Mr Brightside.  Photo: Racing Photos (Aus)

Across The Ditch -Mr Brightside

Patrick Bartley
13 October 2021

On Wednesday February 10 Matamata racecourse was resplendent with a balmy 22 degrees. However, the impact of this mid-week race meeting would be felt by a group of owners in Australia in the coming months.


One race, a lowly maiden handicap, was to create much interest and attention over time.

Sitting in his office in downtown Sydney, racing enthusiast Wayne Ormond, admitted to be nearly pulling his hair out as the New Zealand maiden race was being run.  

“I’ve got to say that I had a pretty fair bet on a horse called Mr Brightside who eventually finished out of a place. I’m a little bit fastidious, I kept the comments on Mr Brightside’s run, leaving a few swear words out it said plainly, sits on the fence, nowhere to go.  At the 800 still nowhere to go. 400 metres held up again and again and I’m still thinking, my God what a run.


“I just kept turning the race over and over. Incidentally the winner of the race, Comme Bella Fille, was later purchased by OTI and it was placed last weekend in Sydney,” he said.


However, Ormond couldn’t get Mr Brightside out of his mind. All of his instincts told him there was a diamond in the rough at Matamata.


“I contacted Ralph Manning in Cambridge and the negotiations started,” he said.


“The value of the horse, of course, rose dramatically because of the horse’s half-brother Willpower who’d won six races from just 16 starts in Hong Kong since it left New Zealand.


“Eventually we decided that $250,000 was a fair price for Mr Brightside.”  


And Ormond had managed to sell the horse to Australian owners until one owner, who was taking 40 percent, pulled out at the last minute.


“You know, I had Verry Elleegant sold to clients of mine in Melbourne to purchase 75 percent of her. Suddenly the finance collapsed and I’m thinking, what am I going to do with this Kiwi horse that I know is very good and I’ve already paid for half of him and the horse is still in New Zealand.”


“I rang David Hayes in Hong Kong explained the situation and he said, leave it to me, I’ll find owners for the last half.  He did it in five minutes and my heartache, worry and pressure was suddenly relieved,” he said.


On Sunday at Ballarat, Mr Brightside, who only started racing in Australia in July, impressively took out the transferred $200,000 Seymour Cup and is now being primed for the group one Cantala Stakes at Flemington on the final day of the Carnival.


His prize money has now swollen to over $275,000 with wins at Geelong, Moonee Valley, Flemington, Ballarat, and Sandown (twice).


In fact, Mr Brightside has only had seven runs in Australia for six wins and won a lucky placing.

J D Hayes, son of David Hayes, and now the co-principal of the vast Lindsay Park property at Euroa, is full of praise for the son of New Zealand sire, Bullbars.


“He landed here in May, he’s never had a spell since then and he’s just got better and better every time he’s gone to the races. He has earnt a crack at group one status, we’ve just got to hope he gets enough weight to make the final field,” he said.


Ormond, who is now enjoying the success of Mr Brightside has added two more horses to the Hayes Empire.


The formerly Kiwi trained Dream Queen who was purchased for $300,000 from the Kenny Rae stable and the highly talented Tsunami Sam who also cost $300,000 with contingencies added. The stable believes Tsunami Sam could be another Mr Brightside when he comes into training.  


For Wayne Ormond the losing bet at Matamata may have indeed proved the best losing bet he’s had in some time considering Mr Brightside’s future in black type races in Australia.

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