Small steps in an industry built on four legs

On Saturday afternoon, I – as unassumingly as I could – entered the age-old ambiance of the TAB Sportsbar at a local pub.

This is neither a first-time practice for me but nor is it a regular one. This is about family!

With six minutes left before they jumped out of the barrier at Hamilton for Race 6 on the card, I tossed up whether to have a flutter. Again, not a regular practice for me although not unknown to happen.

I marked the appropriate boxes on the Win/Place card and handed over my $20; mainly because I didn’t have a $10 note in my wallet and thought … why not, it’s for family!

‘Jordy’ as she is affectionately known in the family, was born in 2008 in the latter half of that year (as most thoroughbred horses are); another in a long list of foals that annually come into this world as part of my sister’s dream.

‘Bon Accord’ is situated at Avonmore in the heart of the Campaspe Shire just down the road from the small township of Elmore and half an hour out of Bendigo.

A small self-sustaining farm with cows and grain crops on an annual rotation. But it’s prize ‘crop’ is the breeding of good bloodline race horses.

It is a small concern, not even close to the big league that involves the likes of Flemington, Group 1s, Eliza Park, Moody or Waterhouse – not yet anyway – but it is an endeavour born of love and dreams.

This industry, I have come to learn and witness over more than the past decade, is fraught with the danger of gambles taken: the delicate balance of these amazingly powerful creatures with fragile legs, sensitive digestion and just the sheer luck of the draw in matters like ‘personality’ and ‘demeanour’ (and I’m talking about the horses).

Standing on the sidelines, my children and I have helped as farm hands and ‘horse cuddlers’ on our several visits each year. We marvel at the newly born foals on brisk September spring mornings and watch them grow with each year on their journey, hopefully but certainly not often, to the ultimate goal of the race track.

It is a long and very winding road.

I’m writing about this, this week, because you learn to celebrate the small achievements.

One of two prized yearling foals sold for just half her expected value earlier this year due to the influence on the market of both economics and the swing to Black Caviar-like bloodlines.

The second sweet filly met with an unfortunate small but significant leg ‘knock’ and was unable to make it to the premier Adelaide sales in which she had been entered.

With every anticipated step forward there seems to be two forcibly taken backwards.

So this is why I wanted to mention ‘Jordy’ and the small but significant step taken at Hamilton on the weekend.

She started running last year and got a couple of good results under her belt, but it was a bumpy ride. Her return came this week after a second lay-off that has seen her ‘resting’ for several months.

This was meant to be just an easing back into the system to see how she fared.

Well she blew us all away!

The running of the 1400m 3yo race against far more favoured opposition saw her come from the back with 700m to go, streak up the outside of the pack and take the win.

I had to work extremely hard to contain my joy (bordering on hysteria) within the confines of the sports bar surrounded by well-worn and experienced punters. While it was a little while before I realised I’d had a good monetary result, I was immediately thrilled for my sister and this small but positive moment for the blood, sweat, tears and sheer devotion she puts into this endeavour.

We look now to the next step of this journey, hopefully in two weeks time, at another regional racetrack.

As I said to my sister just today, let’s stick with the tried but true adage from footy, (and we’re well practised as Carlton supporters) … “one week at a time (or in this case ‘race’) and … “we’re just keeping a lid on it, there’s a long way to go!”

Oh yes, and for anyone interested, Jordy races under the name ‘MOTTO’S GEM’!

Twitter:  @JDScanlon

About Jill Scanlon

Blues fan and sports lover. Development through sports advocate; producer, journalist and news follower. Insanely have returned to p/t study - a Masters of International & Community Development. Formerly with ABC International / Radio Australia in Melbourne.


  1. Looks like I’d be putting my money on Motto’s Gem one race too late! It will be a short-priced favourite after this run. Lovely piece, Jill.

  2. CORRECTION: … Jordy was born in 2006 not 2008 and so is a 5yo NOT a 3yo.

    The Hamilton race was a 1400m F&M but no age grouping.

    With foals coming each year I lose track … it’s like a big family tree! Plus our two current 3yo’s are particular favorites of ours – Bess & RAZO who will hopefully be hitting the track for racing prep later this year – so my mind tends to go to their details first.

    Apologies… Jill

  3. Also for those interested, I’ve just been told about photos of Jordy’s win.
    Check out …!i=1796276385&k=b4vkWFn

  4. Great result Jill – well done to the whole family. Its a tough business with some ups and many downs so you need to enjoy the triumphs!!

  5. Tony Robb says

    Well played Jill. What a thrill to have a winner at any level Thanks for sharing your fun
    cheers TR

  6. Totes please Jill?

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