Cantina ridden by Jarrod Fry wins the Happy Bucks Day Brocky Fillies and Mares Mdn Plte at Yarra Valley Racecourse on November 27, 2021 in Yarra Glen, Australia. (Ross Holburt/Racing Photos)

Cantina has been added to the list of successful homebreds for racing’s well known McGrath family after the three year-old filly broke her maiden status at Yarra Glen on Saturday.
Brian McGrath is the trainer in the family and has 20 horses in work at Cranbourne. His father is former UK race broadcaster and identity Jim McGrath, while Brian’s uncle, Joe McGrath, works for the VRC and plays a huge role in the promotional travels throughout Australia of the Melbourne Cup.
And it shouldn’t be forgotten that Brian’s grandfather, also of the identical name, was a leading rails bookmaker in Australia.
It’s no surprise the English born Brian finished up in the racing industry as a trainer, while his father dabbles in breeding a few thoroughbreds, and his uncle offers support through a syndicate of friends who race D’Jumbuck and Only Human in partnership.
Both horses were bred by Jim McGrath and are out of Carousing which he also bred and raced.
D’Jumbuck, by Rosemont Stud stallion Starspangledbanner, has won two races, both at Sandown last year.
Only Human, by Animal Kingdom, is a three-year-old gelding that has raced twice for a third and then a fourth at Sandown last week.
“Joe supports the stable, and he has a group of guys in his syndicate and they are in the ownership of a few of them which is great,” Brian said.
“He knows his breeding, but it’s my dad who is doing the breeding, but Joe is there supporting it and he knows his stuff and is just a great guy to go into bat for you.”
McGrath said his father, who is still based in the UK and has been unable to visit Australia for two years because of COVID, has a handful of mares in Victoria which he is extremely keen to breed from them.
“He has done a good job,” he said.
“Cantina is out of Red Margarita (Dalakhani x Red Bartsia) who he bought in England as a yearling at Tattersalls and was trained by David Elsworth.
“She was only fair, and then he bought her over to Australia and bred from her here.”
Red Margarita’s first two foals were by New Approach (IRE). Carousing made it to the races once, while Beauvilliers had one official trial but was unraced.
The mare’s third foal – Larrikin – was by Poet’s Voice and the eight-year-old has so far won nine races, including a city victory, from 58 starts. The gelding is raced by Jim McGrath.
Larrikin gave McGrath his first winner when the gelding won a two-year-old maiden at Geelong in July, 2016 at odds of $101.
Red Margarita also produced Inkslinger (Akeed Mofeed) and Bush Christmas (Poet’s Voice) and both are winners and still racing. Inkslinger, now with five wins, scored at Wodonga last Friday over 1100m.
After having Cantina, Red Margarita missed to Akeed Mofeed but has a colt and filly by Palentino.
“It’s been a good family to us,” McGrath said.
“You could say it is the family’s family.”
McGrath said his father had liked the cross with Palentino and hopes Cantina might be able to stretch out over a bit further as she matures.
Palentino (Teofilo x Palatine Hill) won two Group 1 races – the Australian Guineas (1600m) and the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m). He was retired as a four-year-old.
The production line of horses continues for Brian, with D’Jumbuck’s dam, Carousing, having a filly by Akeed Mofeed.
And McGrath is hoping thatumanHman Cantina, bred by Jim, in partnership with Noorilim Park Thoroughbreds, will continue to progress through the ranks.
“I thought it was a really good win,” McGrath said of Saturday’s victory.
“She did a good job and is still very green and very new. Jarrod Fry sort of said in fairness to her she showed a good turn of foot when she got clear.
“The others on the outside had that momentum on her and she repelled them and showed a good attitude.
“And we have been really pleased with her. She has got a good attitude and does really well and ate up after that run on Saturday and has got a good constitution.”
McGrath said Cantina is the first horse he has had in the stable by Widden Stud stallion, Palentino.
“We have bred back to him with a couple of mares,” he said.
“And we liked Palentino. He was a good a racehorse.”
McGrath said it was a case of being realistic with service fees which he says are pretty high at the moment.
“The freshmen sires are unproven, and their prices are so high as well,” he said.
“It’s expensive.”
McGrath said that Palentino’s sire Teofilo had shown with his multiple Group winning son Humidor that the progeny get better with time and age.
“I think the Palentinos are going to need that bit of time being by Teofilo,” he said.
McGrath said his father also had another broodmare, New Zealand Belle of Pentire (Pentire x Libra Belle). Another of them is Red Ransom mare Dianthus (Slightly Pink) that produced Try Pink (New Approach) which won three races for Brian.
Try Pink was retired in August and has now gone to stud.
“Hopefully it’s a family that’s going to keep developing, but it’s all about a bit of luck really, isn’t it?, he said.
And while McGrath said breeding is a long process, he said it’s all worthwhile when they win.
And while Jim hopes to get back to Australia in January, Joe said the racing identity was still very much in touch with what goes on here.
“He has certainly raced a few over there, but his breeding set-up is here, and he has provided a very good base for Brian to commence his career,” Joe said.
“Compared to a football coach, Brian needs new recruits and the ones that have come through his gate he has done a great job with.”
McGrath started with just two horses in the stable.