BE FOR­GOT­TEN

Sunday Herald Sun - - Melbourne Cup Special Liftout -

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

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