Ontrack’s Kiwi trainer Jacob McKay had something to smile about after last Saturday’s Karaka Millions after his daughter Isabelle’s tragic fight with a rare brain disorder.
Just a few months ago his one-year-old daughter Isabelle was diagnosed with a rare disorder called hemimegalencephaly, which affects the brain and causes frequent seizures.
The diagnosis threw McKay's life, and that of his former partner's, into disarray.
"It's been an awful few months really," said McKay.
Surgery which basically disconnects the side of the brain driving the seizures may have halted the seizures and on Saturday Jacob finally had some more good news when Aalaalune ran a slashing sixth in the Karaka Millions.
“Jacob is a great young trainer and he’s been through a terrible time with his little girl,” said Ontrack’s Grant Morgan.
“We wish the family all the best and hope the treatment is successful for Isabelle.
“Jacob’s Reliable Man filly Aalaalune was impressive in the Karaka Millions and she looks like a really good prospect for three-year-old staying races next season.
“We get Jacob to break in and pre-trainer our purchases from the Karaka Sale and he does a fantastic job.
“His father Peter won the first Karaka Millions and is a very successful trainer in New Zealand while his brother Shaun is one of the best jockeys there.
“Ontrack wishes Jacob every success with his team in New Zealand, but more importantly we wish the family all the very best with Isabelle’s battle against an awful illness,” said Grant Morgan.
When the Ontrack Racing Hong Kong International tour touches down in December there’ll be one new trainer in town and one champion trainer firmly ensconced for years to come.
The Ontrack Tour takes in the International meeting in December and the Licensing Committee of the Hong Kong Jockey Club has granted a trainer’s licence to champion jockey Douglas Whyte for the 2019/2020 season.
With an unmatched record of 13 successive titles as Hong Kong champion jockey, more than 1800 local winners and success in almost all of the Club’s Group 1 races Whyte is one of the titans of Hong Kong’s world-class racing and is now set to open an exciting new chapter of his career.
Whyte’s final day of riding will be at the race meeting at Sha Tin on 10 February. He will then spend several months augmenting his skills by spending time with leading trainers around the world before returning to Hong Kong to establish his stable for the commencement of the new season.
The Licensing Committee also granted a trainer’s licence to Australian John Size for the 2019/2020 season and determined that he would remain eligible to continue to be licensed until the 2023/2024 racing season.
The Licensing Committee’s policy that elite-level trainers may be granted a licence beyond the age of 65 has been invoked in Size’s case.
Ontrack Tours Managing Director Grant Morgan said John Size’s reign as Hong Kong’s champion trainer is likely to continue for years to come.
“John Size is the benchmark for excellence in Hong Kong as he’s been the champion trainer in 10 of the 17 seasons he has been based there.
“Now he has teamed up with champion jockey Joao Moreira and it’s hard to imagine a more lethal combination in any jurisdiction around the world.
“Last Sunday they teamed up to win five races on the card , including the Group One sprint, and it’s not hard to see them repeating that sort of form on a regular basis.
“Ontrack has a special association with Joao Moreira as he’s unbeaten in four rides on our horses. He won three on Brazen Beau, including two Group Ones, and also won a Group Three on our great mare Savanna Amour.
“The Ontrack Racing party in Hong Kong has been fortunate to catch up with Joao on previous visits and look forward to renewing the friendship in 2019.
“It’s always a special time in Hong Kong around the International meeting and we have already had plenty of inquiries about our 2019 tour,” said Grant Morgan.
“Douglas Whyte is an extraordinary talent and it will be interesting to visit in December and observe him moving from highly successful jockey to highly successful trainer.
“This is only the second time in recent history that the Licensing Committee has issued a trainer’s licence to a current jockey, the first time being the licensing of champion jockey Tony Cruz for the 1996/1997 racing season.”
Emerging stallion Brazen Beau is shaping as champion first season sire and the role of Godolphin’s former Australian boss Henry Plumptre in his stallion career continues to be a significant factor.
Brazen Beau is looming as the next big thing in Australian breeding and Saturday’s sensational win by his son Accession now sees the horse with two leading hopes for the Golden Slipper in the autumn.
Ontrack Thoroughbreds bought and syndicated Brazen Beau and Managing Director Grant Morgan paid credit to Henry Plumptre for his role in Brazen Beau’s stud career.
“When the time came to negotiate with studs over Brazen Beau as a stallion, Henry Plumptre was heading Godolphin’s Australian operation and he was a big fan of the horse and all the negotiations were done with Henry.
“Henry was always bullish about Brazen Beau and he explained it was because the colt reminded him so much of former champion stallion Bletchingly.
“Henry was working at Widden Stud when Bletchingly was at the height of his powers and he couldn’t believe how much Beau reminded him of Bletchingly.
“Given that Bletchingly left the champions Kingston Town and Emancipation and another 59 group winners it was a fantastic recommendation,” said Grant Morgan.
“The negotiations between Godolphin and Ontrack went fantastically, thanks in the main to Henry’s skills and knowledge of the breeding industry.
“That sort of skill was also displayed when Henry was asked to select yearlings for Star Thoroughbreds at the 2018 Inglis Easter Sale.
“He selected Accession at the sale and his $300,000 prize is now looking good value as the colt has won over $370,000 and is looking a major contender for the $2 million Inglis Millennium in two weeks and the $3.5 million Golden Slipper.
“Ontrack bought four Brazen Beau yearlings at earlier sales in 2018 so I didn’t go to the Easter Sale so Henry might have been pushed a bit harder for Accession had I been there because the colt’s resemblance to Brazen Beau is uncanny.
“He does everything like Beau used to, even the way he half pie hesitates when being loaded in the barrier stalls is just like Brazen Beau.
