FROM A GILGRANDA MAIDEN TO WINNING THE MELBOURNE CUP

Apr 24, 2017

FROM A GILGRANDA MAIDEN TO WINNING THE MELBOURNE CUP

IT’S a mighty long way from winning a maiden race at Gilgandra to standing in the winner’s stall at Flemington and celebrating a Melbourne Cup success.

But John Hunter has scaled those lofty heights – and says it would not have been possible had he not become involved with leading syndicators Australian Bloodstock.

As one of the owners of 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist, the Mendooran (NSW) farmer understandably rated the German stayer’s runaway victory, with English jockey Ryan Moore aboard, as his greatest thrill in racing.

“It’s been a wonderful association and, of course, still is with Australian Bloodstock,” Hunter said.

“There’s no way I could ever have envisaged getting the opportunity to win races all over the world in countries such as Germany, France, Singapore and New Zealand.”

It was a phone call from Tamworth trainer Sue Grills which led to Hunter’s initial involvement with Australian Bloodstock.

“Sue trained a horse called Little Poet for us,” Hunter explained. “She won nine races before being retired in 2007.

“I didn’t have a horse at the time when Sue called in early 2010 and said Jamie Lovett from Australian Bloodstock was looking for partners in a horse they had purchased from Darley (now Godolphin).

“That horse was Dealers. Sue took him to Brisbane a couple of weeks later for his first start for us and he won at Eagle Farm (on January 16, 2010 when ridden by the late Tim Bell) and then he won again at Doomben a fortnight later.

“It was a dream start and things flowed on from there. Uate (three times Sydney winner and runner-up in the 2011 Group 1 Sires Produce Stakes at Randwick) was my next horse and then along came Ockham’s Razor, who won the 2012 Karaka Millions at Ellerslie.”

The winners kept coming for Hunter, who also shared in the ownership of 2012 Doomben Cup winner Mawingo (later to also win in Singapore and finish third in the Singapore International Cup) and Sharnee Rose (who won both the 2013 Group 3 Golden Pendant at Rosehill and then Group 3 Angst Stakes at Randwick).

And, of course, there was Protectionist amongst the 30-odd horses he has either had or has shares in with Australian Bloodstock.

Hunter was at Randwick last Saturday to watch another of his horses, imported stayer Big Duke, finish a close third in the $2m Group 1 Sydney Cup.

His interest in the thoroughbreds was sparked in the early 1990s by his father, who raced “a few country horses”.

Hunter’s first winner was Kushima at Gilgandra on April 9, 1994 when he says it was a “lot easier” to win races in the bush than it is now.

Thanks to his strong link with Australian Bloodstock, many winners have since flowed under the bridge – and there’s no reason to suggest there won’t be many more to come.

BEST HORSE RACED: Protectionist;

BEST HORSE SEEN: Makybe Diva (but Winx is getting very close);

FAVORITE JOCKEY: Ryan Moore;

FAVORITE RACING MOMENT & MOST IMPORTANT WIN: No prizes for guessing it is Protectionist’s 2014 Melbourne Cup romp;

FAVOURITE TRAINER: Kris Lees (“He is a great bloke and always has time for you”).

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