IT’S not often you’re told you have a Group 1 winner in the making before your horse even steps out on to the racetrack but that’s exactly what Dothraki’s connections were told some five years ago.
Triple Crown Syndications director Michael Ward remembers it well.
“Even from day one, I remember Gerald Ryan, who had him at the time, commented that the only horse he had seen that worked as well as him at trackwork at the time was All Too Hard,” Ward said. “Gerald said (at the time) ‘this will be a Group 1 winner for you’ and that’s some credit to him.”
Ryan has always been known as a good judge of a racehorse and, while he hasn’t been proven exactly right yet with Dothraki, he has been pretty close to the mark.
Dothraki has been placed twice at Group 1 level, including being beaten a lip by Malaguerra in the Group 1 BTC Cup at Doomben last year. He has won two Group 3 races and two Listed races on his way to earning more than $1.1 million in prizemoney.
Sure, he is not the punters’ favourite horse as he has been beaten a few times when he has looked home but, for Triple Crown Syndications and Dothraki’s owners, he has been pretty special.
“He hasn’t always been the most genuine horse in terms of finishing off his races, which has probably cost him a little bit of success,” Ward said. “He has gone within very small margins of winning a Group 1 and he could have probably done even better than what he has done but it’s pretty hard to complain when you’ve done what he has.
“He has had a couple of near misses when he looked like he has been home for all money but he is a terrific owners’ horse being sound and full of talent. He has accumulated more than $1 million in prizemoney now and you can’t ask for much more than that.
“He does cop a bit by the punters sometimes but, as an owners’ horse, I think he is a dream horse.”
Think of a handy AFL or NRL player that fronts up every week across several seasons.
That’s the sort of horse equivalent Dothraki is. Not the star of the show by any means but one that continues to put in solid performances week in, week out, year in, year out.
You only have to look at the list of some of the horses he took on in the 2013 Golden Slipper to admire Dothraki’s longevity.
Overreach, Sweet Idea, Whittington, Guelph and Criterion were among his rivals that day and they have all long been retired from the racetrack. But not only is Dothraki still competitive at seven, he is also running mighty races in strong company.
“He was a pre-Christmas two-year-old and he is still racing this many years later in Group races,” Ward said. “He has been so consistent at the top level and he has raced in stakes grade from two, three, four, five, six and now seven. To have that longevity and success has been great and he has taken his owners everywhere across the eastern seaboard.”
On Saturday, Dothraki will be back at it again when he lines up as an $8 chance in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill. It’s his first start as a seven-year-old and he showed he was on track for another successful campaign with a Randwick trial win last month.
Some punters may have already put him in the ‘never to back again’ basket but Ward is upbeat the consistent gelding has a bit more left to give yet.
“He appears to have come up well,” he said. “He hasn’t had a good break for quite some time but he has had a good spell this time and he seems to have really appreciated it. He has come back and trialled up very nicely going into this race. Obviously due to his record he is carrying a fair bit of weight (60kg) but he is a class runner.”
The Starlight Stakes might be the focus for now but his owners have bigger fish to fry in the coming months. And who is to say Dothraki won’t still be earning cheques for his owners for many months to come.
“We will head towards the Magic Millions Carnival with him (in January),” Ward said. “He will target the Magic Millions Sprint and with a couple of runs under his belt he will be well placed there.
“That would certainly be the cherry on top if he can pick off one of those $1 million races up there. He has been a pretty straight-forward horse and he has been sound the whole way through.
“He seems to really be thriving and while he has that zest for racing, we will continue to press on with him.”
For his owners, anything is a bonus now.
He has already recouped his $45,000 yearling price tag more than 25 times and he has been just as important to Triple Crown Syndication’s rise as well.
“We had a couple of stakes winners before him but when he came along he kept that momentum going,” Ward said. “Every year we try to produce a couple of stakes winners and he was very important in that crop, along with Charlie Boy.
“We have been fortunate the run has continued a bit. Dothraki does always perform well first-up so fingers crossed he can do it tomorrow.”