Isis Town and Country - - Front Page -

FROM the back of the pack to earn­ing like the Packers, a Childers horse has earned its own­ers $1 mil­lion in less than a mile.

Childers cou­ple Ray and Rose­mary An­der­son are the owner-breed­ers of River Lad, who took out first place in the 1400m Strad­broke Hand­i­cap at Ea­gle Farm, Bris­bane, this month.

Rid­den by cham­pion hoop Damien Oliver and start­ing from bar­rier 15 as a $31 chance, River Lad was de­fi­ant in his fight­ing win over Tem­ple of Boom.

The River Lad story has many chap­ters, start­ing in dis­ap­point­ment for his Childers owner-breed­ers Ray and Rose­mary An­der­son and fam­ily of the Sarna Syn­di­cate on Sun­day, April 19, 2009.

That day at Ken McCaf­frey’s Capri­corn Year­ling Sale at the Rock­hamp­ton Show­grounds, a rather plain look­ing Top Ech­e­lon-Ikeymo bay year­ling geld­ing was of­fered for sale.

As Lot 88, he at­tracted lit­tle in­ter­est and was passed in at $4000 and re­tained to be raced by the Sarna Syn­di­cate.

It was to be a prophetic de­ci­sion as River Lad has gone on to win 13 races and garner $1,176,500 in stakes.

It is hard to be­lieve that at his sec­ond start on Fe­bru­ary 27, 2010, River Lad fin­ished near-last in an Eidsvold Maiden when rid­den by for­mer Rocky ap­pren­tice Karla Cross.

River Lad soon atoned, though, as for­mer Rock­hamp­ton trainer Frank Crick brought him home to Cal­laghan Park to win the $123,000 Capri­corn Clas­sic (1200m) un­der Damian Browne on April 9, 2010.

Not that long af­ter, River Lad was trans­ferred to as­pir­ing trainer Natalie McCall, the daugh­ter of Sun­shine Coast trainer Ray McCall.

River Lad only had one other Cal­laghan Park ap­pear­ance, beat­ing now-cham­pion show horse thor­ough­bred Sa­van­nah Dawn to win un­der Ja­son Kropp on May 5, 2011.

In­ter­est­ingly, Frank Crick orig­i­nally trained River Lad’s grand­mother River Of Des­tiny in Rock­hamp­ton, where she won four ju­ve­nile races in the 1989–90 sea­son.

River Lad is in some ways lucky to be with us, as Crick was sick­ened one day when River of Des­tiny es­caped while swim­ming be­hind a boat in the Fitzroy River, only to emerge scal­ing rocks on the Quay St side.

River Of Des­tiny went on to win Bris­bane races for Bruce McLach­lan and was later placed at Flem­ing­ton.

When mated with Canny Lad in 1994, River Of Des­tiny pro­duced Ikeymo, the dad of River Lad.

Ikeymo was a race­track dud, fail­ing hope­lessly un­der John Stephens in a Cal­laghan Park bar­rier trial on Au­gust 27, 1998, and never win­ning a race.

When Ikeymo mated with Top Ech­e­lon (Umatilla - Ad­vi­sory), who, in­ci­den­tally, was trained by Ray McCall, mil­lion­aire River Lad was to be the re­sult.

Top Ech­e­lon only raced seven times for two Bris­bane wins and now stands at Oak­wood Farm, Haiglea, for a $4000 ser­vice fee.

Natalie McCall helped her fa­ther in train­ing Top Ech­e­lon at times, which makes the Strad­broke win an all-fam­ily af­fair.

Top Ech­e­lon is also the sire of Rock­hamp­ton star sprinter Our Boy Malachi, who will be at­tempt­ing an his­toric back-to-back New­mar­ket win at Cal­laghan Park on June 19, 2014

The Capri­cor­nia Year­ling Sales al­most at­tained a Group I win­ning dou­ble on Satur­day when Looks Like the Cat was a close third in the J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Ea­gle Farm.


CHILDERS CON­NEC­TION: Jockey Damien Oliver cel­e­brates rid­ing River Lad to win the Strad­broke Hand­i­cap at Ea­gle Farm Race­course in Bris­bane on June 7.

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