Barnawartha thoroughbred breeders Tony and Kellie Smeaton have welcomed home farm-bred star, Gun Pit (Dubawi), back to their farm thanks to his billionaire Hong Kong owner Cheng Chung Wah.
Being so fond of his champion, and after having a great ride from Dubai to Japan with the Hong Kong trained galloper, he wanted to ensure he had a fitting retirement.
Chung Wah contacted the Smeatons and offered Gun Pit the chance to come home.
“In a heartbeat, we said yes,” Tony Smeaton said.
The Hong Kong owner covered all expenses and flew the racing superstar home to retire happily in the lush green paddocks where he was born.
The gelding won close to AU$1.5 million in prize money abroad before sustaining a career-ending injury at the start of this year.
Gun Pit won seven races on the trot on Sha Tin’s all-weather track for trainer Caspar Fownes before heading over to Dubai seeking international glory, running a gallant second in the 2016 Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge over 2000 metres.
This performance earned him an invitation to start in the richest race in the world, the US$10 million Dubai World Cup.
The Dubawi colt sold through the Eliza Park draft at the 2012 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale for $65,000 to Mark Treweek of Lyndhurst Farm in New Zealand, who on sold him to Hong Kong through the NZB Ready to Run Sale.
Gun Pit showed a bit of spunk as a youngster, and his natural speed caught the eye of Michael Stedman, buying him for on behalf of Hong Kong owner Cheng Chung Wah.
“They knew then he was going to be good, but he didn’t have a name, so the owners thought, ‘Well he looks like Brad Pitt and goes like a gun’ – hence Gun Pit,” Smeaton said proudly.
With plans to take Gun Pit back to Meydan for the 2017 Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge, after his brave runner-up performance the year before, Fownes felt that a bone chip was causing too much discomfort to race on.
“It is sad, because he was such an exciting horse on a true dirt surface, and he never got the chance (internationally) to show us what he could really do. He had a lot of heart, and he was a lovely horse with a beautiful temperament, we will certainly miss him around the stable,” Fownes said.
“His left front fetlock joint just gave him too much trouble, so we made the decision to get the bone chip removed, and send him home to retire.”
Smeaton had always seen something special in Gun Pit, commenting that he was “outstanding from day dot” and is thrilled to have him home to stay.
“He can run in the paddocks with his old buddy Freddy, a laid-back welsh pony just like he did as a yearling.”
A worldwide traveller, Gun Pit will now happily stay in Barnawartha for the rest of his days.