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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: July 23, 2023: A pair of three-year-old sons of champion stallion Fastnet Rock, purchased jointly for more than half a million dollars and later onsold for a mere fraction of that, have clinched benchmark seasons for their Hawkesbury trainers.

Steve O’Halloran made it seven wins in 2022-23 when Rico Suave scored at Gosford yesterday, and Dancemania’s victory at the same track gave Wayne Austin his third for the season.

Rico Suave ($3.10 favorite), a $15,000 online buy last November for O’Halloran and his wife Stephanie, broke through in the Maiden Plate (1900m), and Dancemania ($5) more than repaid the meagre $800 Austin paid for him only a couple of months ago when he also broke through, in the 2&3YO Maiden Plate (1600m).

Rico Suave initially fetched $150,000 when offered as a yearling at the 2021 Melbourne Premier sale, and later that year brought $340,000 when sold at the Inglis Ready2Race sale as an early two-year-old.

Dancemania was a $210,000 purchase at the Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast the same year.

Rico Suave raced only once when 10th of 11 at $41 in a 1250m Maiden Plate at Newcastle on October 29 last year, and was put up for resale soon afterwards.

“I was looking for a horse, and felt he might have been rushed a bit for the Ready2Race sale,” O’Halloran said today.

“Being a well-bred young horse out of a High Chaparral mare (Annata Lady), my thoughts were that if I took my time to allow him to relax in a new environment, there could be improvement in him.

“I took the blinkers off him at his first run for me in April, and didn’t put them back on until mid-June.

“Rico Suave certainly deserved yesterday’s win as he had been placed at his previous five starts, the last four at the provincials.

“He keeps improving, and I think he might manage even 2000m.”

O’Halloran chuckled when he revealed he had first attempted to book Alysha Collett for yesterday’s Gosford mount.

“I rang her manager Ryan Roberts enquiring if Alysha was available, but he said she was already booked for the ‘winner’.”

That was Align The Planets ($4), who finished fourth.

Collett, however, was aboard Dancemania in the previous race, and completed a double at the meeting.

Dancemania had not raced at all, but had trialled for two previous trainers, when Austin “stole” the gelding for $800 (he has now earned $31,450) in early May.

“My wife Penny thought he was just a beautiful type, and he had been very well educated,” Austin said.

‘Whilst his trial form was ordinary, he was certainly worth a try in a different environment.

“Dancemania is stabled at night, but we decided to put him out in a paddock on the farm during the day and found a mate for him (their retired racehorse Talladega Knight).

“They have proven to be a good match, and he is a happy horse.”

Austin, who never has more than a few horses in work, won races earlier this season with Promise The Moon and Jabali Belle.

Coincidentally, Promise The Moon’s breakthrough success was also at Gosford on December 31 in another 1600m Maiden – and she was also ridden by Alysha Collett.

. HOOFNOTE: Austin is hoping he has another “bargain buy”, having purchased Jabali Belle’s younger unraced two-year-old half-sister Buthana (by Divine Prophet) for $700.

There is another Fastnet Rock “connection” there. Jabali Belle and Buthana’s dam Rock Me Sweet (a daughter of Fastnet Rock) sadly died in November 2021.

. The Gosford double took to 197 the number of winners trained out of Hawkesbury so far this season.

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