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THE NATIONAL WEANLING SALE SESSION ONE: ......................................................................................................................................... Sunday 31st May 2009 SESSION TWO: ........................................................................................................................................ Monday 1st June 2009 SESSION THREE: ...................................................................................................................................Tuesday 2nd June 2009

THE NATIONAL BROODMARE SALE SESSION FOUR: ................................................................................................................................... Thursday 4th June 2009 SESSION FIVE: ...........................................................................................................................................Friday 5th June 2009 SESSION SIX: ........................................................................................................................................... Sunday 7th June 2009

THE NATIONAL YEARLING SALE SESSION SEVEN: .................................................................................................................................... Tuesday 9th June 2009 SESSION EIGHT: ............................................................................................................................. Wednesday 10th June 2009

THE NATIONAL YEARLING SALE & RACEHORSE SALE SESSION NINE: ................................................................................................................................... Thursday 11th June 2009

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MANAGING EDITOR: Geoff Slattery EDITOR: Stephen Howell

VO L . 2 N O. 2 AU T U M N 2 0 0 9

DESIGNER: Joanne Mouradian

Melanie Tanusetiawan



Editorial by Stephen Howell.

The Thoroughbred’s Peter Ryan does the rounds of key stables with leading veterinarians.

The Thoroughbred catches up with a colt that was being prepared for the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.Danny Power reports.

Toe or foot in the iron? Jockeys tell Andrew Eddy why they do it their way.

14 THE QUEEN BEE It’s hard work keeping up when Gai Waterhouse is hard at work. Danny Power tries.

22 THE DARLEY MAN After a rough start, Kerrin McEvoy shows his true colours in the job other riders covet, reports Stephen Howell.

32 DEATH OF A RACECOURSE Cheltenham has closed after more than a century of racing. Historian Andrew Lemon made a farewell journey to the track.

36 THE DRIVEN GLEN BOSS From Sydney to Melbourne – the Group 1 jockey talks candidly to Ben Collins.

46 MAKING HAY FROM THE SUNSHINE COAST Ken Pope takes Stephen Howell along the long road to Group 1 glory.

52 A TASTE OF ASIA Michael Freedman is licking his lips about training in Singapore, writes Craig Brennan.

56 QUICK MARCH Young jockey James McDonald is New Zealand racing’s shooting star. Mike Dillon reports.

60 BETTING TO WIN Form analyst Cameron O’Brien begins a regular series to help make your punting pay.

64 THE BROODMARE MONEY CAN’T BUY A hobby breeder holds on to the success story that Peggie’s Bid is creating, writes Andrew Carter.

ART DIRECTOR: Andrew Hutchison PHOTO EDITORS: Natalie Boccassini,






70 RUNNING LIKE CLOCKWORK Sky Channel has wall-to-wall racing. Stephen Howell goes behind the scenes to find out how it all fits in.

Karla Bunney, ADVERTISING SALES: Rebecca Alsop, CONTRIBUTORS: Emma Berry, Craig Brennan,

Vince Caligiuri, David Callow, Bruno Cannatelli, Andrew Carter, Ben Collins, Mike Dillon, Adrian Dunn, Andrew Eddy, Kit Haselden, Andrew Lemon, Cameron O’Brien, Peter Ryan.

74 THE BROTHERS GRIFFITHS Robbie is making the most of training; Rodney is looking for something after riding. They talk with Adrian Dunn.


Sean Garnsworthy, Michael Willson and Lachlan Cunningham of the Slattery Media Group Ph: (03) 9627 2600, Visit SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES:


Jumps racing is going ahead in leaps and bounds in Britain, writes devotee Emma Berry.

All correspondence to the editor, The Thoroughbred. AFL House, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, Vic 3008, ph (03) 9627 2600 Contributions welcome, visit

82 THE NAME GAME Suzanne Philcox has made a name for herself naming horses, reports Stephen Howell.

The Thoroughbred is published quarterly. Next edition, Winter 2009 THE WRITERS

Stephen Howell is the editor of The Thoroughbred. Danny Power is the editor of Racing In Australia and a senior staff writer for The Slattery Media Group.


Andrew Eddy is chief racing writer on The Age. Andrew Lemon is an author and historian. Craig Brennan is a racing journalist based in Singapore.

THE RIGHT FIT Testa Rossa confirms he is not out of place in the Valley of Stallions. Danny Power reports.

Mike Dillon is a leading racing writer in New Zealand.



PUBLISHED BY: The Slattery Media Group

Peter Ryan is a senior staff writer for The Slattery Media Group. He has a keen interest in racing. Cameron O’Brien is a professional form analyst. Andrew Carter is a Perth freelance writer. Adrian Dunn is chief racing writer on the Herald-Sun. Emma Berry is a writer who lives in Newmarket, England. Ben Collins is a senior staff writer for The Slattery Media Group, and the author of numerous books. ON THE COVER: Sydney’s champion trainer Gai Waterhouse. PHOTO LACHLAN CUNNINGHAM


Racing’s party A country town’s – and a small city’s – cup can be the one day of the year for a community, writes STEPHEN HOWELL. microcosm, and whether cup day caters for a few hundred in “one horse” towns or 20,000 in a small city, its success comes from hard work and good ideas. The Thoroughbred went to Albury at the end of March to explore this concept, and found community pride and ownership in cup day that tells much more than Albury’s story – feel free to substitute your town, your race club, your council, your names to those used on these pages. There is something in it for everyone for, as AlburyCity’s general manager Les Tomich, said of the Albury Gold Cup carnival: “Everybody up.” ratchets up. YOUNG AND OLD: There are no age restrictions at the big cup party. TENT CITY: Marquees ran almost the length of the long straight on cup day at Albury

Wooing council and businesses and, fi nally, the NSW Government, got Albury a half-holiday. Wooing a homegrown racing administrator (John Miller, a third generation Albury Racing Club official) back to run the club led to the facelift the track needed. And putting on $125,000 for the main race, the cup (won by



Victorian Cape D’Amore) gave it a reason to erect scores of marquees. But for all that, it can be a gimmick that really makes the day different. Wellington, a small town near Dubbo in western NSW, has proved this with its Wellington Boot, a scamper for two year olds on its cup day that adds value far above the prizemoney ($30,000 this year) because of the rhyming slang in its catchy name that refers to more than town and footwear. Albury has come up with the Flat Knacker as its cup day sprint. The words have a ring and a double meaning, too.



ame your town, big or small, from Coleraine to Charleville, from Albany to Albury, and odds are that its cup day does more for local morale than any other. That is important at any time, but in times of economic struggle, especially these times, and especially in rural areas, it can be saviour as well as celebration. People dress up to go, people return home to go, and visitors drop in to go. It is party time, and it is racing with makeup, a special face that stands out from the myriad of mundane meetings put on as a betting medium for racing’s new god, turnover. It is Melbourne Cup in

Crudely, knacker is a muchused slang term for testicle. In this instance, if you’re going fl at knacker you’re going fl at out. Miller and his committee are negotiating with a sponsor to take prizemoney for the 900-metre Flat Knacker beyond the $30,000 of its inaugural running – they

‘ Racing may be

run from big cities, but it grows from the country.

are talking of putting up a $100,000 bonus if a horse can go faster than a “low flying” mark the club sets; putting up say, 50 seconds as a target for topline sprinters. (This year’s winner Crown Power ran 51.10 on a good track without added incentive.) The club sees such gimmicks as a way of attracting city slickers, two legged as well as four, to join those who already make the trip. Bede Murray, based at Kembla Grange just over an hour south of Sydney, is one of NSW’s best-known trainers and a recent winner of the New Zealand

Derby with Coniston Bluebird. He is one of country racing’s biggest supporters, and he had three winners from a team of seven he floated the five or six hours to Albury for minor races this year with his trainer son, Paul, who prepares metropolitan winners Predatory Pricer (third in the AJC Australian Derby) and Phenomenal Lass (winner of two two-year-old races in December). “I think I’ve been probably coming down for about 10 years now,” said Murray snr. “I’ve always come to Wagga (which has a similar carnival) and it’s (Albury) always just

that little bit further and I had never been here. They invited me down as a guest (with no horses). I liked what I saw. “They put on a trainer’s bonus, $100,000, the following year and I won that, so that made it better still. They put it on again the second year and I won it again.” The bonus is no more, but Murray hasn’t missed a carnival since. As well as the fun he has had and the winners he has saddled, he also has made the most of new contacts, saying he found it a fertile area for owners. External interest from leading trainers and jockeys is a valuable sidelight, a promotional tool that all can use. But the local community is who the show is for – the locals and their guests fill the marquees that fill the course, and locals and visitors shop and drink and eat to support the town’s businesses. Tomich said the cup carnival meant everything to Albury. “It spreads right across the whole of our community – we see motels full, we see hotels full, we see entertainment venues full, we see restaurants, taxis doing record trade. And more importantly everybody is enjoying what Albury has to offer. It’s certainly the biggest social-sporting day of the year.” Tomich had a ready answer when asked why racing was a catalyst for community involvement. “One of the things racing does as a sport, it brings a number of people together to enjoy each other’s company (whereas) a lot of other sporting events tend to become adversarial.” This freedom is worth celebrating, Flat Knacker or no Flat Knacker, Boot or no Boot, fashions on the field or no fashions on the field. And worth holding on to. It is an Australian treasure that centralised racing administration must support – racing may be run from big cities, but it grows from the country.


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The Great

TOE Debate Racing tight at 50kmh, jockeys appear to hover above their horses. Their safety depends on their feet – or toes – in stirrups, precarious iron footholds that hang from each side of their saddles. WORDS ANDREW EDDY.


tudy closely the jockeys you put your trust in when you back horses and you will notice two vastly different styles of riding thoroughbreds at Australian racetracks. Essentially, the difference is in the foot – whether the jockey has just his big toe or his foot (instep or ball) in the stirrup. Just placing the toe in the iron is the modern method. Advocates claim it gives them better balance and weight is spread over a horse; and, in a fall, it guards against a jockey being dragged along because his/her foot is caught up in the stirrup. Detractors claim that having just the toe in the iron is dangerous because a jockey needs only a slight bump to lose his/her iron. And, they say, the method makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a jockey to ride out a horse using the hands-and-heels style used so successfully by so many great Australian riders over many eras.

With the new style, which came originally from the US but has been used by the great European riders for several decades, the emphasis on riding out a horse is on the jockey’s upper body rather than the legs, which are used mainly for balance. With the toe in the iron, the jockey’s body is positioned more forward over the horse’s shoulder, changing the centre of gravity. This results in the jockey pushing his mount to the line, rather than relying on the hands-and-heels style to motivate the horse the stretch out. Apprentices are taught to ride foot in. With experience, some change to toe and join a growing list that includes Blake Shinn, Nash and Brad Rawiller, Kerrin McEvoy, Glen Boss, Craig Williams, Damien Oliver, Dwayne Dunn and Craig Newitt. Michael Rodd changed, William Pike didn’t. Their reasons encapsulate the debate.




MICHAEL RODD, toe in the iron, wins the 2007 Melbourne Cup on Efficient.

Rodd: the toe-in rider M

ichael Rodd is one of the best jockeys in Australia. He won the Victoria Derby on Efficient in 2006 and the Melbourne Cup on the same horse in 2007. Last year he won the Cox Plate on Maldivian. He is 27. He was taught to ride with his foot in the iron, but late in his apprenticeship with trainer Bryan Guy on the Gold Coast he switched to toe-in. It was not an easy transformation, but Rodd is convinced it has made him a better rider. “When I started out, there was no suggestion that you ride any way other than with your foot in the irons,” he said. “By the last year of my apprenticeship I started experimenting with my toe in, but with very mixed results. It was something I was always interested in and I tried

it at track work and it felt great. I felt a lot more balanced. “But track work, where you ride with bigger stirrups and bigger boots, and riding in races are two very different things. “It’s a technique that is so hard to get used to, and I had to put my foot back in the irons a few times before I got on top of it. You’ve really got to learn to ride first and then get your own style going. “Riding with your toe in means your weight goes forward and so you are over the wither of the horse and that’s where your weight has to be. “It’s the same theory with most sports, I think. You see footballers sidestepping and so on, and they use the front part of the foot to manoeuvre and to get balanced. “It results in a different look on a horse. Those riders with their feet in the irons look very


straight and stiff. But in saying that, Darren Beadman (the champion Australian now riding in Hong Kong) has gone back to riding with his foot in, and there is no better-looking rider than Darren. “With the toe in, you see it with jockeys like Frankie Dettori (Godolphin’s No.1 rider) and James Winks (the young Victorian who recently went to Hong Kong). They get forward and ride so low with their hands right behind the horse’s ears and they are more aero-dynamic. “You don’t kick in the old hands-and-heels fashion. Your bottom half is very still and you are very balanced, but you don’t kick. I’ve found in my experience that kicking out can put a horse off stride, so you stay still below and the top half of

your body does most of the work. “There’s the safety aspect also. It was not the reason I started to ride toe in, but now that I do, you feel safer as well as more effective. If you get tipped off, you know your foot won’t get caught. That’s every jockey’s worst nightmare. “It’s funny when you start out with the toe in the iron because not only does it feel so much different, it’s murder on your calf muscles. It would hurt so much that, when I started doing it, I would ride one horse with toe in and then the next with my foot in because I would be in so much pain. You’ve got to build up your strength and get used to it. “I even fi nd now that if I’m out of the saddle for a while, it takes some time to get those muscles right again.”


WILLIAM PIKE, foot in the iron, wins on Forest Frolic at Ascot in Perth this year.

Pike: the foot -in rider W

illiam Pike is Western Australia’s champion jockey and has the potential to star in the eastern states. He topped the Perth premiership with 92 wins in 2006-07, double the 46 of runner-up Paul Harvey. He was beaten 76-74 by Harvey last year, but this season Pike, 23, is more than 20 wins clear of a pack riding for second, Harvey included. Pike boasts that his riding style is ‘old school’, adapted from an era that produced his famous distant relative Jim Pike, who rode the champion Phar Lap in many of his 37 victories in the 1920s and ’30s. The young Pike has dabbled with the toe-in style, but is a staunch supporter of the foot-in method. “I suppose jockeys that ride with their toe can look a lot

prettier and neater on a horse,” he said. “But that’s just not my style. I’d much rather look rough and win than worry about how I look in the saddle. “My old boss ( Jack Cockell) told me when I started that, to be noticed, I have to have a different style from everyone else and that’s how it worked out. Riding with my foot in works for me and, while I’ve tried riding with my toe in the irons, I’m much more comfortable riding the way I learnt how. “Jack Cockell was very much an old-style bushie, and so my style reflects that era, I suppose. You ride a lot of horses that are sick of the whip; I fi nd you need to be able to encourage them with a kick and by riding them hands and heels.

“The toe-in style came from Europe, where they tend to ride with a lot more space between the runners. Over here, we are much more aggressive and tighter and so I don’t know if that style is really suited in our racing.” Pike said he had seen no evidence to suggest toe-in was safer in regard to getting caught in the stirrup in a fall. “A lot of the jockeys that do ride that way, say they do it so they don’t get caught up in the irons in a fall. But I look at jumps jockeys – they fall more than the fl at

‘ I’d much rather

look rough and win than worry about how I look in the saddle.

riders and they very rarely get caught up when they come off.” Pike admitted he had not given the toe-in method a “real try”, saying: “I’ve ridden like that a couple of times, I suppose, but it’s something you’ve got to get used to. Your calf muscles are burning after a minute or two. “It also means that you lose the ability to kick when riding a horse out. There is very little kicking any more as a lot of the riders just use their upper body to push horses out. “Most jockeys ride their horses out with their hands, but not their heels, and I think that’s something that’s also come from Europe. I fi nd it is more effective to use both hands and feet – I still kick because I fi nd it motivates the horse and gets him going.”



Queen Sydney’s champion trainer Gai Waterhouse lives by the ‘practice makes perfect’ mantra. You have to be on your toes to keep up. WORDS DANNY POWER. PHOTOS SEAN GARNSWORTHY.


hen Gai Waterhouse takes her vantage point at the modern trainers’ “shed” in the centre of the famous Randwick racecourse on a Tuesday morning, there a is not much else going on in Sydney – even in the usual late-night haunts around Kings Cross. It’s not yet 4.30am, and Randwick trackwork is in full swing. We could be anywhere in the world, and certainly it is hard to believe this morning ritual is happening in the centre of one of the world’s happening cities. Waterhouse, incredibly fresh and alert, takes her place, surrounded by a myriad of workers fussing around as if she was a Queen Bee. She misses nothing, and what she doesn’t know she asks. “Who are you on Steve?” she asks a track rider appearing into the light from the gloom. The answer comes back quickly and clearly. The lads and the lasses in charge of the horses know to speak up as Gai’s hearing isn’t the best (although as fellow

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


trainer Grahame Begg attests – “she has a knack of hearing pretty well when it counts”). “Oh, she’s such a poppet, give her a good trot up,” Waterhouse exclaims as the filly circles in front of her raised viewing point. There is genuine affection and caring in her voice as she casts her eye over horses, riders and staff moving around in front of her. It looks like mayhem, and in many ways it is. There is urgency and purpose, but the mayhem, like a square dance, is organised from years of practice that goes back beyond Gai to her father, legendary trainer Tommy Smith, who lorded over the same patch of ground for nearly 50 years. A newcomer – horse or man – soon works out the order: horses learn to obey and settle into the ritual; riders and ground staff learn to listen and do. Gai is dressed in a tweed jacket and fawn trousers, matched by deerstalker hat. She looks like she is ready for a walk on the moors. Periodically, she beckons one of her staff and out of her pockets appear small packages of fruit and nuts for them to feast on – a morning snack

TIME TO TALK: Riders Blake Shinn (standing) and Daniel Ganderton discuss their mounts’ work with Waterhouse in the trainers’ shed.


to keep up the energy. She must have 20 packets neatly tucked away in every pocket. Nobody misses out. “Make sure Jimmy gets his,” she tells a track rider summoned to collect his treat. It’s not hard to see why her fellow Randwick trainers call her “Mum”. Next to her stands an assistant who picks up on what Gai misses and chases what Gai wants. This morning it is David Fenning, but usually it is Tania Rouse, the assistant trainer who is busy with riding duties. Fenning is an unusual character. He drives all the way from Wyong (almost 100 kilometres) – leaving before 3am – to be part of the team. He just turned up one morning to watch what was going on and found himself with a job. He can come and go as he pleases, but most of the time he is pleased to be there. Behind Gai, sitting inside and looking through an open window, is Damien Gaffney. He writes down the work results and coordinates with the stable, Tulloch Lodge, in nearby Bowral Street. Gaffney is Gai’s driver. He’s rarely away from her side. He picks her up at Mossman, on the other side of the Harbour and Bridge, at 3.45am and he doesn’t get home until 6pm. He’s been with Gai for five years. At first, he slept in the car until trackwork had finished, but now he’s part of the team and he loves it. “It seemed a waste of time sleeping in the car. This way I can be using my time a lot better,” he says. Behind Gaffney stands trackman Craig Tompson, who clocks the gallops of all the Randwick horses, and he relays the times to Gaffney. Waterhouse is alerted by Fenning to a stable pair reaching top pace at the 1000m and she tunes in the binoculars. Not much is said if all is going well. It’s obvious the times are of little concern to the trainer (not once does she ask for the time of the gallops), it’s the rhythm of the

gallop and the zest of the finish that she’s looking for. “Nice work, that was very nice work.” This morning Gai is suffering from hay fever, and the cool, damp air aggravates it. What aggravates her more is apprentice Daniel Ganderton, who she sees leaning up against a rail. “Daniel stop daydreaming,” she barks. “You can see Scott walking – wake up. You are making me sick this morning.” Ganderton, the Tasmanian kid who has struck it lucky with this plum Sydney job, moves quicker than a fawn chased by a leopard.

‘ We constantly are matching horses with one another. It teaches them to be competitive all the time.

A short time later, Ganderton again is in the gun when one of his rides is not keeping up with its galloping partner. “Come on Daniel, get a move on. I don’t know what’s wrong with him this morning,” the trainer declares for everyone to hear – except Ganderton. His time will come. New Day Rising, a strapping colt by Fastnet Rock (ex Visual Emotion (USA), by Silver Deputy (CAN)), appears under the lights. Gai has a high opinion of the 2YO who had won at his debut, and it is further enhanced when New Day Rising more than matches strides with Golden Slipper contender Manhattan Rain in a searching 1200m gallop on the course proper. “Gosh, he’s a beautiful colt,” Gai says out loud, as New Day Rising returns from the gallop. “He was such a bumbling backward colt, who I thought could only win a midweek. To see him emerge like he is, is very exciting.” (New Day Rising finishes second behind Tickets in the Group 2 Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on March 28,


and he finishes ninth in the Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m), won by Manhattan Rain.) Most trainers like to give their better horses “a kill” on the track and work them with an inferior partner. It can build confidence – not for the vanquished. Waterhouse takes a completely different tack. Her working regime is all about competition, so she matches horses with will and determination against each other. She wants them to compete on the track, and the horses hit the line full of running. You can see the results of that tactic in races when Waterhouse-trained runners

THE WORK REPORT: Waterhouse listens as jockey Mark Newnham explains how his mount ran in a Rosehill trial.

are challenged – rarely do they give in without a fight. She does the same later in the morning when she sends out the gross colt Northern Meteor for his gallop. She selects Emotional Outburst, a winner of two from two, as his partner. Waterhouse says she wants Northern Meteor to have a decent sparring partner to get his competitive juices going. The pair work stride for stride over 1200m, and jockey Nash Rawiller reports Northern Meteor did it easily.

