Thursday, December 27, 2012


And don't forget to put your vote in for the greatest race of all time ...


When Audacious Spirit crossed the line in Saturday’s Sky Racing Lough Neagh Stakes at Doomben, he became Bel Esprit’s 15th stakes winner.
And deservedly so – the Gillian Heinrich trained speedster had previously placed in five Group and Listed events, including a whisker second in the Group Two Royal Sovereign Stakes at Randwick.
But while 15 stakes winners is a milestone worthy of recognition – particularly for a stallion regularly pigeon holed as “the sire of Black Caviar” – Audacious Spirit’s victory was the cap on a remarkable month.
Indeed, Christmas came early for Victoria’s perennial champ, with no less than 28 winners in Australia in the first three weeks of December.
That included a treble, five doubles and, amazingly, on three consecutive Saturdays, four wins apiece.
Apart from the obvious highlight of Audacious Spirit (below), Bel Price is now rated one of the top mares in the Apple Isle after a double for the month and will be targeted at Group glory during the Tasmanian Summer Carnival; Vain Attraction, the unbeaten Miss Softhands, Hot Lover and Beltrois all won in Melbourne and have, between them, some $800,000 in stakes; and, of course, there is the lightning quick Clevadude.
Trained by Rick Hore-Lacy, the exciting 2YO is one of the pre-post favourites for the $2 million Magic Millions Classic in January and, will maybe, head on to the Golden Slipper. The trainer of such 2YO champs as Canny Lad and Redoute’s Choice, Hore-Lacy is not saying that Clevadude is the best horse he has ever trained … not yet anyway!
Not surprisingly, Bel Esprit has raced to the top of the Australian Sires’ premiership by winners with 76 individual winners of 105 races for the season and, with Clevadude poised, it could be a very happy new year.

Hoofnote: Bel Esprit was at it again on Boxing Day with another four winners, headlined by Esprit de Bullet’s victory at Morphettville. What a gutsy performer that bloke is : it was win No. 8 for the John Hyam trained sprinter and he hasn’t exactly had a trouble free run throughout his career. Well done to connections including breeders and part-owners Alastair and Patti Mcfarlane.
So, that’s now 32 winners in Oz for December (thus far!) and 78 individual winners of 109 races for the season. Go you good thing!


A show of hands, please. Who remembers Jack Klugman? He was the actor who starred in the TV series, Quincy M.E. and if you’re as old as me, the TV version of the Odd Couple (and I’m not talking the ‘re-runs’!).
Anyway, old Jack (below) stepped off the stage the other day at age 90, but what people might not know is that he was an avid owner and breeder, racing a number of handy types including Jacklin Klugman who ran third in the 1980 Kentucky Derby.
The same day I saw a news piece on Hugh Bonneville from the hit series Downton Abbey who has just bought into a Fastnet Rock filly in training with Richard Hannon, and a Danehill Dancer colt with Michael Stoute.
It got me thinking (which is never a good thing!), but while champion racehorses have a tendency to elevate owners from relative obscurity, there must be a lot of famous people out there with interests in racehorses … football legend, Sir Alex Ferguson (who part owned Rock of Gibraltar), being just one example.
Visit our Facebook page: and put your two bob's worth in ... so far we've listed Bing Crosby, Greg Norman, Nathan Brown, Alan Jones, Kevin Sheedy, Steven Spielberg, Kevin Costner, MC Hammer, Ronnie Wood, Burt Bacharach, Eddie Irvine, Kobe Bryant ... and let's not forget the Queen.


