By Grant Morgan
The trade of tried horses has increased significantly in recent years. The evolution of the Online sale has made this process efficient and quick, and in my view, has been one of the best developments in the modern racing industry.
Of course, there is much risk both for buyer and seller.
Roll the clock back 15 years, I was trying to establish myself here in Queensland. I saw tried horses as the right vehicle to do that. They gave my clients a quick entry to the races without the long waiting yearlings require.
The first stakes success our current “All Gold” colours enjoyed were via tried horses I acquired privately.
Lion Hunter mare Fabiarna scored in the Listed Juanmo Quality at Eagle Farm in 2008.
Later that year, ex Peter Moody galloper Barlinnie won the Listed Doomben Stks at Doomben.
Both gallopers were prepared for my clients by Trevor Bailey at the Gold Coast.
Son of Gold Coast Hall of Fame trainer Alan Bailey, Trevor provided us with tremendous success during that era. Trevor still assists us today as the manager of our preferred Gold Coast spelling farm, Waverley Park.
During those formative years, our colours were carried to plentiful success with other horses acquired privately, either raced or broken in. They included Rumbird, Chevron Island, Welsh Miner, Ferocious and Sovereign Dream. All very good horses.
Nowadays, I’m still a big believer in buying tried horses, but now the focus is more in Europe.
Recently we traded one of our European gallopers in Without Revenge via the very good Inglis Digital platform.
We acquired Without Revenge at the 2021 Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training for 100,000 guineas. He was part of our first big push into the European tried horses which is now three years in. These also include last year's Caulfield Cup 4th placegetter Bois D'Argent and Lord Mayor's Cup winner Hopeful.
Without Revenge hasn’t been a straight forward customer. He took a fair bit of work to get to the races which came in September 2022. He struggled to acclimatise in the very hot and humid summer, and we had to abort a campaign and turn him back out to get him right.
He showed good ability at the trials for trainer David Vandyke and our first choice Queensland rider Ryan Maloney. That promise paid immediate dividends when he won on his Australian debut over 1400m at the Sunshine Coast. He backed that up by going to Saturday grade to win at Doomben over 1640m.
Unfortunately that was the last win in our colours. Without Revenge was winless in his next 9 starts and a growing source of frustration for many.
With several shareholders getting restless, the shareholder group voted to sell and he was sold for $40,000 in the Inglis Digital October 2023 Sale.
I might add that among the ownership group was two ex trainers, the opinions of both I respect. Both said sell.
Without Revenge was purchased by Kobie O’Brien’s KO Racing and he was bound for the Toowoomba stables of Corey and Kylie Geran.
Firstly let me say I’ve never met Kobie, Corey or Kylie. But they have done a great job with Without Revenge who has at the time of writing raced on three occasions for them, runner up at his last two starts at Listed level in Brisbane.
Kobie and the Geran’s have purchased from us before in the tried horse ring. Their first buy was I Am Invincible gelding Invincore. He was sold for $20,000 in the 2021 Inglis Digtial August Sale.
Unfortunately, Invincore only raced once for them, finishing 8th at Toowoomba before being retired.
It's pleasing to see KO Racing having more luck this time around. And even more pleasing that some of our original shareholders elected to go back into him, backing their own views. This is another great feature of the Online trading platform, it enables people with varying opinions to transact and obtain their preferable outcomes.
You always learn in racing, or in some cases re-learn.
Recently a senior jockey I have great respect for made a very good point to me. The topic of Without Revenge was raised around a ‘table of knowledge’ of other racing hard heads I often meet with over coffee.
“That air in Toowoomba is great for horses,” he quipped.
The point received universal support of the table, encircled by grey headed or greying racing men.
The point the old time hoop was relaying was that the hot humid coastal air at sea side training centres Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Eagle Farm isn’t great during the Summer. In particular, horses who bleed or have wind issues are well suited trained in the milder Darling Downs air.
Side note: I really dislike racing horses in Queensland during the Summer. We need more twilight and night racing during the summer ! That’s a topic for another day.
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the ‘Darling Downs’ air thing, but it had become buried in my grey matter.
I’ve always believed that in the case of tried horses, they need two things to be successful. A quantum change in training environment, and preferably a different racing environment.
There’s little point in for example, buying a tried horse from Team Hawkes at Rosehill, and then sending it next door to Chris Waller to train, whilst continuing to race in Sydney. Both stables have forgotten more than most of us know and are at the top of the tree. But, they essentially train, feed and work horses under a similar regime, all at the same track. How could you expect such a move to be successful ?
The other point I’ve learned from Without Revenge, is that in the future, I’ll change camp at least once before trading another European.
So stand by Darling Downs trainers, your phone might be ringing soon.