“We constantly are matching horses with one another. We write on the sheets each morning which horses are working well together and which aren’t. We are constantly swapping them around to match pairs together,” Waterhouse says. “It teaches them to be competitive all the time.” That competitive attitude is aided by a clever, and in many ways unique, use of blinkers. The dark shades are lined up draped over a rail like a flock of crows waiting for their next feed, and Waterhouse can call on their use on a whim. “Put the blinkers on that colt; I want him to be sharper in his work,” she says. It’s often

that a Waterhouse horse will work in blinkers but not race in them – it’s her way of getting the most value out of the trackwork. All the practice for race day is done on the training track. At one point, Waterhouse is concerned about the whereabouts of one of her horses Shining Light, the ex-Kiwi mare new to the stable. “Where is Shining Light, I’ve lost her? Damien, ring and find out where she is.” The tardy chestnut mare eventually appears around a corner and is quickly sent off to warm up. Waterhouse watches some more work. “Theseo gets a tick,” she instructs Gaffney to take a

‘ Well, he is

sulking and he needs to learn. Work him again.

note on the work sheet. Theseo, ridden by Irishman Steve O’Halloran and getting ready for the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (WFA 2000m) at Rosehill in four days, is a shade too good for his work mate. The gelding has been suffering from a boil – which Waterhouse says is a “like a camel hump” – on his back after being pipped by Niconero in the Group 1 Australian Cup

(WFA 2000m) at Flemington two weeks earlier. She says it won’t stop him winning the Ranvet (and it didn’t). Shining Light eventually joins Kingda Ka for their gallop. The instructions are clear – “I want them to bowl over seven furlongs (1400m), and I want them to tick along. Kingda Ka on the outside.” The pair works strongly, although Kingda Ka gets “the tick” after Shining Light, who hadn’t raced since may 2008, tires in the last 50 metres. Coincidentally, top mare Tuesday Joy (her last day at Randwick before flying to Dubai for the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free) and her younger half-sister More Joyous – the Golden Slipper favourite – are circling under the lights within metres of each other. Gai takes time to study the pair – complete opposites in appearance. Tuesday Joy (B m 2003, Carnegie (IRE)-Sunday Joy, by Sunday Silence (USA)) has developed into a big, strong mare, whereas little More Joyous (B f 2006, More Than Ready (USA)) is so narrow she could be used as a pull-through for a rifle. “You wouldn’t believe that Tuesday Joy was exactly the same as More Joyous when she was a two-year-old. They are very alike,” she says. When the last fast gallop is fi nished, most of the horses in the early stages of their preparation begin to appear. “Look at Dreamscape, he’s so fat,” Waterhouse remarks. “Send him home over the hill (the long way) to help get some of that tummy off.” A young gelding appears prancing sideways. Sweat is running down his flank. Gai is quick to ask about the youngster. “It’s his first day,” the rider replies, excusing the bay’s antics because he is new to the surroundings. “Well, he is sulking and he needs to learn. Work him again,” she instructs the rider, with a hint of schoolmistress in her tone.


It is common practice for Waterhouse to send her charges around for a second time, especially if they return too fresh or show any indication of not toeing the party line. She explains: “I want my horses to go home, eat their breakfast and lie down and rest. My father always said if the horses are lying down in the stable, then it means they are relaxed and contented.” Waterhouse retreats inside and sits at her desk, studying the work sheet with her glasses on the end of her nose as she occasionally looks up to view a horse or answer a question. The track riders line up to be “interviewed” about the morning’s work – Nash Rawiller is fi rst, following by Blake Shinn, and then Neil Paine, Mark Newnham and Jamie Innis. Each gets his time as Waterhouse discusses the work-outs as she takes notes. The observations appear later in the day on Waterhouse’s website ( as part of her daily blog – it makes for entertaining reading and she often doesn’t hold back when a forthright issue is up for debate. When it’s young Ganderton’s turn, Waterhouse leans forward and shuts the window – what is going to be said isn’t for others to hear. The discussion is one-sided and intense. The schoolmistress makes her point. Ganderton is to ride in his fi rst Group 1 race the following weekend (on Gold Water in the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill) and Waterhouse needs her young charge fully focused. (Gold Water fi nishes eighth behind Typhoon Tracy). Waterhouse says the time with her jockeys is important to her. “I think they think I am like the Mother Superior, but I need to talk to jockeys to get a feel for what they are thinking about the horses.” When the last horse disappears, Waterhouse and her driver head for Tulloch Lodge. The modern office front hides a

wonderful history out back as stable hands work feverishly to have everything clean and ready. Normally, Waterhouse would spend the next hour with her veterinarian (usually Greg Nash) inspecting all the horses that galloped that morning. Each horse is walked up and down as both sets of eyes study for any signs of injury or discomfort. Instructions are delivered – “he’s too fat, so he needs a swim” and “she’s a bit shin sore, wrap them in ice”.


he stable has an assistant trainer, 10 foremen and eight in the office. “Jane Abercrombie runs the office. She has been with me since day one and she is the lifeblood of the organization,” Gai says. Tulloch Lodge is a seven-day a week operation. Horses are worked every day – “they are athletes, they don’t need a day off” – but the routine is varied between trips to Botany Bay for a swim, a swim in the stable pool or a gallop on the treadmill. This morning there are Rosehill trials to attend, and trialling is an important part of Waterhouse’s training regime. It’s not uncommon for her horses to have three or four strong trials before they go to the races. So, her black limousine parks outside Tulloch Lodge and she checks with her stable assistants that all is well with the horses. The horse inspection is to be left for Tania Rouse. I join Waterhouse in the back of the car for the long trip – in peak-hour traffic – to the other side of Sydney, but fi rst breakfast at a local haunt in the middle of an industrial sector. “It’s a terrific little coffee shop, and I go there all the time,” she says. The staff wave affectionately as she strides through the door. There is urgency in her movement and it is acknowledged with quick service. As usual, a soft-boiled egg, toast and tea.


‘ I want my horses

to go home, eat their breakfast and lie down and rest. It means they are relaxed and contented.

THOROUGHLY MODERN GAI There is one thing that Gai Waterhouse has inherited from her famous father Tommy Smith – an incredible work ethic. In fact, if she’s not working, she’s asleep. Waterhouse is the epitome of the modern, corporate trainer, a managing director of her operation that incorporates not only training her horses, but the art of communication with her owners. She works the phone as hard as she works the horses. Her car is her office, and her time isn’t wasted gazing out the window. Her website ( is a prime example – her daily blogs in her own words are especially informative for her owners, and not a bad read for others. She works the media even better than her father – a tipping machine and always a positive spin. Other trainers have changed their training ideas to keep up with her – especially the Waterhouse mantra of pushing forward at all times in races. Waterhouse’s record is world class. DANNY POWER

We haven’t crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge when Waterhouse starts to waver during our conversation. “You talk to Damien,” she says. “I need to get into the front and have a little shut-eye.” Within minutes she is fast asleep. (She comments – in the third person – on her blog later in the day, ‘On the way to Rosehill a quick snooze by the lady trainer.’) “She can do this anytime. She will be awake in 15 minutes and as bright as anything,” her driver says of the sleep. He’s right. Waterhouse stirs right on the 15-minute button, and is soon shuffling through her papers. It’s time for work and she starts calling her clients. The Inglis Easter Yearling Sales are only a two weeks away and she already has viewed most of the yearlings on the farms in the Hunter Valley. Now it is time for the sell. “There will be no better time to buy some colts,” she tells one prospective owner. “Drop in a have a sandwich one day, and we’ll talk.” Another gets the same pitch and is encouraged to join a group Waterhouse is assembling to buy as a syndicate. “You will like them (the fellow partners), they are a good bunch with similar interests,” she spruiks. Waterhouse doesn’t miss a beat as Gaffney dodges in and out of traffic in an effort to get to Rosehill for the first trial. The trials don’t run to time, after a horse escapes and can’t be caught by the sole clerk of the course. Everyone is annoyed and Waterhouse becomes edgy as the heat of the sun beats down on the grandstand where trainers and punters are watching. She likes, and expects, things to run smoothly, to clockwork, just as she runs her own life. After the trials, Waterhouse heads back to home at Mossman. Normally, she’d be home by 9.30am for a sleep for about an hour. Her driver has his own room in the house, and he, too, gets some time for a kip. This



NEAR GOLD: Waterhouse and jockey Nash Rawiller discuss Gold Water’s second placing in the Kewney Stakes at Flemington on Super Saturday, March 7.

T H E T H O R O U G H B R E D 19



ask Waterhouse if she ever tires of the routine. “I love what I do, I’m passionate about what I do and I wouldn’t change it for anything else,” says the woman who was once a model and actor who had parts in the TV series The Young Doctors and Dr. Who. Her involvement in the stable is totally hands on. “I make up the (training) list personally every day, whether I am in Sydney or London. It makes me think through each horse. Tania and my foremen write me reports every day.” Waterhouse says she has changed little of her training regime since she began in 1992. “I trained my first Group 1 winner after 10 months, so little has changed, but I have changed the way I train my 2YOs, because I admit I couldn’t train them. “I decided to throw away any useless book I had on how train them, because I couldn’t do it, and I followed what dad told me – make it short and sharp. They are only babies and they get tired.” Waterhouse has since trained three winners of the world’s richest race for 2YOs, the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill – Sebring in 2008, Dance Hero in 2004 and Ha Ha in 2001, when she also trained the trifecta. She also has noticed a big

ANOTHER GROUP 1: Theseo (outside) wins the the Mackinnon Stakes from Barbaricus at Flemington last spring.

change in the “type” of horse that she sees at the yearling sales, especially in comparison to what her father preferred. “The horses are lot more European. The horses have got longer pasterns than the Aussie-bred. I think Australians are finally realising that the superior breed is the Aussie-bred horse. If you want a good, tough sprinter-miler, you can’t beat the Aussie-bred. It’s different if you want a staying-bred horse, then the European or New Zealand horse comes into its own. “The Star Kingdom line is the greatest thing that ever happened to Australian racing and breeding and you still see its influence in the bloodlines of the broodmares of the best horses in Australia today.” And is Gai Waterhouse, at aged 54, slowing down? “They used to say in England that trainers don’t mature, or reach their peak, until they have been training 20 years. This is my 17th year. I feel that each year I have improved and I am still improving. “I am very lucky to have Rob (husband Robbie Waterhouse, one of Australia’s leading bookmakers). He is a great assistance to me. So many married couples don’t have anything in common, but it’s not like that with Rob and me.” It is doubtful there is a succession plan in place for Tulloch Lodge. Son Tom has followed his father into bookmaking, while daughter Kate, who has completed a diploma in journalism, is a sought-after model (she is an ambassador for David Jones) and an accomplished performer on the speaking circuit. Maybe Gai Waterhouse will be going strong enough in years to come groom a grandson or daughter. It will take a very special person to follow in her footsteps.



day, Waterhouse is meeting the Australian Jockey Club, along with a group of trainers, to discuss problems with programming. She calls the other trainers to make sure everyone is on the same wavelength. Forever the schoolmistress, the organiser. The meeting means she can’t return to the stables in the early afternoon as she usually does. Later she has other meetings and owners to ring. Her day doesn’t fi nish until late, and Gaffney drops her off at home by 5pm, swaps the limo for his old car and heads home – he’ll be back at 3.45 the next morning to start all over again.


Born September 2, 1954. Began training at Tulloch Lodge, Randwick, on January 3, 1992. First Sydney premiership: 1996-97 – first woman to win it. Sydney premierships: five – 1996-97 (104.5 wins), 2000-01 (153), 2001-02 (137), 2002-03 (156), 2007-08 (70). This season (to April 14): leads title with 70.5 wins from 252 starters (28%). NSW premierships: four. First winner: Gifted Poet, at Hawkesbury on March 15, 1992. First Group winner: Moods, the Group 3 Gosford Cup on April 29, 1992. First Group 1 winner: Te Akau Nick, the AJC Metropolitan Handicap on October 5, 1992. First classic winner: Nothin’ Leica Dane, the Group 1 Victoria Derby at Flemington, 1995. First Melbourne Cup runner: Nothin’ Leica Dane, second to Doriemus, 1995.

Group 1 winners (to April 20, 2009): 93. They include ... 6 Doncaster Handicaps: 1994 Pharaoh, 1995 Pharaoh, 1996 Sprint By, 1997 Secret Savings, 2001 Assertive Lad, 2003 Grand Armee. 5 Flight Stakes: 1996 Assertive Lass, 1999 Danglissa, 2001 Ha Ha, 2004 Lotteria, 2005 Fashions Afield. 5 Chipping Norton Stakes: 1995 Pharaoh, 1996 Juggler, 2004 Grand Armee, 2005 Desert War, 2008 Tuesday Joy. 3 Golden Slippers: 2001 Ha Ha, 2004 Dance Hero, 2008 Sebring. 6 AJC Sires Produce Stakes: 2000 Assertive Lad, 2003 Hasna, 2004 Dance Hero, 2005 Fashions Afield, 2008 Sebring, 2009 Manhattan Rain. 4 Champagne Stakes: 2000 Assertive Lad, 2003 Hasna, 2004 Dance Hero, 2007 Meurice. 4 Epsom Handicaps: 1997 Iron Horse, 2002 Excellerator, 2004 Desert War, 2005 Desert War. 6 AJC Metropolitans: 1995 Electronic, 1996 Hula Flight, 1997 Heart Ruler, 1998 In Joyment, 2000 Coco Cobanna, 2001 Dress Circle. 6 Ranvet Stakes: 1995 Stony Bay, 1996 Electronic, 2005 Grand Armee, 2007 Desert War, 2008 Tuesday Joy, 2009 Theseo. Source: Racing In Australia.






espite the push in Sydney for a local man to get the job as Darley Australia’s No. 1 jockey, there was only one person going to get it when “the boss”, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wanted it to go to Kerrin McEvoy. You simply don’t say no to the most powerful man in world racing. And why would you want to when, last July, he offered you the best riding job in Australia; and when the moons aligned for it to fit with life out of the saddle. With a new house near Flemington racecourse in Melbourne for his southern expeditions and a comfortable apartment at Randwick in Sydney as home base for him, wife Cathy and baby son


Kerrin McEvoy is showing his true colours - maroon and white - after riding out the Sydney storm that followed his appointment to a position any jockey would covet.

KERRIN McEVOY: Fully focused on the job ahead as Darley’s jockey.

pretty hard,” he admitted. Chief steward Ray Murrihy embarrassed him when comments made in the stewards’ room were published. “He virtually questioned whether I had the ability to ride in Sydney,” McEvoy said when interviewed as part of a series of nights out at Champions, the Racing Museum in Melbourne. He rode out the storm, saying little more than he was taking time to adapt. And then came the Caulfield Cup, won on the Sheikh’s English horse, All The Good. Not for Darley, but for Godolphin. It was not only a winning ride; it was a top ride. Cathy (nee Payne) is from one of Victoria’s most famous racing families. She is a jockey as well as a jockey’s wife. “To see him so unhappy was hard for me,” she said of the criticism. “I was pregnant when we got home and I just thought we were coming home and everything would be all rosy; and he was getting quite upset about it. It was a very hard time, actually. “The Caulfield Cup just made it for him ... he’d just got going, he’d ridden a few winners, but to get a win for Godolphin, I think that was the turning point. I think that’s the happiest I’ve seen him.” Wedding day included? “Yep (laughter), because of everything he’d copped and because it was for Godolphin.”

‘ He kept

his cool with the media and people that treated him harshly.’

KERRIN MCEVOY, BY THE NUMBERS GROUP 1 WINS Total 21 In Europe 10 In Australia 11 For Godolphin 7 For Darley 2

THE YEARS IN BRITAIN Wins Rides % 2004












XXXXXXXXX 2007 93 524










For Godolphin








Biggest wins: Gr 1 Caulfield Cup on All The Good (Godolphin); Gr 1 Myer Classic on Forensics (Darley); Gr 1 Storm Queen Stakes on Purple (Darley). ( * to April 14) Total wins Almost 1000




But he did not arc up publicly. “He might have said it to me,” Cathy said. “But I think the way he handled himself with the media and people that treated him harshly ... he kept his cool. And that shows what sort of person he is as well.” Asked if his quiet and polite demeanour had made him an easy target, McEvoy said: “I don’t think so ... I was a Melbourne boy coming to Sydney (and) the Sydney press is probably the toughest in Australia.” (Actually, McEvoy is a Melbourne boy by adoption. He was born and raised in Streaky Bay, 700km by road from Adelaide on the Eyre Peninsula, and rode in South Australia before coming to Melbourne as an apprentice with David Hayes). Is he saying he is tough underneath? “Every jockey has to be tough, ready for the punches. I like to take things quietly; I’m quite normal away from work,” he said. McEvoy has had some in-house criticism over rides – he says that is gone and forgotten straight after a ‘bake’ is given – but has had total support publicly from the Darley team and is secure in the knowledge that the Sheikh “doesn’t change his bowlers”. (Cathy’s comment was that Sheikh Mohammed “is very loyal; that was the main thing”.) “I think the biggest (bake from Snowden, whom he described as hard and fair) was Caymans one day at Rosehill – he got beaten,” McEvoy said of the promising three-yearold’s second to Predatory Pricer in the Listed Ming Dynasty Handicap (1400m) after copping interference at the 100 metres. What about Fravashi, who slipped at the start in a loss to Nicconi at Caulfield in February when Snowden appeared unhappy in the mounting yard? “Fravashi (being beaten) was through the horse doing a few things wrong,” said McEvoy, who turned the tables the next start.


Charlie (born November 18), McEvoy, 28, is the Australian equivalent of Frankie Dettori, the Sheikh’s jockey with his world racing team, Godolphin. “I wouldn’t call me an Australian Frankie Dettori,” McEvoy protested with a grin when the comparison was made to Dettori, the fl amboyant and charismatic Italian. “(But) yeah, it’s a very good position to be in.” True, and true. McEvoy is not a star jumper who dismounts with an arms-extended leap in Dettori-style after important wins. “I’m not as agile as Frankie,” he offered. Like Dettori, he has first call on the Sheikh’s horses – Peter Snowden trains the bulk at Crown Lodge at Warwick Farm in Sydney and has a satellite stable at Carbine Lodge, Flemington, run by son Paul, and Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman has a small but key group at Markdel on the Mornington Peninsula. McEvoy described the July decision to return to Australia after five years with Godolphin as a whirlwind that, within three days, had him and Cathy on a plane to Sydney from England. He did not open up with detail, but he knew the job was up for grabs months after Darley took over the former Ingham empire it paid an estimated $500 million for, despite Corey Brown and Dan Nikolic doing most of the riding for Snowden. McEvoy knew a move would suit him and Cathy because she was pregnant – coming home to nest can be a strong force with young couples. So, with barely time to pack after Godolphin chiefs John Ferguson and Simon Crisford told mild-mannered McEvoy that the Sheikh had anointed him, the couple found themselves flying into Australia. And into controversy as the new man struggled to adapt to the take-noprisoners style of Sydney racing. Losing rides and suspensions mounted – he had five in the first three months. The Sydney media gave McEvoy hell. “They were



THE McEVOYS: Kerrin, Cathy and Charlie, with Charlie’s fi rst Christmas present.



DARLEY DELIGHT: Aichi (Kerrin McEvoy) beats Kings Farewell at Caulfield on Blue Diamond day.

Darley Australia chief Henry Plumptre was adamant that McEvoy was the right choice – when Godolphin hired him, and now. “He’s a quiet, sober young man who’s completely wrapped up in his riding and in improving his riding skills,” Plumptre said. “I thought he’d be good for the (Darley) role. He’d proved it with Godolphin when he was an admirable stand-in for Frankie Dettori.” McEvoy’s attributes? “He’s got a work ethic second to none. He’s a genuine Group 1 jockey,” Plumptre said. “Horses run for him. He’s got soft hands. He’s got a nice touch on horses. He’s a very gifted, natural horseman. “Some of the issues have been well documented. We can all be grandstand jockeys, but to actually be on the back of the horse in short leathers and making split-second decisions ...” Plumptre didn’t have to fi nish the sentence, but he said it would take anyone a while

to fi nd his comfort zone in switching from the different race tempo in England, where barrier draw, speed from the gates and taking up a position are not as important as they are in Australia. (McEvoy described English racing as “more endurance rather than turn of foot”.) It was Australia’s biggest Group 1 of all, the Melbourne Cup, that first caught the attention of the Sheikh’s men – McEvoy won the 2000 Cup

‘ Everyone’s

on the ball as to what’s running where and where I’m needed.’ KERRIN MCEVOY


on Brew for Flemington trainer Mike Moroney. In 2002, while still based in Melbourne, he was sixth in the Caulfield Cup on Godolphin’s Beekeeper. He rode work for the stable in Dubai early in 2003, then, seemingly out of the blue after going back the next year, he was in the famous blue colours of Godolphin full-time as understudy to Dettori, for the desert season in FebruaryMarch, and for the European season from April until he returned each year for the Victorian spring. Now, as then, McEvoy is on a retainer. “It’s an annual thing, but they pay a bonus for your winners, so obviously having winners helps long term,” he said. “It’s only going to get bigger and better with John Ferguson and Henry Plumptre at the sales – they keep on buying and breeding good horses. “There’s a fantastic team of people there ... Peter’s had a fantastic start to his training career (after taking over from John Hawkes before Darley bought out Bob Ingham) and hopefully we

can build on that as a team.” McEvoy said Snowden had an input into which horses he rode, but it was more of a team decision with Plumptre and racing manager Trevor Lobb involved, and Freedman included with the horses he trains. “Everyone’s on the ball as to what’s running where and where I’m needed,” McEvoy said. Godolphin observers had marked McEvoy as the obvious successor to Dettori (38), albeit some time down the track. If the Sheikh’s call comes, it probably would be irresistible, but that is a story for another time with McEvoy now looking only to consolidate in Australia. He stretches that a bit. “It would be great to take the Darley colours over there (to Dubai and England). It’d be a good buzz to go back over there and try and win a big race.” The ultimate Australian goal is to win Sheikh Mohammed his first Melbourne Cup, another step up from the Caulfield Cup breakthrough with All The Good. McEvoy said: “We’re here in Australia and aiming to do that.”

