Thursday, December 31, 2009


Eliza Park’s sales & noms man, Mark Lindsay, loves a punt. He also loves a beer and the All Blacks, but that’s another story.
Rarely does a racehorse by an Eliza Park stallion do the rounds without ‘Nugget’ casting an eye over his or her performance and he’s given the big thumbs up to Beltonic’s fourth – beaten 0.9 lengths – over 1011m at Yarra Valley on Tuesday (29 December).
I could wax lyrical on how the debutant was further back than Walla Walla at one stage before flying home with a rail hugger, but best you see for yourself by clicking here.
Trained by John Symons & Sheila Laxon (John also trained Beltonic’s sire, Bel Esprit), Beltonic is out of the Kenny’s Best Pal mare Carbonated and was sold to John for $36,000 by Eliza Park at the 2007 Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale at Oaklands Junction.
Bred by Len Rhodes, Beltonic is a half brother to exciting God’s Own 2YO Onamissionfromgod, out of a half sister to stakes winners Intelligent Star and Blaze The Turf (dam of Melbourne stakes winner Soleil), plus the unraced Aerate’s Pick, dam of recent Group Two winner Ortensia.

Sheila Laxon & John Symons


LOT 69: Chestnut Filly, TESTA ROSSA – BALTICS

This flashy filly is built to go – and go early. What’s more, she’s by an in-form sire and hails from what is arguably the hottest family in the Australian Stud Book.
Boasting a good rein and nice head, Lot 69 appears to be very precocious and ticks all the right boxes.
Testa Rossa is the sire of over 270 winners – 24 at stakes level – and, importantly, has produced over 80 juvenile winners.
His honour roll includes Testafiable, Rostova, Vormista, Jiang, Publishing and co. while recent stakes performers include Ortensia (WATC Winterbottom Stakes-G2) and Gold Salute (third VRC Emirates Stakes-G1).
Testa Rossa yearlings sold up to $330,000 in 2009 and averaged $46,122.
The first foal of Fusaichi Pegasus mare, Baltics, the filly has a great deal of upside when her racing days are done.
Baltics has been bred right up (her second foal is a filly by Commands and was covered this spring by Exceed and Excel) and is, in turn, a daughter of ‘blue hen’ mare Scandinavia.
A multiple Group winner (by Snippets) who was 4-times Group One placed, Scandinavia has been simply outstanding since retiring to the breeding barn, producing Group One winning sprinter and sire, Magnus; multiple Group winner Wilander and Helsinge, dam of Bel Esprit’s sprinting sensation Black Caviar, a pre-post favourite for the Lightning Stakes-G1 on 30 January.

For a video and full pedigree information, click here.


The 2010 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale kicks off next Wednesday (6 January) and – as usual – will provide a barometer for sales trade in the coming year.
Eliza Park has consigned eight yearlings to the Gold Coast – including sons and daughters of God’s Own, Bel Esprit, Danbird, Testa Rossa and Elusive Quality – which will be available for inspection at Stable W from tomorrow morning (1 January).
A full rundown of our draft, with comments, pedigree, photos and video are available by clicking here.


“If hockey fights were fake, you would see me in more of them.”

- Hall of Famer, Rod Gilbert

As far as Ice Hockey quotes go, it ranks right up there with the fan who said: “I went to the hockey last night and a game broke out!”


Keep your peepers out for Esprit Lad’s next outing following his fourth at Canterbury on Wednesday (30 December).
Now the winner of six races from 19 starts (and five placings), Esprit Lad absolutely flew home over the 1100m at Canterbury after being near the tail of the field until well after the turn.
Victory today would have seen Esprit Lad become Bel Esprit’s ‘winningest’ horse with seven wins, but will now have to wait until next start (and it can’t come soon enough for the punters in the office!).
Bred by Rod Menzies, Esprit Lad is out of the Geiger Counter mare Lady Marple, a half sister to Group One winning sprinter, Marstic.
This was Esprit Lad’s first run back from a spell so make sure you mark him down in your book.


John Gunning would have undoubtedly have been quite chuffed with the win of Clangalang filly Hi Belle at Kilmore today (30 December): her first victory and just her second start.
John not only bred the mother (Jugah mare Seldom Caught), he trains the filly out of his Nar Nar Goon stables AND is also a part-owner.
What’s more, John bred, trained and owned the half sister, Lady Lyn, whose seven victories included three in Melbourne.
This is also the family of Queensland Group One winners Black Piranha and Court Ruler.
John certainly has plenty of upside with Hi Belle clearly a filly that is going places, while there is also a Danbird 2YO filly out of Seldom Caught waiting in the wings.


Stephen Jones’ nippy Delago Brom 2YO, Mr de Lago broke through for his maiden victory at the Sunshine Coast today (30 December), winning the 1100m scamper by a good 2.5 lengths.
It was the colt’s second start and connections appear to have a handy performer based on the authority of his win.
Bred by GJ Garland, Mr De Lago is out of the Flying Spur mare Spurring, a half sister to Group Two winning filly Ascorbic and closely related to Berberia, Lemon Sorbet, Chattanooga and co.
Mr de Lago is also from the immediate family of Bel Esprit’s recent Moonee Valley winner Bel Shoes.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Esprit de Bullet has capped off another amazing month for his sire Bel Esprit by taking out the Country Showcase over 1100m at Bendigo on Monday (28 December).
Esprit de Bullet is clearly one out of the box and notched up his third win from four starts, having earlier won over the same course and distance on 10 December.
(Click here for a run down on Esprit de Bullet’s remarkable rise)
Bel Esprit winners throughout December include Fast Break, Cascabel, Demonic, Forty Two Below and Diplomatic Strike while, in a two day period, Victoria’s Champion Sire produced a treble on 12 December – Beltrois (Flemington), Second World (Stawell) and Supreme Best (Macau) – followed by a double on 13 December – Bel Shoes (Moonee Valley), pictured below, and Esprit of Eve (Hobart).

Photo courtesy of Slickpix


Living Legends, the International Home of Rest for Champion Horses, is poised to add three more champions to its roster with the arrival – in 2010 – of Takeover Target, 8-time Group One winner Apache Cat and 2008 Cox Plate hero Maldivian.
Living Legends, of which Eliza Park is a principal partner, is really taking shape with residents of yesteryear such as Better Loosen Up, Saintly, Might And Power and Fields of Omagh, but this is by far the most memorable influx since opening its doors at the famous Woodlands property in 2006.
If you haven’t been to Living Legends before then it’s worth taking a hike (just five minutes from Melbourne’s International Airport) and you can check out all the activities available by clicking here.
And if you have been to Living Legends, the new additions will give you plenty of reasons to return.

Takeover Target

Apache Cat



Apart from being a good type – both conformationally and conversationally – Emma Boling is a keen student of the thoroughbred industry, having raced a number of outstanding neddies and serving on committees ranging from the Moonee Valley Racing Club and Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria.
What’s more, Emma’s a more than handy scribe, recently releasing her first novel, Riding High, which – as the Sherlocks among you would have already surmised – has a lot to do with racing and its many intrigues.
A second novel is due to the hit the stands around spring 2010, but for the moment, take the time to read Emma’s treatise on the industry and, in particular, its failure to ‘embrace the future’.
Cop the tip and click here … there’s no murders involved per se, but fiddling while Rome burns will certainly kill off racing as we know it.


Brian Russell is never likely to score a Nobel Prize for Literature, but his depth of industry knowledge is legendary.
Rapidly bearing down on the big eight-0, Brian’s grasp of facts and figures is nothing short of remarkable and the factoids he often unravels are not only informative, but interesting to boot.
The amazing thing is, he pulls most of it from the grey matter sitting between his ears and, unlike yours truly, is not forever falling back on the internet for sustenance.
Providing a weekly email service of industry tidbits – subscription is free: simply email - a couple of Brian’s recent items caught the eye, including one on Written Tycoon’s sire, Iglesia (keeping in mind that the first of the Written Tycoon (below) yearlings are up for grabs at 2010 sales).

