Group 1 Kentucky Derby (2000m) at Churchill Downs. Street Sense, the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Derby, will stand at Darley, NSW, for a fee of $55,000 (inc. GST). Last season’s top Australian 3YO colt, Haradasun (B c 2003, Fusaichi Pegasus (USA)-Circles Of Gold, by Marscay), winner of the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m at Rosehill) and the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m at Randwick) is the star new attraction for Coolmore, standing at a fee of $55,000 (inc. GST). LIST OF FIRST SEASON SIRES FOR 2008 (SEE TABLE ON PAGE 74)


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First season sires for 2008 ANY GIVEN SATURDAY (USA) B or Br h 2004, Distorted Humor (USA)Weekend In Indy (USA), by A.P. Indy (USA) Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Darley, VIC Fee: $20,000 (plus GST)

EXCELLENT ART (GB) B h 2004, Pivotal (GB)-Obsessive (USA), by Seeking The Gold (USA) Sire line: Nureyev (USA) Standing at: Coolmore, NSW Fee: $22,500 (plus GST)

LIBRETTIST (USA) B h 2002, Danzig (USA)-Mysterial (USA), by Alleged (USA) Sire line: Northern Dancer (CAN) Standing at: Darley, NSW Fee: $20,000 (plus GST)

SEINNE (CHI) B h 1997, Hussonet (USA)-White Lady, by Worldwatch (USA) Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Cromarty Park, WA Fee: $5000 (plus GST)

BERNARDINI (USA) Bay h 2003, A.P. Indy (USA)-Cara Rafaela (USA), by Quiet American (USA) Sire line: Seattle Slew (USA) Standing at: Darley, Aberdeen, NSW Fee: $50,000 (plus GST)

FORMAL ATTIRE B h 2002, Danehill (USA)-Ruffles, by Zeditave Sire line: Danzig (USA) Standing at: Silver Crest Farm, WA Fee: $4500 (plus GST)

MAGNUS B h 2003, Flying Spur-Scandinavia, by Snippets Sire line: Danehill (USA) Standing at: Eliza Park, VIC Fee: $25,000 (plus GST)

SHINZIG B h 2001, Danehill (USA)-Shindig (NZ), by Straight Strike (USA) Sire line: Danzig (USA) Standing at: Eliza Park, VIC Fee: $16,500 (plus GST)

BRAMSHAW Bay h 2004, Encosta De Lago-Cotehele House, by My Swanee (GB) Sire line: Northern Dancer (CAN) Standing at: Larneuk Stud, VIC Fee: $4000 (plus GST)

GENEREUX (ARG) B h 1999, French Deputy (USA)-Griffe de Paris (BRZ), by Telescopico (ARG) Sire line: Deputy Minister (USA) Standing at: Chrisphoe T’breds, QLD Fee: $4000 (plus GST)

MASSARI B h 2004, Royal Academy (USA)-Abu Zaby, by Straight Strike (USA) Sire line: Nijinsky 11 (CAN) Standing at: Ozbloodstock, VIC Fee: $5000 (plus GST)

SOLDIER’S TALE (USA) Ch h 2001, Stravinsky (USA)-Myrtle (GB), by Batshoof (IRE) Sire line: Nureyev (USA) Standing at: Swettenham Stud, VIC Fee: $12,500 (plus GST)

CASINO PRINCE Bay h 2003, Flying Spur-Lady Capel, by Last Tycoon (IRE) Sire line: Danehill (USA) Standing at: Patinack Farm, Aberdeen, NSW Fee: $35,000 (plus GST)

GIACOSA B h 2004, Giant’s Causeway (USA)Voltage, by Whiskey Road (USA) Sire line: Storm Cat (USA) Standing at: Ozbloodstock, VIC Fee: $8000 (plus GST)

MASTERPIECE (ARG) B or Br h 2000, Southern Halo (USA)-Merry Sweet, by Gold Trojan Sire line: Halo (USA)-Turn-To (IRE) Standing at: Innisfree T’breds, VIC Fee: $7000 (plus GST)

ST AVERIL (USA) B or Br h 2001, Saint Ballado (USA)-Avie’s Fancy (USA), by Lord Avie (USA) Sire line: Halo (USA)-Turn-To (IRE) Standing at: Goodwood Park, Qld Fee: $6000 (plus GST)

