KING OF JULY: The horse that had Grafton ‘going crazy’
TO MOST people, July 1987 is just another month in history, but for racehorse owner Donna Bright it was one of her most memorable moments in time.
The owner of the revered Australian stock horse that is still the only one of its kind to win races at Randwick and Rosehill, King of Cavaleiro left an impression on Grafton 43 years ago.
Travelling to town for the Ramornie Handicap at the 1987 July Racing Carnival, Bright recalls a vivid memory of the support behind her prize galloper.
“I was in Grafton and went into a newsagent to buy an umbrella as it was raining outside,” Bright said.
“The lady behind the counter saw my handkerchief that read ‘King of Cavaleiro’ and said the town was going crazy over him.
“Everyone was wanting to back him. He was always a favourite at the TAB.”
Living in Bankstown earlier in her life, Bright’s experience with the colt began at the University of Sydney where students were learning the ins and outs of breeding and were selling the foals from their trials.
“There were eight or nine left all going crazy in the paddock but I looked over and saw a black colt calmly standing under a tree,” Bright said.
“I said ‘what about that little fella over there’ and they told me he was $300. Without hesitation I snapped him up and loaded him into a float, naming him King of Cavaleiro.”
It wasn’t long before the purchase started paying off with race wins at two, three, four and five years old, but Bright had trouble finding trainers to work with his raw ability.
“Race callers said he was the fastest out of the gates they had seen,” she said.
“At three years old I had him classified as an Australian Stock Horse, the trainer was having a fit as King of Cavaliero was in full work and hadn’t had a stock saddle on him since he was 16 months old when he was being broken in.
“It was anyone’s guess how he was going to perform under saddle for the classifiers at Dural. I had to explain my situation as my stallion had won at Rosehill the week before with Malcolm Johnson aboard. I didn’t know how he would handle a workout but the classifiers just said ‘have a go’.”
The rest was history and despite not finding a win in the 1987 Ramornie Handicap, King of Cavaleiro posted nine race wins and is still remembered as a surprise package that received a lot of love.