Few sires have equalled or surpassed the feat on the one race day of the prematurely deceased Queensland used Last Tyoon sire Iglesia, the source on Saturday (19 December) of seven winners on prominent racecourses.
The contribution came from doubles at Doomben, Morphettville and Toowoomba and a success at the Gold Coast.
It was an achievement that consolidated Iglesia’s current position as Queensland leading sire numerically and pushed him higher up the ladder nationally. Since August 1 he has had 54 individual winners in Australia of 74 races and over $1.2million. He is well on his way to surpass his statistics for 2008-09, a year his oldest were six and included 64 winners of 104 races and earners of $2.1million.
Now represented by his final juvenile crop, including overseas runners Iglesia to date has provided 188 winners (seven SWs,11 SPs) of 450 races and earners of just under $11million. The wins to winners strike rate is typical of Queensland breeding.
Used for six seasons, including books of 185 (2004) and 183 (2005), at Neville Stewart’s Oaklands stud near Toowoomba, Iglesia died at 11 in early December 2006. It was a loss that came only two years after the death at Oaklands of their outstanding Danehill sire Lion Hunter at the same age.
They were losses that followed the deaths in the mid 1990s in Queensland of four sires before their progeny started racing but who left winners up to Group1 level. These sires were Brave Warrior (sire of Show a Heart), Alannon (sire of Falvelon), St Covet and Just Awesome and their losses were a shocking tragedy.
Like Just Awesome, O’Reilly and Magic of Money by Last Tycoon, Iglesia was another brilliant galloper bred and raced by Geoff and Beryl White, Invermien, Scone and trained by Jack Denham. Out of their home bred Marscay mare Yodells, dam also of Brisbane Cup winner and Melbourne Cup second Yippyio, Iglesia ran 20 times for six city wins, including the STC Silver Slipper and VRC Standish Handicap – in 1200m course record time, three stakes thirds and a Golden Slipper fourth.
Iglesia is another indication that a reliable pathway to getting a good sire is the use of brilliant Australian racehorses.

Mustard, the John McNair 12-year-old who was appearing for the hundredth time and recording his 16th win when successful at Randwick on Saturday (19 December), is only a pup and lightly raced compared to Passion Moon, a galloper who ‘lived’ on north Queensland tracks in the 1960s.
As tough as an old boot who has lain out in the paddock, Passion Moon is credited by one authority as having raced a mammoth 281 times and according to details in a 1971 Inglis Sydney catalogue being the winner of 118 races, a score that could be a world record. Seventeen of his wins were as a 14-year-old in1966-67 and 15 at 15 1967-68.
All bar one of Passion Moon’s wins, a Brisbane maiden, were over short distances in North Queensland, mostly at Cairns, Mareeba and Innisfail.These meetings, including those at Cairns, mostly only had three or four races, each with very small fields. In fact Passion Moon often had only one or two opponents and on a small number of occasions walked over for the prize. In other words there were no other runners.
Bred by Herbert Thompson, the great Australian studmaster who stood seven times champion sire Heroic at his Tarwyn Park stud, Bylong Valley, NSW, Passion Moon had quality breeding. He was by the Tarwyn Park Big Game importation Hunter’s Moon and from Nell Gwynne, a smart Sydney juvenile by Golden Sovereign, sire also of Golden Chariot, producer of a queen of Australian racing, Wenona Girl.
Coincidentally, one of the sires that Passion Moon’s dam Nell Gwynne went to was called Rigoletto. Another Rigoletto foaled some 30 years later, a handy Bletchingly Sydney sprinter, got Altezza, the dam of Mustard. She is from the first class Dignitas race filly Princess Talaria, produce of the famous Winged Beauty.
Bred by the late Sir Tristan Antico when he had the Baramul stud in the Widden Valley in the 1990s, Mustard was got there from Altezza when they shuttled the French Two Thousand Guineas winner Vettori.
Mustard’s success on Saturday, one which took his earnings to over $700,000, was the first time he had finished in the first three in the 15 starts he has had since he returned to racing at the end of April this year after 19 months in retirement. His earlier efforts had included four Sydney stakes wins, including two Group 3 sprints at Rosehill Gardens, the Star Kingdom and the Concorde.
Very few horses of 10 or older have raced in Sydney in memory, but, back at the same time Passion Moon was racing in North Queensland, a tough, durable campaigner in Sydney was Grecian Vale. Got at Baramul’s neighbour, the Widden Stud, by the Ajax AJC Epsom Handicap and All-Aged Stakes winner Achilles, he is shown as the winner of 11 races, all in Sydney, in 129 starts. Three of the wins were at 11 and he was placed in four open city handicaps at 12, his final year of activity.
The most historic old timer of Australian racing was ‘colonial’ performer Jorrocks. He won four of eight starts at 17 years, one at 18 and was unplaced in one outing at 19, appearance in the Metropolitan on what was then Sydney’s main course, Homebush.


Danbird devotees got a slightly belated Christmas present with Danehill’s Group Two winning 2YO producing an international double on Sunday (27 December).
Tony Noonan’s highly rated, Easy, got the ball rolling with a fine win over 1200m at Mornington, while Maidantus gave Kiwis another taste of Danbird with a comfortable win over ‘the six’ at Arawa Park.
After winning the Pago Pago Stakes-G2 as a 2YO and running second to Exceed and Excel in the Up And Coming-G3 at three, Danbird campaigned in New Zealand where he was twice successful at stakes level.
Maidantus is Danbird’s first runner in New Zealand and was having her second start for the Graham Richardson stable, eventually running away with the Taste of Rotorua by two panels.
Bred by Robert Wren in Victoria, Maidantus is out of the Encosta de Lago mare Maicostus which, as it turns out, didn’t cost her owners that much, buying her for $30,000 and winning over $85,000.
Interestingly, both Danbird’s dam (Fitting) and Maicostus’ damsire (Maizcay) are full relations, being by Marscay out of the Hotfoot mare Corn.
As for Easy … well, her day had to come soon. Tony Noonan has had a big opinion of the Danbird 3YO since she first arrived at his stables and after a so-so performance on debut at Warrnambool last July, she then resumed with a fourth at Pakenham in early December before grabbing the biscuits at her home track.
Bred by Cuillin Hills Thoroughbreds and David Mills, Easy is out of the Woodman mare Forestress and hails from the immediate family of Snippets.
Spied at the 2008 Gold Coast Magic Millions by top notch agent (and even better human being) Louis Mihalyka, the filly was knocked down to Laurel Oak Bloodstock for $60,000.


The Danbird double is certainly welcome news to small, but avid breeder, Ray Nicholson, whose Eagle Eyed mare Devastate produced a cracking colt by Danbird at the end of November.
It’s certainly gives new means to inbreeding given that Danbird is a son of Danehill, while Eagle Eyed is Danehill’s full brother.
But that’s not all: Devastate’s 2nd dam, Dame Margot is a full sister to Devastate’s grandsire, Danzig (Northern Dancer – Pas de Nom).
All up, Natalma (Northern Dancer’s dam) appears no less than five times in the fifth line of betting … through a son, daughter, son, daughter, son.
Astutely, Ray picked up Devastate – who won one of 15 and was four times placed – for just $500 at the 2007 Australian Easter Broodmare Sale.
But that’s not necessarily the story – albeit an interesting one.
Doing some research on Danbird, Ray has notified us of an American singer – all the way from Nashville – called Dan Bird. Now, while Dan Bird can belt out a decent tune (you can hear for yourself by visiting and is not bad looking as far as blokes go, we’re tipping that he hasn’t been as ‘busy’ as Danbird over the past couple of years.


