Robbie Griffiths was at the Oaklands Junction complex last Friday, doing exactly what he normally does in the days leading up to a Victorian sale, inspecting yearlings.
Decked out in Griffiths Racing cap, matching polo and baggy shorts, he was – to say the least – dressed for the occasion.
However, the occasion might alter dramatically in June if his stable runner, The Quarterback, races in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and attempts to join Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and Scenic Blast as Australian-bred winners of the prestigious Group One.
It would certainly cap an amazing year for Griffiths who, right up until 3.51pm on Saturday 12 March, had not previously trained a Group One winner, despite a couple of decades trying.
The Quarterback’s win in the Lexus Newmarket Handicap changed all that and Griffiths started giving serious consideration to taking his stable star half way across the world.
Although The Quarterback found trouble and finished third in the VOBIS Gold Sprint at Caulfield on Saturday, and will likely need to perform well in the Group One Goodwood Handicap at Morphettville on 21 May, Griffiths still has his passport at the ready.
One thing is for sure The Quarterback’s flight is booked and ready should they decide to make the trip, confirmed by ‘travel agent’ Chris Burke of International Racehorse Transport.
As Managing Director of IRT, Burke has transported many an English ‘raider’ over the years including Black Caviar – who could ever forget that body suit? – Starspangledbanner (July Cup & Golden Jubilee) and Ortensia (Nunthorpe & King George), along with the other aforementioned success stories, and flying horses across the globe is now second nature.
“Flights for Royal Ascot are usually booked a couple of months out,” Burke explained. “The horses are given vaccinations at around the same time – for equine influenza – to meet British racing regulations.
“Flights depart from Melbourne and Sydney and arrive in England around 1 June which, in the case of the King’s Stand, gives a horse like The Quarterback around two weeks to acclimatise.
“At this stage, The Quarterback is likely to be joined in England by Chautauqua (Lightning & TJ Smith), Griante (The Galaxy) and Holler (Canterbury Stakes), but I’m led to believe that Buffering will just race in Hong Kong and not head on to Royal Ascot.
“It has been very exciting to watch Australian bred horses compete at Ascot over the last 15 years and a thrill to see Brazen Beau go so close last year in the Diamond Jubilee … and hopefully an Aussie can win over there in 2016.”