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July 15, 2021

The Australian Turf Club is happy to announce the introduction of the ‘Australian Turf Club Owner of the Month’.

This will allow us to share Owners experiences and memories with our fellow Owners.

Thoroughbred racing is a thrilling experience, and nothing is more exhilarating than seeing your own horse taking its place on the race track.

The Australian Turf Club Owner of the Month will profile Owners from all backgrounds and look at their ownership experiences and the excitement that horse ownership brings to so many.

Our first Owner of the Month is Louis Mihalyka from Laurel Oak Bloodstock. Mihalyka tasting success, as recently as Saturday with Go Troppo winning at Royal Randwick. Other highlights have been winning the 2019 Kosciuszko with Handle The Truth and multiple Group 1 winner Rebel Dane.

What was your first memory of horse racing?
In 3rd class (year 3 for the younger brigade!) in 1963, we knew that it was Melbourne Cup Day. Our teacher Mr Barnes left the room and came back after a while and wrote 1 Gatum Gatum 2 Ilumquh 3 Grand Print on the blackboard. The kids were baffled but I remember saying that I thought it was the Melbourne Cup result, which it was. After that I was aware of Melbourne Cup Day but it was not until high school that the classes stopped to listen to the race. But I gradually became more interested in racing. By 1969, Tails was my hero and after him Gunsynd. I had posters of them on my bedroom wall instead of the latest rock bands.

What made you get into horse ownership?
In 1981 I started playing soccer for Granville Waratahs and there were a lot of players who had connections to the local Rosehill stables. Bryan Guy was our centre forward. At the time he worked for his father Ray Guy, the well-known Rosehill trainer. Before I joined the club he had put together a syndicate of players and friends to buy a horse. That horse, called Lackacoin (well-named by No Alimony out of Currency Belle) won on debut and we had the best celebration at the Albion Hotel, our team’s local. Those of us not involved with the horse decided we need to get a horse. The following January Bryan bought another horse and I ended up being the manager/coordinator of guys from the soccer team, cricket team and from work. He was by Jukebox and called Bullet Performer. He only won a couple of races but I loved it and was

Best moment you ever experienced on the racetrack as an Owner?
Rebel Dane’s Manikato Stakes win in 2016. It was his 4th go at the race and he had not finished further back than 5th and was unlucky a couple of times. He had a horror run with barrier draws in big races and when he drew barrier 4 we knew he was a great chance despite his 60/1 odds. There were ten runners and nine were Group One winners and the field included Chautauqua and Buffering. Everything went to plan and he won the race. Our Sir Bacchus won the following race so it was a huge night. Handle The Truth’s The Kosciuszko win was massive as well while it was also a special thrill to have runners in the International Sprint in Hong Kong with Into The Night and Rebel Dane, even though they were beaten. I still get a buzz out of every winner though.

What horse do you have the fondest memories of and why?
When we started Laurel Oak in 1985, our first winner was Georgian Gold. She was a great little mare and we bred from her. By 2008 we told our clients that we should only keep those mares whose offspring could make commercial sales, and we will only keep one breed-to-race mare, Texarcana, as she descends from Georgian Gold. Texarcana’s first foal was Rebel Dane, so Georgian Gold was his great-grandmother. While Rebel Dane is our favourite, we have fond memories of ‘Georgie’.

What is the best horse you have ever owned and why were they so special?
Rebel Dane. His last 31 starts were in Group 1 or 2 races and he drew outside half barriers in 19 of them which impacted on his career results. Many owners never have a Group runner but turning for Group races as an owner became matter-of-fact when he was racing. He won his first four starts, all in metro races and history shows they were good form races. The fourth of those was the Group 2 Royal Sovereign and at his fifth start he ran Pierro to a neck in the Hobartville, so he raced in exalted company from the start, eventually winning two Group Ones. After his first three starts all his subsequent five wins were in Group races and all nine placings were in Group races. After he ran second to Lankan Rupee in the TJ Smith I causally asked one of the owners what the prizemoney was as I had not checked. $500,000 was the answer! It was amazing to be regularly running in races with that sort of prizemoney. Into The Night was very good as well, while Ancient Song won a Group One (beating Into The Night for a Laurel Oak quinella), but we only bought her as a tried horse.

What current horse that you are in ownership of are most looking forward to seeing progress over the upcoming months?
Too hard to say as every young horse holds excitement and anticipation. We do have an un-raced 2yo called Benaud with John O’Shea who is a half-brother to Tofane so her recent achievements have raised expectations. 2yo Rebel Shadow by Rebel Dane also has us excited.

Favourite part of the race day experience as an Owner?
That feeling of exultation after a win and the post-race after-glow in the winners’ room with other owners when you see how happy they are.

What is the best raceday experience you have ever had?
Too hard to say as there have been so many. Royal Ascot in the Parade Ring Restaurant is out of this world and very special.

What is the best post raceday celebration you have had as an owner?
Again, too many to remember and some hard to remember. Celebrating Handle The Truth’s Kosciuszko win with co-owners in Sydney city the next day was one very special one.

What piece of advice would you give people looking to get into horse ownership?
Enjoy the good moments. Only one horse can win a race, so when it is your turn savour it and enjoy is because you do not know when the next one comes along. The other one is come and see me if you would like to get into ownership. Our new owners benefit from all the mistakes we have made in the past and have learned from!

What horse would you of most liked to own and why?
Too hard. I have learned to be happy with my lot and enjoy our own horses. There are too may good horses out there to be wanting to own them. Realistically, the horse I would most like to own is the winner of the previous race!

What is your favourite story of one of your retired horses and their life after racing?
Again too many. We have sought out good homes for our horses since we started over 30 years ago so there are many happy after-life stories. Perhaps the most bitter-sweet is Khoisan. He retired unraced due to a throat issue as a 3yo or 4yo. We gave him to an equestrian girl. She knew quickly that he was too good for her and moved him to someone more experienced. As a 9yo he was a reserve for the Aussie equestrian team for the London Olympics but was considered to be still too young and inexperienced and was expected to be our star at the Rio Olympics. But sadly he died of colic in between the two Olympics.

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