By Graeme White
In a career full of special moments, trainer Mike Petrovic will create a first for himself when he saddles up three starters from the same family at Queanbeyan on Sunday.
Petrovic will start the in-form On Settling Down in the AADI Defence Force Cup (1460m) as well as the gelding’s brother Le May in the Steve Conroy Memorial Maiden (1460m) and a half-sister, Lepo, in the Army Maiden (900m).
For a small-time breeder and trainer, it is some feat with three sibling relations all racing at the same meeting.
Many larger breeders don’t achieve the feat, but most importantly for Petrovic, he is pleased to see the horses he deals with every day racing - if they happen to win that is a bonus.
In the case of On Settling Down, winning has become second nature of late with victories at his past two starts at Queanbeyan and Canberra. Top jockey Jay Ford will have the ride on the trio with Lepo an unknown quantity making her debut as a two-year-old.
Le May has raced 12 times for three seconds and a third and is close to breaking through, while On Settling Down is the big brother at five years of age with the right credentials to complete the hat-trick.
Petrovic has raced many horses at 10 and 11 years of age and has given On Settling Down all the time he needs to mature and produce his best. It will be the same story with his full brother and half-sister as they search for their first career wins.
“I like to keep my horses racing until they are nine, ten and even 11 years of age if possible,” he said. “On Settling Down is becoming stronger all of the time and I think even next preparation he will be better again.
“I thought he could run second or third last start at Canberra, but then he won and I thought 'you may be a bit better than I thought you were'.”
Petrovic has raced the likes of Kingston Shores, Zum and Carski Drum for many years and hopes On Settling Down can follow the same path. On Settling Down is drawn to get all of the favours from barrier one with only 55kg on his back. The only horses weighted above the majority of the field are Joe’s Joy (59kg) and Mookareena (56.5kg).
On Settling Down has recorded five wins and four of those have come at Queanbeyan which is an advantage especially when he is drawn to follow the inside rail all of the way. Petrovic believes On Settling Down can take the next step as he continues to step up in grade and find better quality opponents.
If he happens to win or even run in the top three, On Settling Down will surpass $100,000 in prizemoney.
“I have had some horses win $200,000 and $300,000 so it’s nice to have another horse heading that way,” he said. “Kingston Shores won at his 100th start and raced for many years.
“I remember Carski Drum won the Defence Force Cup (20008) and also won a Queanbeyan Cup (2010).”
Petrovic said it takes a lot of luck and support to breed horses good enough to win races.
“I have a lot to thank Newhaven Park for. They have had the dam, Kariz, since the start and they also race Lepo with me,” he said. “They also had Zum (6 wins) and So Turbulent (7 wins) with me before that.”
He has a simple theory with his horses which is based solely on the best interests of the animals he loves and has been involved with for many decades.
“Most of us are in the game for the love of the horses and if they happen to win races and the money comes along that is a bonus,” he said. “I have been fortunate to have some nice horses over the years. I only have five in work at the moment and On Settling Down is the pick of those.
“He showed potential early on, but needed time to mature so he is starting to reach his potential now.”
Petrovic wouldn’t like to think of the odds if the three of his horses happen to win, but if he could get one winner on such a special day it would mean a lot.
“I would like to see Le May win the Steve Conroy Memorial because Steve was a great supporter of mine since the early 1990s,” he added. “We will see what happens on the day, but any win is good.”