HARADASUN B h 2003, Fusaichi Pegasus (USA)-Circles Of Gold, Marscay Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Coolmore, NSW Fee: $50,000 (plus GST)

MEARAS B h 2003, Redoute’s Choice-Eldarin, by Marauding (NZ) Sire line: Danehill (USA) Standing at: Raheen Stud, QLD Fee: $7000 (plus GST)

STRATEGIC PRINCE (GB) B h 2004, Dansili (GB)-Ausherra (USA), by Diesis (GB) Sire line: Danehill (USA) Standing at: Blue Gum Farm, VIC Fee: $10,000 (plus GST)

HARD SPUN (USA) B h 2004, Danzig (USA)-Turkish Tryst (USA), by Turkoman (USA) Sire line: Northern Dancer (CAN) Standing at: Darley, VIC Fee: $30,000 (plus GST)

MUQBIL (USA) Ch h 2000, Nashwan (USA)-Istiqial (GB), by Diesis (GB) Sire line: Blushing Groom (FR)-Nasrullah (IRE) Standing at: Manner Lodge, VIC Fee: $6000 (plus GST)

STREET SENSE (USA) B or B h 2004, Street Cry (USA)-Bedazzle (USA), by Dixieland Band (USA) Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Darley, NSW Fee: $50,000 (plus GST)

CLASSIC ENDEAVOR Bay or Brown h 1998, Silver Buck (USA)Bold Juana (USA), by John Alden (USA) Sire line: Buckpasser (USA) Standing at: Ilala Stud, Scone, NSW Fee: $15,000 (plus GST) COURT COMMAND Bay h 2003, Commands-Court House Lane, by Zoffany (USA) Sire line: Danehill (USA) Standing at: Wattle Brae Stud, QLD Fee: $8000 (plus GST) DANEHILL EXPRESS Bay h 2001, Danehill (USA)-Savana City, by New Regent (USA) Sire line: Danzig (USA) Standing at: Mungrup Stud, WA Fee: $12,000 (plus GST) DE BEERS B h 2002, Quest For Fame (GB)-Chimeara, by Danehill (USA) Sire line: Blushing Groom (FR) Standing at: Lindsay Park, SA Fee: $6000 (plus GST)

HENNY HUGHES (USA) Ch h 2003, Hennessy (USA)-Meadow Flyer (USA), by Meadowlake (USA) Sire line: Storm Cat (USA) Standing at: Darley, NSW Fee: $25,000 (plus GST) HOST (CHI) Ch h 2000, Hussonet (USA)-Colonna Traiana (CHI), by Roy (USA) Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Swettenham Stud, VIC Fee: $17,500 (plus GST)

DYLAN THOMAS (IRE) B h 2003, Danehill (USA)-Lagrion, by Deisis Sire line: Danzig (USA) Standing at: Coolmore, NSW Fee: $40,000 (plus GST)

HUSSON (ARG) Ch h 2003, Hussonet (USA)-Villa Elisa (CHI), by Roy (USA) Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Patinack Farm, NSW Fee: $27,500 (plus GST)

EL CUMBRES (CHI) B h 2002, Hussonet (USA)-Marscara Roja (CHI), by Cresta Rida (USA) Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Mornmoot Stud, VIC Fee: $10,000 (plus GST)

HUSSON LIGHTNING B h 2004, Hussonet (USA)-Snip Snip, by Snippets Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Heytesbury T’breds, WA Fee: $6000 (plus GST)

EMPIRES CHOICE B h 2003, Redoute’s Choice-Rosie’s Star (NZ), by Star Way (GB) Sire line: Danehill (USA) Standing at: Cummings Racing, NSW Fee: On Application

INCUMBENT Ch h 2004, Choisir-Chalonne, by Rubiton Sire line: Danehill (USA) Standing at: Grenville Stud, Tasmania Fee: $4000 (plus GST)

