Mother-daughter trainers Lyn Tolson and Leonie Proctor might never spend $600 better again.
With Proctor busy at Bendigo last July saddling up the stable’s best credentialed horse, Well Sprung, Tolson marked time in the carpark at Ballarat Equine Clinic scrolling through an online Inglis auction.
A tip-off from Ciaron Maher, some weeks before, alerted the Mornington trainer to a roarer named Curran, an unraced Night Of Thunder gelding who needed tie-back surgery to fix a throat issue.
Maher thought the horse would suit Tolson and Proctor given their experiences with “throat horses”.
Tolson’s grandson, star apprentice Matthew Cartwright, endorsed the sale having ridden Curran in work for Maher, as did Linda Meech through her own association with the powerhouse Caulfield stable.
But none of them predicted Curran would attract one bid and the virtual hammer to fall at $600.
In six starts for Tolson and Proctor the three-year-old gelding has banked $163,490 prizemoney.
The windfall, boosted by recent Caulfield success, a win and second the past two starts, has made the $4000-odd spent last year on the throat operation more money well spent.
“I was sitting in the car waiting and that’s how I knew there was no bids,” Tolson said, ahead of Curran’s next start, a Super VOBIS Three-Year-Old Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
“We didn’t look at him or anything like that … we thought we’d take Ciaron’s word for it and we were quite surprised there wasn’t a bid on him.
“Leonie said throw a bid on him, I thought OK and that was it.”
Meech, too, intended to bid but lost track of time.
“It was meant to be but it was Ciaron that did say to us he ‘might’ suit your training,” Tolson said.
Cartwright, who has ridden Curran in all six starts — and again on Saturday — has stopped short of asking for a finder’s fee.
“He walks around with his chest pumped out a bit,” Tolson said of her apprentice.
Treated with kid gloves, “throat horse” Curran has gone from project to prospect but Tolson is in no hurry to ask too much of the progressive three-year-old, who ran second to the very smart Ayrton last start.
“He‘s performing really well so just play it by ear and go from there,” Tolson said.
“We’re not going to look for something massive in the spring just yet, we’ll see how he goes, but all the signs are good, at the moment.”
More pressing, for now, is how the $600 lottery ticket handles Flemington.
“He was trained at Caulfield so we know he knows Caulfield,” Tolson said.
“Will be interesting to see how he goes up the straight.”
But unlike their most recent Flemington successes, a double in June 2019 when $30 outsiders Pop Queen and Come On Carl saluted five races apart, Curran, a $5.50 chance with TAB, will challenge for favouritism.
Khoekhoe spelled after gelding op
Matt Cumani’s stable star Khoekhoe is now spelling after a gelding operation with a view to return in the spring.
The stakes-performed three-year-old $760,000 earner performed admirably in the autumn without much success, prompting the ultimate gear change.
Cumani intended to run Khoekhoe in the Queensland Derby last Saturday, but taxing runs and travel from Melbourne to Sydney, for three starts, and on to Brisbane had taken a toll.
Khoekhoe ran seventh in the Group 3 Rough Habit last start — three lengths from the winner but only 1½ lengths behind third-placed Senor Toba.
Senor Toba was beaten a blister in the Derby last Saturday.
“I’d like to see him in the big 2000m plus races in the spring but probably not this year, maybe next year,” Cumani said.
“This year I’d like to try build up and hope by the end of the spring he might be running in a really nice race for older horses.”
The Ballarat trainer has Furioso and Declares War going around at Flemington Saturday.
Last-start Flemington winner Declares War will attempt to run rivals into the ground again despite a sharp 6.5kg rise in weight to 61.5kg – down from 64.5kg courtesy of Campbell Rawiller’s claim.
He carried 54kg to victory last start.
“He’s a real trooper, love the horse really,” Cumani said.
“We know he’s not top grade but this preparation has gone really well for him … he’s won four from seven.
“But he is a victim of his own success (weight) unfortunately.”