|October 2007 Edition
A Monthly Newsletter For Laurel Oak Bloodstock
Editor: Louis Mihalyka
WINNERS PROVIDE BRIGHT MOMENTS
North of the Murray River, Equine Influenza and its consequences still dominate the thoughts and lives of most people involved with racing and breeding. South of the border in Victoria, the Spring Carnival is now in full swing and is the focus of racing and social life, and the next five weeks sees the biggest carnival on the Australian calendar taking place. With each passing week that the carnival proceeds and Victoria remains EI-free, the confidence grows that EI will not impact on the Melbourne Cup Carnival and its lead-up races.
Boosting that confidence is the fact that all racehorses in training in Victoria have now had their first EI vaccinations and are only a week away from their second vaccination, which should render the state safe.
Further, the protocols that have been introduced in the past week to tighten up security in each stable may be considered overkill by the locals but it takes the protection measures against EI to a higher level. At the moment, no-one other than a trainer and licensed stable hands with photo identifications are allowed to set foot into a stable, and a trainer cannot go to another trainer’s stable.
The bio-security protection protocols at race meetings continue whereby owners cannot mingle with the horses or the people who are handling the horses.
North of the border the continuing spread of EI highlights how contagious the disease is, and each time it spreads to a new, previously EI-free racing centre, it is another twist of the knife in the back of racing as it puts the day that racing returns to some form of normality back another few weeks.
The spread of EI into Warwick Farm two weeks ago, and now other racing centres such as Rosehill, Newcastle and several Queensland racing centres, has been a major setback because it means that in each centre where the outbreak has taken place the protocols and time-frame that Randwick is currently undergoing starts all over again.
The Randwick experience should provide a benchmark for other racing centres in terms of the timing required to return to some form of normality.
Friday 24 August was the day that EI was first discovered in Centennial Park. EI was discovered at Randwick some five days later, around 29 August, and horses were allowed to leave Randwick for the first time this week. In the coming days all horses will have left Randwick and all stables will be de-contaminated. It is expected that horses will be allowed to return to Randwick to commence training from 22 October. That is effectively seven weeks since the outbreak was first discovered and that is the likely timing that other racing centres such as Warwick Farm will have to look forward to. There is a possibility that Rosehill and Newcastle will not take quite as long simply because the horses there had received the first round of vaccinations just days before outbreaks occurred and apparently the impact on the horses is somewhat less than what it was at Randwick, so the recovery time may be a week or so quicker.
The fact that, by the end of this week, all EI-free racing centres in NSW should have had their initial vaccinations means that those centres should be only around two weeks away from some form of safety from the virus once the horses have received their second vaccination.
With EI spreading into previously uninfected areas in both NSW and Queensland, those areas that are still EI-free remain on tenterhooks until the vaccinations have taken full effect, but the vaccinations are at least providing a light at the end of the tunnel.
Horses that contract EI have a natural immunity to the disease after that, while those horses that have been vaccinated should also be in the same position, so it means that we are moving closer to having the thoroughbred population immune one way or the other.
Using Randwick as a benchmark from a timing point of view, if vaccinated horses can return to Randwick from 22 October from spelling and pre-training establishments, you would need to reasonably expect around eight to ten weeks before those horses will be ready to race. There is discussion that racing may resume at Randwick on what is traditionally Villiers Day, the Saturday before Christmas, and, going on the timing just indicated, that would be about the best result in that there would only be a trickle of horses ready to race at that time, given the fact that EI has claimed most other training centres. If EI had stayed out of Warwick Farm, Rosehill, Newcastle, etc., and Randwick came back on board by Christmas, then racing could have been fairly close to normal again by 1 January.
While racing may resume by Christmas at Randwick, I suspect, going on the timing above, that it will be around 1 February before there will be some sort of normality returning to NSW racing. Queensland has already suggested that sort of time-frame and has effectively closed racing down until then, so that is probably the sort of time-frame that we can all look forward to. The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast remain EI-free and the horses there receive their second vaccination this weekend. It is therefore expected that the two venues could have ‘closed’ racing by December.
