By Julieanne Horsman
When Saganaki steps out in the JBL Glass 2YO Handicap (1200m) at Port Macquarie this Friday he will have 400 proud owners cheering him home. The Kris Lees-trained galloper is the first horse to hit the track from the MiRunners program which makes ownership affordable by dividing each racehorse into 1000 shares.
“I’ve always believed racehorse ownership is a unique experience that should be accessible to all Australians,” MiRunners Founding Director Steve Brown said. “It’s not about winning or making money. It’s about the experience and connecting with the horse and MiRunners facilitates that at a low cost.”
Saganaki, a Real Saga x Cubism gelding, was bought for $165,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in 2017. 1000 shares of $165 each were sold (some bought more than one) and for a monthly flat fee of $15 owners have been able to follow his progress every step of the way with regular newsletters, video updates and stable visits. They also voted on his name and his silks.
Saganaki was due to make his debut in November last year but went shin sore and had to be spelled. He’s come back bigger, stronger and more mature and has recorded two solid trials since.
In his most recent trial he jumped well, settled and was strong to the line to finish 2nd. The trial before that he ran 3rd to King, a million dollar yearling trained by Peter and Paul Snowden who won a Newcastle Maiden by two lengths last week.
“He’s had a couple of nice trials,” Lees said. “He’s still a bit immature but he’s improving all the time. He’s given every indication he will get out to 1400m and possibly a mile.”
Saganaki will benefit from having top 10 NSW jockey Aaron Bullock on board. He rides him in track work and has guided him through all his trials so far. It’s not going to be an easy task though. Topweight Star Of The Harbour has won his last two starts convincingly and will likely start favourite at his home track.
“Without delving too far into the form, Saganaki is a good each way chance,” Lees said. “He should be able to put himself into the race from his middle draw. I’d like to see him settle no worse than fifth and while 2YO races are hard to work out I am hoping to see them travel at a nice even tempo.”
About 40 owners are expected to be trackside for the occasion but most will have to settle for watching the race on television. They come from every state and territory as well as overseas and stay connected with each other via a facebook group. Among the owners are sports journalists Julie Snook, Ray Gatt and Adam Peacock, actor Hugo Johnstone-Burt, model La Toyah James and media personality Christian Jantzen.
“The owners are loving it,” Brown said. “They’re sharing photos from stable visits, discussing Saganaki’s brothers and sisters who are racing, arranging to meet up at his debut. They’re into the quality end of horse racing and they’re grateful to be able to access it.”
"It's a great concept," Lees said. "Anything that gets more people into racing has my support and I am glad to be part of it."