Home' Breeding and Racing : Issue 116 May - June 2014 Contents 20 FOR DAILY INDUSTRY NEWS UPDATES VISIT WWW.BREEDINGRACING.COM
DEFINING STALLION SUCCESS (CONT)
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CHANGING FACE OF RACING (CONT)
On Saturday 7 June 2014 at Eagle
Farm racecourse on Queensland
racing’s biggest stage, Stradbroke
Handicap Day, Natalie McCall
and Henry Dwyer took centre stage and
created that very history with exceptional
triumphs by River Lad (Gr1 Stradbroke
Handicap) and Sonntag (Gr1 Queensland
Such accomplishment warrants a closer look
at the young trainers behind this achievement.
Based on track at Caloundra, an hour north
of Brisbane, and with 20 horses in work,
Natalie McCall always wanted to be a horse
trainer and follow in the footsteps of her father
Ray. Her appetite for racing was evident at an
early age. “I used to ask Dad to make sure he
woke me up in the mornings so I could go over
to the track,” McCall recalls of her childhood.
With training in her destiny, McCall learnt
her craft from not only her father but also from
a four-year stint working for John Hawkes.
During this time McCall strapped Crawl to
win the Stradbroke Handicap in 2001 and the
race has been in her sights ever since.
In fact McCall had planned an assault on
the race last year with her stable star River Lad
and all looked on track after a close second
in the Prime Minister’s Cup lead up on the
Gold Coast. Unfortunately those plans were
curtailed when a stone bruise forced River Lad
to be scratched from the Gr3 BRC Sprint, a
race he was able to win this year en route to a
famous Stradbroke victory.
The triumph by six-year-old gelding River
Lad provided extra special meaning for the
pair of McCall trainers on the Sunshine Coast.
By stallion Top Echelon, who was trained by
Ray McCall and whose trackwork rider was
Natalie McCall, Top Echelon finished second in
the Gr1 TJ Smith Classic (now JJ Atkins Stakes)
to Lovely Jubly as a two-year-old.
“He got the job done for Dad too,” McCall
enthuses about the unfinished business that
River Lad was able to achieve for her father.
River Lad is the best-performed progeny
of the unfashionable Top Echelon, a son
of Umatilla from the Kingston Rule mare
Advisory. Although the sire has been visited
by broodmares in small numbers each year,
ranging from 3 to 33, from eight crops he has
sired 54 winners from 80 runners (67.5 percent
strike rate). In fact McCall trains the stallion’s
best two racetrack performers, with four
year-old mare Lady Echelon also in her care, a
winner of the Listed Tatt’s Classic at Doomben
Top Echelon will stand at Oakwood Farm in
Queensland for the 2014 breeding season for a
service fee of $4,000.
Amongst a day of firsts, McCall’s maiden
Gr1 training effort was also remarkably the
first time a woman has trained the winner
of the Stradbroke Handicap. So focused on
winning the race, it was a fact that McCall
had not thought about until after the proud
achievement. Gai Waterhouse couldn’t do it
but Natalie McCall did – at her first attempt.
River Lad’s immediate plans are a decent
break over the Spring – he’s earned it – before
a trip to Perth for their Summer Carnival and
another tilt at Gr1 glory.
McCall has humbly built her stable and
owner base through purchasing “a couple” of
yearlings most years, as well as having clients
that are owner-breeders within the stable,
whose horses she is able to syndicate.
After receiving the boost to her training
career that all trainers dream of, does McCall
want to expand her operation?
“I don’t want to be bigger. That’s (20) good
enough for me,” McCall tells. She would prefer
to focus on increasing the quality of stock
within the stable and importantly “keeping
owners happy,” McCall laughs.
Whilst McCall was cheering River Lad
towards the winning post in the Stradbroke, 30
Most industry pundits would offer generous odds for the feat of training a Gr1
winner with your first starter in a Gr1 event. Cassandra Simmonds writes the
odds of this occurring for two individual trainers on the same day, at the same
racemeeting, are exponentially longer.
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26/06/14 10:14 AM
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