By Jon Lees
GB: In a small corner of Merseyside the excitement is building for the reappearance of emerging Australian sprint star Fabergino, who will step into G1 company for the first time on Friday – while owners John Tierney and Martin McDonagh watch 10,500 miles away.
After winning nine of her 12 starts, the six-year-old grey mare from Perth, Western Australia, will line up in the A$1 million (£563,000) Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley as one of the favourites for a race whose roll of honour includes the Royal Ascot winners Miss Andretti and Black Caviar (twice) plus last year Nature Strip, who went on to land the Everest.
But Tierney and McDonagh, who normally fly over to see her race, will be somewhere in the centre of Liverpool hoping to witness the latest chapter of an unusual ownership experience that was sealed over a pint in one of the city’s working men’s clubs.
“We are excited though tinged with the disappointment that we can’t be there,” says Tierney, who runs a glass processing business in Knowsley.
“But at the end of the day when we went into it sitting in the club thinking we might see our horse run one day we never imagined it would be in a G1 with every chance of doing well.”
Tierney and McDonagh were invited to have a share in a racehorse by Liverpool-born John Beesley, who now lives in Perth, and his father-in-law Jim Anderson, who bred the horse who turned out to be Fabergino.
In the hands of her 30-year-old trainer Tiarnna Robertson, Fabergino went unbeaten in four starts last season, three wins on her local Ascot track and a Listed prize at Flemington in February, the last time Tierney and McDonagh were at the races with her.
The Moir has been a longstanding goal but one that has only been achieved after an anxious wait to secure a flight to the other side of Australia from Perth.
“When we sent her over to Melbourne in February, it was all about earmarking this race to ensure she could cope with any hazards or pitfalls,” explains Tierney.
“It wasn’t feasible to put her on the back of a truck for five days, so we hung on and in the end we got a one way flight to get her over. She flew out two weeks ago and she had a really good flight over. She has settled in really well.
“I’ve spoken with Tiarnna and she thinks she is as good as she is ever going to be. Fabergino knows something is going on. She is bouncing around and we can’t wait to see her run.”
Even regular jockey Peter Knuckey, who missed the Flemington win, has travelled this time, having arrived via a flight to Adelaide and eight-hour drive to Melbourne where he spent 48 hours in isolation awaiting the results of a negative Covid-19 test.
With the Moir being staged during an evening meeting at Moonee Valley, Tierney and McDonagh won’t have to get up in the middle of the night to watch the race.
“The race will be at 11.15am for us, more of a godly hour,” says Tierney. “I know Ladbrokes will be showing it so as it stands Martin and I are going into Liverpool to watch the race. I will probably take my iPad, prop it up against a pint of lager and hopefully see her romp in.
“John in Perth can’t go because of the interstate lockdown so there are 20 of them going to a sports bar. They’ll be having a wilder experience than me and Martin!”
He adds: “I hope she wins for me and everyone else who is on her. It will open a lot more doors and then hopefully we can get back over there before too long and see her.”