OLD DEUTERONOMY (USA) B or Br h 2001, Storm Cat (USA)-Jewel In The Crown (USA), by Seeking The Gold (USA) Sire line: Storm Bird (USA) Standing at: Emirates Park, VIC Fee: $5000 (plus GST) PRINCE ARTHUR B h 2002, Danehill (USA)-Scribbling, by Palace Music (USA) Sire line: Danzig (USA) Standing at: Thing Big Stud, NSW Fee: $4900 (plus GST) PURREALIST Ch h 2004, Tale Of The Cat (USA)Surrealist, by Kenny’s Best Pal Sire line: Storm Cat (USA) Standing at: Makybe, VIC Fee: $8000 (plus GST) SAXON B h 2001, Danehill (USA)-Jeanetta Cochrane (IRE), by Sadler’s Wells (USA) Sire line: Danzig (USA) Standing at: Heytesbury T’breds, WA Fee: $4000 (plus GST) SCAT DADDY (USA) B or Br h 2004, Hennessy (USA)-Love Style (USA), by Mr. Prospector (USA) Sire line: Storm Cat (USA) Standing at: Coolmore, NSW Fee: $15,000 (plus GST)

TROTAMONDO (CHI) Ch h 2001, Hussonet (USA)-Movie Producer (USA), by Give Me Strength (USA) Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Yarraman Park, NSW Fee: $20,000 (plus GST) VITAL EQUINE (IRE) B h 2004, Danetime (IRE)-Bayalika, by Selkirk (USA) Sire line: Danehill (USA) Standing at: Touchstone Farm, WA Fee: $12,000 (plus GST) WE CAN SEEK (CHI) Ch h 2001, Seeker’s Reward-Weekend Leave (USA), by Polish Navy (USA) Sire line: Gone West (USA) Standing at: Ilala Stud, NSW Fee: $8000 (plus GST) WONDERFUL WORLD Br h 2003, Agnes World (USA)-Success Tale, by Success Express (USA) Sire line: Danzig (USA) Standing at: Independent Stallions, VIC Fee: $20,000 (plus GST) ZIZOU B h 2004, Fusaichi Pegasus (USA)-Natural Is My Name, by Naturalism Sire line: Mr. Prospector (USA) Standing at: Turangga Farm, NSW Fee: $15,000 (plus GST) *as at June 1.

74 T H E T H O R O U G H B R E D

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p e m r s u j x Plate for o C e Th


rozen in the mind of Brett Scott, like so many others, is the image of the 2005 Tattersall’s Cox Plate field, stretched like tenpins across the Moonee Valley track as they screamed towards the home bend. Number six pin, if you like, was Makybe Diva (B f 1999, Desert King-Tugela, by Riverman), who ate up the intense pressure as Billy Bunter would a plate of pies. It is a pressure race that is the signature dish of Moonee Valley and, for that matter, Australia’s premier weight-for-age attraction, the Group 1 Tattersall’s Cox Plate (2040m). Pressure races, given the configuration peculiarities of the track, are a speciality of the Valley, none more so than the A.V. Hiskens Steeplechase (3721m), the club’s feature jumps event. For Scott, the Hiskens, a set weights and penalties race and the finale to the jumps’ season majors, is the Cox Plate of jumps racing. There is also an interesting

family association, which links the Hiskens to the Cox Plate. Arthur Vaughan Hiskens was the brother-in-law of Archie Cox, son of William Samuel Cox, the 19th century racing visionary who took a seven-year lease of what was then known as Feehans Farm, but would later become Moonee Valley. Hiskens took over the secretarial duties from Archie Cox and when the Moonee Valley Racing Club was officially formed at Hosie’s Hotel, on the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth streets, on March 26, 1917, he was the first club secretary. It would be a post held by Hiskens, who was also the secretary at the Victoria Amateur Turf Club as well as holding numerous roles at the Oaklands Hunt Club, until he died in 1935. For all his administrative skills, Hiskens was a passionate supporter of jumps racing. In his honour, the club struck the A.V. Hiskens Steeplechase, which was run for the first time in 1936. Now entering its 73rd running, the

Hiskens, like the Cox Plate, has stood the test of time not only for its searing pressure, but also its quality as evidenced by its honour roll. Van Perri (B g 1957, PerricootaVansion), who “owned” Moonee Valley with his 14 wins until Dandy Kid (B g 1996, DemusMiss Tecoma, by Cerreto) eclipsed it almost 50 years later, features among the winners.

‘ You need a horse

with a lot of quality that has the speed and good jumping ability because it is run at such a quick tempo.

