SUNDAY: June 11, 2023: SOMETIMES things happen for the better when you least expect it!
Take Hawkesbury trainer Steve O’Halloran, who clinched his first winner for successful breeder-owner Bob Hannon at Newcastle yesterday when Hellbent filly Determined Mink shed her maiden status.
O’Halloran and his family’s world was turned upside down in 2021 when Waratah Thoroughbreds’ Paul Fudge, because of illness, decided not to continue with a training operation at his magnificent 100-hectare showpiece (now owned by Racing NSW) at Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands.
O’Halloran, who had spent 17 years at Tulloch Lodge as one of Gai Waterhouse’s trusted lieutenants and was associated with five of her Golden Slipper winners, had been enlisted to train out of the property little more than 12 months earlier – and prepared eight winners.
Forced to start again from scratch, he set up shop at Hawkesbury – and from there came in contact with Hannon, whose list of breeding credits include Cox Plate winner Shamus Award.
“Bob was getting some young horses broken in and wanted them to have some education at the track before being sent to Newcastle trainer Kris Lees,” O’Halloran explained today.
“He must have been happy with what I did as he sent me this filly (Determined Mink) to train and another Hellbent filly Razella (who ran at Hawkesbury today).
“Now I’ve got a few more, including the Your Song three-year-old Boomsong, who was a Kembla Grange winner last year and has been placed twice at Warwick Farm.
“Mark Newnham trained him before relocating recently to Hong Kong.”
The “Irish connection” was associated with Determined Mink’s Newcastle success yesterday at only her fourth start.
Ridden by fellow Irish expat Louise Day, Determined Mink ($3.50) defeated Private Legacy ($3.20) and $2.70 favorite Balmierro in the Midway 2YO Maiden Handicap (1200m).
“Determined Mink still isn’t the finished product, but has a wonderful attitude,” O’Halloran said.
“She has a great mindset, and behaves like a six-year-old gelding.
‘I’m sure she will be even better next preparation, but I’m undecided whether yesterday’s race will be her last for the time being.
“Determined Mink has pulled up well, and ate up overnight, so I’ll see how she does in the next few days before determining whether to give her one more run or send her for a break.”
Determined Mink was O’Halloran’s fifth winner this season – and his hard work is paying off, with 20 horses now in work at Hawkesbury.
The future is looking very much brighter than it did two years ago!