Like his little mate English in the first, Vancouver (Medaglia D'oro x Skates) remains unbeaten after demolishing his rivals in the Group Two Todman Stakes on Saturday. Hindsight is of course great, but the fact that as an undefeated two-time Stakes winner and a recent trial winner by 3 lengths, Vancouver jumped at close to $5 in a five horse field is remarkable. Not only did he do his connections and those that supported him proud by winning by a widening 3.3 lengths, but he also ran the fastest 1200m ever by a two-year-old at Randwick. Now of course the word ‘ever’ is not quite correct as 6 furlongs is not exactly 1200m, but we can conclude that Vancouver’s time of 1.08.83 was the fastest time in the metric era by a two-year-old at Randwick over 1200m.

Winners over this track and trip as a two-year-old include current standing in Australia stallions Manhattan Rain, Snitzel and Choisir as well as speedsters Dance Hero, Ha Ha and Shogun Lodge. It was a tremendous victory draped in historical significance.

Tommy Berry got Vancouver out of the gates and running, and after about six bounds, he (Tommy) realised that he could not only sit outside the leader, but he could keep the twos on ($1.50) favourite out three wide. We all love when a race goes down to the wire or there is a two horse war up the straight; but truth be known, after about 100m, it looked like the race was Vancouver’s to lose. However he did not put one foot wrong for the entire 1200m and when he crossed the line he was 3.3 lengths ahead. But in fact, he was only getting farther ahead the farther they went.

Congratulations to all the owners of this colt. As the chief would say ‘it was not his Waterloo’ but it was still great to see the colt win as he did. He has improved with every race, every trial and every track gallop. He will improve again heading towards the Slipper and he is the horse to beat. Well done also to Tommy Berry. Tommy made a race winning decision as soon as they sprung the gates and Vancouver did the rest.

As part of the Gai Waterhouse team, the ‘quest for Cups’ is an integral part of what we do and an area in which we have had unparalleled success from a relatively small pool of imports. On Saturday 20th December I was searching out yet another Cup, the Chinchilla Cup. Being a European import myself, I have also had to ‘acclimatise’ in many ways and the three and a half hour journey west of Brisbane was most definitely an experience unique to life ‘Down Under’.

Stephen Heath, Jim Clarke, Steve O'Connor,
Emma Pearce (Darley Flying Start 2011-2013)

For those who have attended Sunday at the Stables, you will have heard this story many times but I suppose it is the beginning of my trip to Chinchilla. After graduating from the University of Exeter in the South West of England, I secured a position on Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Flying Start training program. This gave me the opportunity to travel the world with eleven others over a period of two years, learning in both theoretical and practical environments within the thoroughbred industry. On arrival in Australia for our four month stint it was our resident Australian, Jim Clarke, who led the group by not only directing us between lectures, farms and stables but also with his regular ‘colourful’ stories of his Australian adventures, and the Chinchilla Cup was a regular feature.

Jim’s hometown of Chinchilla, although seemingly remote to a POM, attracts quite the crowd for its annual Cup race meeting, many of whom migrate inland from Brisbane. Something that struck me immediately on arrival in Australia over two years ago was the enthusiasm behind the racing industry by the general public. The Chinchilla race meeting added yet another piece to the puzzle for me as I saw families and friends come together from far and wide to enjoy a day at the races, and I have no doubt that these country meetings inject that added passion for the horseracing industry that so many other countries lack. Although I attend the races religiously, having not missed a Saturday meeting since my arrival in Australia, being a spectator with no link to any of the runners (or so I thought) made it a very different experience.

Eleven horses went to post in the Chinchilla Cup with the most highly weighted being Extreme Mover, who may be familiar to some. Extreme Mover began his racing career at Tulloch Lodge as a 2 year old back in 2009 where he finished second at Randwick first up before winning at Rosehill two weeks later, almost five years to the day before going on to win the Chinchilla Cup. His next start was in the BJ McLachlan at Doomben, a meeting I will be heading back north for this weekend, and then it was on to the Magic Millions 2 Year Old Classic. Although unsuccessful in Queensland he ran a string of placings in the city in Sydney before his owners decided to move him on to a country trainer. Extreme Mover has gone on to provide his new connections with plenty of fun and a number of wins, not to mention the great Chinchilla Cup. While winning the $4 million of the Queen Elizabeth or the Golden Slipper is, and should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, for me, racing is about enjoying a day out with friends and family, and experiencing the thrill of cheering your horse home. I have no doubt that Extreme Mover has provided his current and past owners with this exact experience. Mention must go to his trainer, Peter Sexton who also has strong ties to Tulloch Lodge. Prior to Peter going out on his own as a trainer, he was Gai’s senior foreman or right-hand man.

When thinking back to 2012 and my request to spend a month at Gai Waterhouse Racing during the Australian stint of Darley Flying Start, I remember the discussion with our course coordinator, Clodagh Kavanagh, like it was yesterday. Knowing that I wouldn’t be the only one keen to spend some time with Gai, I knew I had to present the strongest argument as there was no other option for me. Fortunately I secured the placement with Gai and it was the beginning of a journey through the Australian racing and breeding world which has been an incredible experience and, like so many before me, one which will shape my future.

By Emma Pearce


- Archive