Rock solid pedigree … Fastnet Rock in 2004. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
GORDON CUNNINGHAM'S persistence in persuading Australian breeder John Camilleri to sell a Fastnet Rock colt in New Zealand paid off when the yearling made $1.6 million at the Karaka sale.
The colt out of Celebria, bred by Camilleri's Fairway Thoroughbreds, was knocked down for $NZ1.975 million ($1.6 million) to Coolmore Stud, which outbid Australian trainer Peter Moody.
Cunningham's Curraghmore Stud, near Hamilton, has sold a number of horses for Camilleri since the Australian raced multiple group 1 winner Fairway, originally sold from Curraghmore for $40,000.
''John said to me one year he'd give me a top horse, so when I saw this lad in February I put my hand up,'' Cunningham said of the colt, the fifth-best seller ever at Karaka. ''It took about three or four months to convince him, but I think he's pretty happy now.''
The colt, a half-brother to Gathering and Florentina, is the highest-selling yearling in the Australasian sale ring so far this year, topping the $1.35 million paid by Coolmore for a Fastnet Rock colt at the Gold Coast Magic Millions sale.
Tom Magnier of Coolmore Stud and Moody were bidding in $50,000 chunks up to $1.95 million when Magnier sealed the sale with a smaller $25,000 bid.
''You always want to get a horse for as cheap as you can, though obviously that wasn't cheap,'' he said. ''It kind of worked really, didn't it?''
Curraghmore later sold a Fastnet Rock filly out of Episode for $700,000 to Bart Cummings, second among the fillies only to an $800,000 Zabeel-Destined filly bought by Sydney buyer Alan Bell.
Meanwhile, Racing Victoria's hardline push to stamp out race day treatment of horses has continued with the stewards compliance assurance team undertaking a dramatic raid on the Mornington stables of trainer Nathan McPherson.
Members of the compliance assurance team discovered blood on the neck of seven-year-old gelding Testaguy, which was due to race as one of the favourites in race six at Mornington on Monday, and a number of syringes in McPherson's pockets. Testaguy was subsequently withdrawn from its race by acting chief steward Brett Wright.
During a subsequent inquiry in front of stewards, McPherson explained that the syringes had been used to treat other horses on his property and that he had not treated Testaguy; he denied that there was any blood on the horse's neck or that he had acted against the rules.
''Syringes were found in his pocket, and there were syringes in various parts of the stable,'' Wright told Racing Network. ''He [McPherson] explained that's how he treats horses. Sometimes he puts them in his pocket when he's finished, sometimes he puts them somewhere else.''
Blood and urine samples were taken from Testaguy for further analysis but charges are yet to be laid against McPherson with stewards opting to adjourn their inquiry into the matter until a date to be fixed.
The raid is one of many to have been conducted by Racing Victoria stewards in recent months with a string of high-profile cases uncovered during the spring carnival resulting in hefty fines and one disqualification.
with MICHAEL SHARKIE and AAP