Tony Noonan reviews stable’s spring carnival

Nov 13, 2014

The 2014 Melbourne spring racing carnival was probably one of my flatter ones on the track but across the wider carnival, I was very happy with some of our stable's achievements throughout the spring.

I thought we were going to be in for a big carnival back in August when Zevada pulled off a gutsy win at Flemington. I’ve always thought he was one of the best horses I’d ever trained but for him to have two serious tendon injuries and almost die in an unrelated incident earlier in the year, it was such an emotional win for me.

He was finally getting back to his best and I couldn’t have been happier for Roy Woodhouse and Peter McMahon who has raced horses with me for so long. They had believed in this horse since Day 1 and were starting to enjoy some deserved success.

Zevada was going to be our Cups horse because he just thrived at Flemington. We nominated him for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup because I knew he could stay all day.

A few days after we nominated him for the Melbourne Cup, disaster struck when he tore a tendon for the third time.

It was gut-wrenching to have to scratch him from Caulfield that Saturday and even harder to call Peter and Roy with the news.

But as they say, when God closes a door – he opens a window.

A week later, we debuted White House Lady at Mornington and her owners were left breathless when she won by five lengths. Although she didn’t win again during spring due to the firm tracks, she showed she had plenty of ability and would be a much better filly in autumn and winter.

One of my personal highlights of the spring happened a long way from Flemington. It was right here in Mornington when Raven’s Fire won her maiden in her second career start.

Being a 5-year-old mare that had been through so much, just getting her to the track was fantastic. So when she won, I was thrilled for our staff who have had the utmost patience with Raven’s Fire, and for Joanne Spears who bred and races her with friends. 

That pretty much sums up how we went on the track but I thought it was off the track that our stable really shined over spring.

I used to train a gelding named Chosen One. He probably wasn’t the most gifted racehorse but when I retired him, he went to a Shae Hanger who turned him into a show horse.

I was on a train coming back to Mornington when I found out that Shae and Chosen One had just won the Garryowen – one of Australia’s leading equestrienne events. I just wanted to stand up and high-five everyone on the train because everyone at the stable had always loved “Floyd” as he was known to us.

We had two major social events during spring with our final OBE Luncheon of the year and our annual After Derby Barby.

Despite not having the amount of horses we once had in work, I was absolutely elated with our OBE Luncheon where we actually had the biggest attendance ever. It was a fantastic afternoon and I felt privileged to have so many wonderful owners there to enjoy the afternoon.

Cold weather and rain probably wasn’t ideal for our After Derby Barby but that still didn’t stop our owners from enjoying a great evening at our stables.

Amidst the joyous celebrations that were the spring racing carnival, I ducked over to England for the Tattersalls Horses-in-Training sale. It was the first time I’d been in many years and I went with the intent of buying a future Melbourne Cup horse.

My last Cup horse was Bucellatti who I bought for about $40,000 and he went on to make just under $1 million in prize money.

It had been a long and frustrating first two days of the sale where a few I liked quickly skyrocketed well beyond my budget. But on Day 3, a striking colt named Infantry (Rail Link x Zorleni) went through the ring and I was flabbergasted to have been able to scoop him up.

Two weeks later, Rail Link had his first Group 1 winner so I couldn't have been happier with the buy. 

Around the stables, it was fantastic to see our apprentice Dylan Caboche earn his ticket to ride in races. To see him come along over the past few years has been a great thrill.

Overall, I might not have trained the amount of Flemington winners as I have in past carnivals but the amount of positives coming out of the spring make me a very proud trainer to be heading up our stable.

With the spring carnival over, we now look forward to summer and autumn. On the track, we have just bought quite a few horses back into work and also have our exciting crop of 2-year-olds set to come into the stables for their first preparations.

Off the track, I’m really looking forward to our Hong Kong racing tour where our owners can see one of the greatest cities in the world while enjoying the spectacle of Hong Kong’s biggest day of racing.

I have the pleasure of fantastic clients and a dedicated team of staff who I cannot thank enough for their time and efforts. With so much to look forward to over the coming months, it is a very exciting time here at Greendale.