Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Desert Sun, the sire of Sunline and damsire of Black Caviar, died peacefully at Eliza Park Nagambie yesterday. He was 23.
Desert Sun arrived at Eliza Park in 1999, the year Sunline first started hitting her straps and would subsequently capture two Cox Plates, 13 Group Ones and a legion of fans throughout the globe.
A decade on, he is now hailed as the sire of amazing mare, Helsinge, in turn the dam of Black Caviar.
Also the sire of Group One winners La Bella Dama and Our Egyptian Raine, Desert Sun would produce over 400 winners throughout his career, including winners from 800m to 4150m, colts and fillies, all ages, winners in 17 countries, over $50 million in stakes. What a marvel.
However, despite such impressive numbers, he will always been remembered for the best mare we’ve ever seen and, in many minds, the second best mare too. Not a bad legacy!
Rest in peace, Desert Sun.

Monday, June 25, 2012


The following yarn – penned by Thomas Dullard – appeared recently in Swan Hill’s local paper, The Guardian.
Black Caviar, the world’s best sprinter won by a nose at Royal Ascot on Saturday night - and Swan Hill is lucky enough to have some serious connections.
Manangatang born jockey Luke Nolen rode the mare to victory by a nose, with nervous connections looking on as French runner Moonlight Cloud mounted a serious challenge to the Australian, trained by Peter Moody.
It was Black Caviar’s 22nd win from as many races.
Local boy Mitch Coffey also has a claim to fame -- as a manager at the stud farm which is home to Black Caviar’s father (Bel Esprit), brother (Moshe), uncle (Magnus) and grandad (Desert Sun).
Coffey, whose surname is synonymous with horse racing in Swan Hill, regularly brushed shoulder’s with the racing royalty’s family as a stallion handler before progressing to the sales and nominations manager at the Eliza Park stud farm.
“Bel Esprit (Black Caviar’s father) was one of the horses that I handled every day. He is a beast of a horse; big, strong, powerfully built and very much like his not-so-little girl. Bel Esprit was one of the best horses I have ever seen race, but Black Caviar is something entirely different,” he said.
Coffey (pictured above with Bel Esprit) told The Guardian that Eliza Park was extremely excited about the connections to one of the best race horses ever.
“Black Caviar is an Eliza Park product and one we are very proud of, as a stud we get great satisfaction out of seeing her race because our connections run deep,” he said.
“Every time she races she is rewriting the history books, we are very lucky to be a part of such a record.”
Coffey, who moved to Melbourne to follow his love for the equine industry after completing year 12 said he was happy to be born into a racing family.
“My brother (Jordan) and I had very little choice on our career paths. But, Dad (Ian) and Austy have always been a great support and taught me everything I know about pedigrees, bloodline, horses and the industry.”
Helsinge (Black Caviar’s mother) was also recently sent back to Bel Esprit (Black Caviar’s father) at the Eliza Park Stud farm where Coffey works. As a result, Black Caviar might just have a full sister in the making.
Further to the Coffey connection, Luke Nolen was born and bred at Manangatang, he spent his first 10 years in the Mallee.
Nolen has 523 career wins, but surely none could be bigger than the Royal Ascot win.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Mark Bradley is one of our finest exponents of racing photography and has a postie’s mentality of ‘rain, hail, or shine’ when it comes to doing what he does best.
So, when he said it was a ‘bit wet’ at Rosehill on Saturday, he wasn’t kidding.
Yet, as soaked as he ended up, he was still probably better off than many of his ‘subjects’, including young hoop, Sam Clipperton who, to his credit, still had a smile for the camera despite the conditions.


