Retired builder Peter McLaren thought he was going pretty well when his homebred Grandview Avenue won the Listed Norman Carlyon Stakes (1000m) at The Valley at the end of 2020.
A long time breeder, McLaren reckons that everyone is entitled to a decent horse and for him it was Grandview Avenue which hasn’t had much luck since that Listed win.
In fact, the six-year-old by Statue of Liberty, out of McLaren’s mare Magic By Gosh (Magic Albert x Kashcrop), hasn’t won a race since.
But not all is lost.
A half-brother to Grandview Avenue now looms as the best horse McLaren has bred.
Now trained by Ken Elford at Warrnambool, Ashford Street (Moshe) was a winner at the Warrnambool May carnival over 1100m, was then beaten less than a length at Flemington (1000m) and saluted at Caulfield last Saturday, also over the 1000m sprint journey.
The four-year-old has had 17 starts for 6 wins, four seconds and two thirds and banked $272,825.
And it’s not only McLaren, a retired builder, who believes Ashford Street is untapped and still has the best ahead of him.
He recently rejected a $750,000 offer from Hong Kong and said it was an easy decision to say no as Ashford Street is a horse raced by his family.
“I knocked it back because it’s a family horse,” he said.
“What would we do with the money? I am not a money man and have never been in my life.
“If I did sell him, the kids would get their share – 10 per cent of seven per cent.
“I got offered three-quarters of a million for him and it was a genuine offer and we had a family discussion around the kitchen table here and they said ‘sell, sell, sell, grandpa.’
“And I said listen to me before you finish. I said what are we going do with the money and you’ll get $70,000 each or whatever it is. And I said I’ll go out and buy another horse that probably can’t even trot.
“All the family is involved in the ownership – my daughters, my wife and the grandkids. And that’s what it is all about and we had a great day at Caulfield, it was fantastic.
“My grandson Will (McKenzie) strapped him.”
While Ashford Street has become the stable star, not all is lost with Grandview Avenue who has been unplaced in his past nine starts.
McLaren said the gelding had joint issues which they hoped to ease with the gelding doing beach work, plus swimming which can cause problems with horses that have bled like Grandview Avenue.
“Unfortunately he bled at Terang (two years ago) and we’ve always been very cautious about swimming at the beach,” he said.
“But we’ve put in a bit of an effort to swim him and then we scope him and see if there is any bleed but there hasn’t been anything.
“We couldn’t get him fit because of his joints and feet, but you can swim them here at Warrnambool in the bay.
“He is not an old horse and is only rising seven.
“He has been a ripper and I think his brother will be the equal of him.”
Grandview Avenue has raced 45 times for nine wins, four seconds and seven thirds for $369,216.
Ashford Street is the last of six foals from Magic By Gosh who died in a paddock accident in 2019 when she was about to foal to Squamosa. Magic By Gosh’s dam Kashcrop (Kashani x Diamond Snip) won three races, all in the city,
Magic By Gosh’s first foal was a filly by Written Tycoon that raced as Steve’s Choice and won three races. The filly was sold through the Adelaide sale and McLaren admits he would have liked to have kept her to breed from to keep the family going.
Steve Choice has a filly by Wayed Zain and was served by another Riverbank Stud stallion, Boulder City, last season.
Magic By Gosh’s second foal was the unraced Tycoon Mia (Written Tycoon) which was injured in a paddock accident and never made it to the track.
McLaren rarely sold the horses he bred but the mare and her Statue Of Liberty foal were at Eliza Park and they told him there was plenty of interest in the colt and he said he wouldn’t take under $50,000.
The colt was sold for $50,000 and went on to win the two-year-old Clockwise Classic at Ballarat for trainer Jason Petch whose clients later bought the horse which was on its way to Macau as Claro El Banco. The gelding raced as Peace Get Joy when it picked up the $120,000 first prize at Ballarat and was Magic By Gosh’s third foal.
McLaren then bred Kednelly (Bushranger), a winner of two races, out of the mare. Then came Grandview Avenue (Statue of Liberty) and Ashford Street (Moshe).
He said he hasn’t been surprised with the way Ashford Street has progressed, but admitted he hadn’t originally thought of putting Magic By Gosh to Moshe.
“To be honest with you, I couldn’t get back to Statue Of Liberty,” he said.
“The next option in my mind was something that was close to Black Caviar and with my limited money there was no way known I could buy anything around the half a million-dollar stuff, so I went to her full brother ((Moshe) and that’s how it worked out.
“I had always been connected with Eliza Park originally and then Sun Stud the whole time with the breeding. Even when the Flemings had the place, I started there way back.”
McLaren said he started breeding horses the same year he got married in 1968.
He was originally from Warrnambool and then moved to Melbourne before returning home where he has a property just outside of the town.
Last Saturday’s race was heat four of the 2022 Santa Ana Lane Sprint Series which culminates with the final over 1200m at Flemington on July 2.
Although Ashford Street hasn’t won beyond 1100m, McLaren isn’t concerned about tackling another 1200m race and said they considered this year’s Wangoom (1200m), but it would look at contesting the race next year.
And what he says is a big advantage, is track rider Tennielle Onyett who he said can tell you when a hair is missing off the side of the horse’s neck.
She has now established Tower Hill Lodge, near Warrnambool, where she agists and pre-trains horses.
And for trainer Ken Elford, he said they don’t know what Ashford Street is capable of doing.
“He is still learning everything and he’s still a young horse,” he said.
“He goes to the beach once or twice a week, to the track once or twice a week and does most of his work out at Tennielle’s place at Tower Hill Lodge.”
The 68-year-old Elford, who was 14 and a half when he started working for Warrnambool legend Kevin Lafferty, said he doesn’t know how long he has held a trainer’s licence.
“I had a go, went away and then came back,” he said.
“I’ve only got a couple of horses now and that’s all I do.”
Elford Ashford Street would return to Melbourne in two weeks for another heat of the Santa Ana and then go into the final.
He said the gelding looms as his best horse.
It was also a special day for jockey Theodore Nugent who outrode his metropolitan weight claim with his win on Ashford Street.
“To finally finish my apprenticeship and on a horse of this ability, it means a lot,” Nugent said in his postrace interview.
“It’s been unreal. I’ve known Kenny (Elford) pretty much all my life down at Warrnambool.”
Nugent said the best was yet to come from Ashford Street and the “world’s his oyster.”