Long Jack winning the Listed Geelong Classic (2200m). Photo: Darryl Sherer
Already a Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) winning owner, Fergus Doyle has put his ultimate racing dream in the hands of New Zealand trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
The champion Cambridge pair will saddle Doyle’s homebred three-year-old Long Jack in Saturday’s Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.
The last-start Listed Geelong Classic (2200m) winner will be ridden by Craig Williams and will jump from the outside gate.
“It’s very exciting to have a Derby runner,” Doyle said. “I wasn’t so excited when we drew barrier 16, but that’s the way it goes in racing sometimes. I’m not going into the race with a huge amount of confidence, but you have to be in it to win it.”
Doyle was born and raised in Ireland, then moved to Australia in 1967. He worked in construction, starting out as a contractor before rising through the ranks to the point of running his own business.
Success in racing ownership followed, most notably a share in the 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist.
That horse’s sire Monsun was a key factor when Doyle and his family turned their attention to breeding later that same year, operating under the name Doyles Breeding & Racing.
“My dream was to win the Melbourne Cup with a horse we bred ourselves,” Doyle said. “We decided to buy a mare from the Tattersalls December Mares Sale in England at the end of 2014.
“I told Damon Gabbedy (bloodstock agent, Belmont Bloodstock Agency) that I wanted a Monsun mare, and he selected and bought Extravaganza for me for 70,000 guineas. We brought her down to Australia and sent her to So You Think in 2015. Long Jack is her first foal.
“It’s still a long way to go as far as that Melbourne Cup dream is concerned, but we’ve got to the point of having him in the Derby. It’s a very exciting position to be in.”
On the recommendation of a respected industry figure in Australia, Doyle entrusted Long Jack to a stable on the opposite side of the Tasman.
“James Harron suggested to me that Murray Baker might be the right sort of trainer for a staying horse like him,” he said. “I’ve also had horses with Murray’s son Bjorn over here, and he’s done a very good job with those.
“This horse was lightly framed, and we thought he might need a bit of time. But Murray and Andrew have got him going very quickly. I’ve been surprised at how fast he’s come to hand. He’s probably still three or four months away from his physical peak, but he’s progressing well.
“The first time I saw him race was in the Listed race at Ellerslie (Auckland Futurity Stakes, 1400m), I travelled over there to watch him. He ran a very good second that day and was possibly unlucky not to win – he finished very strongly and was beaten by a long head by the stablemate (Rhaegar).
“That was a good experience, and the horse has carried on well from there. So far, so good. We’ll see what happens on Saturday.”
Since producing Long Jack in the spring of 2016, Extravaganza has had a colt by Teofilo, a filly by Maurice and a filly by Churchill.