I look forward to the day when I can sit down at Rosehill at 11:30 a.m. with an icy cold first beer of the day in front of me, looking forward to the first race at the Gold Coast at 11:35, the first Kembla at 11:45, the first at Flemington at 11:55, the first at Rosehill at 12:05, etc., etc., followed by the first visit to the ATM, followed by the get-out bet late in the day, followed by the purchase of a nice bunch of roses on the way out for Jill, followed by shouting the family Chinese dinner from the winnings. Never again will I take that for granted! As the old song goes, ‘Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end’.
THE BRIGHT MOMENTS
For obvious reasons with many Laurel Oak horses having their own tale of EI-impacted woe, there have been relatively few runners, but fortunately those that have raced have, in general, raced well. SINGLE BOUND and STEEL TITAN both won races while PRIVATE DAN and DIVINE PROPORTION were both placed, and JUST RORY resumed with an encouraging fourth. As well, several of our Victorian-based 2yos have performed very well in jump-outs as have 2yos at Warwick Farm and the Gold Coast before those training centres were locked down.
SINGLE BOUND HAS EI LUCK
Single Bound’s win was an example of the odd moment of good fortune caused by EI. After being narrowly defeated at his first two starts, Single Bound was thrashed at his third start when he tied-up badly in the run (effectively equine cramp) and tore a muscle in his back as a consequence. Ordinarily he would have been sent for a spell but, due to the lockdown, he was obliged to remain in the stables. He responded very well to treatment and was fit enough to run a fortnight later. Due to the restricted programming, the only race available for him was back to 900m and he drew an outside gate which, in theory, makes it impossible to win. However, under the prevailing racing rules, horses that scratch from an engagement were the first to be balloted out at the next closed Gold Coast meeting because there were so many horses trying to race so they effectively prevented you from scratching just because of a bad barrier draw. So, for two reasons,
Single Bound shouldn’t have been there but he jumped well as he always does and got to the lead from his outside gate and held on in the straight for an unlikely victory. With EI hitting just about everywhere in southeast Queensland except the Gold Coast, racing has been locked down once again and Single Bound remains stuck in the stables where he has been vaccinated and awaiting the opportunity to go out to the spelling paddock.Single Bound is named with a ‘Superman’ theme. He is out of Bent Steel and, of course, Superman could ‘leap tall buildings in a single boundand bend steel with his bare hands’. It will therefore be no surprise to know that his stable name is ‘ Clark’ after ‘mild mannered reporter from the Daily Planet, Clark Kent’!
STEEL TITAN TOO STRONG
Maintaining the ‘steel’ theme, the KEITH DRYDEN -trained Steel Titan resumed for a good fourth in an unsuitably short 1000m race at Canberra on the APEC public holiday-Friday early in September. This was his second career start and he is bred to run a staying distance, being by Carnegie (which inspired his name as Andrew Carnegie was, indeed, a ‘steel titan’). His next start in a 1200m maiden at Canberra was the first time he had gone to the races with some possibility of winning, with the benefit of two races under his belt and a more suitable distance than the previous two 1000m races. Despite a wide draw, Kevin Sweeney had him travelling comfortably coming to the corner and he broke clear on straightening and then hung on for a good win with seemingly something in reserve and a good margin between the second and third horses.
A fortnight later, he couldn’t race at the next closed Canberra meeting because the only race in his grade would have meant a drop back to 1000m, so hopefully he can start at the next meeting. We look forward to continuing success from him as he steps up in distance.
Private Dan must wonder how far a race is going to be when he comes out of the gates. Due to the closed programming options since his win in Canberra over 1900m, his next start was obliged to be over 1200m and he missed the next meeting due to a stomach upset and turned up in a 1600m race last Saturday carrying top weight of 60kg once again. The wide draw did him no favours and caused him to work just hard enough early in the race and at the end of the race to count against him. After coming from third-last mid-race, he went around the field with his big weight, got to the lead and looked set for victory before two lighter-weighted challengers emerged. While he managed to hold one of them off and retain second placing, the other, Melampus, was too strong for him in the end. It was another good effort, though, and depending on how racing pans out over the next few weeks, he may be set for the Canberra Cup in December.