So, too, Pedro’s Pride (B m 1950, Don Pedro from an unidentified mare), the only mare to win, who lumped the equivalent of 79.5kg in her 1958 success. Then there is Crisp (B g


It is a race for – and won by – the elite. Only the fittest and best survive the testing 3721m of the A.V. Hiskens Steeplechase. Named after a former secretary of the Moonee Valley Racing Club, the Hiskens has had more than its fair share of twists and turns since it was first run in 1936. By ADRIAN DUNN.

1963, Rose Argent-Wheat Germ, by Trigo). Regarded by many as the fi nest jumper in Australia, Crisp, owned by Sir Chester Manifold, won with 70kg in 1969 and then a year later won after carrying 76kg. Strasbourg (Ch g 1970, MatriceTe Ngutu Lass, by Pakistan), trained by the late, great Jim Houlahan, is a Hiskens victor; so, too, Marlborough, another of Houlahan’s record five winners who holds the distinction as the only odds-on favourite to win. So, what is it that elevates the Hiskens to the upper echelon of jumps races? That’s its beauty. It has a mix of so many ingredients: race conditions, track idiosyncrasies, quality hurdlers for the first time meeting quality fencers and unyielding pressure. It is a race that, as Scott noted, is reserved exclusively for good horses. Scott, who shares with Tommy McGinley and Nick Harnett the mantle as the most successful

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CLEAR JUMP: Misty Weather (Adam Trinder) was the ideal athletic horse for the A.V. Hiskens Steeplechase.

Hiskens jockey with three victories, described the Hiskens as a “pretty serious race” that is normally won by “high-class horses”. “You need a horse with a lot of quality that has the speed and good jumping ability because it is run at such a quick tempo,” he said. Scott said Maybe Rough (B g 1991, Roughcast-May Queen, by Pag Asa), his first winner in 1998, and St. Steven (B g 1994, Hula Town-Gabby, by In The Purple), along with the legendary Crisp the only horse to win successive Hiskens, both fitted those criteria. And Scott revealed one of his secrets – don’t get up in the moment. Scott said just as the Cox Plate jockeys get itchy fi ngers when they sweep towards the old school, so, too, do jumps jockeys. “It’s very easy to get swept away at the 1200 and see the winning post and get a bit excited,” Scott said. “You have to be as patient as you can be. Patient rides win the Hiskens as a rule. If you can save

your horse and have a little bit left when you get near the bend it means so much.” Scott, partnering the John Wheeler-trained Maybe Rough, was the beneficiary of a head-to-head stoush between Gegabar (Br g 1999, Touching Wood-Miss Buckle, by St. Puckle) and Moon Chase (Ch g 1988, Crazy Moon-Sassy Chassis, by Sassafras) in the 1998 Hiskens. While Gegabar and Moon Chase slugged it out from the 1200m, Scott camped Maybe Rough behind the fight, peeled to the outside and ran away with the victory. St. Steven also stalked the pace in both his victories. Adam Trinder, a dual Hiskens winner, comes from a family steeped in big race folklore. His grandfather, Ray, trained Piping Lane (B g 1966, LanesboroughLondonderry Air, by Piping Time) to win the 1972 Melbourne Cup, and his father, Michael, has trained four Hiskens winners. Adam Trinder echoes the sentiments of Scott that tactics

play such a crucial role. Trinder points to the “idiosyncrasies” of the Valley circuit as the backdrop for such an observation. He said other races allowed a horse and a jockey to get away with making a mistake. Not so in the Hiskens. “In any other race you can probably get away with missing a fence here and there and it won’t tell on you in the finish,” Trinder said. “But if you miss one a mile from home in the Hiskens when they start to quicken, you can be out of play. “And you are always turning, you are always jumping. The pressure is always on, even when you are in the back of the field in a Hiskens. They don’t string out, there is probably seven to eight lengths between first and last. “There’s a lot of jostling for positions. It’s a race that’s going from the time the gates open until the finish. “You don’t bowl along for the first five furlongs, then get a

‘ The Hiskens is

more a race for the elite athlete. I like

the race, it’s won by good horses.

