It takes a lot of dedication to travel 1700 kilometres to see your beloved galloper run, but that’s exactly how committed Queensland based owners Gordon and Marlene McIntosh are about cheering home their star Widgee Turf.
Widgee Turf easily won the $150,000 VOBIS Gold Star over 1500 metres at Moonee Valley on Friday night defeating VOBIS champion Burning Front and, in the process, winning his fourth consecutive race.
Trained by Patrick Payne, the son of Blue Gum Farm sire Turffontein certainly made the long journey worthwhile for the McIntosh couple taking home a winner’s cheque of $87,000.
Widgee Turf has now earned over $513,800 in prize money which includes approximately $180,000 in VOBIS bonuses and prizemoney.
Given that he was purchased for a mere $4,500 as a weanling, he has been a brilliant investment for the McIntosh couple.
Widgee Turf was born and raised at Barb Ivill’s Little Plains Farm before being offered for sale as a foal at the 2014 Inglis Great Southern Sale.
“I was too ill unfortunately to attend the sale, so he went through unreserved. I always really liked him, he moved well and had a great attitude. I was a bit disappointed he only made $4,500, as I thought he would have made more.” Barb Ivill said.
“He was a beautiful foal, with a lovely head on him and it is very pleasing to see him doing so well.”
Making their first ever outing to the Oaklands complex in the winter of 2014 to attend the Great Southern Sale, the McIntoshs couldn’t have dreamt how a little chestnut foal would change their life.
Gordon & Marlene McIntosh & other connections of Widgee Turf after the $150,000 VOBIS Gold Star at Moonee Valley (Mike Keating-Racing Photos)
“Although I have been brought up around horses all my life, it was actually the first time I had ever been to a sale like that, having lived up in the bush,” Gordon McIntosh said.
“I remember looking at the other weanlings (at the sale) making $100,000 from the big studs, but it was a bright, alert, chestnut colt that caught my eye.”
“I liked the Turffontein horses and his progeny like Fontein Ruby, but what got my full attention was the way he walked. He was really stepping out.
“The handler could hardly keep up with him, he walked with such purpose, so I thought this guy is on a bit of a mission, and as nobody wanted him, and I couldn’t help but put my hand up.
“We drove down from Widgee, which is just out of Gympie, for his first (winning debut) maiden at Swan Hill, and it ended up being a quality field with Group 2 galloper Tiamo Grace coming out of the race, and then we happily dove all the way home, which took a few days,”
“We love supporting him, and speaking to (Racing Victoria’s) Greg Carpenter after the race on Friday, he loved our story, as it’s all about the small breeders, a bargain horse and a couple of dedicated owners.
“This VOBIS scheme is the greatest thing for racing, as he has won $117,000 in bonuses (plus prizemoney), which is hard to believe. Now he is rated 95, we will be looking at the VOBIS raceday in April for him.”
Gordon has put it in his diary on their next trip down south to pop into Wangaratta based Little Plains Stud and meet Barb, and say thanks to the broodmare mare Greyhound that produced his little champion.
“We are planning our next trip in a month or so, and we would love to meet Barb and Widgee Turf’s mum.”
Barb Ivill, now 84 years young, is still doing a terrific job at Little Plains Stud, and although she has cut back on numbers, her enthusiasm is as bright as ever.
Situated on 100 acres in Victoria’s north-east at Laceby near Wangaratta, Barb set up Little Plains in 1968 with her late husband Ted, but for the past 20 years, she has been running the show.
Widgee Turf is the final foal from the Kala Dancer mare Greyhound.
Having foaled minor winners by Estambul and Legion, Ivill also bred Greyhound’s half-brothers Field Hunter (Torrential) and Change the Grange (Umatilla) to a total of 25 wins and both were successful at Flemington.
Currently retired from the studbook, Greyhound may have a date next season back to Turffontein with this recent success.
“She is a very pretty mare, with a lovely, good nature and she has never had any problems foaling. If they are healthy and strong to conceive and carry a pregnancy and we give them the best of care, I don’t see why old mares can’t produce first-rate foals. So that is what we are planning at the moment.”