CURRENT Hong Kong premier trainer John Size still calls Dalby home!
Winner of nine Hong Kong training premierships in 16 years – plus a tally of more than 1000 wins – Australian expatriate Size made the admission during an interview with Sky Racing presenter Michael Maxworthy at Hong Kong’s Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday, December 10. Shortly after, Size was celebrating when his horses Mr Stunning and DB Pin ran the quinella in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
Back in 2002 after Size won his first Hong Kong premiership, noted The Age racing journalist Tony Bourke wrote: “Born in Brisbane and raised at Dalby on the Darling Downs, Size came from a non-racing family, but as a "skinny, little kid" of 15 he had visions of becoming a jockey and began working as a strapper.
“Although it was only a couple of years until he outgrew his riding aspirations, he enjoyed working with horses – a quality recognised by his then boss, the highly regarded Gold Coast-based trainer Henry Davis, who gave him more and more responsibility.
“Size was a quick learner and, at the age of 24, took out his own training licence after Davis was disqualified and moved to stables at Deagon, outside Brisbane, with about 20 horses – some formerly trained by Davis.
“A few years later, at the end of the '80s, racing was feeling the effects of the stockmarket crash and Size decided on a change of direction. He was offered a job by bookmakers Mark Read and Dominic Beirne – then the leaders of the Sydney betting ring – as a form analyst.
“When Read moved his bookmaking operation to Darwin, Size went with him and stayed until 1994 when, now 40, he decided to have another go at training. He went back to the Gold Coast and was immediately successful, before moving to Sydney. Size still regards Davis, "a fabulous conditioner of horses", and Read and Beirne as "the three greatest influences in my life".
Back to the present, the latest Hong Kong Jockey Club profile on Size reads: “John Size was a top trainer in Sydney before his arrival in Hong Kong in 2001 with a reputation for improving and rekindling the spark in his horses. He broke the mould by winning the trainers' premiership in his very first season. His ninth championship in 2016/17 saw him set a new record for most winners in a season with 94 – 27 more than nearest rival John Moore.”
Mr Stunning wins Gr1 Hong Kong Sprint
FORMER Champion Australian sire Exceed And Excel (Danehill/Patrona) celebrated an elite race success when 5YO Australian-bred gelding Mr Stunning (Exceed And Excel/With Fervour) proved too slick for his rivals in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, December 10.
Mr Stunning and the New Zealand-bred runner-up DB Pin (G5 Darci Brahma/Pins’N’Needles) provided a quinella result for former Brisbane and Gold Coast trainer John Size.
It was Mr Stunning’s third win in succession after capturing the Group 2 Hong Kong Bowl (despatching another Aussie expat in Lucky Bubbles) on October 22 and the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint on November 19. In fact, the Club Sprint marked a significant milestone as it was the 250th stakes win for Darley’s prepotent shuttle sire Exceed And Excel – the brilliant dual Group 1-winning son of Danehill.
Among Exceed And Excel's best progeny to date are 4-time European Group 1 winner Excelebration, 4-time Group 1-winning Australian filly Guelph, Group 1 Caulfield Guineas winner and fellow Darley sire Helmet, Golden Slipper winner Overreach, three-time Group 1-winning sprinter Flamberge, and Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes winners Earthquake and Reward For Effort.
Mr Stunning has now won 10 of his 16 outings, with a further three placings, and approximately $4.6 million in stakes. The Hong Kong Sprint sees Mr Stunning join the likes of Sacred Kingdom and Silent Witness (dual winners), Absolute Champion, Falvelon and Fairy King Prawn as Australian-bred winners of Hong Kong’s premier speed test, with Australian horses having won 12 of the 19 runnings.
Million dollar winner has $480 sibling
MILLION dollar winner Mr Stunning has a $480 sibling!
Mr Stunning was bred by Tony Santic’s Makybe Racing and Breeding in Victoria and was pin-hooked as a weanling for $110,000 at the 2013 Inglis Great Southern sale in Melbourne.
He was then bought by Magnus Equine for $250,000 at the 2014 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale. Mr Stunning is the fifth winner from Dayjur mare, With Fervour, a daughter of 3-time North American Group 1 winner, Fran’s Valentine, and half sister to the 5-time Group 1 winner, With Anticipation.
Although With Fervour was sold to Victorian veterinarian Dr Lesa Oldcastle for just $6000 at the 2013 Inglis Easter Broodmare Sale, she unfortunately passed away the following year leaving just one more foal – an unraced 3YO filly by Mossman named With Faith.
Not to be deterred, Dr Oldcastle starting searching for any close relatives – especially her daughter Go The Cats by Purrealist foaled in 2009. Also bred by Tony Santic, Go The Cats was sold to trainer Rick Hore-Lacy for $65,000 at the 2011 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale. Despite showing talent, she was unplaced in five starts.
Like many discarded racehorses, Go The Cats ended up at a general horse sale often frequented by pet food buyers. Luckily, Tatura horse breeder Kasey Tozer was looking for a mare to breed to her Welsh Cob stallion, saw Go The Cats advertised at the Echuca horse sales in November 2015, put in a phone bid for $480 and got her.
Kasey’s winning bid, of course, was made before Mr Stunning had started his career in Hong Kong. Mr Stunning debuted in early 2016 winning three of his first four starts. It was then that Kasey started to get phone calls enquiring about her Echuca mare purchase. One of the phone calls was from Dr Lesa Oldcastle who had been looking for some time for Go The Cats and was keen to enter a foal share arrangement.
In 2016, Go The Cats was covered by Exceed And Excel’s Caulfield Guineas winning son Helmet. Foaled in early November, the filly is now a three-quarter relation to a Group 1 winner!
Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Catalogue online
THE catalogue of 770 yearlings for the 2018 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale is now available online.
Siblings to Group 1 winners Happy Trails, Faint Perfume, Ortensia, Alinghi, Le Romain and Extreme Choice headline a stellar catalogue for the sale to be held at Oaklands Junction from Sunday, March 4 to Wednesday, March 7.
The catalogue boasts half or full relations to 88 Stakes winners as well as progeny of 103 Stakes-winning mares. There are 120 stallions represented led by champion Victorian sire Written Tycoon (49), Toronado (44), Zoustar (39) and Reward For Effort (25) while 23 percent of the catalogue is filled by progeny of the 26 First Season Sires represented including Group 1 racetrack performers Puissance De Lune, Dissident, Proisir, Wandjina and Adelaide.
Day 1 will again feature the popular Blue Riband session, where 43 select yearlings which the Inglis Bloodstock team believes will make the best classic and staying types will be offered.
Fine Cotton trainer dies
HAYDEN Haitana, the trainer behind the infamous "Fine Cotton" scandal, has died in South Australia at the age of 72.
Haitana spent time in prison for his role in the scandal which saw Fine Cotton substituted by the better performed horse, Bold Personality, to win a race at Eagle Farm in Brisbane on August 18, 1984.
A huge betting plunge would have seen the masterminds of the scam win millions. However, it all fell apart when stewards noticed white paint dripping from Bold Personality's legs after the race. Haitana also received a life ban from racing which was eventually lifted in 2013. The infamous "ring-in", which allegedly involved bookmakers Robbie and Bill Waterhouse, remains one of the biggest scandals in Australian racing history.