From a chance encounter with Sam Kilkenny many years ago to selling Squami to Ashleigh at a Magic Millions sale, Mandy Gunn has become a much-loved member of the extended FLR family.
Based outside Launceston, Mandy’s beloved Motree Throughbreds is home to her first broodmare, White Yard, dam of our very own Squami and the resting place of her champ Banca Mo.
Mandy is our special guest on the FLR Owner Spotlight this week:
You’ve owned horses with us for many years, and now you have the rhyming couple Squami & Amami, and the ever-reliable Rapido Chaparro. How did you get involved with FLR?
I met Sam (and possibly Tim, I can’t quite remember) at Luke Oliver’s yard at Caulfield, visiting my mare White Yard (pictured, above) who I got involved with through my sister. She’d run second in the Launceston Cup and then gone to Melbourne to try her luck. We were the only people there at the time and got chatting, and I was impressed with their enthusiasm and wanted the chance to go to the races in Melbourne so I signed up for a share. My first horse was Precocious Ness. I’ve had some great experiences since then, from driving Sam around to some of the farms to visit yearlings to having a runner on on Cox Plate Day, so I definitely got to experience the races in Melbourne.
You bought a horse called Banca Mo (Tough Speed (USA)/I Gotcha Babe) out of the auction ring for only $2,100 and he went on to win over $800k with trainer Scott Brunton. What was the story and how did you know he was going to be a star?
Gosh Banca Mo… the most special horse in my life. I’ve even named our breeding business MoTree Thoroughbreds in his honour and our brand Mo is on every horse that we breed.
When I saw him at the sales I had absolutely no idea he was going to be a star. I bought him with no advice and no idea. He walked into the parade ring ring, reared up, and did absolutely everything wrong but there was just something about the way he moved that took my eye. He went on to win the Mornington Cup, Warrnambool Cup by5.5L, and the Pakenham Cup, and he even beat Tassie’s famous horse The Cleaner at Moonee Valley by 2.5L. The Mornington Cup got him a free ballot into the Caulfield Cup but injury meant he never got there unfortunately.
Some of Banca Mo’s wins paid for a trip to Royal Ascot to see Black Caviar, which was a wonderful experience that I’m very grateful for. His ashes are still in the office. I can’t bear to be away from him.
You bred and sold our very own Squami and retained a share in his ownership. What was he like as a foal and then at the Magic Millions Tassie sales, before we took him home?
As a foal we called him “Warrior” because he was the best built colt – he was a tank but also a gentleman. We find that White Yard boys all seem to be gentleman. He handled the sales like an absolute professional. I remember Ash asked me if I could tell how much she liked him when he walked out of the box and I said no, so she was a total professional as well.
I’ve got a share in him so it wasn’t really goodbye, and it’s lovely for him to have the opportunity with FLR. I’m always pleased when you guys buy one of my horses, I know they’ll get every opportunity.
What advice would you have for someone getting into ownership for the first time?
Be prepared for the ride! It can be a lot of fun but you have to be prepared for the ups and downs.
What is the best named racehorse you’ve seen (FLR or otherwise)?
There are so many good names but I have to say American Pharoah (Pioneerof The Nile – Littleprincessemma). Looking back at his breeding his name really appealed to me because it was so fitting. I’d been to Egypt a few times so I felt a bit of a connection. I’d love to send a mare to him…..
If you could have three racing people at your dream dinner table, who would they be and why?
Federico Tessio – the Italian breeding whiz who bred Northern Dancer amongst many others.
Penny Chenery – owner of Secretariat
Scott Brunton & Sam Kilkenny can share the third spot – I have to have them both just for the entertainment factor and the fireworks.
If you could win any race anywhere in the world as an owner, what would that be and why?
It has to be the Melbourne Cup or the Caulfield Cup. I love staying horses and they’re the ultimate staying races.
What’s your best tip for this weekend’s racing?
I don’t know the fields in Melbourne, so I won’t tip Squami, but I’ve got a lovely little staying horse Up Wind who ran fourth in the Tasmanian Derby last year. Upwind was a really naughty foal so I named him “Scotty” after Scott Brunton. He was beaten a nose last start and he’s at Devonport in a 1350m on Sunday against another one of mine – Vallabar – hopefully they’ll fight it out.