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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 purchased only 1 yearling at the 2006 Sydney Easter Yearling Sale. It was Pinnacles ($110 000) winner of $600 000 to date 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

Photos courtesy of Slickpix

Dash For Cash

Please ring Rick for a chat on 0418 332 018.


Testa Rossa & life in the Valley of Stallions


he long drive to the homestead at Vinery Stud in the northern Hunter Valley, near Scone, doesn’t quite reveal the enormous history of this famous farm that was once called Segenhoe Stud. Thriving trees each side of the driveway shade signs that restrict the speed level before the inevitably annoying speed humps do their thing. Foals dance around mares in paddocks by the roadside, oblivious (or accustomed) to the hum of the motors of visiting cars as they head towards the central hub of the stud. The rich flat lands of the shallow Page River that meanders through the Segenhoe Valley are hidden at the back of the shop-front of this thriving stud farm. It’s a different story on reaching the first building. The freshly white-washed weatherboard barn that housed some of the great stallions of the last century is on the left. The dark oil-soaked wooden stables inside tell a wonderful story. Large chunks of wood have been gnawed by impatient stallions, and it smells good – the smell of a century or more of constant use. Spiders that trap prey in the webs in the


stable corners are surely descendants of spiders that looked over champion sire Kaoru Star in the 1970s when he was master of his domain at Segenhoe under the control of former legendary breeder Lionel Israel. Vinery Stud is now owned by an international partnership that includes German businessman Tom Simon, who bought the farm in 1998 from Sydney lawyer Michael Sissian (who had bought it from Israel), and the partnership sold a large stake in the stud in 2007 to a consortium that includes major retailer Gerry Harvey (owner of the equally historic Baramul Stud in the Widden Valley) and entrepreneur and breeder John Singleton (Strawberry Hills Stud). Harvey and Singleton are key drivers of Magic Millions. The farm is managed by the experienced and amiable Peter Orton, whose association with Vinery (née Segenhoe) stretches back to a partnership and management role with Sissian and partners Tony Petersen and Duncan Grimley in the early 1990s. The Thoroughbred was at Vinery in December 2008, when the last of the season’s mares were being covered. We watched More Than Ready


After a less-heralded start, the other half of racing’s Redoute’s Choice-Testa Rossa double act is making the most of his stud career. WORDS DANNY POWER.

TESTA ROSSA: At home at Vinery Stud in the Hunter, the ‘Valley of Stallions’.


ON PARADE: Testa Rossa’s colt from Heavenly Night, on show at Vinery Stud in December, sold for $170,000 at the Gold Coast Magic Millions sale in January.

and his Victoria Derby winning son Benicio (ex Mannington, by Danehill (USA)) prance along the 60-metre walk from stallion barn to breeding shed, and their awaiting partner, trussed and cleaned. More Than Ready (B or br h 1997, Southern Halo (USA)Woodman’s Girl (USA), by Woodman (USA)) was an American dirt star who has emerged as the stallion that will keep Vinery Stud in its deserved position as one of the leading studs in Australia. He has dominated the 2YO majors in the past two seasons, siring the winners of the Magic Millions (2008, Augusta Proud; and 2009, Phelan Ready) and the Golden Slipper (2008, Sebring; and 2009, Phelan Ready). His stocks are as hot as a Hunter Valley summer. He began his career at Vinery at a $22,000 fee in 2001, and by 2004 he was down to $16,500.

In 2008, he served a full book (with 150 mares on the waiting list) at a fee of $110,000 – and his 2009 fee rose to $148,500 against the trend. No stud can rely on one horse, and Vinery has just the perfect back-up stallion to their headline act. There is growing commercial acceptance of Testa Rossa (B h 1996, Perugino (USA)-Bo Dapper, by Sir Dapper) that sees the former champion racehorse set to become of the Australia’s top 10 stallions. It was Orton who sought Testa Rossa for Vinery after the young stallion had begun his career at Peter and Rick Woodard’s Yallambee Stud, near Romsey, in Victoria. Testa Rossa retired a heralded racehorse after winning six Group 1 races for Victorian owner John Cappellin and Flemington trainer Dean Lawson. He was a star juvenile who trained on for his most memorable win, lumping 59kg to win the 2000 Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m, Flemington) at four. One of his most memorable races was in defeat, when second to Redoute’s Choice in


‘ What you look

for in a stallion is a horse that can prove his consistency. PETER ORTON

the 1999 Caulfield Guineas (Gr1); another prominent sire, Commands was third. Testa Rossa finished his career with 13 wins from 24 starts and prizemoney topping $3 million. The All-Victorian boy was destined for a Victorian stud and the Woodard brothers were first to move. Testa Rossa stood his first season at Yallambee in 2001 at a fee of $22,000 and covered 108 mares (2009 fee $38,500). There was some scepticism about the horse because he was a son of a moderately performed stallion in Perugino (Danzig (USA)-Fairy Bridge (USA), by Bold Reason (USA)), albeit a ¾-brother to Sadler’s Wells and Fairy King, but interest in the horse grew when his first crop of yearlings paraded at the sales.

Orton, like any good stud master, is a hound when it comes to looking for stallion prospects. More than often he takes those famous lines from The Castle – “How much? Tell him he’s dreamin’ ”. But what he saw in Testa Rossa was a horse that can leave winners – a stallion with a future. Negotiations were made to buy the horse in early 2006 and had been sealed by May of that year. Vinery bought 30 per cent – “We only stand horses that we invest in,” Orton said – and Testa Rossa left Yallambee for Vinery much to the chagrin of the Victorian breeding industry, which also had started the stud careers of the now Hunter Valley heavyweights Flying Spur and Danzero (both from Chatswood Stud, Seymour, to Arrowfield Stud) and more recently Encosta De Lago (Blue Gum Farm, Euroa, to Coolmore Stud). “What you look for in a stallion is a horse that can prove his consistency, and in Testa Rossa we saw a horse that had a high number of runners, and winners, from those early crops,” Orton

said. “It was only a matter of time that he would start to leave Stakes winners.” When Orton was negotiating to buy Testa Rossa, his 3YO son Tereschenko (ex Eurageme, by Proven Valour) won the Magic Millions (1400m), for 3YOs, on the Gold Coast, and soon after Deledio (ex Youthful Presence, by Dehere (USA)) won the Listed Hill Smith Stakes in Adelaide to give the young stallion his sixth Stakes winner in less than two seasons. “We saw that with the better quality of mares that he could attract in the Hunter Valley, that Testa Rossa was a stallion who was a big chance. He’s been given a great start, Yallambee did a great job with him and the breeders who supported him – a lot of stallions don’t get the start that Testa Rossa did.” Orton said he remembered taking a keen interest in the early stock of Testa Rossa at the yearling sales. “I noticed he was leaving nice horses, correct horses – more correct than him – but it wasn’t until I started to see the progeny from some of the mares that I knew, and the quality of the foals, that I began to take a keener interest in the horse.” Testa Rossa has made his own luck – unlike his racetrack combatant Redoute’s Choice, who retired to Arrowfield Stud (a neighbouring farm of Vinery) in a blaze of publicity and a price tag that at the time was a record $10 million. Redoute’s Choice immediately was able to cover mares of a quality Testa Rossa could only dream about – but the gap is narrowing. The first of the Hunter Valleyborn Testa Rossas are now yearlings

‘ There were not

too many proven horses around his price to compete against him. PETER ORTON

and Orton is delighted with the crop. “They are lovely yearlings. There is a big spread of them now, across all states, and he is not just seen as a Victorian stallion.” The increased quality of mares visiting Testa Rossa has resulted in an improvement in the quality of his yearlings. Orton said Testa Rossa produces a distinct type – “a strong bodied foal, medium sized with good bone and muscle; an athlete” – and the powerful Group 2 Sires’ Produce winner Rostova (ex Space Talk, by Anabaa (USA)), from his last Victorian crop that are now 2YOs, is a prime example. In 2008, some of the Hunter Valley’s leading breeders recognised the value of Testa Rossa, and supported him. The Mitchell brothers – Harry and Arthur at Yarraman Park – sent a large book of mares to the horse after seeing the stallion’s stocks on the rise. “Last year we stepped back from the high-end stallions at the big fees, and Testa Rossa at $35,000 (plus GST) was a horse that we regarded as a value stallion in that price bracket,” Harry Mitchell said. Orton agreed with the value of the horse. “His price fills a gap in the market. There were not too many proven horses around his price to compete against him.” Testa Rossa covered a book of 135 mares in 2008, down from the around 150 mares he had covered in his previous four seasons. Orton said momentum is a big thing with any stallion, and Testa Rossa has the momentum running for him. “Commercially he has momentum, and importantly he has the consistency to get a runner to the track. He gives the buyer (or breeder) confidence they are getting a racehorse, and a classy one at that. “I think he will continue to grow. He will have a conservative book, and his yearling sale value will hold. I think you will find that after a couple of seasons of his Hunter Valley crops that this horse will step to another level,” Orton said.

ONE OF TESTA’S BEST: Two-year-old fi lly Rostova, with Steven King riding, wins the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Flemington.

TESTA ROSSA, THE STALLION Testa Rossa (as at April 17, 2009) has had 377 named foals, and incredibly 326 of them have made it to the races – and 228 (70 per cent to runners) have won. He has sired 21 Stakes winners, including Blue Chagall, a Group 3 winner in France from a single crop after he shuttled to stand in France in 2004.

YEARLING SALES Testa Rossa has had 70 yearlings sell so far in 2009, at an average of $76,885 (fee $35,000) – the most expensive is a colt from Sally Magic (the dam of sire Magic Albert) that Gai Waterhouse bought for $300,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. In 2008, he had 75 yearlings sell at an average of $57,000.

AUSTRALIAN GROUP WINNERS GROUP 1 Testafiable (2006 South Australian Derby) GROUP 2 Jiang (2004 Maribyrnong Plate) Rostova (2009 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes) Vormista (2007 UCI Stakes) GROUP 3 Ortensia (Thousand Guineas Prelude) Publishing (Carlyon Cup, Standish Handicap) Rostova (Blue Diamond Prelude) Testafiable (Carbine Club Stakes) Wordsmith (The Debonair)





Death of a racecourse Put the politics aside for a moment. A racecourse that has been part of Australia’s social history for 114 years has closed down forever. Saturday, February 21, 2009, was the final meeting. This is the second track in Adelaide to shut in a year, which made the day even sadder. Let’s be frank. Cheltenham Park was not the most beautiful racecourse in Australia. Part of the explanation is pure neglect, part economics and history, and part the location in the featureless Port Adelaide industrial region. But to those who love racecourses it had charm. This place is earmarked for housing and a token ‘wetlands’. Closing day wasn’t the real Cheltenham. To see the racecourse at the end of its lifetime, racing historian ANDREW LEMON made his journey a week earlier, for the last running of the Port Adelaide Cup. PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIAN JOCKEY CLUB

THE GLORY DAY: It was standing room only when Tulloch raced at Cheltenham in 1961.

THE VISITOR: one of racing’s big names, Robert Sangster, used to enjoy an afternoon at Cheltenham.


THE CUP: Kirn wins the 1911 Port Adelaide Cup.


or Len Smith, the same vintage as the great trainer Bart Cummings, anger has turned to resignation. Smith has been working horses at Cheltenham for almost 60 years. He trained local heroes Caliente (two Port Cups), My Brightia (VRC Oaks) and the evergreen Skybeau, who contested five Melbourne Cups, fi nishing third the year Saintly won (1996). He has been at the forefront of the now-failed battle to save Cheltenham Park. Today, a week before the fi nal curtain, he expresses only the sadness. His observations seem telling. How

can a city the size of Adelaide expect horse racing to flourish with just one racetrack? Port Adelaide Racing Club vanished in 1976 when it amalgamated with the principal South Australian Jockey Club (SAJC), owners of Morphettville. Also into this mix came the Adelaide Racing Club, which leased Victoria Park in the green belt near East Terrace. This merger was political, pressed by the government of Don Dunstan, who observed that South Australian racing was faction ridden and losing ground. Three decades later it still is. The amalgamation did not work. South Australia had been tardy in introducing the TAB

in the 1960s, left fl atfooted by Victoria and other states. By one misjudgement after another, Adelaide racing never bridged the gap. It was more a takeover anyway. Cheltenham and Victoria Park began as equal partners with Morphettville, but soon became poor relations. I chat to long-time racegoer Alan Duff (‘everyone knows me as Jock’). “It’s a crying disgrace,” Duff says. “It’s criminal.” He grew up in the area and lives a four-block walk from the course. Beyond the railway on the far side of the track are factory buildings, once the Holden Motor Body Works – now a Bunnings Warehouse. That tells you something about the local economy.

Gordon Wyatt mans the mounting yard gate. It’s a warm afternoon with smoke haze drifting from the Victorian bushfires. Wyatt was track supervisor at Cheltenham for 20 years. As a loyal SAJC employee he won’t criticise but listens to Jock’s tirade. Both reminisce about when there were three Reserves at the racecourse. The cheapest was the infield Flat. The Derby Reserve – now the car park – overlooked the fi nal furlong. There’s no class distinction now. The only stand left is named for the last chairman of the PARC, winemaker and cricketer Wyndham Hill-Smith. The long structure dates from the 1890s but had a makeover about 20 years ago. Bars and dining tables behind picture windows overlook the track. Admission is $10 and, neatly attired, you can be a ‘member for a day’ for $40. The only inner sanctum is the SAJC committee room. Outside, six rows of Victorian era bench seats cry out for another coat of dark green paint, and repairs, which they won’t be getting. Beyond the parade ring is dry parkland, a generous paddock with horse stalls among beds of hardy roses, picnic shelters and four thirsty Norfolk Island pines. Only a few racegoers wander down this end of Cheltenham Park. Under the Hill-Smith Stand as far as possible from the committee room is the Lucky Horseshoe Gaming Room with bar, TAB and poker machines. It opens on to an incongruous palm garden. Inside is pizza parlour faux Tuscany. The gaming lounge is operated by the SAJC and opens daily at 9am. A notice reassures punters that even when the racecourse disappears the Lucky Horseshoe will be open for business. No need to go the races any more. Summer weather brings a fair crowd today. It’s like an upscale




THE FINALE: Runners go on to the track at the last Cheltenham meeting, February 21, 2009.

country race meeting. Once, special trains brought punters in their thousands. They would alight at Cheltenham Parade and stream on to the Flat or, when winning, promote themselves to the grandstands. The Flat closed in the 1970s. A few shrubs have been dying in the heatwave while vines invade a remnant of old brick dunnies in the long grass. South Australia has always been the non-conformist. The first to legalise the totalisator in the 1880s, it then abolished betting altogether. This crippled the sport and the SAJC ran its 1885 Adelaide Cup in Melbourne. The policy was reversed, but from the 1890s until the 1930s bookmakers remained outlawed. Only the tote was sanctioned, for a strictly limited number of meetings per track.

‘ A record crowd

found every vantage point and cheered the champion Tulloch to victory.

This was the catalyst for enthusiasts to set up a racetrack near Port Adelaide in 1890. After five years they leased a property by the railway and unveiled ‘Cheltenham Park Racecourse’ on Boxing Day 1895. This was the beginning of the Port Adelaide (Christmas) Cup and Christmas Handicap sprint, soon contending with Victoria Park’s Birthday Cup and City Handicap and the SAJC’s Adelaide Cup and Goodwood Handicap as the richest on the calendar. PARC enjoyed its share of this legal gambling monopoly and bought the racecourse in 1921. Dr A.V. Benson was simultaneously chairman of the Port Adelaide Football Club, truly a power in the land. The racing club offered a record South Australian stake of £4600 for the 1927 Christmas Cup. Few races in Australia were worth more. It couldn’t last. The depression of the 1930s prompted the government to license bookmaking shops, raising revenue for itself while stemming illegal gambling. In the war, the military occupied Cheltenham, and racing was banned altogether in the state for more than a year.


Then boom times returned. Jock and Len remember Rainbird, the South Australian mare who won the ‘Victory’ Melbourne Cup. She went on to win the 1945 Port Adelaide Cup and Cheltenham Stakes. Four fading portraits preside over the Rainbird Bar in the grandstand. When she won the race it was the biggest in South Australia, the 10th richest in the nation. Adelaide offered three of Australia’s 20 most valuable races. Today no race in South Australia nears the top 30. Cheltenham’s other triumph was in 1961 when Tulloch contested the S.J. Pullman Stakes and surpassed £100,000 in stake winnings. A record crowd found every vantage point and cheered the champion to victory, and local favourite jockey Bill Pyers. Tulloch has a bar too, and more old photos testify to the former prosperity of Cheltenham. The battle over rationalising Adelaide’s racecourses has raged for the past decade. The plan was that $85 million from Cheltenham would boost stakes, restore historic Victoria Park and improve ‘Allan Scott Park Morphettville’ (rebranded for a commercial sponsor). The Victoria Park scheme fell over immediately Cheltenham’s

death sentence was pronounced. Racing abruptly ceased in the parklands in March last year. The imbroglio involved Adelaide City Council, parkland defenders, car racing promoters, the SAJC, its overseers Thoroughbred Racing SA, the State Government and everyone else with an opinion. And the SAJC was locked into the sale of Cheltenham. Adelaide is littered with the corpses of scapegoats and even on this day the Advertiser reports court challenges to the legality of the sale, while the SAJC is under government scrutiny. Not a word of this is mentioned as the affable chairman, John Naffi ne, invites the sponsors to present the trophy for the feature race. There is the sense of a rapid funeral service, of doing the right thing as quickly as possible. Not too many people pay attention and another race from Randwick or Singapore is about to be shown on the big screen. Eight-year-old chestnut gelding Foolish Lad (BlevicPersian Express, by Persian Heights (GB)), a roughie from Strathalbyn, wins the last Port Adelaide Cup at Cheltenham Park. Owner Ricky Grantham is appropriately delighted as are his numerous supporters, old and young. This once great race has been shifted from its traditional Christmas season and shortened to become a leadup to the Adelaide Cup. It has clung to the minor status of a Listed race. A pale shadow, perhaps, but no one could tell the Grantham family that racing in Adelaide is a dying sport. The end of the afternoon and the smoke haze clears: I overhear a snatch of a conversation as I head to the exit. “There are some races that stay in your mind forever,” a man is telling his young son. “Then you think one day you want to win that race yourself.” At the death of a racecourse there is still hope in the air.





Glen Boss, riding with the great Makybe Diva through her unprecedented Melbourne Cup treble from 2003-05, and then building on the reputation justly won, was the man in elite races in Australia ... until he left his Sydney base to ride in Hong Kong in 2007-08. Back in Sydney after one season that brought 34 wins and ninth place in the Hong Kong premiership race – and, on flying visits, two major two Group 1s in Australia (the Golden Slipper


Stakes on Sebring and the Doncaster Handicap on Triple Honour) – he struggled to get winning chances during the early part of the 2008-09 season. Boss looked to Melbourne, and has made it his riding base since late November. Then, late in March, he got back on the Group 1 bandwagon in Sydney with a win on Typhoon Tracy for Caulfield trainer Peter Moody in the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill. Boss talks from the heart to BEN COLLINS.


learnt the value of discipline and hard work from a young age. It’s something that’s lost a little with younger generations now, but it was just part of everyday life for us. I’m one of six kids and we grew up on a farm at Caboolture (about 50 kilometres north of Brisbane), and if you didn’t do your jobs before and after school you were in trouble. You didn’t have to be asked to do anything, you just did it. It was ingrained in us. We were always up early because there were cows to milk, animals to feed, etc., and they can’t do it for themselves. It was part of your livelihood – if you didn’t look after them, they weren’t going to look after you. It was a good routine to get into because by the time I became an apprentice jockey I was used to getting up early and working hard.


WINNING SILKS: Glen Boss, in the silks of big owner Scott Perrin, stands at the top of Flemington’s famous Straight Six.



