Via Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Former Singapore Derby winner Spalato is enjoying his new life as a “nanny” in Australia.
Owners Graham Mackie and Trish Dunell retired their champion earlier in the year, even if his last start dated as far back as September 2016.
For two years, the Mackies and trainer John O’Hara tried to fix his legs with all manners of treatment in the hope the injury-plagued galloper could race again. There was a glimmer of hope when he was put back in slow work, but the old boy (now 10) unfortunately never fully recovered.
n January, the 10-time winner and earner of close to $1.7 million in stakes was sent to the Lime Country Thoroughbreds, formerly known as Dato Tan Chin Nam’s Think Big Stud, in Burradoo, New South Wales, about 120km south-west of Sydney.
The farm is now run by Kiwi couple Greg and Jo Griffin, who bred Spalato in New Zealand and always told the Mackies they would be more than happy to look after him when his racing days are over.
“The Griffins had Spalato as a baby, broke him in in New Zealand, and they are in Australia now, at the Think Big Stud owned by Dato Tan,” said Dunell.
“They said he’d always have a home with them. It’s taken him a long time to become a “horse” again, after six years of living in a concrete box.
“It’s nice to see him happy and chilled.”
The son of Elusive City shot to prominence right from the start of his Kranji career, winning his first eight races at his first season in 2014 before adding two more in 2016.
Such was his precociousness that his third win was recorded at Group 1 level in the now-defunct Patron’s Bowl (1600m) before he earned his highest accolade in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) three weeks later.
He went on to add two Group 3 wins, the Woodlands Handicap (1600m) and Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) in 2015, and one Group 2 win, the Merlion Trophy (1200m) in 2016. He was also crowned Singapore Four-Year-Old champion in 2014 and Singapore Polytrack champion in 2016.
Three-time Singapore champion jockey Manoel Nunes partnered Spalato to six of his wins. Corey Brown won two with him, including the Merlion Trophy, James McDonald rode him to one win (Luzerne Cup), and O’Hara’s apprentice jockey Thavakumar Barnabas famously steered him to a whopping 9.8-length win on debut in an Initiation race over 1000m.
Spalato even raced twice in Hong Kong in 2014, including the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), but finished out of the placings in both races.
O’Hara was delighted to hear his old warrior has taken to his new job like a duck to water.
“He deserves that after all his achievements. If not for his leg problems, he could have had a longer career,” said the Singaporean conditioner.
“It’s good to know he’s being well taken care of – and he is also taking good care of the next generation of horses!”