Delzao 3YO, Tops ‘n’ Tails is clearly top shelf after scoring with considerable aplomb over 1200m at Warrnambool on 27 December.
The first cropper was having only his second start for trainer Barbara Marshman, having earlier finished fourth over 1000m at the same track in mid-December.
Bred by Paringa Park, Tops ‘n’ Tails is out of the Pag Asa mare Billie’s Flurry, who has now produced three winners from three to race including Queensland’s multiple black type winner Smart and Mighty.


Delago Brom quickly shook off any Christmas inertia with a resounding two ‘island’ double on Boxing Day following the victories of Roycevale Farm bred Delago Pilli (ex. Grand Lodge mare Pillion) – who won his third race for Maryann Thexton at the Gold Coast – and the Jim Taylor trained Mushala on King Island.
Bred by Alan Watson, Mushala (ex. Revoque mare Chapel Royal) hadn’t raced for almost 12 months before kicking off the King Island carnival with a second on 28 November, followed by a whisker second on 12 December.
Racing on King Island is steeped in history and we’ve reprinted an article – courtesy of Track To Track – which gives some insight to the Island’s industry.

A lot has changed on King Island since they first commenced racing in 1892.
For starters, winning owners get a cheque these days instead of wallaby skins.
The obvious incentive for changing the ‘stake’ – aside from political correctness – is that you’re likely to get more horses at your race meeting if the owners can put something in their hip pocket.
But the main thrust of King Island racing is having fun. Always has been.
And let’s face it, by the King Island Racing Club’s own admission, it wouldn’t have survived the past 117 years if racegoers didn’t have one helluva time.
With King Island stuck out in the middle of Bass Strait, they have to fly in the bookmakers, stewards and jockeys, while a good number of patrons also head on down from the mainland.
Ironically, while King Island is famous for its beef and Crayfish– and especially cheese – horse racing gets little fanfare.
However, believe it or not, they have seven race meetings between the end of November and January, including one on Boxing Day, New Year’s Day (King Island Cup) and the Fly-In program on 23 January.
Rather uniquely, King Island’s race programs are ‘dual code’: a mix of gallopers and pacers which BOTH race on the one mile (1600m) grass track. A number of clubs throughout the world could lay claim to staging dual meets, but it’s unlikely many of them would have them both running on grass.
(Anyone who has munched on a King Island steak would attest they have the best grass too!)
But while racing on King Island is all about having a punt, a good feed, a few drinks and as much fun as you can standing up, the Islanders are focused on getting their neddies cherry ripe for race day.
Come September, around 80 odd horses go into training and Ian Johnson from King Island Travel reckons most of the trainers ride their own work or drive their own horses.
Ian, who claims to weigh in around 120 kilos and would surely be the biggest trackwork rider in Australia (could even be another world record for King Island) has a couple of gallopers in work and also puts a standardbred through his paces.
“Having both codes has drawn in people from all across the Island. It really is a family affair and, let’s put it this way, if you don’t own a horse, you’re related to someone that does.”
Ian is particularly proud that a bloke like Cranbourne trainer, Ken Keys – an ex Islander – has done so well in the big smoke: “Ken’s brother Codge (Robert) still lives on the Island and has 10 horses in work.”
Next year, for its Saturday 23 January meet – the Fly-In program – the King Island Racing Club has taken the bit between its teeth and will offer over $10,000 in prizes, totally separate to stake money.
With around five gallop and three pacing events scheduled for the day, King Island will also stage its first Human Hurdles event.
Ian explains: “The heats commence at 8am and the final will be run between the fifth and sixth races where eight finalists will jump out of the starting stall carrying a champagne flute full of liquid (hopefully not the real gear!).
“They have to jump five hurdles and finish in the fastest time with the most liquid left in the glass.
“You don’t have to be a skilled hurdler – just have a good balance and a sense of fun.”
Everyone gets a prize, while the winner will be awarded a holiday to the value of 10 grand.
That’s better than a flick on the backside with a wallaby skin.
Additionally, private plane owners (it takes around 45 minutes to fly in from either Tasmania or Victoria) will have landing fees waived for the day and have the opportunity to convert their plane registration to a horse running in the race.
“The registration winner of each race will be presented with a King Island Produce Hamper and, those registering prior to 21 January, will be eligible to win a three night accommodation package to Broome. Registration is free,” Ian adds.
“It should be a great day – we’ve also got a jazz band and you can sample our cheeses or have one of our lip smacking steak sandwiches.”
For information relating to any of the King Island race meetings, phone Lucinda Dengerink on 0408 546 469 or email for further information.
Lucinda will be able to help you out will travel, accommodation, dining and entertainment, registrations, what hat you should wear ...
For another good source of info on King Island visit
Evidently the average temperature on King Island throughout November, December and January is in the early 20s which, if like most of Australia, you’re currently sweating your way through what could be a long, hot summer, sounds like a godsend.


Clangalang continues his steady rise up the national Third Season Sires’ chart with a host of winners and placegetters throughout December.
Currently eighth in the premiership in terms of winners, his strike rate is clearly superior to that of his peers which include Lonhro, Exceed And Excel and Reset.
With two days racing remaining in the month, Clangalang (below) has been represented by 24 runners with six winners (Mr Isaac [twice], Luvbite, Clanger Count, Geegees Blackflash and Dingaling) and seven placegetters.
Not exactly blessed with ‘numbers’, his last six runners have produced three wins and two placings between them.


Well done to the Hoffelner family who not only raced Delago Brom, but now breed and own a number of his winning progeny: not the least of them being stakes placed 2YO and Macau’s Group winner and Group One runnerup Ecstatic Macau (nee Classic Brom).
Closer to home, their home bred filly Danaupair Starlet notched up her maiden win at Warrnambool on 14 December after seconds at three of her previous four career outings.
And the Patrick Payne 3YO didn’t just win either: romping home with 4.5 lengths to spare over the 1400m journey.
Hoffelner patriarch, Otto, also bred the full brother to Danaupair Starlet – the appropriately named Otto’s Delight – who delighted Queensland punters in October with successive victories in eight days.

Hannelore and Robert Hoffelner


Diana Anceschi is one ‘fine’ breeder and has managed to produce herself an outstanding performer in De Fine Lago.
Racing out of the Tony Vasil stable after being sold for $32,500 at the 2007 Inglis Melbourne Premier II Yearling Sale, De Fine has since trebled the asking price with five wins and four placings from just 14 starts.
Importantly, and seemingly typical of the Delago Brom breed, De Fine Lago is improving the more he matures: the 4YO has now won four of his last five starts this time in, culminating in his first city win at Moonee Valley on 13 December in the PFD Food Services Handicap over 2500m.
Out of Diana’s Flying Spur mare, Fine Glass – who sadly died in September of last year – De Fine Lago is linebred 3 x 3 to the influential Mr Prospector mare, Rolls, dam of Flying Spur and grandam of Encosta de Lago.

De Fine Lago scores at the Valley, much to the delight of his owners. Photos courtesy of Slickpix.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Not sure if he planned it that way, but leading Tasmanian businessman, Dudley Clark, had the rare honour of winning a race at Hobart on 13 December which was, basically, named after himself.
Actually, the race was called the Dudley Clark Industrial Land Supplies 0-75 Handicap over 1550m and methinks the joy of watching his bonny mare, Esprit of Eve, romp home for her fourth career victory far outweighed the thrill of getting his money back.
Bred by Ken Williams and Keith Biggins, Esprit of Eve is out of Apalachicola which, incidentally, made her the second Bel Esprit city winner out of a Noalcoholic mare to win in two days.
It’s a pretty solid ‘nick’ given that only three Bel Esprits out of Noalcoholic mares have raced thus far, which each of them winning a combined total of nine races.
By the by, Apalachicola is a half sister to Group Two winner Tears Royal and closely related to Vitalic, My Evita and co.
Meanwhile, Dudley, a great supporter of Apple Isle racing and breeding, evidently has high hopes for a God’s Own he is racing with syndicator to the stars, Denise Martin.
God give him speed, Dudley.


