Testashadow drives towards the line in the Gr. 3 Festival Stakes at Rosehill (Steve Hart)
Peter and Jeanette Miller weren’t at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday to watch their horse, Testashadow, go around in the Group Three Festival Stakes over 1500m.
The 6YO hadn’t won since capturing the $1 million Magic Millions Cup in January and was being sent around on the eighth line of betting in the nine horse Festival.
However, the Millers ‘no show’ had nothing to do with a lack of faith in their sturdy steed.
“We’ve been there for all of Testashadow’s runs, but Saturday was our 16th wedding anniversary and we had pre-arranged to go to Canberra for it,” Peter Miller explains. “We were definitely there in spirit though.”
Testashadow must have felt the vibe and, after hitting the lead with 150m to go in the Festival, held on like granny’s tooth to edge out Mister Sea Wolf and Red Excitement in a thriller.
“Both Jeanette and I went to a sports bar in Canberra to watch the race and I reckon there were only five or six people in the place,” Miller adds. “When Testashadow hit the lead we just started cheering like crazy and after the race they asked us if we’d backed the winner.
“I told them we actually owned the horse, albeit just a part of one his front legs! A great feeling.”
Testashadow has now won eight of his 37 starts, with a further 11 placings, for $1,320,585 in stakes, having been purchased by Elite Thoroughbreds for $50,000 at the 2013 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale.
Miller, a former social worker and earlier with the mounted police, has had a lifelong passion for horses, but Testashadow was his first tilt at racehorse ownership.
Growing up in Murrurundi, in NSW’s Hunter Valley, Miller reveals he initially bred quarter horses at his brother-in-law’s property at Stanwell Tops, eventually purchasing a couple of thoroughbred broodmares.
However, he soon decided that ownership, via a syndicate, would be more in line with his budget than “trying to tackle the big boys in the world of breeding”.
“I always enjoyed going to the sales to have a look and at one of them I was handed a pamphlet about syndication,” Miller points out. “Jeanette and I decided to go to an open day and they paraded this Testa Rossa colt … Testashadow. Both Jeanette and I fell in love with him: he had this real ‘look at me, I’m terrific’ attitude so we ended up taking 5%.
“We’ve since taken shares in a couple of other horses too, but Testashadow has given us a tremendous ‘ride’. We have a great group of people involved in the horse and (trainer) Gary (Portelli) has done a fantastic job with him.
“Gary’s not only a top bloke but is also a wonderful communicator which is really so important for owners.
“We’ve been very lucky. It’s easy enough to say when your horse has just won a Group race, but it’s not about the winning, it’s the experience of it all. We used syndication as our way of entering and enjoying the Sport of Kings.”
All things being equal, Testashadow will next race in the Group Two Villiers Stakes over 1600m at Royal Randwick on 16 December.
“We’ll see how he goes,” Portelli claims. “It’s just good to see him back in the winners’ circle … he’s been a great horse to us.
“He went terrible first up (7th of 8 over 1400m at Rosehill on 18 November) and there were no excuses. I just thought, you know, they don’t come back sometimes, but he turned it around in the Festival. Terrific win.”
Testashadow is one of 63 stakes winners for the Vinery Stud based, Testa Rossa, and is out of the Flying Spur mare, Moonlight Shadow.
Winner of six races, Moonlight Shadow is, in turn, out of the multiple stakes placed, Crestfallen, a half sister to the dam of dual Group One winner and sire, Zoustar.
Moonlight Shadow, meanwhile, has an unraced Eurozone 2YO filly – Flight Zone – that was purchased by Elite Thoroughbreds for $30,000 at the 2017 Gold Coast March Yearling Sale and is in training with Portelli … she produced a Love Conquers All yearling filly in 2016 … and has foaled down a Bel Esprit colt in September.