If ever the diverse nature of the thoroughbred industry could be reduced to a microcosm, the Red Tempo Handicap at Flemington on 21 December would be a stark example.
Lining up over the 1000m journey was the Bel Esprit 7YO, Beltrois, who by all accounts had little hope – the rank outsider.
He’d been there before … lots of times in fact. Even won there a tick over three years ago. Indeed, it was at Flemington he’d had his last race: Oaks Day last year.
So, after being off the scene for nearly 14 months, it’s little wonder there wasn’t much action around the $21.
But suddenly there he was – all heart and muscle and totally oblivious to public opinion. Right on the wire, he poked his big head through – he’d now won six races and close to $400,000.
Can you imagine the joy of connections? Robbie Griffiths for instance – he’d bred the horse after all and if there’s one constant I’ve found out in all the years of following this caper, the one you make is more special than the one you buy.
What’s more, he’d tipped his wife, Shiranee, and some good mates into the ownership … the late James Lillie, the great Don Healy, Brian and Peter Donohoe – just to name a few.
Sadly, mere strides after the post, Beltrois broke a shoulder, broke Ryan Maloney’s wrist and broke a lot of hearts.
Thing is, we dust ourselves off: Robbie will have been up this morning tending the herd and Shiranee will be looking after Robbie. Brian Donohoe will post even more updates on his Bel Esprit blog.
It’s totally inadequate to summarise by saying “That’s Racing” but it’s true – can you ever really glory in the view from Everest if you’ve never visited the darkest area of the valley?
That doesn’t mean horse lovers aren’t heavier of step when tragedy strikes and from all of us at Eliza Park – and to those owners/trainers/breeders who have ‘endured’ similar experiences – we express our condolences.
RIP Beltrois.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Couple of well named winners at Seymour yesterday by God’s Own and Magnus.
God’s Own mare, Terpsichore notched up her third victory with a thriller over 1400m, while the Magnus filly, Usurper, also bobbed up on the wire over the same trip.
Trained by Andrew Noblet, Terpsichore is out of the Group Two winning mare Rain Dance Lady and, according to the ever faithful Wikipedia, the word Terpsichore hails from Greek mythology and means ‘delight in dancing’.
Being merely by God’s Own out of Rain Dance Lady would be warrant enough to acknowledge connections for a job well done, but if you look at the pedigree, each line has a reference to ‘dance’: the granddam of God’s Own’s sire, Redoute’s Choice is Dancing Show, God’s Own’s granddam is Zeigfield Lass and Rain Dance Lady’s sire, Jugah, is of course by the legendary Northern Dancer.
Meanwhile, Usurper looks pretty promising with her gutsy win after having no luck on debut at Sale on 4 December when the jockey’s saddle had shifted in the early stages: still, she ran on well for fourth – just a half length behind the winner.
Out of the Al Hareb mare, Drinkcard Princess, Usurper – according to the dictionary – is to “seize and hold by force” … which is exactly what she did!
For Magnus, it was winners on successive days (with the Barry Campbell trained Deceitful Cove lobbing at Launceston on Wednesday).
Magnus has now moved to third on the Australian Second Season Sires’ chart by winners and is right on target for consecutive Victorian championships.

The original Terpsichore!

Monday, December 17, 2012


Following the exciting debut performance of Bel Esprit 2YO, Clevadude, at Cranbourne yesterday, Patrick Bartley spoke with trainer Rick Hore-Lacy:

