Friday, August 12, 2011


In this week’s Victorian Thoroughbred Newsletter (click here to subscribe), Kristen Manning has profiled successful Victorian breeders Darren and Liz Dance.

“Being at the right place at the right time.”

We all know that the horse racing game is one that relies so heavily on luck and it was just one stroke of good fortune that changed Darren and Elizabeth Dance’s life some 21 years ago.
Not particularly interested in thoroughbred racehorses, at that time – busy preparing their wedding and having just one share in standardbred as a hobby – the Dances had no intention of becoming involved, but fate decided to take a hand.
“I was driving home with a work colleague one day and he asked if I minded stopping at the yearling sales,” Darren said, having never been to a sale before.
It was at that Inglis Autumn Sale that Darren happened to meet Mark Riley whose eye had been caught by a Jugah colt. He watched on as interest as the trainer putting in a winning bid of $8,500, noting the excitement a new addition to the stable bought.
Thinking about it on the way home, Darren made a phone call that night and he was soon a first time racehorse owner.
A classic case of beginner’s luck ensued – at his first start the colt, who raced by the name of Mookta, winning a Yarra Glen 2YO Handicap by six lengths and racing on to Group One success in the Newmarket Handicap and the Oakleigh Plate.
There is nothing like elite level success to get under one’s skin and before they knew it Darren and Elizabeth had more horses, moving onto breeding and producing Mookta’s best runner, the dual Group winning mare Skewiff.
Also breeders of the Hobart Cup winner True Courser and high class mare Rue Maple, the Dances are again enjoying success with Uxorious – runaway winner of last Saturday’s Group Three Spring Stakes at Morphettville.
The winner of over $287,000 in stakes, Uxorious is a horse who always impressed connections – “he was always a nice foal,” Darren recalled, “and quiet, you could do anything with him.”
Keen breeders who have some 25 foals due this spring (Uxorious’ dam Shiny Mai due any day), the Dances run Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, syndicating the horses they breed.
One they are particularly excited about is Uxorious’ half brother by Bel Esprit, an eye-catching 3YO who is being given plenty of time to find his feet: “he is a cracking type,” Darren enthused.
Uxorious’ dam Shiny Mai had just the three starts for Caulfield trainer Alan Bailey and it was upon visiting the stables one morning that Darren happened to secure her.
“He told me I should buy her, that he’d regretted pushing her a bit early and that she had plenty of ability. It proved a good move!”
Darren & Elizabeth retain a share in every horse they sell, something they realise is not necessarily a good commercial decision: “but we wouldn’t do it any other way, we are not in it for the money, we are in it for the fun of it!”

Editor’s note: The Dances also syndicated (and race) Statue of Liberty’s 2YO stakes winner, Broadway Harmony.

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