Steve Richards can always manage to find himself an above average galloper and he didn’t have to extend his arm too far when going to $20,000 for the Bel Esprit filly Encosta de Lago mare Costa Grande at the 2007 Melbourne Autumn Yearling Sale.
That outlay has now been repaid some nine times over with Bel Shoes scoring her fifth career win when successful over 1000m at Moonee Valley on 13 December.
Steve’s managed to recruit a notable team of owners as well, including AFL legend Kevin Sheedy who raced both sire and daughter.
Hailing from the family of Opening Twist, Lemon Sorbet, How Proud, Berberia and co., Bel Shoes was bred by Brenda Hawking and Wayne Ross who will consign – via Eliza Park – a half brother (by Elvstroem) at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale in March … Lot 61 in fact.

Bel Shoes wins at the Valley (above) while owners gather to celebrate. Photos courtesy of Slickpix.


Cranbourne trainer, Robbie Griffiths, has had a fair share of success through purchasing Bel Esprit yearlings, but his greatest triumph with the Champion Victorian Sire’s stock could well arrive through one he bred himself.
Beltrois is an outstanding 4YO sprinter who won his fourth race (along with three placings) from 10 starts when scoring well over 1200m at Flemington on 12 December.
Now this flashy son of Bel Esprit is on target to become his sire’s seventh stakes winner when he lines up over the same course and distance on Friday (1 January) in the $200,000 VRC Standish Handicap-G3.
Owned by a great bunch of folks, including Brian and Peter Donohoe, Don Healy and Robbie’s wife Shiranee, Beltrois is out of the Noalcoholic mare Vaingt Trois which has thrown five winners for the trainer, including 7-time winner Ruby Trois.
This is also the family of Golden Slipper and AJC Doncaster winner Tontonan.

Update: Vaingt Trois is back in foal to Bel Esprit and the resultant progeny will be raced by Robbie and Kevin Sheedy.

Beltrois scores at Flemington. Photo courtesy of Slickpix

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Fantastic return to racing for Bel Esprit 4YO, Esprit de Bullet, who won very impressively over 1100m at Bendigo on Thursday 10 December … his first run in 46 weeks.
Never touched with the whip, Esprit de Bullet ran to the line hard held, winning by a length and a half.
Esprit de Bullet – a half brother to VRC Oaks-G1 winner Hollow Bullet and stakes winning 2YO Red Hot Mama – won on debut at Cheltenham on Boxing Day last year, but then put in what was seemingly a shocker at Morphettville a month later.
Turns out the horse was far from chipper and was subsequently operated on – delaying his return for nearly a year.
It now appears that the decision to persist will pay dividends for Esprit de Bullet’s owners and trainer who are likely to chase bigger fish in the coming weeks. Indeed, winning jockey Craig Newitt responded with a “no doubt” when TVN’s Shane Templeton asked him if the horse was headed for town.
Bred by Alistair and Patty McFarlane’s Tori Park Stud, Esprit de Bullet was consigned by Eliza Park to the 2007 Australian Easter Yearling before the colt was passed in for $190,000.
Alastair and Patty decided to retain a share and race Esprit de Bullet, placing the horse with Mark Lewis.
Mark, who has stables in Ballarat and Morphettville, said that Esprit de Bullet is one of the best horse’s he has ever trained and: “like most Bel Esprits, he (Esprit de Bullet) has a match winning turn of speed and, when he lets down, he lets down quick”.

Photo courtesy of Slickpix


Demonic kicked off a very big week for Bel Esprit, taking out the 1500m Look Tapware Maiden Plate at Sale on 9 December – at only his second start.
With the John Moloney stable – who is also the trainer of city winning Bel Esprit filly Music in the Park – Demonic appears to live up to his name, racing erratically on both occasions.
However, the 3YO clearly has ability and, once balanced, flew home to capture the race with a panel to spare.
Bred by raced by Jerry Pilarinos, Demonic is out of the Nothin’ Leica Dane mare, Not Indeed, who is line bred to Sir Tristram through a daughter and son.
Got no idea where Demonic comes from, but his granddam is the Military Plume mare, Seraphide – and perhaps it’s drawing a long bow – but Seraphine Louis was a French Painter famous for her religious works and, as it turns out, a good couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.
But even more spookily, in the midst of our research, there was another horse called Demonic which last raced in 1995 after winning his second race … at Sale!
OK, it’s hardly X-Files but still a little bit different.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Although he had six runners in four states on Sunday (6 December) – for a winner and three placings – Clangalang is rapidly becoming something of a pin up boy in the Apple Isle.
Mr Isaac got the ball rolling with another game performance over 1200m at Launceston, while Geegees Blackflash went within a whisker of notching up his third city win in the last on the program.
Mr Isaac and Geegees Blackflash have again proven there is little rhyme and reason to this breeding caper: neither horse has won beyond 1200m, while their sire won an AJC Derby-G1 (2400m) before creating history with an Epsom-G1 (1600m) victory in the spring.
Meanwhile, the King Loc Holdings bred and owned Mr Isaac is out of the Tasmanian Oaks-LR winning mare, Wavishing, while Geegees Blackflash is out of an unraced half sister to SAJC Derby-G1 (2500m) winner Cheviot.


‘The Father of American Literature’, Mark Twain was a prodigious author and noted for the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
But he was also quick off the cuff with a number of memorable one liners, particularly his response to a newspaper article stating he had slipped off this mortal coil.

“The report of my death is an exaggeration”

But there was also:

“Go to Heaven for the climate. Hell for the company”

“Not all horses were born equal. A few were born to win”

And, of course:

“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”


Long time Eliza Park client Les Colbert has raced a number of classy performers over the years and you can add his 3YO colt, Choilin to the list.
Trained by Philip Stokes, the lightly raced Choilin broke through for his first win at Morphettville on Saturday (5 December), but based on this command performance, it won’t be his last.
Choilin is by former top sprinter Choisir, from the Eire mare, Candelina and it’s hardly surprising he runs like the clappers, being line bred to Biscay through a daughter and son.
Closely related to juvenile stakes winner Queen of Angels, Choilin was part of Eliza Park’s 2008 Gold Coast Magic Millions draft, but was subsequently passed in and Les decided to race the horse himself.
If Choilin keeps running like he did at Morphettville, it might prove to be a VERY wise decision of Les’ to retain the colt.


Leading Victorian trainer, Tony Noonan, appears to have unearthed a very good sprinter in the shape of Paganini’s Soul, a winner at Caulfield on Saturday (5 December).
Bred and part-owned by the ever astute, Roger Langley, Paganini’s Soul has now raced on four occasions for three wins (2 in the city) and a head second at Moonee Valley.
Paganini’s Soul is out of the Magic of Sydney mare, Magic Bow, multiple stakes placed in New Zealand and a half sister to Queensland stakes winners Plume D’or Veille and Strike Sparks.
Eliza Park will consign a Magic Albert half brother to Paganini’s Soul at the 2010 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale and the way the 3YO is going, they’ll be beating a path to the stable door.

Cultural hounds will already know this but Niccolo Paganini was an Italian violinist of the early 19th century, famous for his caprice in A minor, Op. 1 No. 24. That said, it’s not a tune you’d find on many iPods at Eliza Park!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We’re tipping that Bel Esprit Winners’ Club author, Brian Donohoe, had a couple of bucks on Forty Two Below at Stony Creek yesterday. He takes up the story …

“Anybody who saw Forty Two Below win his first start at Bendigo (in April) – where he was backed off the map – had to be impressed.
Next start (3 May), he went to Sandown, drew barrier 14, raced wide and came sixth to Thorn Park. The stewards that day reprimanded jockey Danny Brereton for not using enough vigor.
I wonder if they said anything to him today when he won the Diesel Richards Crew (C1) over 1100m in a canter, by a length from Tremolo with another Bel Esprit in Stately Spirit, a further length away in third place.
He was just as impressive as his first start: Forty Two Below jumped second last, raced in the back half of the field early, moved up on the turn and found space as the horses outside the leader, Stately Spirit, spread. He then went to the line untouched, easing up.
Trainer Colin Little now has another exciting Bel Esprit to put beside Work The Room (two wins from two starts).”