Remember to tune in for the Australian Story on the ABC tonight (Monday) at 8pm.
While the show has been known to spotlight politicians, celebrities and other also rans, tonight they turn to a real star … Black Caviar.
This is what they have to say about what is sure to be a real ratings winner for ‘Aunty’.
In the early hours of Sunday, 24 June, tens of thousands of Australians are expected to set their alarms to watch a horse race in England. The unbeaten champion, Black Caviar will take on Europe’s best at Royal Ascot, in front of the Queen.
“The reason the industry wakes before everybody else, every morning of the year, is the promise of a Black Caviar. For history and prestige there’s nothing that compares to Royal Ascot. On her status as the best sprinter in the world and the best sprinter of all time, she should be winning this race,”says Gerard Whateley, Black Caviar’s biographer.
It’s a success story in which many have played a part. To Set Before a Queen is the fascinating inside story of the making of Black Caviar, stretching back across the generations. Black Caviar is out of mare Helsinge by stallion Bel Esprit with blood links to legendary champion Vain on the sire and dam sides.
The edition features exclusive access to Black Caviar’s media-shy breeder, Rick Jamieson; AFL legend Kevin Sheedy who is part-owner of Bel Esprit; Equine Advisor who found Helsinge, Peter Ford with assured contribution by Gerard Whateley, Black Caviar’s official biographer.
It also features exclusive vision of Black Caviar’s new full sister in utero.
“For me the challenge now, I want to do it again,” says breeder Rick Jamieson.
Rick Jamieson hates the spotlight but there’s people out there who want to know the Black Caviar story and everything to do with it,” says Peter Ford, equine advisor who FOUND Helsinge, Black Caviar’s dam.
This is the second Australian Story on Black Caviar and the mare remains the first and only animal to feature on the program in its 15 years of documenting contemporary Australians.
The show also features our very own Mark Lindsay and, we hasten to add, a one on one with Black Caviar’s brother Moshe, now firmly ensconced in his box at Eliza Park.


I, for one, would not be surprised if Sir Philip Marshall has a draw full of Union Jack patterned Reg Grundys.
In the name of his Mother country, he is often – and quite vociferously – left to defend the indefensible.
But even he bridled – you could say the upper lip was seen to wobble – when he read the following column from Stephen “Imgrabbingmyfifteenminutesoffameatanycost” Harris, who writes as the self-titled racing editor for BettingExpert.
The article is headed up: Is Black Caviar the most over-hyped horse in turf history? and the obviously English, Mr Harris, lets fly with his views. My take on it is that everyone has a right to their opinion (even if a lot of them shouldn’t be let loose on a computer), but Phil is clearly upset. He has even gone to say that reading such dribble makes him “ashamed to be a Pom”.
That’s right folks – we don’t break many stories – but you read it here first!
(So Phil, hurry up and take that photo of the Queen off your beside cabinet).

Is Black Caviar the most over-hyped horse in turf history?
Australia has a new wonder horse in the form of Black Caviar, with a huge fan club swelling the gate as this giant mare lines up against the same third-rate Aussie handicappers week in week out. Starting at very short prices, she rarely has to come off the bridle to land massive odds-on in low grade races on her home turf.
All this has proved is terrific toughness and race hardiness, and certainly doesn’t justify the hyperbole that her arrogant and cocksure trainer delivers week in week out as she cruises to another low grade triumph.
In fairness, the wonder mare can only beat what is put in front of her, and she has barely had to come off the bridle in doing so. As such she deserves great credit for her cast iron constitution and race-hardiness. She can be compared with the prolific British handicappers Glencroft or Chaplins Club, who both ran up long winning sequences despite the best efforts of the handicapper.
The true test will come when Black Caviar races outside her comfort zone for the first time at Royal Ascot, although she has bypassed a clash with the mighty Frankel and may only face a small field of British “handicappers” in a modest renewal of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (worth £500,000 to the winner).
Other trainers have evidently fallen for the hype of trainer Peter Moody and the weekly videos shown from down-under, beating up the same horses by a length or two having made all the running unpressed, (rarely more than workmanlike and very doubtful that she could have won by further if ridden out more forcefully.)
Even in tackling weaker opposition in June she is sure to be an odds-on favourite and a huge army of confident Aussies seem sure to travel over armed with cash to plunge on their heroine (at a much better return than the 1-20 available recently at home). Fellow Australian handler Paul Messara (runs Ortensia in the Kings Stand Stakes) believes Black Caviar will “walk up because with opposition dropping away the race will be the worst she has run in.”
Black Caviar is reported to be in the best shape of her career by trainer Peter Moody: “She is as fit as I have ever had her at this stage of her preparation. I don’t want to have to train her for the next fortnight and she will have a few quiet gallops....facts and figures tell you there is not another horse out there who can beat her so we will take the same approach that we have had in the last eight or ten starts”.
It is a shame that her main rivals seem to have run scared, all heading to the Kings Stand Stakes instead, and the top-rated horse in the world Frankel is aimed elsewhere over trips of a mile plus (which in fairness would have proved a stiffer test of stamina than may be ideal for the Aussie star).
However, winning away from home will at least prove she is not simply a one-trick pony that many of us suspect, although the likely quality of the field will not silence all of the doubters. Either way the Royal Ascot meeting will be enlivened by the appearance of one of the biggest hyped up horses of all time and, whatever one’s view of her actual merit, it will be a spectacle to savour.

