Creswick Winner Is Holleran’s Hero


When it comes to heroes, Rhys Holleran claims you need look no further than Lord Von Costa.

In Saturday’s Listed AR Creswick Final at Flemington, Lord Von Costa was going to win it, then he wasn’t, then he did. An absolute nail-biter right down to the wire.

For Holleran and his extended family, the win couldn’t have been any sweeter. It was actually Holleran’s first winner in town and a stakes winner to boot. On top of that, Lord Von Costa was bred by Holleran, who used to run a media company before setting up a farm near Shepparton with his partner, Leanne, where they now look after 13 horses.

“I’d bought and sold a few horses previously,” Holleran points out, “but got a bit more serious about it around five years ago. I was involved with a mare called Cashed Up Lady and when she retired from racing I started thinking about where I should send her to stud.

“A good mate of mine, Tim Hughes, used to race Von Costa De Hero and he suggested I send Cashed Up Lady to the stallion. It was Von Costa De Hero’s first season at stud.

“The mare produced a filly which never made it to the track and is now my riding horse. But then we sent Cashed Up Lady back to him (Von Costa De Hero) the following spring.”

The resultant colt did make it to the track … and then some. Holleran got the whole family involved  in the ownership, including Leanne’s father, Albury trainer, Graham Hulm, and, fortunately, Lord Von Costa showed promise very early in the piece.

“He (Lord Von Costa) accompanied another horse up to Sydney and he trialled at Randwick, winning his heat. There were a few good judges, including Peter Robl, who told us the horse might be alright.

“He won his maiden at Wagga in January and in nine starts he hasn’t been unplaced. In fact, he finished second twice at Randwick and was twice placed at Flemington before Saturday.

“Graham (Hulm) trained him originally but we all decided he should be with a city trainer, so off he went to the Flemington stables of Stephen Brown. Stephen is a terrific bloke and a very good trainer.

“The Creswick was really special though … the entire family was there – all the people that are important in your life. Incredible feeling.

“I reckon the Creswick trophy will sit very nicely next to our Narrandera Cup!”

Russell Osborne had every reason to be overjoyed at the victory of Lord Von Costa as well, given that he and wife, Caroline, stand Von Costa De Hero at their Riverbank Farm in Benalla.

However, Osborne wasn’t about to let it go to his head and was out driving a tractor around his property the morning after. A very cold winter’s morning at that.

“We mainly stand your bread and butter type stallion but it’s shaping up to be a busy season,” Osborne suggests. “Redente (by Redoute’s Choice from champion mare, Stella Cadente) has gotten off to a great start and he’ll cover around 80 mares this spring, while there’s also quite a bit of interest already in Late Charge (a stakes winner by Hard Spun).

“I’d imagine there will be a few phone calls for Von Costa De Hero this week.”

A son of Champion Sire, Encosta de Lago, and a Group Two winner of the VRC Sires’ Produce, Von Costa De Hero commenced his stud career at Darley, covering 405 mares in his first four seasons, bookended by lineups of 125 (2010) and 127 (2013).

Inexplicably, despite a fee drop to $5,500 in 2014, Von Costa De Hero covered just 11 mares that season and was purchased by David Hayes – who had trained the stallion – and who promptly re-located him to Riverbank.

“David had a couple of horses by Von Costa that he reckoned could gallop and although we ended up acquiring the stallion ourselves this year, he has kept 10 nominations in him.

“We immediately dropped the fee this year to $2,200 – which includes all veterinary fees. My wife, Caroline, is a qualified vet and does all the work herself. Kind of brings a new definition to on-farm vet.

“We really believe we’ve pulled the right rein with Von Costa De Hero. He has a lot of horses coming through – that book of 127 are rising 2YOs. What’s more, his oldest progeny are still 4YOs and he’s one of the Leading Third Season Sires in Australia. I’m not sure there would be too many other stallions standing for $2,200 who had stakes winner and a Flemington winner (Lady Selkirk) on the same day.”

The Power of Passion