I didn’t know my father (Terry Finglas) but my stepfather Tom Boss was a real hard worker. He’d be go, go, go – 18 hours a day. He never questioned it, never whinged; he just worked his arse off. With a mentor like that, you can’t help but follow in his footsteps. If you didn’t, I don’t think you’d have much quality as a person. I never feared horses, even though they’ve sat me on my backside at times. I grew up around horses and I’ve always respected them for what they’re capable of. I was taught to ride bareback by an old stockman who lived nearby. He helped me only a handful of times but it got me on my way. As kids, we never knew any different from riding bareback. Balance was the key – a leg each side and your arse in the middle. It gives you an immediate connection with the horse because there’s nothing between you and it – it’s skin on skin. You get a real feel for how it moves. When I was given a saddle, I hated it because I couldn’t get used to it. I strayed away from horses for a period because I was into motorbikes. After school we’d get on our 80cc, two-stroke motorbikes and absolutely thrash the guts out of them at 120kmh on bitumen roads through forestry areas, wearing only shorts, thongs and a helmet. We had prangs all the time, but as young blokes you’re fearless. You’d hit a jump and try to go as high and far as you could. But no one got badly hurt anyway. If you were hurt, you’d just get back up, otherwise your mates would give it to you. I had to be going fast all the time. But it was more about the thrill than the speed. I’ve been in V8 racing cars and straight-line speed is boring, but the cornering and braking is where you get the buzz because it’s bordering on dangerous. It’s the mentality of: ‘How far can I push the boundaries before we flip the car?’

My life changed when I went to the Gympie races with my grandmother as a 15-year-old (in 1984). I walked across to the outside rail and 10 horses were coming towards me in a pack and the noise was like thunder as they whizzed past. I thought: ‘How good was that?’ A few days later, I told Mum: “I’m quitting school – I want to be a jockey.” Then my grandmother introduced me to a trainer in Gympie (170km north of Brisbane), Terry Chinner, to find out how I could do it.

‘ You knew Kaye

would give you a kick in the arse if you stepped over the mark.

I learnt the ropes on rough, bush tracks. Who cares about Flemington when you’re riding at Emerald (260km west of Rockhampton) or Gympie? Some of them didn’t even have outside rails, but I never thought: ‘Jeez, I wish I didn’t have to ride at that bloody track.’ Of course, I’d read about Flemington and Caulfield and Randwick in turf magazines and think: ‘I want to get there,’ but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I didn’t think I was doing it hard out there because I didn’t know any different. I rode a stack of winners in my first year at Gympie, but then I had a bit of a fallout with my first boss and became a bit disorientated. I thought: ‘I don’t belong in Gympie any more. There must be something better out there.’ Then one of the head stewards, Graham Ireland (a former jockey), recognised that I was going OK and that I probably wouldn’t be staying in Gympie for too long, so he got my indentures transferred to (former NZ jockey-turnedtrainer) Kaye Tinsley on the Gold Coast, and that gave me the boost I needed. I’d never been to


the city before that. For the first time I thought: ‘I’m starting to go places now.’ If I’d quit my apprenticeship, I would have pursued a scholarship in animal husbandry at Gatton College (90km west of Brisbane). Not to be a vet, but just something to do with animals. I did well with that at school and had always been around animals. But thankfully I stuck at riding. I was an 18-year-old who thought he owned the world, but Kaye Tinsley kept my feet on the ground. He was a jockey himself and he was a real hard, aggressive bastard who instilled in me his philosophies on how to conduct yourself and how to go about becoming a good jockey. Things like: “Your career comes first. It’s not about the alcohol or the women. Don’t be a dickhead. Do the right things, be polite to people, and don’t forget where you come from.” I’m not saying I didn’t stray as a kid because we all did. We all pushed the boundaries, but you knew Kaye would give you a kick in the arse if you stepped over the mark. Sometimes all it took was a look and you knew to pull up. One of my early idols was Malcolm Johnston (the great jockey of Kingston Town fame). He had real spunk about him, and he didn’t follow trends, he set them. I loved the way he instinctively did things. I thought: ‘I’m a bit like him. I’m not a sheep either.’ Then I found he was a champion bloke too. I met him when I had my fi rst trip down to Sydney with (trainer) Noel Doyle, who was taking some horses down from the Gold Coast. I didn’t know my way around and Malcolm said: “Well, I’ll pick you up and take you to the races.” He had to drive an hour out of his way in the opposite direction to pick me up. I thought: ‘He’s my idol but he’s going out of his way to drive me around.’

TRIPLE TREAT: Glen Boss and Makybe Diva race into the record books and conclude one of racing’s great partnerships with their third win in the Melbourne Cup at Flemington. ILLUSTRATION BY PAUL HARVEY

Again, I felt there was something more out there for me, so I moved to Sydney (in 1993). I’d been getting frustrated in Brisbane because I was having run-ins with the head steward there, Ray Murrihy, and getting quite aggro. Ray and I would butt heads a lot and, of course, I never thought I deserved any of the suspensions I copped. Ray (now chief steward in Sydney) and I laugh about it now because we’re great mates and he’s seen my entire career. I also felt I’d outgrown the Gold Coast, even though I hadn’t. I just needed

wasn’t knocked unconscious. That was pure luck. I was conscious the whole time and made sure no-one moved me. If I’d moved, the bone would’ve severed my spinal cord. Lying in hospital in Macau was like a movie scene. One doctor told me: “You are very lucky you haven’t broken your neck; you’ve just damaged ligaments.” I said: “Mate, I’ve definitely broken my neck. There’s no way I’m moving.” They sent me for an ultrasound and it was as clear as day that there were two breaks in my C2. An older doctor was arguing with the younger one saying: “How did you miss this?!” ... I was taken to Hong Kong, where Dr Julian Chang – who is in the top two in the world as a neuro-surgeon – put a halo brace on me. He had me walking two hours later.

to move on, and Sydney seemed another natural progression. It’s important for young jockeys to gain acceptance. My head was spinning – one week I’m up on the Gold Coast reading about all these amazing trainers like Bart Cummings and T.J. Smith, and the next I’m riding work for them and others like Les Bridge, Grahame Begg and Guy Walter. Then you’re riding winners for them and rubbing shoulders with jockeys like Mick Dittman and Shane Dye and you can’t quite believe it’s happening. Then you get in the groove and you start to feel that you actually belong, and they accept you. It’s about capitalising on this wonderful opportunity. Not

many people reach that level, so when you make it, you already feel like you’ve accomplished something. You feel you’re at the start of something special and you want to stay there. Your confidence rises, people start taking notice and it snowballs. They think: ‘This guys still a bit rough but he can ride a bit.’ I learnt a lot more and a lot faster. Every day at the track and at the races was a learning experience. And you learn everything: how to live in the city, how to ride on different tracks and better quality racehorses, and how better trainers and riders go about it. I absorbed everything. Macau (in 2002) was meant to be more like a family holiday

for a couple of months during our winter. It wasn’t about trying to make a million dollars; it was a great opportunity to experience another culture, travel and ride because I had some friends who were training there. I rode a lot of winners and was flying. But then I got hurt. It wasn’t a spectacular accident; it was a very simple, nothing fall – but with a nasty result. It was pissing down rain. I was riding in plastic pants on a plastic saddle and my foot came out of the iron and I just slipped off and landed awkwardly. I heard a crack and felt the heat on my neck and I knew straight away that I’d broken it. The thing that saved my life, or at the very least saved me from being a quadriplegic, was that I

I never doubted I’d be back riding. I thought: ‘It’s just a broken bone; it’s going to heal.’ Back home in Sydney, my surgeon in Sydney, Dr Ian Farey, was as aggressive about my therapy as I was. When scans showed the bone had healed well, I wanted the brace off. He took it off and took the screws out. I was nervous for about 10 seconds. I thought: ‘Do I move?’ He said: “If you’re nervous about it, I’ll just twist your head,” so he did. It was stiff because it hadn’t moved in months, but then I was fine. I had immediate confidence in it. I was back riding in four months, two months ahead of schedule. The broken neck made me a better person. Before the injury, I’d been very intense and tunnelvisioned. I loved my family, but it was all about me and my career. Even though I didn’t think so at the time, I was too self-absorbed. Long term, if I’d continued down that path, it would’ve affected me from a family perspective. I had a great wife who was going with the flow, and two great kids (daughter Carter and son Tayte). You’re kidding yourself sometimes if you think you’re devoting your time to your family when you’re not. You might say “I’m a family



man”, but they’re only words. When you actually start doing it, you realise it’s a totally different thing to what you’d been doing. When I was with my family, I was always distracted and thinking about work and being Glen Boss and winning Group 1’s, when that’s not what it should be about. You have kids because you want a family; you don’t have them to be a distraction from work. The injury made me do a 180-degree turn in my attitude. I became more relaxed and family-orientated. The injury needed to happen for me as a person.

Our first Melbourne Cup win was a relief. I thought: “So that’s how perfect it has to be to win a Melbourne Cup.” We had the perfect horse, the perfect plan, ran the perfect race and still won by only half a length. That’s how tough it is to win it. The Diva improved each year, physically and mentally. She not only delivered, but she delivered immediately and without question. It was almost like she was responding before you even asked the question. There was never any lag time. If you asked her to run through a brick wall, she’d crash through it and be like: “What’s next?” She was always ready to go at a moment’s notice. I felt like a rock star when the Diva won her third Cup. It was like everyone was hanging off my every word and movement. I honestly believe that no professional sportsperson in Australia could have felt what I felt that day. Whenever I rode her, I felt centrestage, untouchable, but it went to another level on that occasion.

When you second-guess yourself in a race, you’re gone. When you get back in the jockeys’ room you think: ‘What was I doing? The pace was slow and a voice in my head said “go!” and I didn’t do it.’ It happens when you’re not in the groove. For some reason, I always seem to get in the groove on big race days. It can’t be a physical thing because we all do the same job, and there are jockeys who are fitter than me. It’s purely mental. (Damien) Oliver gets there – he just doesn’t stuff up in big races.


I owe so much of my professional career to Makybe Diva. The accolades that come to me as a jockey for winning three successive Melbourne Cups (2003-04-05) are great, but I feel blessed it was me because it could have been any one of a number of jockeys in my position. All the stars aligned and my name was chosen to ride her.

an amazing mental space to be in. During the race, you’re able to look so far ahead of yourself because your body moves so instinctively that you don’t even have to think about it. There’s no hesitation, no second thoughts, and that gives you more time. Mentally, you’re doing the next thing before you’re physically doing it.

VIGOR: Boss returns to scale on the Danny O’Brien-trained Vigor after winning on the last day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.

I don’t think Makybe Diva’s Melbourne Cup achievements will ever be matched. Just look at the logistics involved with getting a horse to do it on that given day, three years in a row. Just getting a horse to run three Melbourne Cups in a row is a massive effort, let alone winning them all. The pressure of riding in a big race is the drug I need. It’s amazing how the brain can respond when it’s placed under really intense pressure. I know I can rely on myself to deliver at the right moment. My brain goes into auto-pilot mode, and that’s where you can do extraordinary things. The ‘zone’ is a surreal feeling. Before a big race, every muscle


in my body is relaxed, I’m not carrying any baggage around in my head and I’m cracking jokes with my mates. But as soon as I get on the horse, I literally feel myself zone out. You see people, but you don’t see their faces. You hear noise, but nothing specific. You’re so focused on your job that it’s the only thing that matters. It’s like a camera shot where only one thing is in focus and everything else around it is faded and blurred. It’s

‘ If you asked

Makybe Diva to run through a brick wall, she’d crash through it and be like, ‘What’s next?’.

I very rarely have a race plan. I have an overall picture, but plans go out the window as soon as the barriers open because so many variables come into the equation. You can only ride by instinct, and ride for the next moment. People mistake self-belief for arrogance. It’s really misunderstood because it can look like the same thing. If you trust yourself and you know your job and you’ve got a bit of a persona, people say: “Look at this bloke; he’s up himself.” But it’s so far removed from that. On big days, you strut and you’re different because you’ve got your game-face on. There’s a perception that I’m just a Group 1 jockey who’s no good in other races because I’ve never won a premiership. But I’ve never put myself in a position to win one because I’ve always travelled. I’d live in Melbourne for the spring, so there’s six or eight weeks I wasn’t in Sydney. After a carnival I’d always take a few weeks off to get away with my family. And in the winter I’d go to Japan or somewhere. Premierships were irrelevant to me.

Don’t take anything for granted. Live in the moment and extract as much from it as you can. That way there can be no regrets. My celebrations are purely an expression of joy, and I get off on the crowd reaction. It’s not scripted – I don’t even know I’m going to do it; I just let it all hang out. It’s about living the moment. There was a time when racing could have been taken away from me, so I decided I’d live those moments like I’d never do it again. There’s a chance I won’t win another Melbourne Cup – I hope that’s not the case – but I lived that experience to the limit. A lot of people don’t do that and maybe later on they regret it. If people see my antics as bigheaded, so be it. I don’t care because I’m not doing it for them. I love the crowds, and I think they wait for you to do it. If I won a Group 1 and didn’t get excited, people would be shocked, and it would be anti-climactic. That wouldn’t be me. I live for that moment – it’s my fuel. When you’ve spent the best part of your life gearing towards that moment, why wouldn’t you enjoy it for all it’s worth? I’m not asking people to like me for it because everyone’s different, but what’s wrong with someone enjoying themselves? I get swept up watching someone win a golf tournament. I’m super-emotional. I cry when I’m happy and cry when I’m sad. That’s me, and I’m not about to restrain myself.

Hong Kong didn’t excite me. I had a good season there recently (2007-08) but I just didn’t get the buzz. The atmosphere here on big race days is 10 times better than Hong Kong. Our carnivals are amazing – we simply do it better than anyone else – and that’s why riders and trainers come from all around the world to be part of it. It was just a job in Hong Kong and I wasn’t always on good horses. It’s a great place, but I missed home. I don’t even know why I went there – I was just looking for something. If I got the buzz, I’d still be there. I have no idea why my use-by date expired in Sydney. I had two months off and probably rushed back too soon into riding. I rode a couple of Group 2 winners, and they were both great rides, and felt I was riding as well as ever, but there was a two-week period where I didn’t ride as well as I got myself back into it and the knives were suddenly out for me. It was the first time I’d ever received that level of scrutiny and I still haven’t come to terms with it. It was a trying period after coming down from the massive highs. I couldn’t get a ride anywhere. People I’d trusted and relied on weren’t there for me any more, and people I respected were bagging me. I started to become a bit self-conscious and think: ‘Am I really riding that bad? Well, no, I’m not. I’m just not getting opportunities.’ But it snowballed the wrong way for me. The Sydney racing scene is a bit of a closed shop. If you’re not involved with Gai Waterhouse, Peter Snowden and to a lesser extent Chris Waller, it’s difficult to fi nd a good horse because there are only small fields and lot of jockeys. As fast as you go up the ladder, you can go down just as fast. I thought: ‘What more do I have to do to prove myself? I’ve ridden 45 Group 1s in the past five years, and I rode a lot of winners

in Hong Kong.’ The speculation became deafening – “Bossy’s lost it.” I even started thinking: ‘Have I upset someone? Have I done something wrong?’ I’m still clueless about it. Some people reckon my heart wasn’t in it, but the fire was always burning. I didn’t ride a Group 1 winner, but I rode really well in each of them. But when you go from winning eight or 10 Groups 1s a year to none, people automatically write you off. The bar had been set so high that it was almost impossible to perform to that level every year. I knew it couldn’t keep happening, but people think it should, and they’re quick to judge you when it doesn’t. But it’s cyclical. Maybe it was a sign that it was time for me to move on. I don’t sit around bitching about it and waiting for things to happen because, No. 1, it doesn’t pay the bills and, No. 2, you’ll get further into a hole. I thought: ‘I’m still young (39) and I’ve got so much more to achieve.’ I said to Sloane: “Let’s go to Melbourne,” and she fully endorsed it. There seem to be more opportunities in Melbourne, and it’s a bit more competitive. Everyone seems to get a piece of the pie down here; it’s not just two trainers dominating the market. It’ll happen for me again. I never expected it to happen overnight in Melbourne because people are established here. I’m halfway through a six-month process. I’m riding well and winning a Group 1 on Typhoon Tracy, it’ll accelerate it for me. I want to get back to being the leading Group 1 rider in Australia. But first I want to re-establish myself and get everyone’s respect back. I want people to say: “Bossy’s back” – even though I don’t reckon I even left. People in Sydney are saying: “Gee, you’re doing well,” but I say: “I was doing well before I left – you just didn’t see it.”


People thought I was 10 percent off mid-week. I was actually as good as anyone mid-week, but I was 20 percent better on the big days. It’s impossible to be at that level all the time. But the perception was there and the opportunities dried up mid-week, even though I was getting opportunities on the big days. I suppose you’d rather be perceived that way than the opposite: be great mid-week but freeze on the big stage.

THE BOSS FILE Group 1 wins: 63, including 2 (2007-08), 5 (06-07), 10 (05-06), 9 (04-05), 10 (03-04). First Group 1 win: Telesto, Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), Warwick Farm, 1994. Group 1 wins with Makybe Diva: 7, with 3 Melbourne Cups, 20032005, and Cox Plate, The BMW, Australian Cup, Sydney Cup. Group 1 wins this season: 1, Typhoon Tracy, Coolmore Classic (1500m), Rosehill March 21. First win: Basiteka, Gympie, November 1986. Career wins: Boss estimates more than 1500. Hong Kong last season: 34 wins from 440 rides at 7.7%. Melbourne this season: 25-221 at 11.3%. Overall this season: 52-485 at 10.7%.

THE BOSS VIEW I could easily watch ‘horses 24/7. They’re an amazing animal. Their frame, their physique, the way they move and do things really is something to behold.



Winning Edge The veterinarian is to a racing stable what the club doctor is to a football team, ensuring competitors are at their peak on big days. WORDS PETER RYAN.



ears ago when racehorse trainers had to call on the veterinarian’s expertise they often did so begrudgingly. Now? “Those guys are dinosaurs,” experienced vet John Walker said of the few trainers reluctant to use a vet’s expertise. “I think most trainers would readily acknowledge a vet is a small but key component to a successful racing stable.” Walker has been a part of Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman’s stable for six years after spending more than a decade in Sydney, working at the Randwick Equine Centre, with his clients including Gai Waterhouse. He spends, he guesses, about 30 hours a week attending to the Freedman horses and more hours than that working for other clients. Getting them to the races in as good a condition as he can is the fundamental component of his job. It is sometimes a tricky role, similar in many ways to the job a club doctor performs within a professional sports team. The vets are in the inner sanctum but their advice needs to be fearless and frank. And when the big races are on the horizon, their judgements need to be spot on every time.


SCOPE: John Walker scopes a horse in the days leading up to a race to ensure there are no lung-related issues that might impact on race performance. He can view the horse’s airway through the endoscope.

ohn Van Veenendaal, another high-profile veterinarian assisting trainers to prepare the state’s best racehorses, agrees the vet has become a more integral part of a racing stable in the past 10 years. “It’s a matter of keeping tabs on your clients’ horses,” says Van Veenendaal of his role. “We’re monitoring problems all the time and just tweaking them to get them right up to speed. We’re dealing with healthy horses and we’re manipulating degrees of health.” Van Veenendaal, a vet since 1976, has done stable rounds since 1982 and still performs surgery on horses twice a week. Among his high-profile clients are the progressive Flemington-based trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien. Kavanagh’s experienced foreman Merv Harvey explains the vet’s importance succinctly: “A good vet and a good farrier are what you need.” The advantage of having vets connected to the stable is that they know the horses so well they can, as much as is possible, engage in preventative processes. “We try to cut off

a lot of problems before they occur,” says Van Veenandaal, who can spot an issue with a horse as quickly as it takes a racecaller to have a stab at the result of a head-bobbing finish. “Part of it is experience,” he admits. “The best scanners you’ve got are your hands and your eyes.” When all is going well, there is a fairly standard process vets follow to ensure a racehorse can perform at its best. In the week following a race ‘bloods’ will be taken routinely to ensure no low-grade infection is present and the horse’s electrolyte levels are up to scratch. Two days before racing, generally after the last fast gallop, a horse will be scoped to identify any lung-related issues that could impact on racetrack performance, and receive a saline drench, an electrolyte salt replacement drink that ensures he/she goes to the races fully hydrated. It is more post-exercise recovery than anything else, but it is an essential part of the between-races program. For the horses tracking along nicely that is the extent of the vet’s work, but rarely is everything so neat. Many horses, particularly those contesting Group 1 races, are what Walker calls project horses – they have niggles or idiosyncrasies that require special attention or an individualised program. It is often said the better horses are more likely to be injured because they run faster and push through pain. Therefore, they need more attention. That is when the second part of a racing vet’s job comes into play: identify what the problem is and find the best way to fi x it. That is when the vet really goes to work. Walker carries authority and a set of hoof testers as he walks around Markdel, the Freedman stables at Rye on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. He moves from horse to horse with pace, making concise judgements about their condition and soundness, after watching them trot up. He consults with the stable foreman asking how a horse worked and the likely program ahead, and he will often talk to track jockeys who have a good feel for the horse. It’s like watching a doctor doing his hospital rounds. Walker is quick, but there is no haste; and his bedside manner, if you want to call it that, is caring. This is a man who described the death of Mummify – one of Freedman’s best horses – who was put down after being injured in the 2005 Caulfield Cup as the “saddest day of my life, a shocker”.


X-RAY: John Van Veenendaal and fellow vet Penelope Thompson x-ray a mare using hi-tech digital imaging technology. The initial image (inset) will allow a preliminary on-the-spot diagnosis to be made subject to confi rmation later.