breather and quicken over the last half mile. It’s a race that goes for the full 3700 metres.” Trinder said just like in the flat races, jockeys seem to get itchy fingers much earlier than they do at Flemington or Sandown. “You have to be aware of your position in the field early doors and save what you can, when you can,” Trinder said. “The pressure of the race is virtually on from the time the gates open, but it’s really on from the 1200m and everyone is really up and running from the 800m.” Trinder noted that such was the Hiskens course that horses seemed to be forever jumping and as a result horses had to have a good rhythm. “It’s such a fast tempo that


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if you miss a fence you can put yourself right out of calculations. You have to be on the ball, you have to be riding your race and riding your fences,” he said. These days the “yellow tops” are easy on horses if they miss a fence, but Kelvin Bourke will vouch that the old fences at the Valley were as unforgiving as anywhere he rode. Bourke, one of the few to ride and train a Hiskens winner, described the course, which used to be on the inside track and had additional jumps in the straight and along the side, as “fairly treacherous”. (Bourke rode Strasbourg in 1977 and trained Valiant Gamble (Ch g 1981, Plutus-Valiant Impression, by Gala Performance) to win 12 years later) “If you made a blue at one, you made a blue at three,” Bourke said. Seemingly with jumps every furlong and a bit, there is little time for horse and jockey to regain their composure if they made a hash of a jump. Bourke said it was a matter of taking a deep breath and hoping jockey and horse could regain some rhythm. “My first eight cracks I failed to get around. I had eight falls in a row, I wasn’t that good going out for the ninth. I wasn’t feeling that good,” he said with a laugh. Ask Harnett, another to win the race as a jockey and a trainer, what it takes to win the Hiskens and he dryly replies: “Get around for a start. “It’s quite tactical. It’s a high pressure race, you have to keep in tough. “It’s the survival of the fittest.” One of the intangibles the Hiskens brings to the racing table is the mystique of hurdlers having their first start over fences pitted against seasoned fencers. With horses coming from so many different directions, there is not the exposed formline that runs from Oakbank to Warrnambool through the Australian Steeple to the Grand National Steeple. For Trinder, the Hiskens is basically a “sprinter’s version of a jumps race. They have to have

sharpness and speed left in their legs and be able to capitalise on it.” Trinder’s father, Michael, adds a touch of the, well, ahem, bizarre to the Hiskens’ story book. He has cut a lonely figure on Hiskens days. You won’t find him, fist clenched, punching the sky in jubilation from the grandstand. Trinder can usually be found standing near the back parade ring, underneath a TV monitor, listening but certainly not watching. You see, Trinder has an aversion to watching jumps races, in which he has a runner, live. Replays are OK, live races, under no circumstances. If he has a gifted hurdler, in the back of his mind Trinder is setting him for the Hiskens. “You need a horse that has a really good turn of foot as Moonee Valley is such a tight turning track,” Trinder said. “You need an apt and clean jumper. Probably the best I took there was Misty Weather (B g 1997, Devon Flyer-Miss Miller, by Jukebox). He may have lacked the ability on the flat, but he jumped those fences like they were made out of smoke. He made ground at every fence.” John Wheeler, the astute New Zealander trainer, has won the Hiskens three times: Maybe Rough and St. Steven twice. He views it as more “spectacular” than many of the other feature jumps races. For Wheeler it is a race in which stamina is not the pre-requisite, as it is in a Grand National. “It’s a race where a good hurdler can win, as opposed to the Grand National that is more a race of courage and stamina,” Wheeler said. “The Hiskens is more a race for the elite athlete. I like the race, it’s won by good horses.” As Brett Scott so succinctly summed up the A.V. Hiskens – “There’s no other race like it on the calendar.” FOOTNOTE: Many of our great jumpers from the past came from dubious parentage. If the sire, dam or dam-sire of a horse was non-Stud Book, then that horse is registered as “unidentified”.