Bred by Ariel Arnott – who also bred Bel Esprit Group winners Bel Mer (G1) and Mooring – Forty Two Below is out of the Danehill mare, Danish, stakes placed in Melbourne and hailing from the immediate family of Group One winner Vapour Trail.
Sold as a weanling by Eliza Park, Forty Two Below is raced by the Eight Stars Syndicate and while I’m not sure whether the syndicate has eight stars, it looks as if they having a budding one in Forty Two Below.
It appears that Forty Two Below is named after a vodka made it New Zealand and if you have five minutes check out their website: it’s very, very well done and absolutely hilarious. Imagine Kiwis being funny … who would have thunk!
The youtube video gives you a small taste!

While on the subject of Bel Esprit, two of the trainers who have had a fair amount of success with the stallion (and great supporters of Eliza Park) are Mick Price and Robbie Griffiths.
Both Mick and Robbie ended up with three winners’ apiece yesterday – doubles at Caulfield, while Mick also had a winner at Morphettville and Robbie with one at Stony Creek.
Well done.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Gutsy performance by Statue of Liberty filly, Manhattan Angel, who took out the 1100m sprint at Ipswich yesterday – her second win from seven starts after winning at Doomben earlier in the year.
Statue of Liberty has certainly inspired some terrific names: eg. Tempest Tost (part of the poem at the foot of New York’s Statue of Liberty), Bartholdi (after French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi who designed the Statue of Liberty) and Kolokol (Liberty bell in Russia) to name but a few.
Eliza Park doesn’t have any Statue of Libertys in the upcoming Gold Coast Magic Millions draft but we do have yearlings by God’s Own, Bel Esprit, Danbird, General Nediym, Fastnet Rock and Elusive Quality.
Some people spend an inordinate amount of time thinking up names for horses and Eliza Park is offering you a bottle of wine for the moniker we deem to be the best relating to any of the yearlings we have entered for the Gold Coast. Click here for the entries.
Of course, you’ll have to buy the yearling if you want actual naming rights, but I’m sure the new owners would appreciate your handiwork when it comes to registering the horse.
C’mon … have a bottle of plonk on us for Christmas. Email your suggestions to


Soccer coach John Lambie was informed that his striker was concussed after a heavy hit and didn’t know who he was:

“That’s great … tell him he’s Pele and get him back on.”


In the words of Guiness Book of Records racecaller, Jack Styring, Clangalang filly, Luvbite, “bared her molars to the breeze” at Mount Gambier yesterday, racing away to win the 1550m maiden by a shy short of four lengths.
Bred and part-owned by Paul Heward, Luvbite had shown plenty of promise at her previous two outings – including a second at Naracoorte on 26 November – and she was sent out a firm $2 favourite at Mount Gambier.
A half sister to Melbourne Anti Miyaki, Luvbite is out of the stakes placed Yeats mare Does She Bite, in turn a half sister to Sydney stakes winner Georgia Belle.
Clangalang (below) continues to rack up the winners with recent ‘saluters’ including Geegees Blackflash, Nerangatang, Trebbiano and Temajim.


Try and tell me that this wouldn’t bring a tear to a glass eye!


Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria’s informative weekly email has plumped for Bel Esprit 3YO Baltic Spirit in the first at Caulfield today.
Having just his fourth start, Baltic Spirit comes into the $70,000 Acryn Plate (1000m) hot from a resounding third at Moonee Valley on 20 November (beaten just 1.4 lengths), his first run back from a spell.
Trained by Robbie Griffiths, Baltic Spirit was bred by Denis Malcolm’s Nangawooka Park and sold for $60,000 at last year’s Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
Winning on debut – as a 2YO – in June, Baltic Spirit is the third winner (from three to race) out of the Anabaa mare, Curvaceous Spirit, in turn a daughter of SA Oaks-G1 winner Heavenly Body (also the family of Uncle Remus, Cossack Prince and Cossack Warrior).
Curvaceous Miss has a Delago Brom yearling colt, foaled a cracking Magnus filly at the end of September and was covered by Bel Esprit … with hopefully a full brother or sister to Baltic Spirit arriving next spring.

Curvaceous Miss has a lovely Magnus (above) filly at foot

If you live south of the Murray and you’re serious about breeding, you should be a member of Thoroughbred Breeders’ Victoria.
Annual membership, for individuals, will set you back $132 ($330 for stallion farms and $275 for broodmare farms) and for that you receive a host of goodies, including industry publications, weekly and quarterly newsletters, discounts on transport and software, functions and racedays, plus general advice on all matters breeding.
Most importantly though, membership gives you a ‘voice’ as Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria is the officially recognised representative of breeders in the state. And, let’s face it, with a lot of industry stuff that has been hitting the fan of late, now’s the time you want to be heard.
For further information, visit or phone Richard Andrews on 03 9258 4233.

PS. Mike Becker has stood down from the TBV committee after 11 years service: seven years as chairman of the board. Often put in the hot seat over a range of industry issues, Mike has worked tirelessly on behalf of EVERY breeder and deserves a big thank you for his efforts. Well done Mike.


Bel Esprit has been the success story of Singapore racing in 2009 with Mooring capturing the rich Singapore 3YO Challenge-G3 in June (his fourth win in Singapore), 6-time winner Perfect Sky (who won the Kranji Stakes in mid November), multiple winner Hybrids and Bel’s Ringer just some of the ex-pats to fly the flag in the region.
As a consequence, Bel Esprit has shot to the head of the Singapore sire charts and it’s little wonder Victoria’s Champion Sire is the darling of Singapore’s owners and trainers.
Certainly the track record performance of Diplomatic Strike at Kranji last night has only added to Bel Esprit’s reputation.
After having no luck at his Singapore debut on 18 November, Diplomatic Strike was all business this time around with his Eliza Park owner, Lee Fleming, on hand to catch all the action. Singapore Turf Club’s Craig Brennan takes up the story.

Former Melbourne galloper Diplomatic Strike equalled the 1100m course record when successful in the S$75,000 Class 3 Stakes at Kranji (tonight).
Tracking the speed throughout, Diplomatic Strike scored by a 1.25 lengths over Bionic Boy with Lucky Wish 0.5 lengths away third.
Diplomatic Strike was formerly prepared by Mick Price in Melbourne and is the first horse to race for Eliza Park in Singapore.
Eliza Park’s Asian representative Lyle Plumb said Diplomatic Strike, in the care of trainer Stephen Gray, was one galloper specifically picked to come up and race under the Eliza Park banner.
Also on hand was Eliza Park principal Lee Fleming.
“He was going to be sold but then we thought it would be a good idea to send him up and race ourselves,” said Plumb.
“He’s the first horse to race for us up here and Stephen thought he had a real good chance tonight.
“And that’s why Lee has come up here to be a part of the success tonight.”
Diplomatic Strike was sent to Singapore in May, but Gray took his time with the 5YO, allowing him to acclimatise.
“At his first start here he drew off the track and was wide throughout before knocking up late,” said Plumb.
“With that run under his belt and a little more work, Stephen was confident he would run well.”
Diplomatic Strike had won two of his eight starts in Melbourne and around A$42,000 in prizemoney and tonight’s victory added around S$37,000 to his stakes.
Diplomatic Strike is by Bel Esprit from the Straight Strike mare Mill Lady.

Bel Esprit flyer, Diplomatic Strike, equals the track record at Kranji last night. Photo courtesy of Singapore Turf Club.