His round, completed with The Thoroughbred in tow, included Essaouira, the exciting and normally placid two-year-old filly, whose bucking display in a February race at Caulfield had surprised everyone including the vet. Walker had checked the horse immediately after the race and spoken to Freedman and the jockey, Dwayne Dunn, before he managed to put the story together about what may have caused the uncharacteristic behaviour. A sore back was eventually identified as a possible cause. Five days after the bucking incident an unrelated foot problem had come to the fore, an issue more likely to affect her program, than the back. With lameness graded from one to five, with five


being the most severe, Walker assessed the filly, at worst, as grade one. After flexing her leg then silently watching her trot up, he said he would follow a process: anaesthetise the area, then return in half an hour to see whether the horse was still favouring that foot. “Without sounding smart, with a horse like this, in fact with any horse, the whole team has to be comfortable she is OK to run before we send her around. There is too much at stake if she’s not right.” By mid-March Essaouira’s Golden Slipper campaign had to be abandoned because the interruption to her preparation made tipping her out for the spring carnival the more prudent course. Watching Van Veenendaal X-ray the leg of a Nigel

Blackiston-trained horse who ran below expectations days earlier exemplifies the vet’s role. He worked quickly and gently, showing an image of the horse’s leg on his expensive portable digital imaging package he bought three years ago. He identified stress fractures in the third carpal bone. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” he said to Blackiston. Blackiston: “And time won’t settle it down?” Van Veenendaal: “Time out will settle it down but I’m just debating whether we go in and clean everything up. This horse is a gallop away from being a total disaster. What I’d do is tip her out, reintroduce her in a month and see what the hell is going on with her.”


Blackiston: “All right, no worries. I’ll send a report to the owners.” Vets don’t influence a horse’s program directly – those decisions remain the domain of trainers – but their advice plays a role. For example, a horse with a problem in the off foreleg might be better off avoiding racing in Sydney because of the clockwise way of racing – just one of a million possible scenarios that makes the daily chat between trainer and vet an essential part of the stable’s overall planning.

‘ This horse is

a gallop away from being a total disaster.


It is also essential vets know a horse’s planned program as administering drugs or treatment is subject to the rules of racing. Many drugs are legal but horses cannot race with certain levels of them in their system. It can be a minefield for vets because some drugs can take longer than expected to flush out of horses working and racing. (The most celebrated example was when Takeover Target had to be scratched from the 2006 Hong Kong Sprint after a drug – 17-alpha-hydroxyprogesteronehexanoate – was still in his system at race time. Takeover Target’s trainer Joe Janiak told The Age at the time the drug had been used previously on the horse and cleared its system in two weeks. For some reason this time it was still present seven weeks after being administered.) Van Veenendaal said vets had to work closely with Racing Victoria and be aware of any odd readings found in other stables that might mean extra caution was needed with a particular drug. “There’s only about 20 drugs that annoy us and we are going to be using close to a race time, and you have to keep tabs on those,” he said.

Vets are the only professionals regularly connected to racing not under industry jurisdiction and subject to its penalties. They are registered with the Veterinary Surgeons Board, so the argument goes that they should be subject only to judgement through that board. After the Bauer case, when the 2008 Melbourne Cup runner-up received treatment from a vet who inadvertently contravened the rules of racing, many believe the state of play to be untenable. Walker said it was inevitable that racing would have the authority soon to penalise vets if they broke a rule of racing. He has no objection. In practice, most vets are compliant in attending hearings and working with racing’s authorities but they are not compelled to be, nor are they subject to specific penalties. It is a sign of the entrenched nature of the vet’s role that such a move is on the cards. Van Veenendaal watched as Danehill Dancer five-year-old Sanjuan, a Kavanagh-trained horse who won the day before, trotted up. The gelding has overcome many problems to reach the winner’s stall. “We operated on him as soon as he arrived at the stable nine months ago,” the vet said. “We tipped him out, had him in the rehab centre and yesterday he bolted in. When you identify the problem and it’s back racing well, everyone is happy.” It is the art of the racing vet: contributing to the team without getting carried away with his/ her importance. “We’re probably 5 per cent or less in terms of our contribution,” said a seemingly modest Walker, “but from time to time you get to be involved in important decisions.” In racing much less than 5 per cent can win (or lose) the prize. It’s why the vet’s involvement in a stable is now regarded as a significant advantage rather than the impost some used to consider it to be.


Hospital Corner

John Walker lists the… FIVE MOST COMMON AREAS OF INJURY Feet, fetlocks, knees, respiratory conditions, back pain. FIVE MOST USED TOOLS OF TRADE Eyes and hands, hoof testers, x-ray machine, ultrasound scanner, fibreoptic endoscopic.

FIVE MOST COMMON PROCEDURES Joint medication with anti-inflammatory and lubricating products anti-inflammatory preparations for other sources of pain antibiotics for infections ongoing anti-arthritic medications to delay the onset of exercise-related arthritis electrolyte solutions to maintain hydration.

XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX A CASE HISTORY John Van Veenendaal on the Maldivian Trail – from Caulfield Cup wipeout in 2007 to Cox Plate winner in 2008, and beyond ... As a 3YO and 4YO: Fetlock problems see Maldivian (B g 2002, Zabeel (NZ)-Shynzi (USA), by Danzig (USA)) nursed along slowly, joints iced and preventative medicine used. It’s a balance between making the horse race-fit and protecting him as he develops. October 22, 2007: Caulfield Cup barrier accident causes a gash in the neck and the favourite is a late scratching. Could have run in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes three weeks later, but trainer Mark Kavanagh decides a spell will benefit Maldivian physically and mentally. February 23, 2008: The big gelding pulls up sore in the right fore. Van Veenendaal discovers a hairline fracture to the knee after x-ray. The only remedy is time. He is spelled. June: Maldivian is x-rayed again. Fracture has healed.

August 16: Maldivian races in Liston Stakes. The target is the Cox Plate in late October. Because race tracks more forgiving on the legs than rock-hard training tracks, his hard fitness work comes through racing. Van Veenendaal monitors Maldivian, watching him trot up daily and discussing his progress with Kavanagh. October 25: Wins Cox Plate. Spelled. Back in work, the cycle resumes and Maldivian wins the Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield first-up on February 8. Two weeks later his autumn campaign ends when swelling is discovered close to his nearside front suspensory. Van Veenendaal scans the leg, finding a small tear to Maldivian’s suspensory ligament. The triple Group 1 winner is tipped out to recover for the spring carnival.



Pontiff The

of the Sunshine Coast They breed them tough in the bush. Ken Pope has had more than his fair share of setbacks and he still bears the scars of a kick in the head from a horse when he was a youngster. But the Queensland jockey’s persistence has paid off with considerable city success and, at Caulfield in the Oakleigh Plate this autumn, his first Group 1 win. BY STEPHEN HOWELL.

THE TRAVELLER: At 15, 30kg Ken Pope travelled from Charleville to Toowoomba, 600km and eight hours by bus (each way), to get his race permit by riding in trials watched by stewards.




ueensland jockey Ken Pope, who began riding on outback tracks, on dirt and sand, in dust and wind and heat, showed just what an equal opportunity sport is racing when he drove home Swiss Ace to win the Oakleigh Plate in Melbourne this autumn, a first Group 1 win for jockey, and trainer Mick Mair. The journey’s beginning, perhaps exaggerated by time, is told by a 70-year-old trainer, Beau Green, and is best related in the no-frills way Green spoke down the phone from Charleville (population about 3500), in Queensland’s south-west, about 750 kilometres west of Brisbane: “We had a house in Toowoomba. We were renting it out to old Jimmy Pope (a former jockey) and his wife, and they had a heap of kids there,” he said. “I’d go down and visit and look it over, and I said, ‘What are you doing with that boofheaded kid?’ He said, ‘Nothing. He won’t do this, he won’t do that.’ I said, ‘I’m going back to Charleville in the morning, I’ll take him with me.’

SMOKIN’: Swiss Ace’s jockey Ken Pope sits outside the jockeys’ room at Flemington to puff away on his $70 cigar.


When Green was beating around the bush with the boy Pope, did he think a Group 1 would come, down the track? “Probably not. Dear oh dear, if you only knew ... our bush racing, she’s pretty tough.” Breeds tough men, too. Pope’s version of joining the Green team – Beau was the jockey and unofficial trainer; Beau’s wife Barbara worked with him and was the official trainer – is slightly more sanitised than Beau’s, but he admits one of the reasons for going to Charleville was that he was “hanging around with the wrong people and what not” and “the idea was to get away from them”. Beau, a hard taskmaster, watched over him; in races too. “I got a lot of tutoring off him during the race, that’s where I learned how to ride,” Pope said. “I remember one day, at Cunnamulla (150km south-west of Charleville), I drew the one alley and he drew 10 out of 10. By the time we’d gone 20 metres he was beside me screaming at me, telling me what to do in the race. That’s the type of guy he was and that’s how they used to ride out there. I had a lot of good grounding. “I made plenty of mistakes. He’d be able to tell you and you’d understand straight away. I learned a lot more than most apprentices would in Queensland. “Dalby was our closest grass track, others (such as Augathella, Bell, Betoota, Blackall, Cunnamulla, Mitchell, Noccundra, Noorama, Quilpie, Roma, Winton and Wyandra) were sand and dirt. Most of them had inside running rails, very few had one on the outside. When I first kicked off a couple only had one down the straight. (One track) had a pull-up area where they took all the trees down so it was a bit safer – if you got through you’d have to dodge the trees.” Pope agreed rough and ready was an apt description of the racing. “It was back in the day they only declared on your horse


QUEENSLAND Ken Pope’s early stamping ground Winton Charleville


Jundah Birdsville

Blackall Tambo

Betoota Augathella Quilpie

Charleville Wyandra

Cunnamulla 100km


‘ He walked out of

hospital that day. He pulled the catheter and the drips out to go home. He didn’t quite make it. They ‘repossessed’ him.

Taroom Wandoan

Chinchilla Mitchell Roma Warra Bell Surat Tarra Dalby Toowoomba St George

Caloundra Brisbane


an hour before the race. You could ride a few kilograms over. I remember one was seven over – it was a long way to try and find another jockey.” Green said he and Pope went from Charleville to Birdsville together, (race) riding through the back country. “Not big-noting,” said Green, “but I was head jockey in the bush – there was no Roy Higgins, or any of them ... we had it sewn up for years. “The first year, Kenny run second in the premiership (Central Warrego Racing in Charleville). He rode for four months of the season – there were only up to a dozen race meetings a year – but there were races (within driving distance – by outback definition) all the time. “The next year he won the premiership, the open one and all. The next year he had a bad fall (when) one of the local riders dealt with him. He was second that year. Won the next year, and was top dog after that.”



Pope recalls the fall. “The one in Charleville was pretty bad. I broke my jaw in three places, and about four teeth.” And one last May. “I’ve just got back from injury – broke my back and neck (in a track work fall at Caloundra),” he said after his Oakleigh Plate win. “I’ve probably only been three months back race riding. It’s only been the last three weeks I’ve been 100 per cent in the zone. It took me a long time to get back as focused as before.” (To this day Pope has the scar on his forehead from a kick by a horse when he was nine or 10 years old.) Quitting, however, has never been an option. “I enjoy what I do. I wouldn’t like to be trying to dig holes for the same income. I’ve never really thought of giving it up, that’s for sure.” Pope rides mainly for Mick Mair at Caloundra, an hour north of Brisbane, and Mair – another known for tales that are tall and (largely) true – said of the latest fall: “He broke his back on one of mine last year. He walked out of hospital that day. He pulled the catheter and the drips out to go home. He didn’t quite make it. They ‘repossessed’ him. He marched out the next day, so they gave up on him.” Pope didn’t give up on Charleville; he simply outgrew it after some five years. He had met Helen Goodwin (daughter of a jockey, Teddy Goodwin, and sister of another rider, Bill, who, after a fall at Dalby in 1995, is in a wheelchair. Another brother, Michael, seriously injured his back in a race fall at Barcaldine Central


“He’d been there a couple of days and said, ‘When are you gonna start teaching me to ride?’ I said, ‘When are you ready?’ He said, ‘Now.’ “I said, ‘Grab that bridle and put it on that pony and go over to the racetrack – it was only about 50 yards away – and chase all the kangaroos and emus off it for the morning.’ “For three days the pony came back without him. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ He said, ‘Buggered if I know, I just fell off.’ I never interfered, I just let him go. “The next day he came back with the pony. I said, ‘How come you’ve come back with the horse?’ He said, ‘The ground was too hard.’ The next week he started riding track work. He was about 14-15.” In February this year, Pope, 38, rode like J. Pike to win the Oakleigh Plate (1100m), Caulfield’s autumn Group 1 sprint, on another Queenslander, Swiss Ace ($31). He dashed his mount across from a wide gate to lead on the fence and Swiss Ace fought back after appearing beaten halfway up the straight. At the presentation, shown Australia-wide on television, Pope said, in the style of Jeff Fenech: “A special hello to everyone in Queensland, good on youse.” And as the race was replayed on the big screen behind the ‘suits’, Pope pumped his fist in triumph. This was the racing moment in a good rider’s career. And Pope, rarely a headline seeker, is a very good rider. Green again, on how his protégé nursed Swiss Ace (Ch h 4, Secret Savings (USA)-Rapid Serve (USA), by Carson City (USA)) before a final hands-and-heels drive to beat Lucky Secret and Typhoon Zed: “He’d have to get 12 out of 10 for the ride on the thing. Under pressure he put the whip away and the bastard’s kicked. Others would have hit every hair on the horse’s body in the last half furlong; probably only (champion jockey) Damien Oliver wouldn’t have.”

‘ I enjoy what I do, I wouldn’t like to be trying to dig holes for the same income.’

PUMPED: Ken Pope, holding the trophy, raises his fi st as he watches a replay of Swiss Ace’s Oakleigh Plate win at Caulfi eld.



HEAD FIRST: Ken Pope, on Swiss Ace (rails), wins the Oakleigh Plate from Lucky Secret (Dan Brereton).

Western Queensland in 2006. “He can’t ride any more, but he’s got full movement,” Pope said.) The couple moved to Chinchilla (about 450km closer to the coast) for 12 months on the way to Toowoomba (130km from Brisbane); there for 18 months, he won a premiership. “Then I went to Caloundra, and I’ve been there for about 15 years,” Pope said of the long journey to the coast. He was in a hurry to get home to the Sunshine Coast after the Oakleigh Plate, to see Helen (his manager as well as his wife) and their children Liam (who was 14 in April) and Sharnie (9). Pope said he had given up drinking because it made it too hard to make his riding weight, but he has a cigar alight almost as often as not. He is banned from smoking in most jockeys’ rooms. “They’ve kicked me out of everywhere else bar Caloundra, and I’ve got a bit of pull there.” (He has been the top rider on the Sunshine Coast half a dozen times, and runner-up almost as often.) Minutes after his Caulfield win, he lit up a Monte Cristo.

“They’re $70 each,’’ he said. “I get ’em cheap ... I smoke ’em all the time, basically.” “Smoke? You can’t stop him, mate,” Mair said later. “If you go looking for him you’d probably find him under a no-smoking sign with a cigar hanging out his mouth. And his car would be parked under a no-parking sign.” Pope said he had no idea how many winners he had ridden. “I don’t really chase, you know, the big fame or the big dollars, I’m happy to poke along and snag one of these horses once in a lifetime. I’ve been riding for Mick Mair for probably 10 years as a stable jockey. It’s a great relationship we have. He knows what to expect of me and I know what to expect of him ... we have our barneys of course – but five minutes later it’s all forgotten. “I’ve always been quite successful where I am. I know my place sort of thing – I

‘ I bought a ’65

Chevy Impala – fingers crossed I’ll get it by November.


live at Caloundra and enjoy riding Brisbane Saturdays and Caloundra Sundays, and that’s what I like and that’s what I do.” The race after the Oakleigh Plate provided another big result for Queensland when Caulfieldbased trainer Peter Moody, who started in Charleville, had the winner of the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes. “I rode Peter Moody’s first winner at Charleville, a horse called Solo Sailor,” Pope said. “I helped kick him off as a young fella, an 18-year-old trainer (in 1987). The horse only had half a jaw, must have had an accident at some time.” More than 20 years later, on Oakleigh Plate day, a grinning Moody gave Pope the ‘thumbs up’. “We know where we come from,” the jockey said. “It’s good.” The Oakleigh Plate was the middle pin of Swiss Ace’s southern Group 1 campaign. Pope rode him into seventh in the Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington three weeks earlier, and a strong second in the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) two weeks later. Both races were won by the West Australian, Scenic Blast. “We had every

conceivable hope.” Pope said after the Newmarket, for which his share of the $180,000 second prize was $9000. “We just got beaten by a better horse on the day.” A month later. Pope rode Swiss Ace to a fine fourth in the Group 1 Galaxy (1100m) at Randwick in Sydney. The winner’s purse in the Oakleigh Plate was $240,000, giving Pope $12,000 plus any sling. More than that, it gave him the best day of his racing life. He loved every second of it, but said it would not change him. “Friends have been saying ‘Group 1 Kenny’. I say, ‘No, don’t be bothered calling me that. I’m just the same person, me.” Pope’s favourite pursuit is mudcrabbing. Asked if it were true that he was the best mud-crabber from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane, he said: “That’s about right. There’s a mate of mine, Don Jackson – he’s on the committee at Caloundra. We go every day basically and catch quite a few. ‘Alfie’ Langer (the former rugby league international) comes with us on occasions when he gets time. “We’ve got all our gear, we’ve got our boat (a tinny) and all our mud crab pots.” Where do they go? “Near Caloundra, a very guarded secret, where we get the best.” He didn’t go out in the tinny between Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket. “I bought a ’65 Chevy Impala and I’ve been trying to organise everything to get that done up for me, at a car restoring place in Caloundra,” he said. “Fingers crossed, I’ll get it by November.” Beau Green had another story about Pope’s apprenticeship. “He was going to give me a flogging one day, but I had two big cattle dogs and I sooled them on to him. They soon knocked the fight out of him; and he can fight a bit. Apprentices can get cheeky, but he forgot I had the old dogs. “But look, he was the most dedicated kid I’ve ever seen, growing up through the years. He’s been dedicated since day three in Charleville when he wanted to ride that pony.”


Starspangledbanner wins on Cox Plate Day

No is after winning Noes the Inglis Plate

Origami Miss wins the Ritzenhoff Handicap on Melbourne Cup Day

Origami Miss after the Handicap on Melbourne Ritzenhoff Cup Day



rad Spicer’s phone has been a lot busier early in 2009 than it was this time last year when he was trying to syndicate five yearlings. Success breed success and thanks to a wonderful 2008 spring carnival, Spicer is finding that his syndication business, Spicer Thoroughbreds, is attracting a lot more interest from prospective racehorse owners. “I bought three yearlings at the Magic Millions (on the Gold Coast in January) and one of the colts was virtually syndicated before I got home,” Spicer said. Spicer Thoroughbreds hit the headlines last spring when four of its syndicated horses won feature races in the space of only a month. The $600,000 filly Noesis – the most expensive horse Spicer has bought – opened the account when she brilliantly won the Listed Maribyrnong Trial Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on Turnbull Stakes day. Noesis, by Exceed And Excel, is now valued at nearly double her purchase price. A week later, the 3YO gelding Fernandina, who at a purchase price of only $20,000 is at the other end of the scale to Noesis, won the Group 3 Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield. Fernandina’s bank balance is now more then $200,000. On Cox Plate day at Moonee Valley, the Spicer Thoroughbred-syndicated Starspangledbanner, a strapping son of Choisir who cost $130,000, debuted with a win in the $250,000 Inglis Juvenile Stakes (1000m). Trainer Leon Corstens is setting the youngster for rich Group 1 races this autumn.