While Private Dan goes to the races and does his job and makes the whole concept look simple, Divine Proportion in Victoria is the exact opposite. She makes racing complicated and while she has finished in the first five in the majority of her runs, her one win at Moonee Valley from fifteen starts is not a true reflection of her natural ability. However she does something wrong in most of her runs and at her most recent start she missed the start by five lengths. In the end, she ran a brave race to finish third, albeit beaten about five lengths, but she worked very hard to get to a position where she actually threatened victory coming to the home corner. This Zabeel mare hasn’t got to staying distances until now but her next start or two should be over 2000m or further, and we will see if this will save her career.
Also in Canberra last Saturday, Just Rory resumed. This Rory’s Jester 3yo’s previous four starts yielded a win and three placings and he has proven a consistent and promising horse. He didn’t have a lot of luck in running last Saturday and was held up at vital stages before running on well for fourth placing beaten 1½ lengths but it looks as though he has come back in good order.
Catching up with the 2yos from north to south, BE POSITIVE, the Anabaa/Red Blooded filly trained by TONY NOONAN but based at Deagon because the grand plan was to have her prepared for Magic Millions races in January, was going well but became an EI victim before she reached the jump-out stage as Deagon was closed down. A little further south at the Gold Coast, King Of Danes filly TIKIT TO GLORY with GILLIAN HEINRICH reached jump-out stage and was going great guns before racing closed down on the Gold Coast.
The HURRICANE SKY/KURI BAY colt with GARY PORTELLI also did well in a couple of in-house jump-outs before Warwick Farm was closed down, and he will definitely need a spell by the time horses are allowed out of Warwick Farm. He had already been in work about five weeks longer than was ideal because of EI. The RHYTHM/TRANQUIL LADY 2yo gelding with Keith Dryden also did well in his preparation but was showing signs of immaturity, and the opportunity to move horses out of the Canberra training stables this week came as a blessing for him.
In Victoria, we have several 2yos looking promising. With PETER MOODY, the FUSAICHI PEGASUS/PALIA colt may well be our first 2yo runner of the season. Last year, there was a deliberate plan to buy colts that had future stallion potential and we managed to acquire a Laurel Oak interest in two such horses. The first is the HUSSONET/VENTICELLO colt with JOHN O’SHEA, who is currently stuck in an EI-infected spelling farm, so the grand plans for early 2yo season glory for him were nipped in the bud. His name is FIST OF FURY. The other colt purchased with future stallion potential in mind was the Fusaichi Pegasus colt as he is a full-brother to 2yo Stakes winner, Dr Green, now at stud in Queensland. His name is FURY, coincidentally maintaining a ‘Fury’ theme, and he has been going well in jump-outs with Peter Moody. He is also ‘surviving’ the preparation very well and if he can maintain that over the next week he is likely to start in the Debutants Stakes at Caulfield on Thousand Guineas Day, next Wednesday 17 October.
We have three 2yos with Tony Noonan that are all going well and ‘surviving’ well and look set to trial next on 24 October. All three are showing plenty of ability and, while they may not make it through to early 2yo racing this preparation, all three look live candidates for racing at their next preparation, given how well they have handled their preparations to-date.
There are, at the moment, only four Laurel Oak 2yos with any lease or ownership opportunities available in them, and in most cases they are only small, unallocated shareholdings. Three of the four happen to be the horses due to trial shortly.
he DASH FOR CASH/FLYING VISIT filly is a tough and talented filly who has now been named CUT AND RUN. She carries the stable name of Bonny, after Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde fame, and there is a 10% lease share available in her. The NOVERRE/HALO DEHERE colt has been named CABRIOLE, which is a ballet step inspired by the fact that Noverre was a famous French ballet dancer. There is something under 20% available in this promising horse. Also due to trial is the VERGLAS/DANE WITCH colt who is also going well. He has been named EQUITY and he is very similarly bred to Lee Freedman’s promising Verglas horse, Moment Of Truth. There is ownership available in this horse through the new version of the Greendale syndicate, which will race two horses - Equity and a Perugino colt which is currently at the breaker. That latter horse is the ‘fourth horse’ in which there is lease equity available from our current season 2yos.
