8 | THE INFORMANT | FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2012 www.tbpublications.co.nz

An Australian racing concern originally
launched as a modest venture between
two relatively new acquaintances has
enjoyed a remarkable 12-month period
of success and was again involved
in yet another stunning result at the
beginning of this week.
If running third in a Melbourne Cup
and winning two celebrated Group
One contests on the domestic racing
calendar wasn’t enough, how does
bagging the latest renewal of the
German Oaks sound for a couple of
mates operating out of the sleepy
township of Rutherford in NSW’s Hunter
Novocastrians Luke Murrell and
Jamie Lovett might have only set out
to share a bit of fun with their mutual
interest back in 2008, but these days
you will find them at the core of race
results most owners ever only dream
of. Through their tailored methods of
research and limited degree of capital,
the pair has been able to unearth and/
or recycle the likes of:-
i) 2011 VRC Melbourne Cup third and
2012 MRC Peter Young Stakes winner
Lucas Cranach.
ii) 2012 ATC T.J. Smith Stakes winner
and Swettenham Stud stallion recruit
Master of Design.
iii) 2012 BRC Doomben Cup winner
iv) 2012 Dusseldorf Preis der Diana
(German Oaks) winner Salomino.
Launched by Murrell and Lovett as
Australian Bloodstock just four years
ago, this outfit’s rate of achievement
is even more remarkable when you
consider that no more than 15 horses
are normally on its books at any one
time, and not one of the aforementioned
gallopers was openly canvassed as
being for sale.
The quartet, plus the likes of 2011 ATC
Skyline Stakes winner Uate and 2012
Karaka Million winner Ockham’s Razor,
were spotted through the application of
the pair’s individual criteria developed
from their time enduring the ‘School of
Hard Knocks’.
Australian Bloodstock is a remarkable
story that Murrell took time out of his
busy schedule to recount earlier this
“We met through our previous
businesses,” Murrell recalled. “My
background is financial planning and
whatnot, and Jamie has his own real
estate business. We had both gone
down the yearling path in a minor way
with no result at all.
“I had identified at the time that it
is the only industry in the world when
you go and buy something and you
don’t know what you are getting. You
don’t know whether it’s good or bad
or indifferent.
“There wasn’t a player in the tried
horse market. I think that largely comes
down to people not being confident
enough in their own form practices
and inside knowledge.
“So that’s how we began. We started
to try and find $20-$30,000 horses we
thought could improve and possibly go
on to win city races, or be competitive
in better events.”
Murrell revealed that he had more
Remarkable success for motivated pair in tried horse market
peter falconer
than just a passing interest in racing
and had previously toyed with the
idea of a full-time occupation in the
“I was going to be a bookmaker and
I had done a couple of years studying
the procedures of Robbie Waterhouse.
I suppose it was through my love
affair with horse racing that I saw an
opportunity in which I thought we could
create a niche.
“Everybody says if you get involved
with horse racing you’ve got to expect
to lose money, but to me that didn’t
make sense. So we bought a couple
of cheap horses with the aim to on-sell
them – after barrier trials or winning
races in the country – and making a
profit that way. All the way along we
have just parlayed our returns.
“Probably our first decent horse was
a little filly called Jumaana. We bought
her out of Adelaide and she ran fourth
for us in a Magic Millions mares’ race.
We were all on her at 50/1 each-way
and she ran fourth beaten a lip.
“We also bought one off Gerald Ryan
called Jujulio and he was a really good
horse for us. We had a decent bet
first-up in our ownership and I think he
ended up running second or third in an
Ipswich Cup. He became a really good,
consistent Saturday type of horse that
we paid next to nothing for.”
Murrell and Lovett slowly graduated
to better class horses and subsequently
arrived at the high-class sprinter
Cardinal Virtue.
“We went and bought Cardinal Virtue
from Darley and we didn’t pay a lot of
money for him at all. He had about 10
or 12 starts for us and they were all
in stakes grade. He ended up running
third in a Galaxy at Group One level.
“Cardinal Virtue was the first major
purchase I suppose, and then after
Cardinal the next one was Master of
That horse’s turnaround in fortunes is
one of the best feel-good stories of the
decade. A sale-topping yearling going
nowhere fast racing in the colours of
Sheikh Mohammed when racing out of
the Lee Freedman stable, the son of
Redoute’s Choice was subsequently
bought by Murrell and Lovett and
developed into one of the best sprinters
in Australia.
He’s now in the throes of standing his
first breeding season at Swettenham
Stud at a fee of A$12,500 (inc GST)
after landing the Gr. 1 ATC T.J. Smith
Stakes in the autumn.
“They paid $2.2m million for him as a
yearling I think and obviously he was a
really high-profile horse, so I followed
him like you always do from day one,”
Murrell continued. “He’d shown in a
couple of those earlier races that he
had untold ability.
“I made a little enquiry after he’d
failed once and they said no, that
they were probably going to give him
another preparation, but then he came
back and failed again on a heavy track
at Moe or somewhere like that.
“For me, I hate Redoute’s Choice
offspring on a heavy track, so I targeted
him straight after the race and thankfully
the decision was made to sell him.
We thought we had bought into a
Group Two horse to be frank off a
Moe 68 or something. We were doing
Murrell and Lovett’s first dabble
overseas came in mid-2010 when they
looked to buy a ready-made runner for
the Melbourne Cup.
“Our first European purchase was a
horse called Illustrious Blue. We were
thinking it would be great to have a
runner in the Melbourne Cup and a
top-10 chance. At the time we bought
him we didn’t have one person to go
into him. We both mortgaged ourselves,
though in the end we could have sold
him five times over.”
Illustrious Blue ultimately finished
ninth behind Americain in the Melbourne
Cup later that year and laid the path
for Australian Bloodstock’s more
recent, remarkably successful foreign
“He was a great learning curve,
but I can remember that we decided
virtually straight after the race that if
we were to do it the following year, it
was going to be with a horse that was
a top-five chance.
“Lucas Cranach was the very next
one and people thought we were mad
buying a German horse. They said the
German form was no good, but good
horses come from everywhere.”
Buoyed by their remarkable success
with Lucas Cranach, Mawingo and this
week’s German Oaks winner Salomino,
Murrell and Lovett were back in the
European bloodstock market again this
week with another two purchases out of
French stables yet to be made public.
If results far and wide are anything to
go by, we will all be hearing plenty
about Australian Bloodstock’s latest
acquisition soon enough.
*Lucas Cranach has been ruled out
of spring racing by a bone chip, which
will require an operation. • 

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