And to cap off a wonderful month, the improving Origami Miss, a 4YO mare who is related to Melbourne Cup winner Empire Rose – and who cost only $30,000 – won her third consecutive race, the $101,500 Ritzenhoff Handicap (1700m) at Flemington on Cup Day. Spicer learned his craft during 10 years as an owner and racing manager with leading trainer Leon Corstens. “I have learned a lot off Leon and also expert bloodstock agents such as George Smith and Gary Mudgway, and I continue to utilize their advice in my yearling sale selection,” Spicer said. The due diligence is working well – of those five yearlings that Spicer toiled to sell last year, two have won feature races at their only starts, one other filly was placed at Bendigo before she was spelled, and the other two are unraced but showing considerable promise. Spicer said the success during the spring has allowed him to increase his budget in 2009. “I spent a bit more than usual at the Magic Millions, and you can see it in the quality of the horses,” he said. He is now syndicating shares in an impressive half-brother, by first-season sire Ferocity, to Magic Millions winner Lovely Jubly; a beautiful filly by Tale Of The Cat from former brilliant Group 1 winning mare Pharein; and a filly by hot young sire Charge Forward from Broccacia, who is closely related to Noesis. If you would like to Join the Spicer Thoroughbreds Team in 09 log onto or email

ON TRACK: Michael Freedman instructs jockey Danny Beasley pre-race.


asia Michael Freedman’s guide to

for beginners

Michael Freedman had a key role helping his brother Lee with their stable of horses in Victoria, but he wanted more. So he headed to Singapore to try to make it on his own. After a year, his star is on the rise and there are no regrets. BY CRAIG BRENNAN



here is comfort and there is challenge; Michael Freedman knows both. At this stage of a busy life he has backed challenge, and Singapore. The move to train in Singapore, which he has dubbed ‘Asia for beginners’, is the chance for him, at 41, to branch out from under the Freedman brothers’ umbrella and develop his own name in the game they, collectively, have made theirs, mainly through older brother Lee, a member of Australian racing’s Hall Of Fame. “I wanted to have a try on my own, to challenge myself,” Freedman said. “I was in a real comfort zone back in Melbourne. I could have remained that way for many years to come, I suppose, but I was keen to try and extend myself.” The youngest of the Freedman brothers arrived in Singapore just over 12 months ago after being granted a licence by the Singapore Turf Club in January 2008. He set up base three months later when he moved with wife Anna and their children, seven-year-old triplets Max, Sophie and Jessica. It wasn’t an easy decision for Freedman to make, but it’s one he hasn’t regretted. Having held

a trainer’s licence in Melbourne during the 1990s – when he had only a handful of runners without success – Freedman didn’t want to die wondering whether he could make a serious attempt at being a racehorse trainer. As one of four brothers who made up the FBI – Freedman Brothers Incorporated – Michael was by no means at the bottom of the pecking order. Although Lee held the training licence, Michael, Anthony and Richard each had key roles within the business. It was Michael’s job to assist Lee in the training of the horses while building and maintaining client relationships. “After being involved with quite a lot of success with the family over 20 years I thought it was a good time for a change, and part of that decisionmaking process was that I didn’t want to get to the age of 50 and think ‘if only, or what if’,” Freedman said. “I also wanted to give my kids an opportunity to spend some time overseas being educated in a different culture.” Like any expatriate, Freedman has experienced some mixed emotions about being in Singapore, but he quickly dismisses the negative thoughts and looks to the facts in front of him.







Wife Anna and seven-yearold triplets Max, Sophie and Jessica. Home is a small terrace house three to four kilometres from the city centre, a 10-minute trip, and 15 kilometres to Kranji, a drive of 10-15 minutes. As Freedman pointed out, “Living in Singapore, you are not far from anywhere.”

Glen Thompson and wife Katrina Gibbs, from Sydney, are Freedman’s key employees. Thompson, who worked for Tim Martin at Rosehill, is assistant trainer; Gibbs a senior track rider. Fifteen locals make up the stable staff.


John Powell and Robbie Fradd do most of the riding; Barend Vorster, Danny Beasley and Peter Knuckey are called upon at times. Vlad Duric, too, is getting rides after moving from Victoria.

Freedman arrived with 15 horses for the 40 boxes he had. He recently filled all 40 and will talk with the Singapore Turf Club soon, hoping to go to 50-60 boxes. Australian clients (including John O’Neil, Slade Bloodstock, and Japan’s Katsumi Yoshida) plus one local (Bernard Lee) owned the first 15. Marine Stable, a newcomer on the local scene – owners do not want to be named at this stage – has seven horses and 12-15 yearlings and two-year-olds to come from Australia.

RECORD 2008: 18 wins from 116 runners at 16%; prizemoney $S1,221,374, Freedman’s % $S126,326. 2009 (to April 1): 14 wins from 76 runners at 18%; prizemoney $S777,695, Freedman’s % $S81,309.


TRAINING Tracks are open from 6am to 10am. Most Freedman horses are worked on the bridle; occasionally one is given more strenuous work.

RACING There are two grass tracks: the short course has a 400m straight; the long course a 600m straight. The Polytrack (all-weather surface) is relatively new, and the club uses it for racing as well as training. Night meetings are held on Fridays, with occasional Wednesdays; day meetings are held on Saturdays and some Sundays.


With prizemoney for a maiden race at $S65,000 ($65,500) and the higher class open races (Kranji Stakes A) offering $S125,000 ($126,000), Freedman realises racing in Singapore is going from strength to strength. “Owners have the opportunity to race horses here from back home and, importantly, now watch them on television,” he said. “Prizemoney is obviously excellent, the facilities are terrific and the exchange rate at the moment is great. When we got here it was a bit difficult with a 36 or 37 per cent difference between the Aussie dollar and the Singapore dollar.” When Freedman arrived the strong Australian dollar meant money ‘evaporated’ when sent home. The Singapore dollar was trading about $1.36 against the Australian, which meant that for every Singapore dollar sent to Australia he was getting about 80 cents. Now it is ‘theirs for ours’. Freedman said he was still adapting to the different training environment. “The big difference between here and Markdel (the family property on the Mornington Peninsula) is that working up a hill at Markdel you don’t have to do as much with them,” he said. “Working my horses, I like to keep them on the bridle as much as possible, similar to back home, and only occasionally dash one up. I’m still working out how much work to give them and it can be a bit of a juggling act, but we’re getting there and the results are starting to come through.” All horses are imported and Freedman’s initial batch of 15 horses arrived not long after the family settled in Singapore. Fourteen were owned by Australian clients, including John O’Neil (who owned 2003 Caulfield Cup winner Mummify, who also won the 2005 Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji), Slade Bloodstock (which owned Alinghi, the 2004 Blue Diamond Stakes and 2005

Newmarket Handicap winner), Katsumi Yoshida (owner of 2006 Melbourne Cup runner-up Delta Blues), plus Les and Sue Smith (owners of 2008 Australian Cup winner Sirmione). Only one was locally owned, by Bernard Lee, who also races horses in Australia. Freedman’s Singapore career got off to a wonderful start when Ntini (B g 4, Johannesburg (USA)–Delia (AUS), by Geiger Counter (USA)) won on June 21. It was just the third runner he saddled. The win drew new (local) owners to his stable and his team has gradually grown to the stage where he now has a “house full” sign outside his barn of 40 boxes. While he still has a big contingent of Australian owners, local owners now have a strong interest in about 50 per cent of his team, and he hopes to talk with the Singapore Turf Club about increasing his capacity to 50, perhaps 60. “Getting off to a reasonable start was important and I’ve had some good support from local owners up here,” he said. “One in particular, who is new to the game, has been really supportive and wants to get bigger in the industry here.” Freedman said the rewards, on and off the track, make Singapore an attractive place to train. With racing two times a week – and sometimes only one – he finds plenty of time for family. “I think it is very important to have a life away from the track, like most normal people do with life away from their work. I try and spend time with the family and friends.” And just as important for Freedman is that the family has settled in well. Max, Sophie and Jessica go to the Australian International School, which they love - and as he pointed out: “If your family’s not happy here you’re not going to last very long. So the first 12 months, which is where we are at now, has been good.” The early challenges have been met. He is looking forward to more.

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in the saddle Not so long ago James McDonald had to stand on a bucket to groom horses. Now, at 17, New Zealand’s boy on the way up has had the whip hand at Group 1 level to underline claims he is the real deal. WORDS MIKE DILLON.



he Thoroughbred approached James McDonald 90 minutes before the $NZ2.2 million New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie, Auckland, in late February. Perhaps the timing wasn’t ideal. But then, perhaps it was. “Have to do a story on you for an Australian magazine, James,” the writer offered as New Zealand’s champion apprentice jockey walked from the Ellerslie grandstand to the back parade

ring to mount for a support race. The demeanour, as always, was pure concentration. He turned, concentration momentarily lost: “An Australian magazine? Yes, that’ll be fi ne – let’s get a good story going in Australia.” McDonald (17), on Le Baron, was unplaced in the Derby a couple of races later. He still had 1034 days left in his apprenticeship, but his ambition and drive mean there is no such thing as being too early to be a ‘good story’.


Short on experience This slip of a youth from the heart of New Zealand’s horse country in Cambridge, 120km south of Auckland, might have almost three years to serve as an apprentice in New Zealand, but he has been thinking as far afield as Australia and Hong Kong for a fair while. Racing’s wayside is littered with the riding skeletons of promising kids that at one point looked the goods then, when it mattered, didn’t deliver. But, in New Zealand, you would go a long way to find anyone in racing

STAND-UP ROUTINES: James McDonald stands in the irons to celebrate winning the New Zealand Oaks on Jungle Rocket, and (below) as a young boy stands on a bucket to put a bridle on a horse.

that would bet against James McDonald making it to the top. When you think of his potential, you think of Opie Bosson and Michael Walker, widely regarded as New Zealand’s two best jockeys. James McDonald never wanted to be a jockey. He wanted to be a dairy farmer, but a chance meeting as a 10-year-old with former champion jockey Lance O’Sullivan at a Karaka yearling sale in South Auckland changed all that. Father Brett McDonald, a retired high-class jumps jockey

and now a trainer, introduced the pair. For all his drive on a horse’s back, James remains shy with his feet on the ground. That day he was understandably in awe of one of the finest jockeys New Zealand has produced, but he was determined to push through that shyness in this one tiny window of unexpected opportunity to discover the answer to the question that burned the end of his tongue. “Excuse me Mr O’Sullivan, how old were you when you bought your first dairy farm?”

“Twenty-two.” The father and son hadn’t walked 10 paces away when the boy said: “I’m going to be a jockey, dad.” He never wanted to be a jockey; he wanted to own his own dairy farm at 22. He had suddenly found a way to make that happen and the way he is going at the moment, it is a given. When this story was being compiled, McDonald rode the upset winner of the $400,000 Oaks at Trentham, Jungle Rocket (Jungle Pocket (JPN)–Gu Li (NZ), by Last Tycoon (IRE)). He turned 17 on January 6 and this was his second Group 1 victory. That’s a long way from where he first believed he would end up in a race-day saddle. “I thought if I rode just a handful of winners I’d be OK with that,” he said, in the dining room of his parents’ home two days before the Oaks win. That comes under the title of ‘yeah, right’. From the time he was first seen at barrier trials before he was permitted to ride in races, McDonald looked the goods. The first race winner, on August 18, 2007, was on his father’s horse Johnnie The Sand in a $10,000 maiden race at Te Rapa Racecourse in Hamilton, the main Waikato city near his Cambridge home. He had been licensed to ride only 18 days and was still four months away from his 16th birthday. He had ridden nearly 30 winners when he turned 16 and kicked home his first 25 or so while still at school. He ended up with 90 winners in his first season, to be sixth in the overall jockeys’ premiership and his mounts earned $NZ1,422,000. Parents Dianne and Brett had to get special permission from Cambridge High School to allow the teenager time away from class to ride at barrier trials and on race day. When school officials agreed, they had little idea of how much time that was going to turn out to be. “They were very supportive



to start with, but they got sour towards the end when at times I was showing up only one day a week,” James said. Dianne McDonald was determined that, regardless of how difficult it was, her son was going to achieve his third-year high school certificate. He did, with teacher support. Brett McDonald was apprenticed to former leading trainer Allan Jones, whose property he eventually bought, and rode around 300 winners on the flat and another 150 over fences. He had winners in Australia, Ireland, Italy and the United States. A young James McDonald’s interests were in the farm animals and in playing rugby, ending up a ‘pretty good halfback’, according to his father. But the chance meeting with O’Sullivan changed everything. “At that point, James had only sat on the back of one of Ann Browne’s (wife of the jumping guru, the late Ken Browne) jumpers, Bay Willem. After that meeting, I knew we were going to have to do something about getting James his own pony,” Dianne McDonald said. The youngster wanted a Grand Prix jumper, but at between $40,000 and $50,000 mum and dad baulked. They bought He’s A Kamikaze cheaply and James McDonald turned it into a Grand Prix horse, competing at the highest level. McDonald couldn’t bear to part with He’s A Kamikaze – he still hunts on him with his

JAMES MCDONALD Born January 6, 1992, in Cambridge, New Zealand Statistics for this season (at April 14): 724 rides, 87 wins to lead the premiership by four Overall Stakes wins: 10 Group 1 wins: 2

YOUNG HOPES: At 10, James McDonald saw race riding as a way to pay for a dairy farm.

mother – but he bought his second pony, Dipped In Silver, for $200 and sold it for $25,000 after a similar schooling. That entrepreneurial streak remains strong. With his Dipped In Silver money, McDonald fi nanced him and his brother Luke into a $15,000 yearling at the New Zealand Bloodstock yearling sales at Karaka in February last year. They sold it at the ‘Ready To Run’ sales in November for $85,000. The brothers also trade in cattle. Brett McDonald said he would not have cared if his son had not wanted to become a jockey, but when the decision was made he became a huge supporter. “I gave James his first winner and got every one of his 4kg claim wins, bar one, from our stable,” the father said. He is also James’ harshest critic. Rev-ups? “Hell, yes,” said his mother. “Brett always thinks James rides his horses shocking.


Not long ago James rode a horse for his father at Waipukurau (80 minutes north of Wellington) and Brett gave him hell for the six or seven hours they spent in the float on the way back to Cambridge. The next day James rode three winners at Ellerslie, so the rev-up didn’t do him any harm. But then Brett’s the first to say ‘good ride’.” Former star Australian rider Mick Dittman makes frequent trips to New Zealand to source horses for Asia. He was so impressed with the young McDonald around the time he was starting out he presented him with a signed hand-written note. It reads: “Keep your head clear. Listen to people who have the experience and you will go a long way.” McDonald keeps that close at hand, also the whip and inscribed race winning photo Brett Prebble gave him under similar circumstances. Prebble, an Australian rated one of Hong Kong’s top jockeys, is McDonald’s role model. Every race in Hong Kong is shown live

in New Zealand and McDonald misses none. “The jockeys there are the best,” he says. McDonald has learned, and used effectively, Prebble’s talent for pushing a horse’s head down and forward in the last stride of a race. McDonald makes a point of publicly thanking Walker and Bosson for the great jockeys’ room support they gave him when he started out so young. “They looked after me and never made me feel like a 4kg claimer.” And he has special affection for Matamata (40km from Cambridge) trainer Peter McKay, for entrusting him with the Group 1 ride on three-year-old fi lly Special Mission (Towkay-Te Akau Trek (NZ), by Khozaam (USA)) in the Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes on April 5 last year, 12 weeks after his 16th birthday. McDonald returned the favour with a half-head victory after an outstanding ride. When he won the Oaks, for his second Group 1, in March, his mother applauded the victory salute that received official rebuke. “He never got to enjoy his first Group 1 because he was so young and he was very teary when he came back in. This time it was different. He’s been crucified for not smiling enough when he wins – this time he was crucified for over-celebrating.” Lance O’Sullivan has watched McDonald’s career closely. “James is a huge talent,” said the rider, who broke every New Zealand record before quitting. “One of his great attributes is a determination that is going to take him right to the top.” With that determination firmly in place, McDonald says he is considering a move to Australia before his apprenticeship ends. Where? “Melbourne or Sydney. Start at the top and I’ll work my way down until I fi nd my level.” When you watch him kick home winner after winner, you know exactly where that level eventually will be.

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Betting TO WIN T he practice of arbitrage – or arb’ing – is something that is prevalent in the currency and share markets, but is not so well recognised in horse racing. In currency and share markets,


a trader attempts to purchase an amount of currency or shares at a given price, while at the same time selling that same amount elsewhere, for a higher price, thus guaranteeing himself a profit. For this reason, in those markets, it is a very popular pursuit: anyone who dismisses a guaranteed profit is clearly a fool.

In sports punting, arb’ing is also very popular, especially in tennis. With an abundance of corporate bookmakers in most countries across the world, finding discrepancies in prices on a little known tennis event is not difficult. Let’s do a hypothetical: Lleyton Hewitt is playing against Marat Safi n, as both try to resurrect


The first of a regular series for The Thoroughbred on making punting pay, by professional form analyst CAMERON O’BRIEN.

their careers in the Houston Open (which, incidentally, Hewitt wins). The best odds available across all the Australian bookmakers on the event are: Hewitt: $2.10 Safi n: $1.85 This is a market betting to an aggressive 101.6%, and this is not unusual at all, just in Australia alone. This means that the bookmaker has only 1.6% in his favour, and that you as a punter only need to fi nd a 2.6% discrepancy somewhere else in order to make a guaranteed 1% profit. Now, 1% may not sound like a big amount, but when it is guaranteed and no risk, professional punters worldwide will accept it with delight. You search around the corporates across the world, and you fi nd the best odds available about Safi n are $1.93. Now, you are betting into a 99.4% market. You can back both of those players simultaneously and guarantee yourself a 0.6% profit.

If you can fi nd $2.12 somewhere about Hewitt – perhaps on the betting exchanges as prices fluctuate – then that profit is now over 1%, without a risk. That’s arbitraging, and in the world of professional sports punting, it happens every day. In horse racing, arbitrage is not as common. For a long time, arb’ing has been viewed by traditional racing punters as a miserly pursuit, more akin to emu-bobbing than punting. As a punting friend of mine recently said: “People who arbitrage are worse than bankers and used car salesmen combined. They’re the fi lth of the punting industry, and only slightly above Carlton supporters on the food chain.”

‘ You’ll begin talking to yourself and mumbling prices in your sleep.

That viewpoint aside, arbitrage on horse racing is a difficult thing to do. Finding bookmakers with enough variance in their prices simultaneously to tip the market below 100% is very rare. This is because bookmakers tend to have such a high percentage in their favour. The provincial bookmakers tend to set markets beginning at 150% or so and gradually wind it down to perhaps 130%. To fi nd a 30% discrepancy is impossible. The more aggressive Saturday metropolitan markets will bet down to about 110%, occasionally lower, and while that is a lot more competitive, it is still a difficult variation to overcome. It does happen sometimes, but to sit at your computer scouring the bookmakers, waiting for the chance to arbitrage successfully, then attempting to bet simultaneously with 16 different bookmakers may land you in a cell with padded walls. At the

THEY’RE RACING: And, if you’ve shopped around for top odds when betting on one or more of the runners, the percentage difference can be enough to turn a losing punter into a winning punter.

very least, you’ll begin talking to yourself and mumbling prices in your sleep. However, the principles of arbitrage are strong enough to help every punter who bets on horse racing. They are also strong enough to turn a losing punter into a winning punter. You may not be able to fi nd many “guaranteed profit” scenarios, but you’ll be able to collect bigger dividends on your winners, and thus improve your overall position. For the purpose of this article, I chose race five from Sandown Hillside, on Wednesday April 1 2009, won by No. 5 Agarkar, to use as an example. Attached is a table with the final dividends from the three major totes in Australia, from Betfair, and from

T H E T H O R O U G H B R E D 61


four corporate bookmakers. There are more corporates I could have included, and of course there is the option of opening accounts with bookmakers on course, plus there is another tote – Austote – that a punter could use, but I thought I’d keep it simple, and realistic. It is not unreasonable to suggest that a punter can monitor the prices from the eight entities. As can be seen from the grid, the three major totes, with their 15% win take plus roundings, effectively has them betting to a bit over a 118% market. Of the four corporates chosen, IAS was clearly the most competitive with its win odds, betting to 114.6%, while Sportingbet was the stingiest, out at 124.6%. The betting exchange Betfair was the best of all, betting down to 107.1% after its “take”. These prices, by the way, are not best fluctuation; they are the last price bet at each of these organisations. Essentially, it was each of the SPs (starting prices) these organisations were betting. The highlighted price shows the

best price for each runner. The totes had the best price for five of the runners, IAS had best price for one, Centrebet also had best price for one, and Betfair had the best price for four. Sportsbet and Sportingbet were offering the best price about none. In the far right column is the % of each runner based on the best price available. As can be seen in the total at the bottom, by taking the best price available you were actually betting into a 100.6% market, which is amazingly competitive for a midweek meeting. You could back each of these runners, staked according to the price, and come out virtually square. You don’t even need to have TAB accounts to achieve this. Almost all the corporates offer a “best of all three totes” price option on all metro meetings, meaning if you thought in the last minute that the tote price was going to be the best, you just take that option with the corporate of your choice. Of course, there are hurdles to overcome. One of them is that you don’t know what the

‘ That 18% swing is

more than enough to turn a losing punter into a winning one.

final tote price is going to be in advance. You may end up taking less than the best price by backing “tote odds”, as a runner trims in. In this respect, using the principles of arb’ing to your advantage does require judgement, and quick thinking. It requires that you make decisions on the spot, close to the jump, about where you bet. However, I am not suggesting you should aim to back every horse. You should use the principles of arb’ing in accompaniment with your own selection method, to back however many horses you feel comfortable, always aiming to take the best odds about the runners you back. Right away, just by shopping around a little bit you can essentially negate the percentage

that bookmakers and the tote have in their favour. The punter who walked into the tote to place a bet on this race was 18% behind where you could have been, before he’d even begun. That 18% swing is more than enough to turn a losing punter into a winning one, or to make a winning punter much more profitable. A much more simple example of successful arb’ing is, say, if you fancy a horse and back it $2.20, then lay it at $2 when it shortens. You cannot lose – if it wins, you make 10% on your investment; if it is beaten, you break even. (Cameron O’Brien, who grew up in a racing family that has been involved in breeding, owning and training, recalls devising a method to back the Melbourne Cup winner at his first try – aged 10, he backed 10-1 chance At Talaq in 1986. After studying professional writing and journalism, O’Brien worked for renowned form analyst Mark Read in Darwin and for the racing website











1. Electric Ernie










2. Silk Wind










3. Mojo Pin










4. Discorsi










5. Agarkar



















7. Bromley










8. Asphalt Jungle










9. Dashatin










10. Borscht










11. Red Marshall










12. The Arbitrator










13. Elmore



















6. Berezovsky



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Peggie’s The mare Bid money can’t buy In a far south-west corner of Australia an old hobby breeder looks out his window each morning on the mother of Miss Andretti and other Group winners. WORDS ANDREW CARTER.




t is a long trek from the hallowed turf of Royal Ascot, where in 2007 the champion sprinting mare Miss Andretti demolished a crack field in the prestigious Group 2 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m), to a 1.4ha property deep in Western Australia’s south-west, where the first chapters of the Miss Andretti story were written 10 years earlier. That small patch of turf at Dardanup, some 16km southeast of Bunbury and 200km south of Perth, is the home of Peggie’s Bid (B or br m 1996, Marooned (GB)-Time To Bid, by Alytime (USA)), the dam of Miss Andretti, who started from humble beginnings to become one of the most prized broodmares in the country. The farmlet also is the home of hobby breeders Keith and Peggy Beauglehole, who were smart (lucky) enough to recognise the potential in Peggie’s Bid when she was a yearling in 1997. Keith Beauglehole, 74, has seen the highs and lows of racing during the three decades he has spent, on and off, breeding horses as a hobby. For 35 years, Beauglehole was the local water bailiff until he retired to concentrate more on his passion for breeding racehorses. Although he did not realise it at the time, he won racing’s ‘Lotto’ when he and wife Peggy inspected a plain-looking filly foal while visiting long-time friend Keith Reeve’s farm in nearby Boyanup. There was an indefinable something about the Marooned filly that caught Beauglehole’s eye and soon after he arranged to buy, for $15,000, the foal that would become Peggie’s Bid. Peggy Beauglehole remembers that $15,000 “was a lot of money” for a couple of working-class people,

LITTLE SISTER: Peggie’s Bid with Miss Andretti’s full sister Peggie’s Pride, then a weanling, now a two-year-old.

but sometimes passion does not have its own purse. Keith Beauglehole is the first to admit there was nothing that special about Peggie’s Bid that gave anyone associated with her any inkling to her potential as a broodmare. “She just struck us as a nice little fi lly and she was reasonably bred,” he said. “We weren’t necessarily looking for a horse by Marooned (Ch h 1981 Mill Reef (GB)-Short Rations (GB) by Lorenzaccio (GB)) but it didn’t turn us off her either.” A former good stayer, Marooned’s career highlight was an impressive win in the 1986 Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) for trainer Brian Mayfield-Smith and jockey Jim Cassidy. Despite an interrupted career at stud, Marooned carved out a niche in WA breeding ranks, with his stock displaying a versatility that defied the stallion’s stout bloodlines and race performance. The handsome chestnut sired the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) winners Island Morn

‘A big stud

over there called Coolmore or something, they offered $800,000 for the mare.



