horse that provided some solace to their broken hearts — will give Youngstar plenty of followers for the Cup.
But the fact the mare is considered the best chance of the precious few Australianbred horses in the race will also give her admirers.
“I don’t know if you would call it a hometown advantage,” Inglis said. “They (the internationals) get pretty well looked after at Werribee and one might say better than the locals at times.
“But if anyone wants to think of us carrying the (Australian) flag, and wants to support us, we’d be happy to have them aboard.”
Koolman is a native New Zealander, who grew up in Otaki, about 40km from Youngstar’s trainer Chris Waller’s hometown of Foxton. But he has called Australia home for so long now that he too would love nothing better than beating the internationals.
Incredibly, a generation ago, and in a different guise, he almost helped the internationals take home another Cup.
Having watched Vintage Crop win the 1993 Melbourne Cup, he quickly pulled out of a pre-arranged job with UK trainer John Dunlop and instead headed to Ireland to work with the legendary trainer Dermot Weld.
He returned to Australia with Vintage Crop two years later — when the horse ran a luckless third in the Cup — and brought with him the woman who became his wife, Karen, who had been a track rider for Weld.
“I think Australia was more of an attraction to Karen at the time than I was,” he joked.
The pair are still here, and thriving.
Koolman became a trainer in his own right in Sydney before developing a reputation as one of Australia’s leading bloodstock experts, further franked in recent years by helping Hermitage Thoroughbreds (owned by Hong Kong businessman Eugene Chuang) purchase The Autumn Sun, the most exciting colt in Australia.
Add to that the purchase of Youngstar, and his ability to put together a syndicate, including his father Anton Koolman, with close friends Arthur and Charlotte Inglis syndicating the other half of the horse, including Arthur’s sister, Jan Minahan, and her husband.
Koolman hadn’t planned to buy a filly on that day at the sales; he was looking for colts.
But the daughter of High Chaparral and Starspangled, from Bowness Stud caught his eye, and the rest was history.
“I asked John North (from Bowness), ‘Should I be looking at this filly?’,” he said. “He said, ‘Damn right, you should be’.
“She just had a presence. Maybe a wife with confidence can be a bit difficult (he laughs), but when you have a filly with confidence, that’s what you are looking for.”
The early reports on Youngstar from Waller were very encouraging, telling her owners that he wouldn’t rush her, that time was on her side.
“Chris saw her as a bit immature, saying she would be ready to show her best by her late three-year-old career,” Inglis said. “You’ve got to give him credit for identifying that so early and setting a plan in place.”
Her early time at Koolman’s The Hermitage, at The Oaks, south of Sydney, brought her into contact with her famous stablemate Winx.
For a time, Koolman recalls, the pair even shared adjoining paddocks while spelling and recuperating.
Youngstar went sore at the breakers, with her tendons blowing up; Winx had just had joint surgery as a four-yearold.
“They were stable buddies,” Koolman said. “We often joked about them telling secrets, and wonder who was doing the talking, and who was doing the listening.”
Inglis added: “It’s a cute story, but you have to give a lot of credit to Olly and Karen for the personal attention they give to the horses, and to Chris Waller and his staff, for the way they prepare the horses.”
There will be a reunion of sorts soon. Winx will be enjoying a well-earned spell after a fourth consecutive Cox Plate; Youngstar will join her at the end of the month.
But first there’s a Melbourne Cup to be run — and hopefully won — and chief among their thoughts will be a special young lady who never got the chance to see Youngstar racing, but who will never be forgotten.
Craig Williams (main picture) and (opposite page) Kerrin McEvoy on Youngstar. Pictures: AAP