Friday, December 4, 2009


It was never going to take long …

These are some of the jokes doing the rounds since Tiger hooked his car into the fire hydrant and tree this week.

Tiger Woods is so rich that he owns lots of expensive cars. Now he has a hole in one.

Tiger Woods wasn’t seriously injured in the crash, but he’s still below par.

Ping just offered Elin Woods an endorsement contract pushing her own set of drivers. They are said to be named: “Elin Woods … clubs you can beat Tiger with.

News travels fast. The Chinese are already making a movie about Tiger Woods’ crash. They are calling it, “Scratching Swede, Lying Tiger,” or how about “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hydrant”?

What do you buy a Tiger for Christmas? A new windshield!

Tiger is now in trouble with his sponsor Gillette because he said that “this was the closest shave I’ve had yet.”

Phil Mickelson contacted Tiger’s wife to pick up some tips on how to beat Tiger.

Just because you’re the world’s No. 1 golfer, it doesn’t mean you can’t be beaten by your wife.

Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn’t decide between a wood and an iron.

And a personal favourite …

What’s the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Oh so close! The aptly named Onamissionfromgod went within a whisker of becoming God’s Own first winner when second to Lady Davinci over 1000m at Ballarat yesterday (2 December).
The Alicia Macpherson trained 2YO raced greenly throughout and appeared as if he’d finish midfield, but put his head down over the concluding stages to just miss out on the line.
This was the colt’s second start and he is clearly on the improve.
Onamissionfromgod is from the Kenny’s Best Pal mare, Carbonated, a half sister to Group winning sprinters Intelligent Star and Blaze The Turf.
Fans of the Blues Brothers will remember the line “We’re on a mission from God” and, not surprisingly, Eliza Park’s marquee stallion has inspired a host of ‘heavenly’ names.
Of the 35 God’s Own progeny ‘monikered’ thus far, 10 have ‘God’ in the name and, while Onamissionfromgod remains our favourite, Halo’d Be Thy Name (from Blazing Aura) deserves a mention.

Elwood: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
Jake: “Hit it.”


When interviewed on Sky Sport, Irish soccer legend George Best had to fend off the following:

“So, this movie you star in, The Life Story of George Best, tell us what it’s about?”


Delago Brom mare, Broms Girl, continues on her merry way, recording a sixth career win when scoring over 1600m at Grafton on 29 November.
Bred by Slickpix’s Ross Holburt, Broms Girl (below) has now won three of her last four outings and also has 10 placings to go with the half dozen victories.
Broms Girl now joins black typer Butzie and Seal Lago as Delago Brom’s most successful progeny in terms of wins.
Out of the Snaadee mare, Simulation – who won three in town and eight overall – Broms Girl’s residual value increases with each performance given that it’s a strong North American and European black type family.
Fortunately, Ross has a full brother heading to the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale in March and will naturally be hoping Broms Girl increases the tally over the next three months.


South Australian trainer/owner/breeder, Craig Curtis, has had some decent horseflesh go through his stable in recent years with the 4-time stakes winner On Focus springing to mind.
Storm Brewing might have a way to go to catch up, but took a fair leap forward with a command performance at Morphettville on 28 November, winning over the 1600m after a pair of placings at the track at his previous two outings.
Well named – Storm Brewing is by Desert Sun from the Mystery Storm mare In a Teacup – the 3YO was bred at Eliza Park and sold to Craig at last year’s Adelaide Magic Millions for $43,000.
Also the dam of Melbourne winner Tassology, In a Teacup is a half sister to multiple Group One winner Heroicity and hails from the immediate family of top Kiwi filly Highflying.
Craig has sent several mares to Eliza Park over the past couple of seasons and, word has it, there’s a cracking Magnus foal at foot out of his winning Al Awir mare Not Always, dam of Hong Kong Group winner Always Flying.

Storm Brewing scores at Morphettville, while below Craig Curtis (far right) poses with a bunch of happy owners.


If you took the $1.40 about Alesprit in the CSR Monier Roofing 3YO Class 3 Plate over 900m at the Gold Coast on 28 November, your heart was probably well and truly in your mouth after she was slowly away.
You probably weren’t feeling much better when she was dropped back to last and couldn’t buy a run turning for home.
Finally there was daylight on the rail and the Bel Esprit filly went like the clappers to the line, scoring by a neck.
Out of the Rory’s Jester mare, Rory’s Babe and bred by Neville Stewart in Queensland, Alesprit has now won three of her six outings (including a second) and has yet to finish out of the money.
As Bel Esprit guru, Brian Donohoe points out, Bel Esprit has had a winner over 900m out of each of the first three crops: Gabbidon (1st crop) (on debut and Bel Esprit’s first winner); Bel Said (2nd crop) (also winning on debut) and Alesprit (3rd crop) has won two of her last three starts over this distance and her time of 49.8 at her last win is two seconds faster than Gabbidon ran.
At the Gold Coast Alesprit (below) ran the journey in 51.19 seconds: not bad given the tardy start.

By the way, the term ‘goes like the clappers’ gained prominence during World War II in reference to fighter pilots’ maneuvering skills. The clapper, as you can see from the accompanying diagram (no. 9), is the thingamajig (not the technical term) that rotates from side to side, with the phrase originating from the vigorous shaking of the school bell.


Clangalang, winner of the AJC Derby-Epsom double, was renowned for his ‘tractability’ and it’s a trait he’s passing on to progeny.
A case in point is Queensland war horse, Nerangatang.
A winner over 1000m at Emerald on 28 November, the Clangalang mare has now started on 13 occasions this time in, racing every month since May.
Indeed, the 4YO has only once been out of the money in her past seven outings which include two wins and three seconds.
Hailing from the Our Maizcay mare, Misdirection, Nerangatang was bred by Eliza Park and sold at the 2006 Gold Coast National Weanling Sale.
Misdirection is a half sister to NSW stakeswinners Zephyrz and Cloudlet, both bred by leading agent and bloodstock authority, Les Young.


“Whip rule! What whip rule?” remarked an ecstatic Rob Crabtree following the victory of his Distant Music filly, Scarletta, at Warrnambool on 23 November.
The Jason Warren trained 3YO had just scored over 1100m at the ‘bool, winning by four lengths … “untouched”.
Rob, who has raced many a fine neddy over the years, is not about to get carried away with a maiden victory (albeit at the filly’s third start after running third at Sandown on debut) but marvels at the sheer pre potency of Scarletta’s family.
Rob bred Scarletta’s grand dam, Scandinavia, racing the mare in partnership with Eliza Park’s owner, Lee Fleming, and cheering on as the ‘blue hen’ won four of 17 starts (including the QTC Cup-G2) and placing in four Group Ones.
Since retiring to stud in 1999, Scandinavia has produced seven named foals:
  • Danavia (placed at Flemington; 2 winners from 2 to race including Scarletta)
  • Helsinge (unraced; dam of unbeaten filly Black Caviar)
  • Magnus (won or placed in 12 Group One events; standing at Eliza Park)
  • Baltics (one start; dam of 2 foals yet to race)
  • Ibsen (winner of 3 city races)
  • Wilander (4 wins including MRC Schillaci S-G2)
  • Vasa (unraced)
Unquestionably one of the ‘hottest’ families in the Australian Stud Book.

Magnus (ex. Scandinavia), G1 winner & Eliza Park based stallion

Friday, November 27, 2009


Words of wisdom from legendary baseball manager, Yogi Berra.

You can observe a lot by just watching

If you don’t know where you’re going, chances are you will end up somewhere else.

You should always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise they won’t come to yours.

I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early.

Never answer an anonymous letter.

90% of the game is half mental.

Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

The future ain’t what it used to be.

If you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Pair up in threes.

I wish I had an answer to that, because I’m tired of answering that question.

You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn’t enough in the second half you give what’s left.

We made too many wrong mistakes.

We’re lost, but we’re making great time!

It’s deja-vu all over again.