CLASSIC: Miss Andretti wins The Age Classic at Flemington in November 2007.

(Br h 1990, from After Dawn, by Twig Moss (FR)) and Hardrada (B or br g 1999, from Marrich Bay, by Old Spice) and he has been a prominent sire of two-year-old feature race winners. But it is as a broodmare sire that Marooned has really left his imprint upon Australian racing, his genes inherited from the Epsom Derby winner Mill Reef, one of the great broodmare sires of his time. Marooned’s best-known daughter, before Peggie’s Bid came

on the scene, is Marooned Lady (Ch m 1992, Marooned (GB)Wildwood Lady, by Haulpak), the dam of champion filly Special Harmony (by Spinning World (USA)), winner of the 2003 Group 1 Thousand Guineas, 2003 Group 1 VRC Crown Oaks and the 2004 Group 1 Arrowfield Stud Stakes. Marooned Lady also produced the 2004 Group 2 Perth Cup winner King Canute (by King Of Kings (IRE)) and the 2004 Group 2 Karrakatta Plate winner Redwoldt (by King Of Kings (IRE)). According to Beauglehole, Peggie’s Bid, who was leased out to race for clients of Mandurah









trainer David Jupp, displayed good speed in training but didn’t race because of a bone chip in her knee – she had corrective surgery. Her best effort in three trials was second at Lark Hill in August 1999. Suddenly, the Beaugleholes were left with a broodmare. Keith had been impressed by the stallion Ihtiram (B h 1992 Royal Academy (USA)-Welsh Love (IRE), by Ela Mana Mou (IRE)), owned by Peggy’s second cousin Ray Cochrane, who was standing the son of Royal Academy at Wayandah Stud, at nearby Australind. Ihtiram, an import formerly owned by Sheik Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, didn’t measure up to much as a racehorse, winning the 1997 Benalla Cup (2155m) as one of five wins from 38 starts. Beauglehole arranged to lend Peggie’s Bid to Cochrane for her first two foals, but after Miss Andretti was foaled in 2001, Cochrane returned Peggie’s Bid to Beauglehole in foal to Ihtiram. The resultant foal was a colt, later named Charlie Beau. Cochrane retained Miss Andretti, a tiny but wellmade little foal. Ironically, the Beaugleholes inspected Miss Andretti as a foal, and while Peggy liked the diminutive filly, she was unsuccessful in her attempts to persuade her reluctant husband to buy the youngster. Cochrane went on to race Miss Andretti in partnership with trainer David Mueller. Cochrane later sold his share to Melbourne businessman Sean Buckley, and the filly was transferred to trainer Lee Freedman after winning nine of her 13 starts in WA. Miss Andretti completed her career, winning 19 of 30 starts, with a bank account of $2.8 million. Apart from the memorable Royal Ascot win, the flying mare won five Group 1 races – 2006 Manikato Stakes, 2007 Australia Stakes, 2007 Lightning Stakes, 2007 Newmarket Handicap and the 2007 The Age Classic. She was


named the 2006-07 Australian Horse Of The Year. While most people would have been more than a little peeved at having passed up an opportunity to own a horse of Miss Andretti’s calibre, Beauglehole shrugs it off as just another of the high and lows that everyone experiences in racing. Anyway, he still owns Peggie’s Bid. Beauglehole said his horses were his motivation for getting up in the morning. This passion has resulted in him rejecting numerous lucrative foal-sharing offers and buying options from the likes of Coolmore Stud and other industry heavyweights. An example of the world in which the Beaugleholes exist was Peggy’s comment to journalist Craig Young of The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007: “We are only hobby farmers, we are not big breeders or anything like that, but a big stud over there called Coolmore or something, they offered $800,000 for the mare [Peggie’s Bid] with the foal she is now carrying.” While many would argue that Keith Beauglehole is making a mistake by not sending Peggie’s Bid to more commercial stallions outside WA, he simply said he finds it too hard to decide which of the top stallions that he would send her to, so he just uses what is close by – fortunately the mare has that freakish ability to leave outstanding racehorses irrespective of the stallion she is mated to. For this reason, Peggie’s Bid, now 12, remains in her somewhat obscure home where Beauglehole can keep an eye on her. “I like nothing more than getting up in the morning knowing that our horses are there and I can just watch them out the window,” he said. While Beauglehole is the first to admit he has had plenty of good fortune, he has also experienced his fair share of bad luck, none more so than the sudden death of the talented Charlie Beau, the year younger brother to Miss

PROUD OWNER: Keith Beauglehole leads the ill-fated Charlie Beau back after he won at Ascot in February 2007.

Andretti, in a freak accident in the winter of 2008. “Losing Charlie Beau was tremendously upsetting for everyone involved – ourselves, our trainer Bruce Watkins and all associated with the horse,” he said. “Charlie had worked brilliantly in his fi nal gallop and had the better of his stablemate El Presidente before the 2008 Roma Cup (at Belmont Park), and it seemed as though he was a far more settled and mature horse. Previously he had been very fiery and was a nightmare as a young horse before we sent him to Bruce, who was the only person able to sort him out and get him going.

“The horse had just arrived at Belmont for the Roma Cup and was being offloaded from the float when he reared up and crashed over backwards in the float area and was dead almost instantaneously.” Ironically, El Presidente went on to win the Group 3 $125,000 WFA Roma Cup (1200m), in what was a bittersweet victory for Watkins. Charlie Beau had won six of 18 starts, and had a second to Glory Hunter in the Group 2 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in December, 2007.

‘ I don’t believe in

pushing them as young horses, so we’re just taking her along slowly.

After two foals by Ihtiram, Beauglehole sent Peggie’s Bid to the fast former Victorian sprinter Zedrich (Ch h 1992, ZeditaveRich Haul, by Haulpak), and the resultant foal is the high-class sprinting gelding Danny Beau, winner of three Stakes races, including the 2008 Group 3 Colonel Reeves Stakes (1200m) at Ascot. A champion, a Group winner and a Group-placed horse from her first three foals put Peggie’s Bid in the elite broodmare class. Peggie’s Bid missed to Stormy’s Son (Br h 1999, Metal Storm (FR)-Moonrake, by Ministerial) in 2003, and luck was against the Beaugleholes when her 2005 filly by Key Business (B h 1990, Success Express (USA)-Business Babe, by Bletchingly), named Peggie’s Business, became trapped under a gate in the sandroll and severed a tendon in her offside hind leg when only a yearling. In the aftermath of the accident, Peggie’s Business fought for her life and despite being almost put down on several occasions, she eventually recovered and is now in foal to former smart Sydney galloper Saxon (B h 2001, Danehill (USA)Jeanetta Cochrane (IRE), by Sadler’s Wells (USA)). While Peggie’s Business’s future is at stud, the Beaugleholes are eagerly looking forward to the day that Miss Andretti’s younger sister Peggie’s Pride (B f 2006, by Ihtiram) hits the racetrack. They have already turned down a million-dollar offer from prominent Perth bloodstock agent John Chalmers for the filly as a weanling, an offer that Beauglehole admits if it had come 20 years earlier, it would have been considerably harder to knock back. “We seriously thought about it, but at this stage of our lives the money wasn’t going to be of that much use,” he said. “Twenty years ago it might have been a different story, and I actually had a $1.25 million price tag on the horse – if

T H E T H O R O U G H B R E D 67


a high-class racehorse, who is to say that any one approach is correct. If it was that easy, wonderful horses such as Vo Rogue, Bonecrusher and Miss Andretti would never have bucked the odds and every million-dollar yearling would be a champion. It is now commonly accepted that if a horse is to perform to its optimum on the track that it is just as important for it to be mentally content and happy as it is for it to be physically fit and sound. With that in mind, why would it be any less important for a broodmare to be mentally happy and in a comfortable familiar environment in order for her pass on to her progeny the best of her genes? Peggie’s Bid has a yearling fi lly by Ihtiram, and a weanling colt by the stallion. She is not in foal after missing to Husson Lightning (B h 2004, Hussonet (USA)Snip Snip, by Snippets), in the 2008 season. Husson Lightning, winner of the Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m, Flemington) stood at Heytesbury Stud at a fee of only $6600.








Husson Lightning



b or br


to be named

Ihtiram (IRE)



b or br


to be named

Ihtiram (IRE)





Peggie’s Pride

Ihtiram (IRE)



b or br


Peggie’s Business

Key Business


Stormy’s Son

2004 2003




Danny Beau

Zedrich (AUS)





Charlie Beau

Ihtiram (IRE)





Miss Andretti

Ihtiram (IRE)



IN THE RING: Alinghi’s half-brother at the Easter sale

One yearling goes to work, another’s sale preparation goes without a hitch. WORDS DANNY POWER.





we’d been offered that, I might have let her go. In the end, though, the prospect of racing her ourselves was too exciting. “I don’t believe in pushing them as young horses, so we’re just taking her along slowly and she’s already been in and out of work with Bruce Watkins (at Bunbury) on several occasions. This time in, she’s been in work for seven weeks, so hopefully with a bit of luck she might get to a trial. “It’s doubtful that she’ll get to the races in this preparation but I’ll leave it up to Bruce as he’ll know when she’s ready and we’re not in any hurry.” While some would ridicule Beauglehole’s perceived simplistic approach to breeding with Peggie’s Bid, there is no guarantee that, if she was moved away from her familiar environment and sent to a more expensive “superior stallion”, she would improve on her already imposing record at stud. The widely accepted adage in thoroughbred breeding is to breed to the best and hope for the best, but, given the many vagaries involved in breeding

n the Summer edition of The Thoroughbred, we looked at the preparation of two valuable yearlings from the Yarraman Park draft for the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale in Sydney. The two colts were a bay by Fastnet Rock from Snippets’ Lass (by Snippets), a three-quarter brother to top galloper Snitzel, and a scopey half-brother to champion filly Alinghi, by Redoute’s Choice from Oceanfast (by Monde Bleu). The Fastnet Rock colt didn’t make it to the sale after his owner, South African Francois Naude, decided to race the youngster. “He had lost the mare (dam Snippets’ Lass died in September 2007), so he decided to keep him,” said

Yarraman Park’s Harry Mitchell. Naude gave the colt to Snitzel’s former trainer Gerald Ryan, and the precocious youngster has already been broken in and completed his first preparation with Ryan at Rosehill. The Redoute’s Choice colt’s sale preparation went without incident. The athletic youngster was lighter framed that the powerful Encosta De Lago half-brother that sold for $2.2 million in 2008 to Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm – since named Shoot Through and unplaced in his one start for trainer Mick Price. The 2009 colt sold for $750,000 to the bid of John Ferguson, acting for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Darley Australia. “He’s not an early colt, but he was an athlete – $750,000 was a good price in this market,” Mitchell said. The colt will be trained by either Peter Snowden or Lee Freedman.

Portrait Of A






Launching a photographic collection to honour the Champions of the turf Also in the series: Weekend Hussler, El Segundo, Samantha Miss, Scenic Blast, Phelan Ready, Roman Emperor, Niconero, Light Fantastic, Rebel Raider, Heart Of Dreams and Reward For Effort.

To purchase your work of art visit or call (03) 9627 2600 Each framed image, produced on fi ne art photographic paper, will measure 995mm x 775mm

Subscribers of receive a 10% discount, cour tesy of The Thoroughb red Magazine Club


Why Sky Channel runs like clockwork Some 6400 meetings a year. More than 60,000 races. And 99.9 per cent are shown without a hitch on pay television in Australia and abroad. Some juggling act. WORDS STEPHEN HOWELL. PHOTOS SEAN GARNSWORTHY.


atthew Browning didn’t say “ummm” on air when The Thoroughbred sat in with him; not bad when, without a script, you are on camera linking scores of races over several hours. Browning was cued by a director, who was in his ear from the control room, but he was on his own on screen because the cameras are robotic, pointed from the control room the host can’t see.


The day The Thoroughbred went behind the scenes at the Sky studios in French’s Forest on Sydney’s North Shore, the running sheet for Browning and those who filled the seat later had 196 races at 23 meetings for telecast over the three codes (eight thoroughbred, five harness and 10 greyhound), from 10.07am (Addington greyhounds in New Zealand) to 1.50am (Auteuil thoroughbreds in France). This is a typical day, and the traffic is two ways – Sky also shows some of its Australian

races overseas, as well as showing overseas races in Australia. Without a strong hand watching every minute – no, every second – the ingredients of the telecast could be a recipe for mayhem. Sky has an influence in Australian racing far beyond receiving and dispatching signals: it tells the race clubs in each state and in New Zealand – it has no say elsewhere overseas – what time which race will start, working back from sunset (for day meetings) and after safety, legal and contractual elements are considered.

“The view from the industry is that (such) management is fundamental to increased wagering,” said Sky’s Chief Operating Officer Brendan Parnell. It is important to mention here that Sky, unlike TVN, also telecasts harness and greyhound racing, as well as covering more (but lesser) thoroughbred races. This quantityover-quality approach is a twoedged sword – it provides more “content”, but it means pre- and post-race analysis is minimal. Sky allows four-minute windows for gallops, five minutes


THE HOST: Matthew Browning, one of the race-day faces, is hard at work on camera.

for harness races, which take longer to run, and two minutes for greyhounds, where races are over in much less than a minute, often less than half a minute. These windows fit according to the Sky racing clock (see next page) that on a typical day has a 40-minute cycle and allows 20 minutes between the two major meetings (Sydney and Melbourne) and spaces the other two capitals (Brisbane and Adelaide) at the 10-minute and 30-minute marks. Strategically placed in the middle of each of the 10-minute windows

are the other meetings (say Gold Coast, NSW provincial, New Zealand/Western Australia and Victorian provincial). The clock can be shortened or lengthened on demand – Group 1 race days such as the Melbourne Cup usually need bigger spacing, as do long jumps races such as the Great Eastern and Grand Annual Steeples at Oakbank and Warrnambool. Parnell said the channel’s approach was holistic. True, but it is also structured around wagering; the broadcaster is

owned by TABcorp, which also owns the pari-mutuel operations (TABs) in NSW and Victoria. (TAB Limited bought Sky Channel in 1997 after if had been owned over the years by “big names” in the Australian media, including Robert Holmes à Court, Alan Bond, Kerry Packer’s PBL and Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited.) TABcorp helps fund the racing industry to the tune of $500 million a year, but it would be naïve to believe any spin that its own interests are not paramount. That said, it is impossible not

Sky delivers vision from outside broadcasting providers contracted by the race clubs. They include Sportscolour, Pro Video, Perth Racing, Turf, Harbour TV, EVD and TVN. The providers use a network of 50 outside broadcast units Austaliawide, but usually only one van works at each meeting. A dozen cameras operate at each Saturday meeting in Sydney and Melbourne, five or six in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, and only one at some greyhound meetings. The main camera is elevated in line with the winning post; others are placed head-on and in the back straight – these are the three principal positions at all thoroughbred and harness meetings, with additional placement in stewards’ towers, at the barrier and at special angles, depending on the size of the track. On big days, Sky uses shots provided by free-to-air television from a tracking vehicle and helicopter.

to be amazed at how the various elements of Sky’s charter come together so seamlessly every race day and night – if a newspaper is a daily miracle, Sky is more so. Parnell said Sky’s pictures came from 229 Australian tracks, 166 of those serviced by Telstra fibre (cable, an $80 million investment), the rest by satellite. And all is in digital and widescreen form. The menu has more than 6400 race meetings a year, including 1700-plus thoroughbred and 800-odd international. More than 60,000 races are telecast.



TAKING CONTROL: Working out what goes where on a busy day at Sky Channel.

The vision is available in more than 2.2 million homes (twothirds through Foxtel) and 5300 commercial outlets (pubs, clubs and TABs), and by mobile phone. It is no surprise that Sky ranks No. 1 among pay-TV channels on Saturday and Sunday afternoons with men aged 40-plus, and one of the top five with men 25-40. The Sky system is best explained this way: if the TAB agencies, pubs, clubs and home screens – yes, you can bet through your television – are the retail outlets, Sky Channel studios are the wholesale element, taking the product from the maker at the racecourses, packaging it to suit and passing it on to the customers, at home and abroad.

The vision arrives at, and is sent from, Sky Channel’s master control room. This gateway, over-simplified, is a room with a long desk of knobs and buttons and a wall of screens that show all pictures coming in from tracks and studios and going out to customers. It is controlled by two operators. Browning works from one of four studios under the voice direction of Dominic Gowans, whose control room (one of three) has screens showing, simultaneously, up to a dozen “feeds” sent from the master control room after it receives them from across Australia and New Zealand. “It’s a wonderful geography and weather lesson every day,” said Parnell. Gowans works with a vision switcher on his left, who selects the required picture, and a director’s assistant on his right,

‘ The world is








10 min

not yet Sky’s oyster but it is setting the plate with outlets and viewers.

10 min MELBOURNE 20 min


who puts up pre-recorded graphics. Behind him is a technical director who ensures the signals coming into the building get to each studio. And behind, in a smaller booth, are the “racing room boys”, who put up the in-running numbers (that show the leading horses on the bottom of the screen) and computer displays (such as the TAB dividends). Browning’s lifeline is his earpiece, and a row of screens built into the desk enable him to see what is going to air, from the tracks and the studio. The Thoroughbred, with an earpiece of its own, listened to directorhost instructions, and had an inside view of the preview and filler material that dealt with, on the early shift (from 10am to just before 4pm), thoroughbred meetings at Warwick Farm (NSW), Seymour (Victoria) and Ipswich (Queensland), harness racing from Ascot Park (NZ), Albion Park (Qld) and Menangle (NSW), and greyhounds from Addington (NZ) and Devonport (Tasmania). Browning has an external lifeline, too, a personal computer that has racing websites on “favourites” for rapid access. As well as its races-for-betting – Sky’s bread and butter – that sees screens riddled with markets, Sky Channel also produces features such as Bred To Win, Off The Beaten Track and Racing Around The World. And it has programs previewing

and reviewing each of the codes, including Racing Retro, In The Gig and The Catching Pen. They and shows prepared for the overseas market are hosted in a bigger studio than the one Browning and his racing co-hosts work from each day – there are usually three shifts in the 16-hour day. Browning, 13 years with Sky Channel after working on radio, gets the chance to chat when not on air, and he tells that while he has a thoroughbred background and the gallops are his strong point, “At Sky, you can’t just say ‘I’m a thoroughbred man’ ”. Nor can you just say, “I’m an Australian racing man,” because of the channel’s global outlook. The world is not yet Sky’s oyster, but it is setting the plate and already has hundreds of wagering outlets and millions of home viewers. Its press releases show that in the financial year to June 30, 2008, Australian racing got $5.3 million from overseas betting operators. New Zealand is the main import-export focus, but 14 countries, including the US, are on the export list and seven are on the import list. Sri Lanka takes Australian races, and Parnell said two large bookmaking chains showed pictures in 350 betting shops. In the UK 12 million homes have access to Australian thoroughbreds seven days a week through At The Races. Some 3000 betting outlets show night racing from the three codes. There is no betting on two flies crawling up a wall – it would be difficult to determine starting and finishing times, and Browning might need an “ummm” or two filling in the gaps. Technological developments, however, are opening up more ways to get a bet on horses and dogs, and Sky Channel is at the forefront of athome betting, using the television remote control, and on-the-go betting, using mobile phones. Stephen Howell travelled to Sydney as a guest of Sky Channel.

