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AN old gelding struggling for form and bought for only $250 got THERESA BATEUP’S career up and running.

The hard-working Kembla Grange trainer won a couple of races with the then rising nine-year-old Casiraghi to ensure he was good value even in the twilight of his career.

Some two decades on Bateup continues to underline her knack of sourcing cheap buys and turning them into real bargains.

No better example than Monegal, the mare who last year gave her a breakthrough stakes success in the Group 3 Epona Stakes (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens during the Golden Slipper Festival.

A $3000 buy at the 2017 Inglis Scone yearling sale, the now retired seven-year-old mare won 10 races and notched as many placings, and earned $686,895 (including a BOBS bonus).

Then when she was retired from racing earlier this season, she fetched $225,000 when sold online through Inglis last September.

“It was a case of being in the right place at the right time when I bought Monegal,” Bateup explained.

“Whilst I went to have a look at the yearlings, my partner Michael Ahearn, a former jockey, instead went to the RSL Club at Scone.

“He sat alongside a chap with a sale catalogue, and it turned out to be Mike Mant, who had Middlebrook Valley Lodge and he suggested we should have a look at a filly by Lope De Vega which he was offering.

“I went and had a look, and was happy with what I saw. She wasn’t a big filly, but was a real athlete.

‘Mike said he would stay in the filly if we bought her, and I got her late in the sale.

“Monegal was highly strung early on and I wasn’t too excited with her early jumpouts.

“She had her first two starts in town late in her two-year-old season and finished down the track at big odds before finishing second over 1400m at Wagga.

“We spelled her after that and she eventually won her first race at the Sapphire Coast at her eighth start, and then after finishing fifth at Warwick Farm, went back to the Sapphire Coast and won two in a row.

“Monegal continued to improve with time, and has been a wonderful advertisement for our stable.”

Bateup has been a great advocate of the Scone sale – and obviously for buying fillies.

Like Monegal, other bargain “girls” she purchased there included Fleeting Stryke ($2000 and earned $154,000), Burden Of Proof ($3000 and $130,000), Taqueda ($3000 and $91,000), and Divine Breath ($11,000 and $273,000).

“Fleeting Stryke came from the first Scone sale I attended, and now has a filly by Prized Icon,” Bateup added.

From Cootamundra wattle country and, of course, the birthplace of legendary cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, Bateup was a racing fanatic early on.

“I have always loved horses,” she said. “Mum and Dad followed the races, and Mum worked at the local TAB.

“She would bring me home posters once they were out of use and they adorned the walls of my room.

“I also cut out racing stories from the newspaper and put them in scrapbooks.

“My first horse was a little Palomino when I was 11 or 12 years old. We lived on a property at Stockinbingal, between Cootamundra and Temora.

“The population was 244 then, and I don’t think it has changed too much.

“I wanted to be a jockey, but at 5ft 10ins was too tall.”

Being an unabashed fan of Darren Beadman, the outstanding jockey was an obvious subject choice when she had to give a talk at school in Year 8.

However, as Beadman was overseas riding in Hong Kong, another champion, Queenslander Mick Dittman, became second cab off the rank.

“I was fortunate to contact Mick through my aunt, who worked for the Northern Rivers Racing Association, and was able to borrow the famous Transmedia race colours from Garry Kirkup (who began his training career when Mike Willesee owned Transmedia Park Stud just outside Cootamundra),” Bateup said.

“Mick could not have been more obliging and I dressed up in the jockey’s silks at school to give the talk.

“I wrote to Mick to thank him, and received a nice hand-written letter back from him.”

Bateup might have been a racing fanatic from early on, but a trip to Sydney in Year 10 for work experience at the Australian Jockey Club (now Australian Turf Club) made her an absolute convert.

“It was fantastic,” she said. “I was in the Registration Department and helped name a few horses.

“It was around Melbourne Cup time, and amongst the people I met were multiple Group 1 winning trainer Bob Thomsen and racecaller John Tapp.

“I stayed a few extra days and went to the barrier trials. I was nearly 16 and a starstruck little kid.”

Not being able to realise her ambition of becoming a jockey, Bateup later moved to Wollongong to attend University, fancying the administration side of racing.

“I was into showing Arabian horses at the time, and completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree,” she said.

“Along with making the Dean’s merit list in my first year, I helped keep my head above water by riding trackwork early mornings at Kembla Grange, and doing waitressing in the evenings.”

Bateup never left and took out her training licence in 2002, starting out with two horses – one of them former Victorian Casiraghi.

“A friend bought him for me at an Inglis tried horse sale at the old Newmarket complex,” she said.

“He was a bit rugged when I got him, and later found out he was a chronic windsucker.

“But he was the most amazing horse. He was my first starter when he ran last over 1200m at Kembla in May, 2003 and then gave us a great sight next time out when he hit the front in the straight at 100-1 and just ran out of steam the last bit and finished sixth, beaten only one and a half lengths.

“Casiraghi was my first winner at Queanbeyan on July 14, 2003, ridden by then apprentice Brett Poulos.”

Bateup keeps on average 30 horses in work at Kembla Grange, and says she is always trying to improve the quality of her team.

And she is adamant that whilst majoring in economics didn’t result in a racing admin post post, that has been invaluable in her training career.

“It’s a different world now with technology, and not just about training these days,” she said. “You have to be tech savvy to communicate with my owners and the media, and I do most of my books and accounts.

“To get a double with The Guru and Divine Breath on my home track at The Gong metropolitan meeting in November 2021 was a tremendous thrill and very satisfying.

“We also got Divine Breath into the inaugural The Four Pillars at Rosehill a few weeks earlier, and she ran a great third at good odds.”

Bateup has trained 160 winners in the last six and a half seasons and, as she gradually improves the quality of her stock, wants to be more competitive in town on a regular basis.

“I don’t have a major owner, but have built a really good client base.

“I regard them all as family, not only as owners and always strive to do the very best for them.”

HOOFNOTE: Crackalacka is proving yet another excellent bargain buy after one of her clients bought her online for $9000 after she had won only one race – a 1400m Mudgee Maiden in April 2021 – for leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees.

“Crackalacka won her first two starts for us at the Sapphire Coast later that year, and has since won another two at Moruya, including the Cup there at the start of this year,” Bateup said.

“She is a lovely mare to train, and is going really well at present.”

Crackalacka ran a great third at big odds in the opening Qualifier of the Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championship on her home track on February 23, just missing making the $500,000 Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 8.

But Bateup hasn’t given up hope of getting her to Day 2 of The Championships. All going well, the mare will contest another home track $150,000 Qualifier (1400m) – this time for provincial trainers only – on Saturday, with the first two placegetters guaranteed starts in the rich final.

*Words - John Curtis

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