You better cut the pizza in four pieces. I’m not hungry enough to eat eight.

I usually take a two hour nap, from one to four.

Steve McQueen looks good in this movie. He must have made it before he died.

No, you didn’t wake me up. I had to get up to answer the phone anyway.

Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.

Shut up and talk.

Once, Yogi’s wife Carmen asked, “Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?” To this, Yogi replied, “Surprise me.”

Carmen said “I took Tim to see Doctor Zhivago today.” Yogi replied, “What the hell’s wrong with him now?”

I didn’t say half the things I said.


In a day dominated by world headlines such as:

“US Santas demand priority swine flu vaccine”
“Maybe she should have ducked” (after TV chef Paula Deen was hit in the face by a ham)
“Using your plastic for plastic surgery”
“World’s oldest sheep dies in heatwave”
“Novice Israeli spy gets nicked by Tel Aviv cops”

second prize goes to:

“Japanese cops cross-dress for bag snatch dragnet”
which explains that Japanese black-belt policemen have been cross-dressing in high heels, wigs and designer bags, in a bid to beat off bag-snatchers

However, the winner is:

A flatulent pig sparked a gas emergency in southern Australia when a farmer mistook its odours for a leaking pipe
(and that one comes all the way from Axedale in Victoria).


Dean Fleming’s Tyreel Stud is consistently at the fore of major race and sale results, owning arguably the finest band of broodmares in Australia.
Tyreel has sold eight million plus yearlings (including a Redoute’s Choice colt for $2.5 million at the 2008 Australian Easter Yearling Sale) and its honour roll features a host of Group One winners.
Sadly though, as Breednet’s Tara Madgwick explains, Tyreel has lost one of its stars in Ballroom Babe.

Every spring, thousands of successful foaling stories are told all over Australia, but for some breeders there is no happy outcome as was the case at Tyreel Stud, with Dean Fleming reporting the loss of star broodmare Ballroom Babe.
“Ballroom Babe unfortunately was euthanised whilst foaling due to complications resulting from laminitis,” Fleming said.
“She has been truly a magnificent broodmare over the past 15 years, we will all miss her.”
Rated the Champion 2YO of New Zealand in 1994/1995, Ballroom Babe was acquired by Dean Fleming and joined the elite broodmare band at Tyreel Stud at the close of her racing career, which was highlighted by Group One wins in the AuRC Sires Produce Stakes, Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes and WRC Captain Cook Stakes.
Her first living foal was a colt by Danehill (USA) that went to the 2001 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale where he was snapped up by astute bloodstock agent Anton Koolman for $700,000 on behalf of Hong Kong based clients.
Sent to Hong Kong and named Hidden Dragon, he would go on to achieve stakes success during a lucrative racing career.
Hidden Dragon provided the perfect start to what would be a fine career at stud, Ballroom Babe producing six foals to race all winners including brilliant Group Three winner Tahni Girl and high class Group Two winner Just Dancing.
“Ballroom Babe has left an indelible mark on the racing industry with Hidden Dragon, Just Dancing and Tahni Girl,” said Fleming.
“Her yearling filly by Fusaichi Pegasus, a full sister to Just Dancing, will be presented at the Inglis Easter Sales in 2010 and we have a potential super star with Guy Walter called Celestial Babe, who is an unraced three year-old filly by Galileo from Ballroom Babe that has been retained by Tyreel Stud.”

Ballroom Babe with her 2006 Galileo filly, Celestial Babe


Have to admit that the first time I heard mention of the Darwin Awards, images of thick Territorians on the tear sprang to mind.
However, as it turns out, the Darwin Awards are in honour of the famous evolutionist Charles Darwin and those pin heads who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.
Lawn Chair Larry’s feats didn’t actually see him depart this mortal coil – well, not in the true sense – but he has got the most ‘honourable mentions’.

Larry Walters of Los Angeles is one of the few to contend for the Darwin Awards and live to tell the tale: “I have fulfilled my 20-year dream,” said Walters, a former truck driver for a company that makes TV commercials. “I’m staying on the ground. I’ve proved the thing works.”
Larry’s boyhood dream was to fly. But fates conspired to keep him from his dream. He joined the Air Force, but his poor eyesight disqualified him from the job of pilot. After he was discharged from the military, he sat in his backyard watching jets fly overhead.
He hatched his weather balloon scheme while sitting outside in his ‘extremely comfortable’ Sears lawnchair. He purchased 45 weather balloons from an Army-Navy surplus store, tied them to his tethered lawnchair dubbed the Inspiration I, and filled the 4’ diameter balloons with helium. Then he strapped himself into his lawnchair with some sandwiches, Miller Lite, and a pellet gun. He figured he would pop a few of the many balloons when it was time to descend.
Larry’s plan was to sever the anchor and lazily float up to a height of about 30 feet above his back yard, where he would enjoy a few hours of flight before coming back down. But things didn’t work out quite as Larry planned.
When his friends cut the cord anchoring the lawnchair to his Jeep, he did not float lazily up to 30 feet. Instead, he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon, pulled by the lift of 42 helium balloons holding 33 cubic feet of helium each. He didn’t level off at 100 feet, nor did he level off at 1000 feet. After climbing and climbing, he leveled off at 16,000 feet.
At that height he felt he couldn’t risk shooting any of the balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really find himself in trouble. So he stayed there, drifting cold and frightened with his beer and sandwiches, for more than 14 hours. He crossed the primary approach corridor of LAX, where Trans World Airlines and Delta Airlines pilots radioed in reports of the strange sight.
Eventually he gathered the nerve to shoot a few balloons, and slowly descended. The hanging tethers tangled and caught in a power line, blacking out a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes. Larry climbed to safety, where he was arrested by waiting members of the LAPD. As he was led away in handcuffs, a reporter dispatched to cover the daring rescue asked him why he had done it. Larry replied nonchalantly: “A man can’t just sit around.”

Hoofnote: Larry’s efforts won him a $1,500 FAA fine, a prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas, the altitude record for gas-filled clustered balloons, and a Darwin Awards Honourable Mention. He gave his aluminum lawnchair to admiring neighborhood children, abandoned his truck-driving job, and went on the lecture circuit. He enjoyed intermittent demand as a motivational speaker, but said he never made much money from his innovative flight. He never married and had no children. Larry hiked into the forest and shot himself in the heart on 6 October 6, 1993. He was 44.


Noted with some interest that Mel Schumacher is to be inducted into the Queensland Sports Hall of Fame next week.
Mel was one of the best hoops of his day – which is no mean feat given that he rode against the likes of Moore, Sellwood, Purtell, Podmore, Higgins, Johnson, Williamson, McGrowdie and co.
When he retired from the saddle, Mel had kicked home over 2,000 winners, highlighted by his 1958 Melbourne Cup victory on Baystone and 1961 Golden Slipper with Magic Night.
Still, in true Aussie tradition, Mel Schumacher will best be remembered for his life ban (subsequently reduced to 10 years and then 5½) for pulling Tommy Hill’s leg in the 1961 AJC Derby.
Riding Blue Era, ‘The Shoe’ reached out and grabbed Hill’s leg who was on board the fast finishing Summer Fair, thus impeding his rival’s momentum. Blue Era got up by a whisker.
Unfortunately for Schumacher they had only, literally, commenced using head on footage and, indeed, the cameraman had only got it set up as they turned for home in the Derby.
Talk about dumb luck! As you can imagine they got a bit of a surprise in the stewards room …
“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn't believe they had one (head on camera). It was just one of those things. You see bike riders do it, you see runners do it and this time it just happened to be on film and we got caught. What can’t speak can’t lie.” – Mel Schumacher.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The Eliza Park draft for the 2010 Gold Coast Magic Millions (6-10 January) is now online, featuring yearlings by God’s Own (4), Bel Esprit (2), Danbird, Testa Rossa, General Nediym, Fastnet Rock and Elusive Quality.
The consignment includes the first foal of a half sister to Magnus, Wilander and the dam of Black Caviar, a half brother to Group One winner Jymcarew, the second foal of a half sister to Group Two winner Doubting, the first foal of a half sister to Champion Filly Angst, a half sister to multiple Group winner Dance The Waves and the second foal of a half sister to multiple Group One winner Al Mansour.
For further information, click here.

