Tuesday 18 July 2017, 9:43am

I was sitting in my office on Friday preparing the annual accounts for my accountant when I realised it was 15 years since we moved to Melbourne from Sydney. This was a big move. At the time Prime Thoroughbreds was flying but Bill Mitchell was of the opinion the industry in Victoria was going much better at the time and it was.

Two and a half years later Bill decided to retire from training and I bought him out of the business and moved out on my own. These were interesting times with just 23 horses on the books which I split up between Victoria, NSW and Queensland. I also decided to start a branch of our business in Tasmania and the rest is history.

In the main it has been a pretty painless 15 years although we have had to deal with the Equine Influenza outbreak and Global Financial crisis. These were difficult times but we were resilient and our industry has a remarkable habit of being able to bounce back.

Andrew Gibbons is one of the unsung heroes of the NSW racing industry. He is the main rider for Kris Lees around the Country and Provincial circuits and would drive thousands of kilometres every month to fulfil his obligations. There isn’t a nicer person in racing than Andrew and he has done a great job for us for many years. I remember him riding a few times for Bill Mitchell when we were based at Randwick back in the late 90’s.

Andrew is an integral part of the Kris Lees Stable and is normally at the track riding work on every occasion I go to track work at Newcastle. It makes a huge difference when a rider knows a horse when it goes to the races and ‘Gibbo’ has a great affinity with many of our horses.

When you see a stable going well it is usually because they have very good track work riders educating the horses and reporting back to the trainer. This is certainly the case at Kris’s stables in Newcastle. He hasn’t risen to 5th on the National trainer’s premiership by accident. I really like working with Kris and have enjoyed every day of the 12 years we have been associated with each other.


We have another good hand this weekend with Annaman and Hussy’s Glow heading to Adelaide and Invincible Al likely to line up at Flemington. These horses are all in good form and we expect them to be competitive. Some decent barrier draws would be welcomed.

On Friday Tough Vic steps out to 2200m at Geelong on the synthetic track. It will be interesting to see how he handles the surface.

We can look forward to some action in Brisbane where Montana Pines and Quirion almost ready to head back to the races.


The new season kicks in on 1 August and with it we see substantial increases in stakes money in Victoria with Saturday three years old races worth a minimum of $120,000. Also races over 2000m and beyond are worth $120,000 minimum.

There are other improvements in the pipeline which will be well received by all participants including the imminent appointment the new RVL Chairman and Board.

We have gradually increased our numbers in Victoria to 22 or about 44% of our team of 50 horses. To be honest I was seriously considering closing the Victorian arm of our business in 2014 but decided to continue on and I am pleased I did. There are still issues to be sorted in Victoria but I think we are starting to see some rays of sunshine which is positive.

I am now delighted I persevered and more than content with our results. I couldn’t be happier with the efforts of Darren Weir, Patrick Payne, John Moloney and their hard working staffs. They are a pleasure to deal with and each offers a different dimension to our business.

These 22 Victorian based horses are made up of 6 yearlings, 6 two year olds, 7 three year olds one four year old and 2 five year olds. The earnings of this young team of horses is approaching $3 million and with the stakes or metropolitan class runners Flying Jess, Husson Eagle, Invincible Al, Hussy’s Glow, Annaman and Zelsignoret leading the way we have plenty to be positive about.

The six yearlings we have placed with our Victorian trainers this year cost $750,000 to purchase. Compare this with 2014 where only two yearlings remained in Victoria and cost $115,000. These six yearlings, all fillies are by I Am Invincible, Smart Missile, Not A Single Doubt, Written Tycoon and the exciting first season sires Epaulette and Sizzling.

Our team of fifty is made up as follows Victoria 22, NSW 18, Queensland 7, Tasmania 2 and WA 1. This is a far cry from five years ago where 50% of our team was based in South Australia and Tasmania.


I have been amazed at the response to this function and should have further details available in the next two weeks.


I have arranged for our owners to visit Ascot Farm at Pitt Town on Sunday 30 July at 11am. Ascot Farm is located about an hour’s drive from the Sydney CBD. This is a low key visit but will give the owners of Ankara Lass, Black And Tan, Honolulu Lass, Kissing Game, Munjai, Nzuri Mawali, Zelsignoret and the Epaulette and All To Hard fillies a chance to see them.

Ascot Farm is a private spelling property only available to Prime Thoroughbreds and the owner’s horses. We have been thrilled with the condition the horses have been returning to the trainers after spelling at the farm. Shamus Award was bred at Ascot Park.

More information will be available next week.


On Saturday morning 5 August at 9am our clients in Lady Husson will have the opportunity to inspect her at Dan Morton’s Stables at Ascot. Any of our other Perth based clients are also welcome to attend.


I must say I was pleased to hear that John and Denise Cobcroft had left a very generous bequest of $400,000 to the National Jockey’s Trust. John and Denise were clients of Bill Mitchell’s when I worked with him and you would be hard to find two more passionate thoroughbred enthusiasts. John was a real character and would arrive at the stable like a cyclone but had a great zest for life. He was a member of the ‘Banjo Club’ who were and still are a great bunch of characters.

I was reminded on Sunday morning of the difficult time some former jockey’s face when I ran into Rodney Dawkins at the Beaumaris Concourse. Rodney suffers badly from injuries he received while riding and was hobbling up the street. Rodney’s positive approach to life while obviously in pain is terrific. All he wanted to talk about was Flying Jess and what a great thing it was for John Moloney to win the Magic Millions Guineas with the filly. 

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