A SPECULATIVE investment by a group of locals is poised to deliver a handsome dividend in more ways than one.
Cats Fun, the 2008 Perth Cup winner, is primed for his first steeplechase race start today — the feature 3YB Scotty Stewart Brierly Steeplechase.
Yangery trainer Jarrod McLean orchestrated the purchase of the then eight-year-old from former Australian cricketer Simon O’Donnell and Terry Henderson 15 months ago.
The pair’s operation, OTI Racing, had sought out McLean in a last-resort to resurrect the gelding’s flat racing career but with his best result an 11th in the 2010 listed Bagot Handicap (2800m), they ran out of patience.
McLean organised a syndicate of 10 owners with a jumps career in mind.
His partner Krystal, publicans Matty Monk, Matty Stewart, former Russells Creek football coach Adam Main, former Seahawks basketball coach Lee Primmer, veteran football umpire Locky Eccles, Jeanine Dureau-Finn, Tania Hussey, Tim Hickman and Brian Salmon opted in.
“It was a grand each,” McLean said.
“We were hoping for a bit of fun and that’s what it’s been and hope for more fun — lots more.”
McLean, a long-time supporter of jumps racing, said Cats Fun was a good example of a horse that had reached the end of his career on the flat but found a new avenue over obstacles.
“It’s given him longevity as a race horse,” he told The Standard.
“I am a fan of jumps racing but I get tired of the argument if they aren’t jumps racing then they would be at the knackery.
“In my 10 years I’ve been able to find a home for all my horses bar one.
“He might be a showjumper for someone when he finishes.”
That won’t be soon if he succeeds today with a start in Thursday’s Grand Annual Steeplechase a possibility, depending on how he pulls up.
While it is his first steeplechase start, Cats Fun trialled over the bigger obstacles 10 days ago and schooled around Warrnambool’s course on Sunday morning.
He has had nine hurdle starts for McLean, winning three, finishing second three times and third twice.
“He has won more than $65,000 in prizemoney for his owners,” McLean said before the race.
“Obviously no one is in it to make money, it’s not a greed thing, it’s 10 people having a bit of fun.”
McLean gives Cats Fun a good chance in today’s $100,000 feature.
“I think he’s our best chance of winning a big race at the carnival,” McLean said.
“He’s been in work since October and I haven’t had a setback with him other than a little bit of foot soreness because of hard ground.
“We’ve had a faultless preparation which is rarely the case.
“He’s been set for this week and he jumped well (on Sunday).”