$ale Fails – The most expensive racehorses which never quite cut it


5- Metallurgical

def: having to do with the science that deals with precious metals.

Price- $2.2 Million.

Purchased with more precious dollars than sense by mining magnate and failed Racehorse, Horse Stud, Rugby League team, Soccer team, Helicopter and V8 Racing Car owner Nathan Tinkler at the height of his spending spree during the 2008 Magic Million Sales off Gerry Harvey’s Baramul Stud, this rare commodity was beaten 10.9L on debut albeit by future QLD Guineas winner Rothesay. 10 starts later, and two stone lighter, he finally cracked his duck on Melbourne Cup day… in a maiden at Eagle Farm collecting a cool $8,450.

A little over 12 months later he did finally make it to Melbourne and narrowly missed in the Group 2 Salinger with Magic Man Jo Moreira aboard. That was about the high point for the expensive ¾ brother to G1 winner Casino Prince. On sold, things were looking up again after a promising barrier trial at Lark Hill late 2014 but he disappointed once again running last beaten 9L first up at Ascot (West Oz not UK).

The pint size Brown Gelding was last seen being beaten 30.75L at a mid-week Broome meeting and was subsequently retired. Not a complete failure with $300k in the bank but a long way from his $2.2 Million price tag, all good money which could have gone toward the unpaid superannuation and severance pays Tinkler’s staff failed to receive when shown the door without notice back in 2014.

4- Mount Olympus

def: sacred site in mythology, the highest mountain in Greece.

Price- $3 Million

Described by Gai as ‘the most marvellous looking Colt I’ve ever seen..,’ Mount Olympus failed to ever reach any great heights and certainly was a myth. After six barrier trials he debuted with a disappointing 6th at Canterbury ridden by B. Shinn who quickly hopped off and handed the reins over to senior stable hoop and wearer of ordinary suits Neil ‘Knackers’ Paine. But even the wily Paine couldn’t coax a victory out of this expensive flop. It wasn’t until some 703 days after making his debut the now rising 5yo Gelding managed to win a Newcastle Maiden for D.P. Smith collecting $9,100 toward expenses.

After trainer Smith was handed a 15 year ban by racing Stewards for Cobalt use, the Greek Freak was transferred to astute Canberra horseman Normy Gardner. After 3 starts, the pinnacle of which was a 12L 6th in a Class 1 on the Acton track, connections made the wise decision to retire this money muncher with just one maiden victory to his name and $19k in the bank, which although might be double the average wage in Greece at the moment, accounts to waste feed in Oz racing circles.

3- Meticulous

def: very careful and precise.

Price- $2.4 Million

Careful is one way to describe the delicate career of this pricey Colt thus far. After 7, that’s right 7 barrier trials Team Snowden finally produced this son of Medaglia D’Oro for a team of owners that include heavy hitters Coolmore Stud and Aquis Farm for a lacklustre one paced 7.8L 4th in a recent Kembla maiden. Whilst all hope is not lost yet for this slow maturing type as trainer’s Snowden no doubt reassure owners that just a little patience is required, some might suggest more ground is in order, such as a 1000 acre paddock west of Wyalong.

2- El Divino

def: having the nature of deity or a cleric.

Price- $2.3 Million

Also described by Gai as ‘the most marvellous looking Colt I’ve ever seen..,’ spare a thought here for owner/breeder John Camilleri. After selling of this Colt’s older half-sister for $230k who went on to race under the name Winx, John decided to stay in for a ‘tail’ in what was certainly a handsome Colt by Snitzel. Things were looking up after winning his first two starts including the G3 Kindergarten Stakes with a victory over Astern. But slowly, then surely like has been the case for several other deities and clerics of late, things started to turn for the worse. A trainer change where he headed to D.K. Weir with his manhood still in tact was followed by some mediocre performances in lower tier stakes races throughout Victoria. Whilst a successful career on the track was looking less and less likely, thanks to the super-human feats of his big half-sister, a valuable career at stud was still on the cards. Not a bad life at all. Sadly though, El Divino met with God a little sooner than anyone had planned after breaking down in a routine track gallop at Ararat back in November 2017 and passed away with just $192k in the bank from his 12 starts.

1- Jimmy

def: to force or to pry open.

Cost: $5 Million

Without doubt Australia’s most expensive and most controversial yearling purchase of all time Jimmy, a half brother to Black Caviar by Redoutes Choice lived a short but interesting life.

After fetching a record price of $5 Million at the 2013 Easter Sale it was soon revealed Jimmy’s purchaser Bill Vlahos on behalf of his company BC3 Thoroughbreds was unable to stump up the brass for Lot 131 when called to order by auction house William Inglis and Sons. As the web of deceit began to unravel it was evident Vlahos had in fact been trying to ‘Jimmy’ open the pockets of investors both with his thoroughbred purchases and his gambling syndicate estimated by some to be to the tune of $194 Million dollars. And whilst all this was going down poor little Jimmy was mysteriously bitten by a white-tail spider in the dead of night, took a savage reaction to anti-biotics and was euthanised due to complications with foot disease laminitis sparking another controversy over who the proceeds of the Colt’s $5 million insurance policy should be directed to.

Whether ‘Jimmy’ would have been as good, or even half as good as big sister ‘Nelly’ we’ll never know, but it serves as a buyer beware on all ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes, especially those that involve four legs and a tail.

Author’s note-
Purchasing race horses is not always doom and gloom. The famous story of cabby Joe Janiak and his $1250 purchase, Takeover Target at a second hand horse sale serves as evidence of this. Other great stories such as the sunshine state’s international superstar Buffering who cost a paltry $22k before going on to win $7.3 million, likewise Black Caviar’s father, Bel Esprit was picked up for just $9k on account of a crooked leg before bagging a couple of Group 1’s and $2 million on the track then heading off to a lucrative stud career as one very proud Dad. Even Redzel, with its plethora of owners through Triple Crown Syndications who bought in incremental shares at the $120k sale price now have $15 million and a lifetime of priceless memories to share. However… it is worth remembering for every good story there are probably a 100 bad ones that have never been told, then again, fortune does favour the brave, so you’ll never know if you never have a go.


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