“With Tassort and Accession heading the betting charts for the Golden Slipper and a host of promising youngsters waiting in the wings it looks like Brazen Beau will prove hard to beat in the race for champion first season sire,” said Grant Morgan.
Late bloomer Senrima Tide is starting to repay connections for their patience with an impressive win at Sandown.
A son of New Zealand-based stallion Ocean Park, Senrima Tide did not start racing until he was nearly four and in five starts, he has won twice and placed two times.
“I bought him from the 2016 Sydney Easter Sale and he was always the sort of horse who would require plenty of time,” said Ontrack Thoroughbreds Managing Director Grant Morgan.
“We gave him to Caulfield trainer Mick Price because of his fantastic record with these late maturing Kiwi-bred staying horses and he’s done a terrific job with this horse.
“He made his debut in July last year and after two placed runs he cleared maidens in September before we tipped him out for a spell.
“The key to making these horses is being patient. The only way for them to develop their potential is to give them time to grow and mature and being easy on them as they learn the racing game.
“Ocean Park didn’t race at two, won three times at three but as a four-year-old he really exploded with five wins, including Group Ones with the Cox Plate, Underwood Stakes and Caufield Stakes.
“It’s good to have the support of the ownership group in Senrima Tide to adopt a patient approach and hopefully we are on the road to unearthing a very nice staying horse.
“He’s only in his second racing preparation so we are confident that there’s still a lot of strengthening and developing to come with Senrima Tide,” said Grant Morgan.
Trainer Mick Price was confident of a bold showing at Sandown with Senrima Tide and the horse delivered with a half length win over favourite Cincinnati Red.
“He had no luck from an inside draw at his first run this prep and had worked well after that run and I was confident he would handle the step up to 1600 metres.
“First time racing on the Sandown track can be tricky but he had a good run and went to the front shortly after straightening and did a good job to hold on.
“He is like most of the New Zealand-bred horses I have had over the years in that he’s slow maturing, but I like the horse and feel he has the potential to make the grade over a trip if we continue to look after him and be patient,” said Mick Price.
Congratulations to our owners: Ontrack Thoroughbreds No 1 (Syndicate), Steve Mauger, Paul Galvin, Dr David Worthley, Brett Waters, B H G C Racing Syndicate, Ever Reliable Syndicate, Mark Ostermeyer, Sandy Tranter, Robert Wheatley, Simon Dorrat, Tom Wyld, Mark Walker, Lynne Smith and John Brown.
Brazen Beau’s made a flying start to his stud career and today’s Rosehill trials threw up another likely type by the champion sprinter.
The winner of two Group One sprints at Flemington, Brazen Beau has his first Australian runners on track this season and he’s made a sensational start with two Sydney Saturday winners and five placegetters from a handful of runners.
At Rosehill this morning trainer Gerald Ryan lined up Colada in a 900 metres heat for two-year-olds and the colt turned in a smart performance to win by a length and a half.
Bred and raced by Sun Stud, Colada is yet to race but is from a very strong US family.
His dam Clearly Foxy won three times, including a two-year-old race, and was placed in the Group One Hollywood Park American Oaks.
Ontrack Thoroughbreds bought Brazen Beau from the first crop of champion sire I Am Invincible for $70,000 and syndicated the horse before his sensational racing career and sale to breeding giant Godolphin.
“Brazen Beau is off to a magic start at stud and talking with a range of trainers at the Magic Millions Sale there were plenty who had a nice youngster by Brazen Beau waiting in the wings.
“Tassort is favourite for the Golden Slipper for James Cummings while Accession won the $500,000 Inglis Nursery and both colts look like ending their two-year-old season amongst the best of their age group.
“Ontrack bought four Brazen Beau yearlings last year and we are extremely happy with their progress and at last week’s Magic Millions Sale we bought another three.
“They are all nice horses and look the right types to add to Beau’s magnificent start to his stallion career,” said Grant Morgan.
Ontrack Thoroughbreds Grant Morgan didn’t buy an I Am Invincible yearling in 2018 but the one he had his heart set on buying looks like being a bit special.
Grant Morgan was under bidder on the I Am Invincible-Devoirs filly at the 2018 Magic Millions Sale but the filly went to the bid of South Australian trainer Lloyd Kennewell for $250,000.
“The filly was a lovely yearling but went over my budget, but it looks like she’s got ability to match her looks as she made her debut at Flemington on New Year’s Day and racing as Jedastar made a winning debut for the Kennewell stable,” said Grant Morgan.
“It’s not easy to watch a horse you were keen on turn out to be pretty promising after you’ve missed them at the sales, but you can take some comfort from the fact that your judgement was okay.
“Ontrack bought the first I Am Invincible yearling sold at the 2013 Inglis Classic Sale for $70,000 and that colt turned out to be our champion sprinter Brazen Beau, a dual Group One winner and now making the grade as a stallion.
“We’ve bought I Am Invincible yearlings each year since Beau, but last year they were so popular that the nice ones were really out of reach.
“Jedastar was offered by Yarraman Park at the Magic Millions and a couple of years back I was also amongst the beaten brigade chasing a nice I Am Invincible filly from Yarraman who turned out to be Invincible Star, a major winner for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.
“I will be looking at all the I Am Invincible yearlings at the Magic Millions Sale on the Gold Coast and hopefully we can add to the great run Ontrack has enjoyed with stallions by the great sire.
“It has been interesting to see how his son Brazen Beau is faring at stud and last year we bought four yearlings by Beau and they are all nice horses who are going along very well,” said Grant Morgan.
Watch the Magic Millions Sales ring footage of Jedastar being sold with Ontrack Thoroughbreds the under bidder: