Three of Ontrack Thoroughbreds young horses are setting off on their journey as racehorses under the skilled eye of master horse breaker Greg Bennett.
The man who broke in champion staying mare Makybe Diva has set up a breaking and pre-training operation at Wadham Park near Canungra and Ontrack yearlings by Epaulette, Spirit of Boom and Dissident have just competed their second week of breaking in.
Greg Bennett broke in thousands of horses during two decades as a breaker at Scone before setting up as a trainer around 10 years ago, but after moving to South East Queensland last year he has returned to doing what he loves.
“I really enjoy working with young horses and breaking and educating them. I have had great support since opening the operation at Canungra and have some strong stables sending me horses to break or pre-train,” said Greg Bennett.
He is being assisted by experienced horseman Paul Metcalf and the pair are now riding the Ontrack trio and report they are coming along perfectly in their first steps towards becoming racehorses.
Written Tycoon’s talented sprinter Music Magnate spearheads a strong Australian challenge for the $(US)1 million Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai this weekend.
Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker targeted the Dubai feature after Music Magnate’s win in the Group 3 Christmas Classic at the end of 2017. He’s joined in the big Dubai sprint by fellow Australian gallopers Illustrious Lad, trained by Peter Gelagotis and Faatinah from the Hayes/Dabernig yard.
Music Magnate won the 2016 Group One Doomben 10,000 for Baker and the trainer admits the previous successes by Australian sprinters in the Al Quoz Sprint was a major reason for his enthusiasm for the race.
Ortensia won the race in 2012 and Buffering was successful in 2016, while in 2010 All Silent was fifth and they are the only Australian horses to tackle the race.
“I spoke to Rob Heathcote (trainer of Buffering) at some length and he assured me it would be a great experience. He pointed out that Buffering was coming to the end of his career and was still able to win it.
“It is a winnable race,” said Bjorn Baker.
Music Magnate is a proven first-up performer having won his last three races fresh-up and Bjorn Baker is counting on trait on the weekend.
“The horse is best when he’s fresh, so we try and pick his marks carefully. He is best on firm ground and we’re virtually assured of that at Meydan.”
Bjorn Baker has had a great run with progeny of top stallion Written Tycoon as he also trained the sire’s brilliant sprinting son Winning Rupert, now at stud at Newhaven Park in the Hunter Valley.
It was therefore natural that Ontrack Thoroughbreds boss Grant Morgan selected Bjorn Baker to train a stunning Written Tycoon colt he purchased at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale in Sydney last month.
The colt is out of two-time winning mare Bequia Beauty, the dam of two foals to race and both are winners.
“He is a lovely colt who should run early and Ontrack has had a great association with Bjorn, with Test The World winning six from only 11 starts for the stable so it was a perfect fit with the Written Tycoon colt.
“The Written Tycoon colt is a half to Queen Becki which won at Ballarat yesterday to take her record to three starts for two wins and a third. He’s a big, strong black colt and he shapes like a colt who will run early.
“Bjorn has had amazing success with the progeny of Written Tycoon through Music Magnate and Winning Rupert. With some very big races now being run at Warwick Farm in the $8m Inglis Race Series, I think it’s a big advantage to be trained on the track and this colt looks perfectly placed with Bjorn,” said Grant Morgan.
Master horseman Greg Bennett’s new South East Queensland breaking and pre-training operation has been entrusted with the handling of Ontrack Thoroughbreds’ latest crop of yearlings.
Greg is best known for his highly successful training career out of Scone, but in early days he was a horse breaker extraordinaire and three-time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva was just one of thousands of horses he broke in.
These days he is establishing a breaking and pre-training operation at Canungra in the hinterland outside the Gold Coast and three yearlings from Ontrack Thoroughbreds this week began their breaking in under his experienced eye.
“Greg’s arrival in South East Queensland will be a major boost to resources available to owners and trainers in the region,” said Ontrack Managing Director Grant Morgan.
“He is a great horseman and his experience and skills will ensure young thoroughbreds get the best possible start to their racing journeys.
“Arguably, the breaker is the most important component in the process of preparing a young horse to be a racehorse, and Greg has few peers when it comes to the art of horse breaking.
“He's broken in thousands during his 30-year career. As well as Makybe Diva, Golden Slipper winner Ha Ha was broken in by Greg, and his other better graduates have included Typhoon Tracey, All Silent, Danni Martine, Bollinger, Royal Code, Storm, Chuckle, Stylish Bow and Zephyrz.
“We have sent our yearlings by Spirit of Boom, Epaulette and Dissident to Greg and they’re flying through the breaking process,” said Grant Morgan.
Greg Bennett has leased a Canungra property and will break in and pretrain for a number of Queensland and New South Wales stables.
“I broke in thousands of horses when I was fulltime breaking in horses and the training side started when a lot of horses that I had sent to Sydney or Melbourne stables were being returned to me when they didn’t measure up.
“In total I trained nearly 500 winners from my Scone base and I was keen to get back working with young horses when this property became available.
"It is getting back to where I started – educating horses, which I love. I really only fell into training and it has been good to me.
"I will be working closely with trainers, and the most enjoyable part will be working with the horses and getting the best out of them before they go racing,” said Greg Bennett.
Queensland studmaster Scott McAlpine must be wondering what the next chapter in the Spirit of Boom story reads like, because so far it’s been a classic for the master of Eureka Stud.
Spirit of Boom was a great racehorse in the Eureka colours, but as a stallion he’s been nothing short of a sensation.
His first crop of horses hit the racetracks this season and so far, he has left an incredible 10 individual winners of 15 races, including the black type performers Et Troop and Outback Barbie and Kinky Boom, winner of the $250,000 Inglis Premier Stakes.
But it’s been this week’s Magic Millions QTIS Sale which has thrust Spirit of Boom into the spotlight as buyers from all over Australasia competed for his 38 yearlings under the hammer.
Over the days 37 yearlings by Spirit of Boom sold for a total of $6,197,500 at an average price of $167,500. The value of all the 293 yearlings sold over the two days was $13.6 million, so Spirit of Boom contributed nearly 50% of gross sales.
The cheapest Spirit of Boom was sold for $42,500 with the top price $430,000 and 25 yearlings by him sold for $100,000 or more and 13 fetched $200,000 or more.
Ontrack Thoroughbreds jumped on the Spirit of Boom express at last year’s Magic Millions when buying a filly for $60,000 and she races as Boom Girl and was third in a Saturday city race at her first of two career runs.
At this year’s Inglis Classic SaleOntrack’s Grant Morgan went again for a Spirit of Boom colt paying $170,000 for a colt from Eureka Stud’s draft.
The colt is out of the good race mare Baroque Pearl and this week started breaking in with master horseman Greg Bennett at Canungra in South-East Queensland. The colt will go to Meagher Racing at Eagle Farm.
“The prices being paid for the progeny of Spirit of Boom this week are amazing and our Inglis colt looks great buying now because he is out of a good race mare and a half-brother to a very talented filly racing in the Eureka colours.
“Our Spirit of Boom colt is a cracking type and I reckon he was the best colt by the stallion that I inspected at the summer round of yearling sales,” said Grant Morgan.
Darley’s talented sprinter Epaulette is out of the blocks in brilliant fashion with his first crop of horses burning up tracks in both hemispheres.
The Group One sprinter went to stud in 2014 in Australia and 2015 in Ireland and his first crop of two-year-olds have raced with amazing success this season.
The results have been so spectacular that Epaulette is the leading first season sire by group performers. He is also the fifth placed first season sire in the world in terms of winners.
In the just completed Northern Hemisphere season, Epaulette had a staggering 25 individual winners, with four of them black type performers.
McMunigal was a Group 3 winner in Ireland while Omaha Beach, Sankari Royale and Field of Roses all won listed races.
In Australia, Epaulette has left Group 3 winner Meryl along with black type performers River Bird and Khulaasa and city winner Katy’s Daughter.
Ontrack Thoroughbreds Managing Director Grant Morgan purchased a lovely Epaulette filly at the recent Inglis Classic Sale, but admits it wasn’t Epaulette’s flying start to his career that was the major influence on his purchasing decision.
“I must admit that heading to the sale I didn’t have any preconceived plan to buy an Epaulette yearling, but when I found this filly during my pre-sale inspection rounds there was no way I was leaving without her.
“She is simply a stunning filly and I rate her the equal of any filly I inspected at any of the sales throughout Australasia.
“The filly has a great physique and temperament but what really stopped me in my tracks was her walk. She walks like a panther and in my experience horses that walk as good as this filly usually run.
“The last filly I purchased with the same athleticism and walk was Savanna Amour, a multiple Group winner for Ontrack.”
The Epaulette filly is this week commencing breaking in at master horseman Greg Bennett’s Canungra farm and will race from the Gold Coast stables of Toby Edmonds.