Veteran Maldon trainer Brian McKnight and his son Ash had one of those days at Donald on Saturday that they won’t forget for a long time.
The father and son training team produced the winners of the first three legs of the quadrella.
Unfortunately their runner in the fourth leg and the final race on the program – the $31 long shot Savoie – finished down the track in seventh place but was far from disgraced.
And all four runners were Victorian-bred or sired.
Success came in the opening leg of the quaddie when Oak Bridge (Night Of Thunder x Our Oak) got the money as the $5 equal favourite.
The four-year-old gelding has now raced 14 times for two wins and a second for $48,640.
It was bred by Two Bays Farm at Flinders and sold for $22,000 through Stonehouse Thoroughbreds’ draft as a weanling at the 2018 Great Southern Sale.
A year later it fetched $25,000 at the Inglis Gold Yearling Sale.
In an interesting twist, the horse was passed in for $10,000 because of poor results from x-rays, but it was later discovered the x-rays had been mixed up and belonged to another horse.
He was then put back on the market and met his $25,000 reserve.
Night Of Thunder previously shuttled to Darley’s Northwood Park at Seymour.
The second leg of the quaddie was won by San Marino (Rich Enuff x Hostile Witness) which owner Russell Healy, a friend of Ash McKnight, bought online as a tried horse for $9,000 in April 2021.
It had been a $90,000 purchase for Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien who moved the now four-year-old gelding on after two starts, but the son of Woodside Park stallion Rich Enuff had won his first start at Werribee.
The gelding’s record now stands at two wins, a second and a third and prizemoney of $48,825.
San Marino started the second favourite at $3.90.
Logo Logic, the winner of the third leg of the quaddie, was a homebred for McKnight and is by former Blue Gum Farm stallion Canford Cliffs (IRE).
The five-year-old gelding has had 17 races for three wins and a second and a third for prizemoney of $53,273.
He is out of Barrett’s Mark (Churchill Downs x Go Ruby Go) which was bred by the McKnights in partnership with the late Mark Barrett.
The McKnights and Barrett raced Go Ruby Go (Baryshnikov x Petite Jeunesse), a winner of two races, including one at Sandown.
“Mark, who was in the legal industry, loved breeding and was besotted with and had a lot of parts of horses with Nigel Blackiston,” McKnight said.
“When he died the family gave her (Barrett’s Mark) to us.”
Go Ruby Go broke her maiden at Sandown.
McKnight said it was a familiar story with Logo Logic’s sire Canford Cliffs who didn’t return from Ireland after serving only 30 mares in his final season at stud in Australia in 2016.
“Half the trouble with a lot of these stallions is that it’s all to do with moving onto the next one – it’s going to be a better one, it’s going to be better,” McKnight said.
“Nine out of ten of them aren’t.”
The front-running Logo Logic was the $4.40 favourite and won by four lengths.
And the Victorian-bred Savoie (IIovethiscity x Larissar) finished 4.5 lengths from the winner in the fourth leg. IIovethiscity stands at Noor Elaine Farm at Euroa.
McKnight said it’s a case of trying to win races each time you compete but on reflection, it was a big effort from the stable on Saturday with their locally bred horses.
“When you analyse it and we were talking about it before, there would be a lot of stables that have never trained a treble,” he said.
“And yes, it is a big effort.
“To be truthful it probably really hasn’t sunk in what a feat it has been.”
McKnight said they went to the races with good expectations on the back of performances of their horses in trials.
He said San Marino had two serious jump-outs and won them both, including one at Burrumbeet last Wednesday.
“We were fairly confident with him that he’d run a good race and Logo Logic can do it but we just have to keep him sound and has got the worst front feet of any horse that has probably got a bridle on it,” McKnight said.
“But if we can keep him on some soft tracks, he is not a bad horse.”
The McKnights took eight horses to Donald.
Key of Cee (Starspangledbanner x Highleigh) beat one home, Dashing Rebel (Dissident x Tianjin Rock) was third in the 1620m maiden at $26, Mark’s Line (Nostradamus x Mark’s Matilda) was fifth and Hot Seat (Star Witness x Hot Riff) was sixth to stablemate Logo Logic.
“We thought Mark’s Line ($6.50) could win and has just been screaming for more ground but his problem is that he gets back a bit and when Christine (Puls) got off him, she said Harry Coffey blocked her run and I still think he would have been in it had he got through it and had clear running,” McKnight said.
“That’s what happens with backmarkers and unless you get to the outside, you have to be lucky to get a clear path.
“And it was interesting that the three to win were all on pace horses and if you have got a horse that does that it does take a lot of luck out of the equation.”
McKnight said they continue to support the Victorian stallions and rarely venture out of the state.
He said they’ve always averaged eight to ten broodmares each year.
“I turn 75 this year and my son Ash is not a keen breeding man and he’d rather go through all the sales and find a horse he likes with a bit of pedigree that perhaps other people aren’t that keen on because it’s not in the big bracket,” McKnight said.
“He likes doing it and pinhooks a few foals for us to resell and one thing or another. If we don’t sell our horses then they go into our system.
“A lot of people say to me I don’t know how you do it. They say they don’t know how I run all those mares and foals, wean foals and do yearling preps and train as well and we’ve always got 12 to 15 horses in work.
“And lot of times we’ve got two or three pre-trainers for people who want to go on the water walker and things like that.”
McKnight worked at Trevenson Park Stud (now owned by Darren Weir) for 33 years and started when he was 17-years-old and trained his first horse when he was 21.
He said his boss Ed Barty wouldn’t let him train during the breeding season, so his training was restricted from December to August.
“The best horse I had then was a mare called Storm Song (Dies x Random Harvest) and I won five at Flemington with her and one at the Valley and ran second in the Adelaide Cup and dead-heated with Battle Heights for third in the Moonee Valley Cup,” he said.
The lady who was training Storm Song didn’t have any luck with the mare and gave the horse to McKnight who previously expressed interest in adding it to his team of one.
He later bred from Storm Song when she was retired.
McKnight said he bought the adjoining property to Trevenson Park, an 800 acre farm which the family operate as Oakford Thoroughbred Farm and is set up for broodmares and has an equine pool, walker and 2100m sand track.
“We came here in 1997,” he said.
And he hasn’t given up hope of training another treble – but he knows it’s a big task.