The Laurel Oak Story by Garry Robinson
Song beats Into The Night in the Group 1. Salinger Stakes
at Flemington. Both horses were purchased on the recommendation of Laurel
Oak. Ancient Song also has a Lonhro filly at foot who will
be a valuable yearling for the future. Photo By: Martin King Sportpix
the majority of Australians, a punting career commenced as a teenager would
end in disaster, and a lifetime of perpetual losses but for Louis Mihalyka,
it has led to a lifetime of enjoyable involvement in the Horse Racing Industry.
It is not everybody who can say that their hobby is their job but in this
case, it is true. Every spare moment was spent delving into the history of
Horse Racing, not only here but overseas as well. To this day two of Louiss
favourite horses are Gunsyd and Tails and who could
forget them and their exploits around forty years ago. Is it any wonder that
Louis Mihalyka looked to the day when he could get involved in owning and
racing his own horses?
Of course, owning a racehorse
was never cheap, even less so in the 60s and 70s. To encourage
horse ownership, the racing authorities encouraged racehorse syndication which
enabled the average punter to get involved, and although those early days
saw an influx of entrepreneurs with no idea about how to go about it but every
idea about how to make money for themselves, those early experiences helped
formulate what is now a fully regulated industry.
Louis Mihalyka and wife
Jill set out twenty years ago with the idea that they could not only participate
in horse ownership but also make the industry their business and so Laurel
Oak Syndications was born. They had no idea at the time just how widespread
their involvement and how successful their dream business would become.
Today, Laurel Oak is in
involved in Breeding, Syndication, Leasing and all aspects of the Bloodstock
industry. Pedigree analysis using the Brain methodology for the past ten years
or so has meant that Laurel Oak horses these days have gone from success to
success and now many of the syndications are the result of Laurel Oak matings.
There are Laurel Oak horses
racing in Victoria, Queensland, NSW and even, just over a year ago, in Tasmania
when Pattie Royale contested the Launceston Cup after a successful Metropolitan
campaign in Victoria. In that race, she was hindered by a riderless horse
which probably cost her at least a placing and possibly the race. Pattie Royale
has now been mated to successful sire More Than Ready and there is no doubt
that her owners have been delighted with the results of firstly her Racing
career where she was successful with a winning Metropolitan campaign and now
starting a successful career as a broodmare.
In NSW Laurel Oak have stuck
to Garry Portelli and Keith Dryden as their trainers and their confidence
has been repaid several fold. In Victoria, Laurel Oak was first involved with
Tony Noonan when he was an up and coming trainer and now of course, he is
ranked with the very best. In recent years Peter Moody has become involved
and that is a partnership which has lived up to its early promise.
In November 2003 two of
Laurel Oaks horses Ancient Song, trained by Peter Moody, and Into The
Night, trained by Keith Dryden, contested the Group One Salinger stakes at
Flemington on Derby Day. The result was a Laurel Oak quinella with Ancient
Song prevailing over Into The Night in what was a mini State Of Origin for
the two groups of owners. Although Into The Night missed out on this occasion,
Into The Night had already earned its syndicate owners over half a million
dollars in prize money with Metropolitan wins in all three Eastern States.
Ancient Song took her earning to over half a million with this win and she
is now in foal to General Nediym. You can imagine how much that foal will
bring if sold later this year.
In all over twenty Laurel
Oak broodmares are in foal. At time of writing in mid January, there were
over thirty Laurel Oak syndicates and so there is always some action taking
place with several runners each week. Laurel Oak Members receive regular Newsletters
and they have an active website with access to photos and updated information.
I have been involved in
many syndicates over the years and I have found that Laurel Oak with Louis
and Jill at the helm have provided the best experiences. As difficult as it
is, Louis maintains personal contact with syndicate Members and the team goes
out of their way to make Racehorse ownership a social opportunity as well
as a potentially winning one. In past years it has been my pleasure to attend
the Cox Plate and the Flemington Spring races as part of a Laurel Oak group
booking which means that you are able to spend your Raceday in the comfort
of booked seats in the stand, oblivious of the crowd but with full views of
the Racing action.
Every Spring, Louis and
his team arrange both stud and stable visits as well as visits to some of
the country Cup meetings in Victoria. There are also, for those who wish,
the Laurel Oak Golf days and for those who arent so keen on this sport,
cruises on Sydney Harbour to coincide with major racedays at places like Royal
Randwick or Rosehill Gardens.
You know, these days, more
than ever, Racing can be a serious investment opportunity, especially if you
get involved in breeding. One of the services now provided by Laurel Oak is
management of these racing investments, which ensures that where tax savings
are involved, your records are meticulously kept for future scrutiny.
I recall a day at Gosford
NSW where my good friend Charlie Philcox, who has been involved in Laurel
Oak breeding and Racing syndicates for some years now, watched a horse we
were involved in attempt his maiden win at his third start. Coming to the
turn we could see that our horse had a chance of running a place. At the 200
metres we were sure of at least a third placing and at the 100 we could even
run second. On the post we were on a winner and even though we barely owned
a hoof at that stage, to us it was like winning a Melbourne Cup. It is a thrill
like no other and one that is all the better for being shared. Laurel Oak
provides ordinary people with the chance of participating with as little as
1/40th of a share and I know I can recommend it.