Racing a horse in Victoria has greater appeal for people all around Australia at the moment, simply because they are actually racing! Consequently we have had a lot of interest in our Victorian 2yos from owners in EI-affected states. The ‘normality’ of racing there is providing a greater likelihood of racing action for owners, which has obvious advantages.
Under separate cover we will canvass clients to see who would like to join us in racing these horses and in the meantime we always welcome enquiries.
THE COMING WEEKS
For many non-Victorians, including Yours Truly, the Melbourne Spring Carnival in the coming weeks has greater appeal than normal. While the quality of runners may be impacted by the absence of NSW and Queensland-based horses plus a reduced number of overseas horses, the mere fact that we are heading to an environment where there will be normal racing for a couple of weeks is going to be a joy to behold. While the odd person has pulled the plug on Melbourne visit due to EI risks, the majority of tourists have remarked how much more they are looking forward to this year’s visit, simply due to the lack of racing that we are currently experiencing north of the Murray. One new concept, though, is that between Victorian races the absence of racing from around Australia may mean that we have to engage in witty repartee instead of having our noses stuck in form guides! Regardless, we are really looking forward to Melbourne Cup week and Cox Plate this year.
TAB CLUB TRADING
I was interested to note from a set of bowling club accounts, to which I had access, that they actually lose on running their one-terminal TAB operation. In 2006, the club earned $21,000 from TAB commissions but the cost of the facility was $31,000 and wages were $17,000, which meant a loss of $27,000 for the year. In 2007, a boost to income and a restructuring on how the TAB charges the clubs meant that their income was now $31,000, TAB costs were $26,000 and wages were $16,000, so the loss was only $11,000. WORLD
The belief that Northern Hemisphere horses were superior to Australian horses has gradually eroded with the success that Australian horses have had in Europe in the past few years. It’s now official that we are up there with the world’s best with the release of the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings for 2006/2007. While the top horses were the American Invasor followed by the Japanese horse Admire Moon and the Dubai horse Premium Tap, just behind those was the New Zealand-bred Hong Kong-based Vengeance Of Rain and the Hong Kong-based Australian-bred Absolute Champion. Just behind them, though, was the Japanese-bred Delta Blues, who won the 2006 Melbourne Cup and the four Australian-based horses El Segundo, Miss Andretti, Pompeii Ruler and Takeover Target.
MORE TAILS TALES
Further to our story a few months ago in Grandstand View about Tails, the great stayer in the late 60s and early 70s, who had such an influence on my becoming a racing fan in my teenage years, I am not sure if I reported that the troops in the office organised a photo of Tails returning to scale after defeating Gunsynd in the 1972 Queen Elizabeth Stakes as my screen saver. We also now have a black and white photo of that race hanging on the wall as a consequence of that story being written. Therefore, I am pleased to note that in this year’s 2007 Queensland racing awards, Tails was inducted into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame. Quoting the story in the Queensland Racing magazine, ‘The big chestnut stallion recorded 23 wins, including 14 Stakes races, six at Group One level. Tails was one of Australia’s most consistent stayers in the late 60s and early 70s. Even though he never won at two miles, he was able to run third to Silver Knight in the 1971 Melbourne Cup and second to Mode in 1972 Brisbane Cup. His Group One victories included the Queensland Derby, AJC Metropolitan twice, Doomben Cup, STC Tancred Cup and the AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes.’
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame was Larry Olsen, the great jockey and now familiar face as a Sky Channel presenter for Queensland Racing. Larry rode Kensei to victory in the 1987 Melbourne Cup and also rode a few winners for Laurel Oak in our early days in the late 1980s.
Until next month, happy racing, if EI lets you!
LAUREL OAK BLOODSTOCK PTY LIMITED (ACN 003 008 446)
Promoting the Ownership of Thoroughbreds and the Enjoyment of Racing
PO Box 6806 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
Tel (02) 8883 1066
Fax (02) 8883 1266
Mobile 0418 962 858
Visit our website at: www.laureloak.com.au