The arrogant & cocksure trainer ... maybe you want to tell him to his face?

Friday, June 8, 2012


Rob Crabtree has certainly had a couple of good days: as the breeder, owner and now a major shareholder in promising young stallion, Magnus, he was on hand on the Gold Coast on Wednesday to see another of his homebreds – a Magnus half brother to multiple Group Two winner Set For Fame – realised  the fourth top price of the National Yearling Sale’s second session when knocked down for $140,000.
Meanwhile, yesterday, yet another home bred in Composing took out the Sporting Globe Maiden at Geelong for both himself and fellow part-owner and trainer, Anthony Cummings … scoring by a massive 5 lengths.
Another winner for God’s Own (below), Composing is out of the Zabeel mare, Zergo, a three quarter sister in blood to Might And Power. Composing is a year older half brother to recent impressive Magnus winner, Magnier.
But why Composing? The name we mean …
Turns out that Composing’s granddam, the Group winning 2YO, Tantum Ergo, is named after the opening words of the last two verses of Pange Lingua, a Latin hymn written by St Thomas Aquinas.
C’mon … seriously. Could you have gotten through another day without that juicy morsel? Something to tell the person sitting next to you in church on Sunday!


As a young kid, I have vivid memories of my brother telling me about what you had to do if you had a tapeworm – yep, it caused a few nightmares over the next 50 years but fortunately the therapy is winding down.
It didn’t help though after reading Laura Hillenbrand’s outstanding book – Seabiscuit: An American Legend – a little while back.
There’s a terrific section in the book that discusses the many travails of jockeys throughout the depression years, including the hoop that was ‘won’ in a poker game.
He remembers having the flap of his tent flung open in the middle of the night with some strange bloke telling him to get his A into G because he’d just won him playing cards with the jockey’s now former boss.
But if that wasn’t bad enough, Hillenbrand’s research showed that some jockeys swallowed tapeworm pills to help lose weight …
For jockeys who were truly desperate, there was one last resort. Contact the right people, and you could get hold of a special capsule, a simple pill guaranteed to take off all the weight you wanted. In it was the egg of a tapeworm. Within a short while the parasite would attach to a man’s intestines and slowly suck the nutrients out of him. The pounds would peel away like magic. When the host jockey became too malnourished, he could check into a hospital to have the worm removed, then return to the track and swallow a new pill.
Saunas, endless rounds of golf and walking around in plastic rain coat on a sunny day looks a little mild by comparison.


No wonder they used they used to call them Mad Men!
In the interest of self preservation, please note that the following images do not reflect the views of the publisher …

And it appears we have come a fair way since ...

And finally, it is fairly safe to assume that the following cruise was NOT sponsored by the Federal Government!


OK, it’s probably been on every blog/news site known to man in the past couple of days, but definitely worth repeating.
Go girl!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Nifty advertising campaign by the Super VOBIS mob promoting its breedback scheme …


Eliza Park has finished its 2012 yearling offerings on a high with three lots knocked down in the Select Session of the Gold Coast Magic Millions National Yearling Sale yesterday.
The Fastnet Rock colt from Life Is Beautiful (below) was sold to John Hyam for $100,000 – continuing the stallion’s tremendous success (and his son Wanted for that matter) – and was followed by the classy Magnus colt from Northpoint.
Magnus’ popularity continues and the $140,000 for his yearling was the fourth highest price of the session.
Rounding out the day was the Testa Rossa colt from Rapport who found a new home with Paul Beamish when the Kiwi agent went to $66,000.
With an overall sale average of $32,012, Eliza Park more than doubled that figure with an average of $74,600 for five yearlings sold.

Photos by Katrina Partridge