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Spotting A Champion 10/09/02

Like most punters, we do not know the first thing about real life race horses. We know that they have 4 legs (which we like to go as fast as possible), a head (so you know which way they to point them when you put them in the barriers), and a tail (which seems to be there just for stylish swishing and fashion purposes as far as we can tell). How much they cost when you box them in a trifecta - no problem - but as far as confirmation, stance, fetlocks, build, muscle tone, eye sight and teeth go we are well and truly out of our league.

When you buy a horse, you need to buy it young and unraced cause no one is going to sell you one they have raced if its any good. That’s part of the excitement of the unknown - your purchase could be the next Sunline or even the next Badger's Wood. Most yearlings are sold through the sales by places such as Inglis and they are open to the public - if you want to go, just hit the web site, organise a catalogue and go for a stroll and see what all the fuss is about.

We ventured out to the very popular Sunday night sales at Inglis in Melbourne in February. There was a huge crowd and most were there just to have a sticky nose at what it was all about. A word of warning if you do go next year though - parking is in the paddocks surrounding the complex, and there are no nice men in blue coats to line the cars up in nice patterns and keep order in society, so it’s car park anarchy. Which means some people forget that you need a space at the end of each row to allow people to get back out again. The trauma of trying to remember what level your car is parked on at Crown pales into insignificance against trying to negotiate the various glue pots and bogs trying to find a gap to freedom. Rally cars and 4WD's are highly recommended. Helicopters if you can afford that sort of thing.

We contacted a few trainers and race horse syndicators just to get a feel for who was out there and what they could offer. Again the Racing Victoria horse ownership pack has everything you could need in terms of information and contact details. In the end we decided to go with Slade Bloodstock, who impressed us with their attention to detail and gob smacking in-depth knowledge of all things breeding and yearlings. They explained to us how everything would work and gave us some rough approximates of what the outlay and ongoing costs would be.

Seeing we know so little about the real life race horses, the best we could do was come up with a wish list of criteria to met. These included :

Sex : Preferably a colt, but we were happy to settle for a filly cause generally they are a bit cheaper and we are on a budget here.
Colour : Preferably brown, or chestnut, cause it will accessorise nicely with our new suit when we lead it back to scale. Grey's are always a good option cause at least we will be able to spot our one easily in the field.
Sires : We tried to come up with a list of sires we might be interested in. We narrowed it down to sires that would be in our price range under advice from Slade Bloodstock (so Zabeel and Danehill got crossed off the list quickly). We also decided to try and tend away from straight out sprinters and towards something might, everything going to plan, pick us up a city 1600M race one day. Then again, its all just a guessing game at this stage anyway.
Budget : Setting a price limit with our modest budget (and remembering that we are lucky enough to pay GST these days).
Super Vobis Qualified : The incentive scheme that gives you that extra prize money like Fly Buys at the supermarket. For every kilometre your horse runs at the track, you get 1 point towards a life sized stuffed toy of your choice.. Seriously, the scheme is very popular and is worth a lot of extra prizemoney, so you would be mad not to pick one that was qualified.

Based on our rather flimsy criteria, Slade Bloodstock could then narrow down the list and go and cast their discerning eye over the potential candidates for faults before they came into the ring. All we had to do is get a copy of the sales catalogue and try and make sense of all the breeding family trees - usually that meant "Hey, I remember backing her 2nd dam to win at Caulfield in 1988". They are an interesting read for the punter, and horse family history is much better documented than us poor humans.
So the scene was set. Now it was just time to play the waiting game and to see if something popped up that would suit our needs and our creaky, dusty wallets.

And then a leggy filly walked into the sales ring whilst everyone else was dozing and we were suddenly the proud owners of a brown filly by Perugino out of Maybe An Angel. At a budget price for the discerning shopper.

The trip back down the Tullamarine Freeway had never been so exhilarating.

Check out the breeding of our filly

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