Hiskens Steeplechase About 3700 metres. Past 30 years Year






Spanish Symbol

Anyone We Know

Some Are Bent



Personal Drum

Busby Glenn






Mister Twister




Team Heritage




Misty Weather


Le Thief



St. Steven

Regal Royal

Built Him



St. Steven

Built Him











Noble Benbara



Maybe Rough


Moon Chase



Palace Symphony





The Shu





Lord Voloso

Best Endeavours

Cold Reason



Century Magic





Irish Kiwi

King Taros

Vesper Favour


Another Nugget Budding Hackett

Constitution Hill



1992 1991


Georgie’s Son


Still There



Red Cavalier

Caledonian Concord


Valiant Gamble






Iron Gate




Bush General

Southerly Drift

Mr. Scrooge



Tengah Hari

Lord Rill






Tengah Hari




Demon Adios

A Chara’s Lad



Learmonth Lad

Lord Shiner

Carina Mist




Light Horse




Suede Boy

Mr. Hickey




Blue Kazan

Waltzing Hall




Grand Rob

Just So So

Hydro Royal








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Making a racehorse PART III

A horse with no name The Thoroughbred has been following the life of an orphaned colt, from a troubled early life without his mother to his sale as a yearling and training to be a racehorse under the care of Robbie Griffiths. In this final instalment the young racehorse is at racing’s crossroads. WORDS DANNY POWER PHOTOGRAPHS LACHLAN CUNNINGHAM

NEXT TIME: The colt is now a gelding, but his owners remain hopeful he will win races.


ichard Sims has felt all the ups and downs of horse ownership, so he claimed he wasn’t surprised when he received an email from trainer Robbie Griffiths that his horse wasn’t shaping up well enough to continue training. The two-year-old, by first-season sire Beckett (by Fairy King) from the Century mare Centrullah, has been part of an on-going story for The Thoroughbred since Griffiths paid $60,000 for the yearling colt at the 2007 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sales. The youngster showed considerable speed and promise in his early training – so much so that Griffiths predicted the colt would be precocious enough to be an early runner. More than 12 months on and the colt is now a gelding, he has no name and his racing future is in limbo. The Beckett youngster was gelded after his early 2008 preparation was abandoned following a raucous “colty” display at the Pakenham trials when he strutted to the barriers like John Travolta at a nightclub. The last thing on his mind was being a racehorse. The gelding took place while the colt was spelling at Fulmen Park, Tyabb. The operation went without incident. When the youngster returned to pre-trainer Enver “E.J.” Jusufovic at Cranbourne in April, he noticed an immediate change in attitude. “He was a lot more relaxed, nothing seemed to bother him. He wasn’t a mean colt but cheeky and he would lose focus easily,” he said. “Gelding him was what he needed.” The longer the youngster was in work, the more it became apparent that although his attitude had changed for the better, as the preparation grew more intense, the young horse wasn’t coping with the workload.


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‘ All owners have been

through it, it is frustrating but a fact of life.

GOOD BOY: The Beckett gelding receives a reassuring pat from rider Kym Eden during pre-training at Cranbourne.

Griffiths made the call “send him back to the paddock”. This can sometimes happen after gelding a colt; it can take a while for the hormones to balance. Time is the healer. The faithful Sims took the report from Griffiths in his stride. “All owners have been through it, it is frustrating but a fact of life,” he said. “Every horse needs to be treated as an individual, and the Beckett just wasn’t right to continue his training. The best thing was to stop and give him a break.

“Robbie is making his call on what the horse is telling him. He’s not ready, and I am confident he will come right when he is.” The result of the change in events – this was to have been the youngster’s first racing preparation – means that the Beckett gelding remains unnamed, although Griffiths has called for submissions. Sims refused to divulge all the names he proposed – “some are not that sensible” – but he would like the horse to be named Petanque (pronounced Pe-ta-k).

“A friend of mine had a family get-together on Australia Day and they played a form of bowls called petanque. I just liked the name,” Sims said. Petanque is a French version of the Italian bowls game of bocce. Like bocce, it is played with metal balls and a jack. Unfortunately, bad luck continues to befall Sims and his partners. A check of the naming register on the internet (www. reveals that the name Petanque is attached to a New Zealand

gelding by Red Temp from Peep, born in 1992, and the winner of the 1995 Group 2 Lindauer Guineas (1600m). According to Racing NSW, Petanque is not available for re-use until 2012. The Beckett youngster is not expected to return to training until towards the end of the 2007-08 racing season in July. His first race start will probably be as a three-year-old in the spring. Spring is a time of hope, if not for a gelding, but surely for a set of patient owners and their trainer.


