Jameka co-owner Steve Priestley's Caulfield Cup dream

Steve, congratulations on your success with Jameka in the Caulfield Cup. Can you give me an insight into what it's like to be a part-owner of a Caulfield Cup winner?

It's a pretty awesome sort of feeling.

I know I'm very, very lucky to be a part-owner of Jameka as she's the first horse that I've ever raced.

I've heard the stories about some owners that have raced horses for years and they have struggled to get one winner in the country.

Here I am involved in a horse that is a champion in my eyes.

Jameka has now won five of her 19 starts.

She's got eight minor placings to her credit, so you can see she's got an outstanding record.

I must admit I was pretty nervous in the lead up to the Caulfield Cup.

But I was pretty busy in my job out at Fonterra in Dennington last week, so that took my mind off the race.

Jameka is now being aimed at the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup on November 1. Have you checked the work rosters at Fonterra to see if you're working on that day?

I'll be honest with you, I had a look at the rosters a few weeks ago to see I was not working on Melbourne Cup Day.

Trainer Ciaron Maher told us [owners] many months ago that the two races he was aiming Jameka at were the Caulfield and Melbourne cups. 

So I tried to organise my work responsibilities around those two days.

Everything is right, I will be at Flemington on November 1.

How did you get involved in the ownership of Jameka?

It's really funny. My partner Michelle and I went to the races with her sister Kahla and her husband Darren Bolton to Mount Gambier one day.

They were involved in the ownership of Red Fella, trained by Warrnambool trainer Chris Ryan.

We had a great day, so I thought I might get a share in a horse.

Ciaron had a young colt by Denman which I took a share in.

The Denman colt was showing a fair bit of ability on the track. 

But unfortunately he broke his leg on the training track and had to be put down.

Ciaron said there was a bit of insurance money there, but I waited for a few months before I spoke to him again.

He told me there was a share in a nice filly by Myboycharlie.

I took up the offer and the rest is history, as she races by the name of Jameka.

Have you decided to get involved in the ownership of any other horses since Jameka has gone so well on the track?

Ciaron has told me not to get involved in any more because I've used up all my luck with Jameka. He's called it beginner’s luck and says I will never get another horse as good.

ON TOP: Steve Priestley says he knows he's fortunate to be co-owner of a horse like Caulfield Cup winner Jameka. Picture: Rob Gunstone

ON TOP: Steve Priestley says he knows he's fortunate to be co-owner of a horse like Caulfield Cup winner Jameka. Picture: Rob Gunstone

I'm sure he's right, but I’ll probably get involved again when she's retired. 

The other part of being in the ownership of Jameka is the other owners in the mare are just great people. 

I've made lifelong friends with these people.

It looks like some of the owners will be going over to the big carnival at Hong Kong in December, which should be a great trip.

Speaking of owning another horse, my dad now has the bug as he's got a share in a two-year-old with Ciaron.

My sister and brother-in-law have shares in another two horses in the Maher stable.

Steve, you mentioned that you were born at Whyalla but were educated in Warrnambool. How did that all come about?

My dad Ray was working for the big steel company called BHP in Whyalla, after coming from England with mum and my eldest sister Tracey.

A job opportunity came up to join Nestle, as it used to be known back in that era, in Dennington and he took up the offer.

He worked there for more than 30 years.

I worked down at the old Warrnambool Woollen Mill for three years before I got a job at Nestle.

I was only going out there for a few weeks.

The weeks have turned into 17 years that I have worked out at the factory, which is now run by Fonterra.

Have you been involved in any other sports apart from being a racehorse owner?

I trained greyhounds for 10 years, from 1992 to 2002.

I've still got my trainers’ licence. 

But I’ve been too busy to train them.

I was fortunate to have won a race at the old Olympic Park greyhound track with a dog called Kirkstall Flyer in 1992.

Another greyhound which I had some luck with was Nivek Gold. He won a few races.

I played footy out at Dennington in the under 14s, 16s and 18s, but I was not much good at footy. I rate myself a better cricketer.

Can you take me through your cricket career?

I played junior cricket with Dennington.

I would say the best thing about my junior days playing footy and cricket was the pie nights.

I played cricket with East Warrnambool when we just got beat in the A reserve grand final.

I also played in a losing B grade grand final with East against Merrivale.

I made 50 runs in that game. We got beat by two runs, which was really disappointing.

I had a break away from cricket for 18 years before coming back to play out at Purnim four years ago with a bunch of my mates.

I'm still playing out at Purnim.

They are a great bunch of blokes out there.


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