Clevadude, a $225,000 graduate from the Magic Millions sale on the Gold Coast, recorded an effortless win prompting the trainer to target the Magic Millions Classic and Golden Slipper.
''It's a bit of a stretch to say that Clevadude is the very best horse I've ever trained. I've had some very good ones and while this bloke is a good horse, he's got a long way to go,'' Hore-Lacy said.
''He's a very quiet horse who's adapted to racing perfectly.''
Hore-Lacy has already won a Golden Slipper, with Canny Lad in 1990, and many believe he could have won another two Slippers had luck been on his side.
He prepared the outstanding Redoute's Choice, but the colt's hopes of a Golden Slipper success were thwarted when he became sick 12 hours before the race. Redoute's Choice has gone on to be one of Australasia's finest stallions.
''Clevadude has done what all of my very, very good horses have done, like Redoute's Choice, Canny Lad, Toorak Toff, that win a jump-out by missing the start, circling the field and winning,'' Hore-Lacy said. ''Last Tuesday I trialled him at Caulfield and it wasn't much of a trial as he just bolted in. The timing wasn't ideal as his first race start was just four days away, but I had to do it to fit the program.''
Clevadude will compete at Mooney Valley in a fortnight before heading to the Gold Coast to compete in the $2.1 million Magic Millions two weeks later.
If successful, Hore-Lacy then intends to ease up on Clevadude and aim him at the Golden Slipper.
''It's early days yet. He's got to win at Mooney Valley probably to get him into the Magic Millions, so we'll take it from there. But I think it's a bit much, asking him to run in the Magic Millions and then go to the Blue Diamond and after that the Golden Slipper.
''You can't do it all, so after the Gold Coast we'll look at easing him, and with the Golden Slipper at Easter it gives you a little room to move.''

NO. 1

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Written Tycoon supporters – and there’s plenty of you out there* - would have noted with interest the impact of his runners over the past week and a bit: It Is Written scoring at Moonee Valley on 7 December; Write Cheek being stakes placed the following day; Ways of a Tycoon and Phoenix Tycoon notching up a trans Tasman double on the Sunday.
And this weekend has been run along similar lines: The Tycoon was very impressive on debut at Bendigo on Friday and Vibrant Rouge flew home for a big score at Flemington yesterday.
Certainly punter expectation was high for his 2YO, Grand Tycoon, today who was sent out a $1.60 favourite after two wins over 900m at Hobart last month – winning on debut by 2.8 lengths and then getting home by a whisker after jumping poorly on 25 November.
Grand Tycoon has his mind right on the job today though and after sitting just off the pace, flew home to score by 2.3 lengths.
Bred in Tassie by Rachel Clayton and Dean Woodhouse, Grand Tycoon (below) is from the Grand Royale mare Scottattitude, a three time winner in the Apple Isle herself.
Trained by leading Tasmanian mentor, Barry Campbell, this exciting youngster is owned by Charlie and Wendy Langmaid.

* Written Tycoon has covered 106 mares this spring 779 overall since retiring to stud in 2007. His last 3 winners are The Tycoon (winner on debut at Bendigo on Friday), Vibrant Rouge (four from five when successful at Flemington on Saturday) and Grand Tycoon (now three from three) – 8 from 9!


It was another big day for Bel Esprit with 4 winners – taking his 8 day tally to 20 – and each of the Saturday quartet deserve a wrap.
Patrick Payne’s gutsy 3YO, Hot Lover (ex. Concluding by Kenny’s Best Pal) has now won 5 from 10 after scoring convincingly at Flemington … the evergreen Brewski (ex. Summer Magic by Eagling) picked up win No. 6 for Bill & Symon Wilde … and Gaelstorm (ex. Blow by End Sweep) – trained by Jamie Edwards and Bruce Elkington – had 3 lengths to spare at Cranbourne.
But it was the win of Clevadude (ex. Jezeera by Jetball) that really had the tongues wagging.
Stepping out for the first time, the 2YO was never out of third gear and absolutely cruised to the line under a tight hold from Noel Callow – as one wag put it, the win was as soft as ice cream left out in the midday sun.
Indeed, such was the calibre of the win that Hore-Lacy – who has put the polish on brilliant 2YOs such as Canny Lad and Redoute’s Choice (to name just two) – said post race that Clevadude may well be the best horse he’s ‘eva’ trained.
Hore-Lacy paid $225,000 for the Eliza Park homebred at the 2012 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale, topping the summer session and thereby making the Bel Esprit youngster eligible for the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic on 12 January.
There’s a trip to Moonee Valley planned first, but based on the Cranbourne curtain raiser, this bloke really appears to be going places.

Clevadude as a yearling at Smithfield farm