Exciting first season sire GOD’S OWN - three yearlings in the Eliza Park draft


Victorian incentive scheme, Super VOBIS, has always been innovative and the monies paid out to owners and breeders of eligible horses since its inception has been a massive boon for industry participants.
And the scheme’s latest initiative smacks of genius … the ideal solution to a problem that nags at many a nominator.
Aside from financial constraints, the largest hurdle to ‘nominate or not to nominate’ has been the question: “What if the horse doesn’t race in Victoria?”
However, as we understand it (and further details will be released tomorrow), is that from the 2008 foal crop onwards, nominated horses which don’t race in Victoria throughout their two- and three-year-old careers (thereby negating any Super VOBIS bonus) will be eligible for a rebate.
In other words, if the 2008 foal doesn’t start on a Victorian racetrack during the 2010/11 or 2011/12 racing seasons, the nominator will be given a rebate to the value of the nomination fee: Category A ($660), B ($1,320) or C ($1,980).
Brilliant! For further information, check out the Super VOBIS website from tomorrow onwards.


Can someone please explain why Tattersalls conduct a February Sale in February, a July Sale in July, three October yearling sales in October and a December Yearling Sale and December Foal Sale in November?
Certainly both the November auctions are part of a series which ends with the December Breeding Stock Sale (November 30 – December 3) and, besides, perhaps one shouldn’t buck tradition when one considers that Tattersalls has been doing business – quite successfully – since 1766.
On the other side of the Atlantic, it was encouraging to see the Keeneland November Breeding Sale – ironically held over 13 days in November – ending on a relatively positive note this week … down just 6.5% on last year’s trade.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


On any given day, up to eight Eliza Park stallions are represented by progeny – somewhere in the world! – but yesterday (23 November) there was just the sole entry: Delago Brom 4YO, The Other Man.
And, in keeping with Delago Brom’s winning run, The Other Man duly saluted over 1700m at Warrnambool … his second win (and second placing) from 11 outings.
Trained at the track by Simon Ryan (whose only other stable runner – Nebuchadnezzar – won in August), The Other Man is out of the Rancho Ruler mare, Raunchy Ruler.
Although he has a long way to go, The Other Man’s name pays homage to his older three quarter brother, Man Of Illusion who would campaign successfully in the USA (Churchill Downs Turf Sprint-G3) after winning at Doomben four years ago.
Another half brother in Really Good would win three Group events in Singapore.
The Other Man is raced by the same connections as Man Of Illusion, having been bred by David Kobritz’s DHK Investments (no stranger to success with Subzero and Danzero), Reuben Benkel’s Footy Racing and Albany Thoroughbreds.

Man Of Illusion (by Delago Brom’s Champion Sire, Encosta de Lago) wins at Churchill Downs

Monday, November 23, 2009


In an industry renowned for its ‘characters’, they don’t come much more colourful than Billy McDonald.
Billy passed away in Ireland last week at the age of 65, but it’s highly unlikely the charismatic bloodstock agent, raconteur and friend of the stars will be forgotten in a hurry.
The following is an excerpt from his obituary in

Based originally in Ireland before relocating to California, Billy McDonald purchased – among others – eventual dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Alleged, as well as Fairy Bridge (Bold Reason), later the dam of Sadler’s Wells.
McDonald was a close associate of Coolmore principal Robert Sangster, for whom he purchased Alleged as an unraced 2YO in training for $US120,000, and counted among his friends celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore.
McDonald, in addition to being a bloodstock agent, spent time as a Rolls Royce dealer in California, where he was a mainstay at the track and at various racing haunts.
“Billy was one of the great characters of the game,” trainer John Gosden recalls. “He is still in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling the most Rolls Royces in a day. He was a man who lived life to the full, and had a great eye for a horse. He was a talented pony rider in his youth, and a fast runner, both into – and out of – trouble.
“He was an immensely popular and loveable man who was totally at ease in all the great watering holes, restaurants and race courses of the world. There will never be another Billy.”
McDonald, who kept a low profile after suffering the effects of a stroke roughly 12 years ago, was a close friend of movie producer David Giler, who secured him a small role in the Richard Dreyfuss horse-racing film Let It Ride.
In addition to providing Sangster and the Coolmore connections an initial Arc victory with Alleged in 1978, McDonald would play a role in the stud’s legendary stallion Sadler’s Wells. According to the book Horsetrader, by Patrick and Nick Robinson, McDonald had joined Sangster, John Magnier and trainer Vincent O’Brien on a scouting mission to Claiborne Farm:
Robert and his men had gone there early to see the yearlings before they went to the sale, and McDonald had decided to short circuit the conventional way of perusing the young horses. Taking the yearling manager aside, he pressed a $100 bill into his hand and said, “Which one do YOU like best?”
“Oh, I’d go for the little Bold Reason filly every time,” he replied. “They always race over to this gate from right across the far side of the paddock, and that little filly is always yards in front when they arrive. SHE is a racehorse.”
Indeed, the filly, Fairy Bridge, turned out to be a fine runner, winning both starts at two before being named champion 2YO filly in Ireland, but her real value would be as a broodmare. Her second foal was Sadler’s Wells, who carried Sangster’s colors to victory in a trio of Group 1 races, then commenced an unrivalled career as Europe’s premier sire.

Following are a collection of quotes and anecdotes honoring McDonald:

Elaine ‘Legs’ Lawlor, Goffs Director of Bloodstock Sales

“There was a restaurant in L.A. called Le Dome, where all the racing people would go to regularly back in the 80s. Billy was friends with Frank Sinatra, and one time Billy had a date at the restaurant, and he asked Frank, who was also dining there, if he wouldn’t mind dropping by on his way out and say hello. You know, to impress the girl. Which Frank duly did, and when he stopped by the table, Billy said, ‘Frank, not now, can’t you see I’m busy?’ That story just sums Billy up.
“He could talk the talk, and there was no better salesman. He could sell ice to an Eskimo.”

Coolmore associate Richard Henry

“I had dinner with (actor) John Forsythe and Billy one day, and John told me that Billy knew more fellas in Hollywood than he did.”

Tullamaine Castle Stud’s Bob Lanigan, former general manager of Coolmore

“He used to describe himself as, ‘The Purveyor of Champions to Millionaires.’ He was a wonderful man. He introduced Pierce Brosnan and myself, and bought us a mare called Salidar (Ire), who we bred a good horse called Bin Ajwaad out of.
(Bin Ajwaad stood in New Zealand for a couple of seasons and his winners included STC Gloaming S-G2 winner Go Bint).
“Billy also used to have the best letterhead: A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character (Federico Tesio).”

Restauranteur Eddie Kerkhofs, who owned popular L.A. hangout Le Dome.

“One of my favorite stories about Billy is when he turned 40, and he decided to give himself a party at Le Dome. He rented out the whole place. He said, ‘I want pasta, I want caviar, I want Cristal Roederer. I’m inviting 130 people.’ So we made a deal. I told him that, since he was my friend, that I wasn’t going to charge him full price for the Cristal, because that would be very expensive, and that I would give it to him at cost. So 130 people came, and it was a lot of noise, and this and that. All of the sudden, I get a phone call from Palm Springs. It was the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Sinatra himself. He said, ‘Eddie, I know I was invited to Billy’s 40th birthday party, but I couldn’t make it. But, do me one favor: give me the cheque.’ And that’s what I did, and he picked up the cheque for Billy’s party. Of course, I didn’t tell Billy until the day after, because he would have done more damage!”