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THE BROTHERS GRIFFITHS: In a typical tortoise-hair tale, slow and steady Robbie has become a successful trainer, whereas former Group 1 jockey Rodney is struggling after injury ended his career.




Weight ended Robbie Griffiths’ time as a jockey before he was 21. He turned to training. Elder brother Rodney’s career soared and he scaled the world stage, winning the Phoenix Stakes, the Irish equivalent of the Golden Slipper, on Bradawn Beever in the early 1990s. Robbie’s dedication, determination and discipline have put his stable into the top 10 in Victoria. Shocking injuries to his neck and shoulders abruptly finished Rodney’s riding career and, at 42, he struggles to cope with not being able to ride. Robbie, 39, is frustrated at his brother’s inability to tap into his talents in other ways. ADRIAN DUNN caught up with them at Cranbourne, where Robbie trains and Rodney is a clocker. PHOTOS MICHAEL WILLSON.

Who got you involved in racing? Rodney Griffiths: Through my parents … well, through me. Robbie wasn’t interested in horses until I started race riding. I was quite surprised he got involved. I was 100 per cent sure he would be a vet. Robbie Griffiths: Rodney was always going to be a jockey. He was always in pony clubs and shows. I can remember tuning in on the radio when Think Big won the (Melbourne) Cups in 1974-75 and we would play races around the house. While Rodney was always going to be involved, I thought I would stay on the ground and be a vet. When he started riding, it sparked a lot of interest for me. Next minute I followed suit. Did you think each other would make it as a jockey? Rodney: I knew I would, but actually I was petrified with Robbie. I never told him that. Robbie: You thought I had no hope. Rodney: No, I knew he would make it because he was always good at whatever he set his mind to. Actually, I was very scared (for him), and was up until the day he retired – every time he rode in a race. Horses are well educated now, but going back to those days … if you went to Traralgon on a Saturday, you might as well be

going to the rodeos. Race riding then was a lot tighter than it is now ... I didn’t want to see him get hurt. Robbie: My career was always going to be relatively brief. Rodney’s career had more diversity. He could ride lighter, he had more skill. What inspiration did you derive from each other? Robbie: I got to follow Rodney when he went overseas and rode in Ireland, rode for the Queen, met celebrities like Mick Jagger. He got to ride everywhere. It was a good path to follow from a racing, family and brother point of view. At his peak, Rodney was world class. Rodney: I was over the moon with the way Robbie rode. I thought Robbie was one of the best apprentices around. It was only lack of opportunities because of his weight that stopped him. He rode 200 winners, he was no slouch. How competitive were you? Robbie: Rodney was more competitive against me than anyone else. There was a race at Stony Creek one day – I nearly got three months for foul riding trying to move him so I could get out. You would cheer for each other when you were not up against each other, not that it (competition) really mattered because he would always beat me.

T H E T H O RO U G H B R ED 75


Rodney: I remember an apprentices series in Queensland. Robbie was on one of the favourites. I got up and beat him a head. He was devastated. Robbie: I was on a $1000 sling, I would have shared mine. He was on $500 and I got nothing. Some brothers share, not Rodney.

THE TRACK RECORDS ROBBIE GRIFFITHS Age: 39 Record as a jockey: 207 winners Record as a trainer: “No idea. I look forward, not backwards.” Biggest win as trainer: Group 2 SAAB Quality, Big Pat, 2003

What do you see as each other’s greatest strengths? Robbie: His greatest strength was in the saddle. He had a rare ability to communicate with the horse. He could always assess, read and win a race. His success rate was phenomenal. His balance was just so good. He brought a European riding style back to Australia. Rodney: Defi nitely Robbie’s attitude towards life – it’s very good. He’s a good family man. How do you look at each other now? Robbie: Unfortunately, I have learned more from Rodney’s negatives. My real inspiration was to see how much of a talent Rodney was, but his negative side inspired me not to go down the same path, which was Tabarets and gambling and wasting opportunities. I’d see him ride like a demon and blow it all 24 hours later. I think you can draw a positive out of everything and that’s what I’ve drawn from how Rodney hasn’t helped himself. Rodney: I tried to build Rome in a day and 65 billion people will tell you, you can’t do it. But I tried. Robbie just poked along. When he first started training he only had four or five horses. He is where he is today because he has a good nature. I’m overwhelmed at what Robbie’s done, but we could never get along as trainers. We’re not the Freedmans. He has his own ways and I have mine. What is your greatest strength? Rodney: My greatest strength is riding horses and being competitive. I’ve always been competitive. It’s hard dealing

RODNEY GRIFFITHS Age: 42 Record: 1487 wins Group 1s: 10 Biggest wins: Bradawn Beever, 1991 Phoenix Stakes, Leopardstown, Ireland; Blevic, 1994 Victoria Derby

with that now it’s fi nished. You try to enjoy the moment and go on. You can’t live on ifs and buts. I enjoy the moment, enjoy my son Ryan (a gifted tennis player). Robbie: Clarity of direction. I know where I’m going and what I want to do, how I want to go about it. I have a strong character. Who lived in whose shadow? Robbie: On the racetrack I’ve always lived in Rodney’s shadow because he had the talent and skill. At Rodney’s peak, I don’t think there was anyone better. Certainly, I was always in his shadow as a jockey and I don’t think that will ever change. Since then the tide has turned. Rodney: Most probably I am. I don’t really care. I wouldn’t care if he is a truck driver, he’s still my brother. What are each other’s weaknesses? Rodney: He’s fat (much laughter). He loves his food and his drink. Robbie: Rodney’s greatest weakness is depression, stuck in the one spot. He needs to turn


his competitive nature into a new phase – he can’t live in the past. He must move on. We don’t work together like some brothers and that’s because of my clarity of direction and Rodney being stuck in the past. If he could turn his energy to a positive manner and train apprentices or whatever, his qualities will always be there. What is your own greatest weakness? Rodney: Everything, but who cares? Robbie: Fear of failure. What are your goals? Rodney: It’s very hard. I was forced to retire when I was 33. I went in for a severe neck operation. I thought I would come out of it good; I came out a full-blown epileptic, so I could never race ride again. Every day I wake up and think ‘tomorrow I’ll be all right’, but I’m in pain. I try to stay off painkillers. There’s hardly a day goes by where I don’t take a Panadol or Panadene. It’s hard to take a step

forward because there is always something holding you up. I’ve busted both shoulders and everything else. I’d like to teach apprentices. I think too many of them ride like they’re Frankie Dettori (one of the world’s best, and most exuberant, jockeys). Robbie: Hopefully, I’d like to see myself in the same position, but only stronger. I wouldn’t necessarily like to get bigger, but have better quality horses and get into that Group status. We’ve had five Group 1 placings, but can’t quite snag that fi rst Group 1 winner. What is your greatest shared moment? Rodney: I think winning the Winter Championship in 1994 on Spring Theme. It was Robbie’s first Listed race win and I rode it. Robbie: We’ve had some good shared moments. Certainly, riding against each other. There was great rivalry, but it was a terrific phase of my life to have that competitive spirit. Even though Rodney always won, it was still nice to say I ran second. We shared a double wedding (Robbie is married, Rodney is separated) and my first Stakes success. There’s nothing stopping that happening again, but it can’t until Rodney turns those negative thoughts into positive actions. Have you tried to change each other? Rodney: No. I’d be happy if he was a truck driver. Robbie: Heaps of times. I’ve tried hard, but you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink it. Some people have to see the light themselves. It’s something he has to work through. When he can see his strengths through his ability, he can make a good fi st of it. In one sentence, describe each other. Robbie: Talented and stuck. Rodney: Skipper. When he’s wrong, he’s still right.


Soaring success In Australia, jump racing is an afterthought, usually a last stand for failed flat runners. Victoria and South Australia are its only supporters. In Britain, the jumps have a special place as an alternative to flat racing. The Thoroughbred’s EMMA BERRY is a devotee. Her response when asked to prepare an article was: “You’ve made my day – there could not be a brief more suited to me. I love jump racing.” She writes …


What ‘Rummy’ (B g 1965, Quorum (GB)-Mared (GB), by Magic Red (GB)) and ‘Dessie’, as they were known to their legions of fans, had in common was that they were jumpers: durable and dependable, with us throughout the gloomy winter months, year in, year out. Jumpers may not possess the breathtaking speed required to win the Guineas but neither are they whisked away from us just as we have fallen in love with them, too valuable to continue when a lucrative stud berth awaits. The charm of National Hunt racing, as jumping is known in Britain, lies in being able to get to know the horses, their strengths and quirks, and in greeting them each season at the racecourse, cheering them home by their nicknames as we would old friends. While jump racing is facing its darkest hour in Australia, the opposite is true in the northern hemisphere, where record figures have been paid for decent flat

stayers to convert to the winter game and a new hero is etching his name on racegoers’ hearts: Kauto Star. As Dessie died, at the age of 27 in November 2006, Kauto Star had already started his extraordinary run of success – which to date reads 18 wins and nine places from 31 starts – but the French-bred jumper was by then only just hitting his stride: his three wins in the King George and his two in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (the season’s best steeplechase and the highlight of the best meeting, the four-day Cheltenham Festival, run every March) still a dream. By March this year, however, the elegant bay had made history, becoming the first horse to regain his Gold Cup crown after losing it in 2008 to his stable companion, Denman (Br

THE STAR: Kauto Star (No. 8) clears a fence in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham this year.

g 2000, Presenting (GB)-Polly Puttens (Ire), by Pollerton (GB)). The rivalry between the two chasers, trained by Paul Nicholls, has been the main talking point for the past two Festivals, with rosettes bearing their names and colours dished out at the racecourse to encourage racegoers to take sides. The usually taciturn Ruby Walsh, who broke the record for number of winning rides at this year’s Festival, has the unenviable position as Nicholls’ stable jockey of choosing between them. He has never wavered from Kauto Star, saying after this year’s Gold Cup: “He’s the greatest horse I have ever ridden - two miles, three



hirty-two years have passed since Red Rum romped to his third Grand National victory. A year later, when he was scratched from Aintree on the eve of the race, the announcement was the lead item on the evening news, such was the popularity of the little steeplechaser, who had his publicity agent even in the far less media-savvy days of the 1970s. He and the great grey Desert Orchid (Gr g 1979, Grey Mirage (GB)-Flower Child (GB), by Brother (GB)), four-time winner of Kempton’s King George VI Chase, are the only two horses of the modern era in Britain and Ireland who could guarantee space for racing on the front page of the papers, setting aside the despicable kidnapping of the Aga Khan’s Derby winner Shergar (B h 1978, Great Nephew (GB)-Sharmeen (Fr), by Val De Loir (Fr)in 1982.

miles, now two Gold Cups - he’s a wonderful horse.” As Walsh, who has also ridden Papillon (B g 1991, La Fontaine (USA)-Glens Princess (GB), by Prince Hansel (GB)and Hedgehunter (B g 1996, Montelima (USA)-Abaredw (Ire), by Caerwent (Ire)) to victory in the Grand National, indicates, winning at the Cheltenham Festival is what it’s all about to the jumping cognoscenti. The National may have global recognition – the BBC distributes its coverage to 140 countries with an estimated audience of 600 million people worldwide – but it is the four days of the Festival in March (shown this year in Australia by Sky Channel) that represent jump racing’s Olympics. It is said that Ireland empties for the week as the passionate hordes descend on the Cotswolds

to support the country’s equine raiding party, which triumphed in nine of the 26 races this year and could well include the heir to Kauto Star’s title in the highly impressive novice chaser Cooldine (B g 2002, Beneficial (GB)-Shean Alainn (Ire), by Le Moss (Ire)). The annual ‘us and them’ battle between the English and the Irish is one of Cheltenham’s great traditions. The roar of approval that greets any Irish-trained

‘ He’s the greatest

horse I’ve ever ridden – two miles, three miles, now two Gold Cups. JOCKEY RUBY WALSH

winner creates an electrifying atmosphere within Prestbury Park’s natural amphitheatre that cannot be equalled even by an event of the magnitude of the Melbourne Cup. Cheltenham holds only half the number of people that gather at Flemington on Cup Day but it attracts racing diehards who, from the last day of the previous year’s meeting, have saved up the pennies and counted down the days to the week-long binge of top-class jumping and Guinness-drinking. Along with the Irish, the English now have to fend off the French, who have had a degree of success with domestically-trained horses at the Festival but now lead the field in the jumps breeding industry. The popularity of traditional British and Irish National Hunt stallions, quite often former top-

class staying horses from the flat such as Irish Derby winner Old Vic (B h 1986, Sadler’s Wells (USA)-Cockade (GB), by Derring-Do (GB)) or champion stayer Kayf Tara (B or br horse 1994, Sadler’s Wells (USA)Colorspin (GB), by HIgh Top (Ire)), is being seriously challenged by a wealth of good jumping stock from France. More precocious bloodlines, a tidier stamp of a horse and different training methods, which result in French horses being schooled from a much earlier age over hurdles and fences, has left the top yards in Britain and Ireland clamouring for the professional young Gallic-breds. As the amusing Frogsracing. com website said after Cheltenham: “Great results for the French horses at Cheltenham – it’s just a shame that they have all been exported.”



Despite the buoyancy of the National Hunt scene even in the face of recession, jump racing is not without its detractors. Pedigree purists sniff while animal rights groups are altogether more vocal, plaguing the big festivals, particularly at Aintree, where the Grand National’s unique spruce fences have been significantly modified for safety reasons in the past few years. The race remains, however, a unique test of a thoroughbred’s versatility. Run over four and a half miles, usually with a full field of 40 horses, its 30 fences include the terrifying Becher’s Brook with the landing-side drop that has claimed many a runner, the Canal Turn with its right-angled turn immediately after the fence and the massive Chair, looming in front of the stands at the end of the first circuit. The stamina and bravery required of horse and jockey to win the National is not to be under-estimated and, while it may not quite be a race of nation-stopping ability, it’s certainly one of heart-stopping excitement. This April, 170 years


$100,000 Von Doussa Steeple



April 13

$166,000 Great Eastern Steeple



April 13

$100,000 Yalumba Hurdle



May 5

$60,000 Brierly Steeple



May 6

$101,000 Galleywood Hurdle



May 7

$141,000 Grand Annual Steeple



June 13

$101,500 Australian Hurdle



June 13

$101,500 Australian Steeple



July 11

$101,000 MacDonald Steeple


Moonee Valley

July 25

$101,000 Moonee Valley Hurdle


Moonee Valley

July 25

$202,000 Hiskens Steeple


Moonee Valley

Aug 16

$101,000 Lachal Hurdle



Aug 16

$101,000 Crisp Steeple



Aug 30

$102,000 JJ Houlahan Hurdle



Aug 30

$202,000 GN Hurdle



Aug 30

$202,000 GN Steeple




Runs throughout the year but the season proper is from November to the end of April. There are about 7000 jumpers in training in Britain. Key riders include the most successful jump jockey of all time, A.P. McCoy, who recently rode his 3000th winner, Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, Paul Carbery, Richard Johnson and Robert Thornton. Unlike flat racing, most jockeys start as amateurs, often rising from the point-to-point field, and few of them have ridden on the flat.

Attendance at the Cheltenham Festival is about 230,000 over four days; the three-day Grand National meeting at Aintree attracts 150,000 racegoers. Steeplechasing has its roots as an informal country sport, the first known race having been run between the steeples of the churches in the Irish villages of Buttevant and Doneraile. Red Rum is the only horse to have won three Grand Nationals. He defeated the Australian raider Crisp in heartbreaking fashion in 1973, and won again the following year and in 1977. He was second in 1975 and 1976 TRIUMPHANT: Kauto Star and Ruby Walsh after this year’s Gold Cup.




after the appropriately-named Lottery romped to victory in the inaugural Grand National, 23-year-old Liam Treadwell partnered 100/1 outsider Mon Mome (B g 2000, Passing Sale (Fr)-Etoile Du Lion (Fr), by New Target (Ire)) to a 12-length win on his first ride in the race. No horse has ever won at bigger odds – Foinavon, Caughoo, Tipperary Tim and Gregalach have all obliged at the same generous price – while Mon Mome’s trainer Venetia Williams, who has also ridden in the race, became only the second female trainer to win the fabled prize. Williams has 100 horses in her Herefordshire stable, but for the little known Treadwell, forging clear of a chasing pack which included 13-time champion jockey AP McCoy, winless in the National after 14 rides and aboard the favourite, life will never be the same again. The irresistible lure of the Grand National has loomed large in British sporting history and extraordinary results such as this ensure it will continue to do so.



WELL NAMED: Suzanne Philcox with the Canny Lad mare she named Rio Osa. The four-year-old’s dam is Peach, and Rio Osa. Is a type of peach. For well-named horses, many of which are Philcox’s, see asp?page=sr.clevernames

The name game What’s in a name? Plenty when Suzanne Philcox is involved. WORDS STEPHEN HOWELL.


Google search shows that Peludia, daughter of Richard Filcockes, was christened at Canterbury Cathedral in 1613. As is the way with words, and particularly surnames, Filcockes has evolved for some to Philcox. So the odds are strong that Suzanne Philcox, who we reckon has named more racehorses than anyone in Australia, will end up naming a racehorse Peludia. It would be fitting. Philcox was responsible for naming thoroughbreds for Woodlands Stud, when owned by the brothers Jack and Bob Ingham (and Bob after Jack died in 2003) until the racing/ breeding empire was bought by Darley Australia last year. Philcox’s first name for the Inghams was Boasting (Crown Jester-Constant Chatter, by Biscay), who was third in the 1987 Golden Slipper. Almost 250 are in the last batch submitted to the Registrar of Racehorses in NSW. Philcox, like most of the Woodlands crew, now works for Darley. She started in January 1986 at Crown Lodge (the racing stables transferred as part of a deal worth almost $500 million), but now, as her main job, has moved into the racing section rather than breeding. “I co-ordinate all the raceday information every day between the five Darley trainers,” Philcox said. “The bulk are with Peter Snowden (at Warwick Farm), and there’s Lee Freedman, Gai

Waterhouse, Guy Walter and Brian Mayfield-Smith. At the moment, there are just under 400 (racehorses).” She said she had the naming job because nobody else would do it. “When they realise how much time it takes to name 200-odd every year, I’m left to it. It’s not my main job; it’s very much a sideline at nights and weekends.” That does not mean Philcox has no time for television. “I love CSI, which is where Forensics (Flying Spur-Prove It, by Dehere (USA) got her name,” she said of the 2007 Golden Slipper winner. “We worked out about two years ago that I was coming up to about 5000 horses named. Not just for the Inghams – I did a lot for outside clients (who had horses with Woodlands’ former trainer John Hawkes).” One of those is the Group 1 winner Mentality (Flying SpurSynaesthesia (USA), by Quiet American (USA)). Philcox uses the dam, not the sire, as a starting point: synaesthesia is a sense impression when another sense is stimulated, such as the sensation of colour when a sound is heard. There has been no change in emphasis with names under Darley, but there has been a switch in procedure. “With the Inghams I could name them as I liked,” she said. “They never saw the names before they were registered. With Darley the whole batch goes to Mr (John)


Ferguson, the worldwide chief, in England. He approves them, sends them back to me and we start registering.” Some are refused. “So far of the 246 ... I think eight have been knocked back by the Registrar,” Philcox said. “They’re not available (because) somebody’s beaten me to the name, or they probably approved a very similar name, or New Zealand just named one the same.’’ Philcox named Woodlands’ greats Octagonal and his son Lonhro. Octagonal’s dam is Eight Carat; Lonhro is a more involved story, his name derived from Lonrho, the mining/investment company of the late Tiny Rowland. “His foal sheet said ‘tiny but perfect’,” Philcox said of the 1998 colt from Shadea. “Private Eye, the satirical magazine in England, always referred to

Tiny Rowland as tiny but perfect – he was only five foot but he dressed beautifully. I swapped letters (R and H) around because the mining company under Tiny Rowland was known as a particularly litigious company.” One of Philcox’s favourite name lines is through the broodmare Miss Muncher. She called Miss Muncher’s two Marauding foals Bitten (1994 colt) and Crocodile (1996 filly), which had a 2001 colt named Gator. She called a 1989 colt by Lunchtime from Deliberation, Chew Over. “I don’t usually do two words,” she said. “I try to keep it to one word; it makes it easier for our computer system, the staff, the racecaller.” And who can forget one of Philcox’s favourite names, Waikikamukau? Her tools of trade? “These days I Google, thank God. Early on I had a dictionary, thesaurus, lexicon, atlases ...”

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The Thoroughbred Magazine - Autumn 2009  
The Thoroughbred Magazine - Autumn 2009  

Australia's Racing and Breeding Magazine