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Picnics, politics and ponies


t may not have been as career-defi ning a moment as international musician Bryan Adams’ anthem Summer of ’69, but for former federal politician and recently appointed CEO of Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Peter McGauran, the summer of ’73 provides an insight into his passion for racing. Somewhat more trim, taut and, dare we say, terrific than he is these days, McGauran was a jockey. OK, he was no Damien Oliver, but during his career, which spanned the summer of 1973 on the amateur circuit, McGauran boasted a 50 per cent strike rate. McGauran booted home three winners from his six rides, all on the non-Stud Book picnicker Ashmore Lad, who was trained by his brother Julien, strapped by brother John and owned by his father John. As he noted, McGauran just went along for the ride. With a sizeable degree of trepidation. “I remember one day at Healesville. I sat at the rear because I couldn’t get the horse out of the barriers as skilfully as the others,” McGauran recalled. “I made a bit of ground in the back straight and must have shifted because I heard the boys yelling. I took fright, kicked the horse up and I began the longest run of all time from the top of the back straight. “I was the worst judged ride. The horse was good enough to make a long, sustained, but totally unnecessary run – and still win.” Realising he was not destined to any dizzy heights, even around Drouin, Woolamai and

Healesville, McGauran’s racing love affair switched to owning and training. It, too, was short-lived, but like his riding career not without success. Along with his brothers, McGauran prepared a modestly performed horse named Clancy Lad. Admitting in those days to having more front than Myer, McGauran engaged Mick Mallyon, fresh from the 1974 Caulfield Cup-winning ride on Leilani. The approach came with the promise of a sling, enough for Mallyon to drive to Moe, take Clancy Lad to the front and never be headed. And the sling? Politicians are never guilty of being embarrassed, but McGauran admits he feels miserly by parting with just $100 for the winning jockey. “In those days $100 was quite a big sling, but now I’m embarrassed by it,” he said. In the next chapter of his infatuation with the industry, McGauran became a steward. He started as a cadet steward for the Gippsland Racing Association, graduated to a fully fledged steward in the bush and, at times, came to town. He well remembers working with Ray Murrihy and Des Gleeson. Such was the impression he made that Pat Lalor, the chief steward of the time, offered him a job on the Victoria Racing Club stewards panel. “I told Pat I would do it, but then I got pre-selection for (the federal seat of) Gippsland in 1983,” McGauran said. McGauran was the Federal Member for Gippsland, representing the National Party, for 25 years.


After a distinguished career in federal politics, Peter McGauran has returned to his greatest love, racing. But his new role will be no picnic, as he tells ADRIAN DUNN.

YES, MINISTER: A relaxed Peter McGauran leads this Estambul colt during the Inglis Autumn Yearling Sale at Oaklands Junction.

It was a position he thoroughly enjoyed and served with distinction as a Minister in five portfolios, including his final job, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. It caused him to feel the full blowtorch of the equine influenza outbreak, which turned the racing industry on its head. Although he acknowledges the devastation EI inflicted, McGauran notes it created awareness at government level and among the general community of the economic and social importance of the thoroughbred industry. “EI proved that racing had been taken for granted,” McGauran said. Ever the politician, McGauran deferred to retired High Court Judge Ian Callinan, appointed to conduct a full inquiry into EI, as to where the blame lay. McGauran noted Australia’s quarantine system was a disaster

waiting to happen. “If they set out to design a more lax quarantine station, you could not have done better,” he said. McGauran said his decision to leave politics was driven solely by a wish to return to his greatest passion – the racing industry. He re-enters at a time when there are many demanding issues. As TRB CEO, McGauran views his No. 1 charter as stimulating greater ownership, increasing marketing and promotion domestically and internationally, lobbying for greater prizemoney and forging stronger ties with all stakeholders. Presenting a harmonious front, he said, is critical for the successful negotiation of the Victorian wagering licence. “If we act with unity and resolve, we will prevail in the interest of all stake holders,” McGauran said.


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First football match played

Ned Kelly’s Last Stand


Anzacs land at Gallipoli


First live Grand Final telecast

Australia’s Bicentenary


Australian Football celebrates 150 years




The game that made Australia

Available now in all good bookstores

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The Thoroughbred Magazine - Winter 2008  

The Thoroughbred Magazine

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