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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis

TEAM KEARNEY'S ROYAL RANDWICK "DREAM" COMES TRUE


TUESDAY: December 26, 2023: WHEN you buy a horse for only $1750 who had run last at its only trial and also undergone surgery, winning a race at Royal Randwick is simply a pipedream!

Hard-working Hawkesbury husband and wife trainers Mitch and Desiree Kearney no longer have to dream.

The popular couple stole the show today with their first winner on the course proper at headquarters, landing the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1000m) for five-year-olds and upwards with proven wet tracker Lady Shenanigans at $31 (after $71 had been bet earlier).

Team Kearney had previously scored on the inside Kensington track with Heza Gentleman in August, 2021.

Ridden by apprentice Jett Stanley, six-year-old gelding Lady Shenanigans upset more fancied rivals to post his sixth career victory and boost his earnings to just over $190,000.

Even better is that the Kearneys own him themselves.

The unusually-named Lady Shenanigans fetched $300,000 as a 2019 Magic Millions yearling at the Gold Coast.

After one 895m barrier trial (last of eight, beaten nearly 10 lengths) at Rosehill Gardens in late March 2021 under the Chris Waller banner, the gelding was put on the market.

Enter Team Kearney at the Inglis online auction a few weeks later.

“We often look for horses from the bigger stables, hoping they might have fallen through the cracks,” Desiree Kearney explained.

“Mitch noticed this well-bred horse by Zoustar, and said we should have a good look at him.

“We knew he already had a throat operation and surgery on a hock, but felt he was worth a punt, especially being unraced.

“There were only two or three bids, and we got him. He wasn’t hard to buy.

“Honestly, Lady Shenanigans hasn’t had a day of unsoundness since he came to our stable. He works in a tongue tie and has never had a breathing issue.

“He also races in a tongue tie along with a cross-over nose band. It was such a wonderful thrill to win our first race at Royal Randwick with our own horse.”

It took him 12 starts to break through – in a 1350m Maiden on the Beaumont track at Newcastle on January 10, 2022 on a ‘Soft 6” surface – and another five have followed at different tracks, all on either soft or heavy ground.

Team Kearney gave Lady Shenanigans a break after he finished ninth in the Jungle Juice Cup (a 1350m Conditional Open Handicap) at Newcastle on October 14.

“We sent him out to Alex Lemaire’s property on the river at Richmond lowlands,” Desiree Kearney said.

“The grass is lush there, and we brought him back after a fortnight as he had done so well.”

The Kearneys were unable to secure a jockey to ride at 54kg for today’s assignment, and eventually booked apprentice Jett Stanley this morning.

“Fortunately, he didn’t have a big Christmas lunch, and was able to use his 2kg claim,” Desiree Kearney said.

“We couldn’t get a trial to start him off again, and initially weren’t confident at all going into this race.

“But when the rain came, we started to think he might be a chance with a light weight.”

HOOFNOTE: On top of Team Kearney’s fourth winner of the season came the news that their seven-times winner Heza Gentleman is returning to their stable tomorrow.

A five times city winner, including three at the Canterbury night season in late 2021, the now seven-year-old has been off the scene since June last year with sesamoid and suspensory issues.

“All the scans and x-rays are good, so we’re optimistic he will be okay,” Mitch Kearney said.

“He has been in pre-training and is only a couple of weeks away from trialling.”

Heza Gentleman, who gave the Kearneys a city breakthrough at Warwick Farm in August 2020, is another accomplished wet tracker. Six of his seven wins have been on rain-affected ground.

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