Horse Racing

Savatoxl part-owner Bianca Gordon hails from Namibia and her family will be watching the Stradbroke Handicap from Africa

The time-honoured Stradbroke Handicap has had its share of quirky tales but never before has it made news in Namibia.

Savatoxl is the former Alice Springs dirt racing champion who became a racing giant-killer when going to South Australia to be trained by Tony McEvoy and winning the Group 1 Goodwood last month.

The tale of original trainer and part-owner Will Savage, who paid just $19,000 for Savatoxl and was mustering cattle in the outback when the galloper won the Group 1, has been well documented.

What is less known is the story of Bianca Gordon, wife of Savatoxl’s other part-owner Tyson Gordon.

Bianca Gordon was born and bred in Namibia, growing up on an African property and then coming to Australia on a backpacking trip with dreams of becoming a Jillaroo at an outback station.

After meeting and marrying Tyson, she was bitten by the horse racing bug and even became a part-time strapper.

When Savatoxl raced in Queensland in 2019, the Gordons were in Namibia visiting Bianca’s family and they cut short the trip to jet back Down Under to watch the horse race in a Group 3 race at Eagle Farm.

Savatoxl ran last that day but has gone to an extraordinary new level since.

It means the Stradbroke will not only make news in Queensland but also in southwest Africa.

“I have introduced my family in Namibia to the wonders of racing and I have got quite a few of my family members that are very interested in what he achieves,” Bianca says.

“My mum and my brothers and my nephews and cousins, they all keep a good eye on what Savatoxl does.

“When I grew up I had horses on the farm, but horseracing was not anything that interested me at all.

“But Tyson introduced me to the Melbourne Cup when I came here as a backpacker.

“I ended up strapping some horses for Will (Savage) and I saw how well racehorses were looked after and I became really interested in the sport.

“The only reason I came to Australia in the first place was I wanted to be a Jillaroo so I could go and muster cattle on horseback.”

Savatoxl won The Goodwood last month. Picture: Atkins PhotographySource:Supplied

On Friday, Savatoxl passed a second vet check and was cleared to take his place in the Stradbroke, meaning second emergency Amish Boy and Queensland jockey Stephanie Thornton look unlikely to get a start.

It was good news for the Gordons, who will be trackside at Eagle Farm on Saturday to watch their Stradbroke dreams go on the line.

Savatoxl goes into the race as a $23 chance after finishing sixth behind Stradbroke favourite Vega One in the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup at Eagle Farm last month.

Regardless of how the five-year-old gelding performs in the Stradbroke, the Gordons say they have already lived the racing dream.

The construction company workers have been on the ride of a lifetime with the sprinter who has pocketed more than $730,000 in prizemoney.

Tyson is convinced the horse has a winning chance in Queensland’s most prestigious race.

“Savatoxl will need to improve a few lengths to win a race like the Stradbroke, but he is an arrogant character, a pack leader and a winner by nature,” Tyson says.

“I believe he improves as he rises in class.

“That’s his attitude. Let’s hope I’m right.’’

Bianca and Tyson Gordon with Savatoxl’s original trainer and part-owner Will Savage (centre).Source:Supplied

As for McEvoy, the astute trainer would have much preferred an inside draw for Savatoxl rather than 13.

That’s because Savatoxl loves to find the rail and to do that now he might have to burn through a few petrol tickets from the barrier draw.

Regardless, McEvoy says Savatoxl has already showed he can compete with some of the best sprinters in Australia.

“He surprised me in the Goodwood, it was new territory for us and horses like Gytrash and Behemoth are proven horses at that level,” McEvoy, who co-trains with son Calvin, said.

“In the Kingsford-Smith he knocked down Gytrash and then he got knocked over by Jonker so he had a bit of a chequered passage and he wasn’t that far off the winner really.

“From the barrier he will have to do a little bit of work which we would have preferred not to do because I think at this level the 1400(m) is probably at the end of his realm.

“One thing for certain is that this horse shows is that Australian racing is available to everyone.

“The original trainer had the foresight and the vision to give the horse an opportunity to aim for bigger fish and I’m so blessed the owners asked me to do the job for them.”

STRADBROKE HANDICAP TIPS

Ben Dorries

1. I Am Superman – Has sailed under the radar but is set to spring a surprise at big odds. The Snowdens have worked out he is best kept fresh and his win over Think It Over reads well for this.

2. Wild Planet – Beat home Vega One and The Harrovian in the Doomben 10,000 and has a sense of timing for this. Can storm home and give the race a mighty shake.

3. Vega One – Picks himself with his astonishing win in the Kingsford-Smith Cup. Is low flying but will need to surge through the gaps again at the right time.

4. Tofane – Group 1 winner who dodged the sales ring when charging home in the BRC Sprint and this race looks right in her sweet spot.

Trenton Akers

1. The Harrovian – A proven winner who has drawn sweetly to put himself right in the race. Perfectly weighted with Glen Boss aboard.

2. Vega One – Incredible win in the Kingsford-Smith Cup, clearly the horse to beat if he can pull that performance out again.

More Coverage

The memories driving Gollan to win StradbrokeGolfing mates after another fill-up with Stradbroke roughie

3. I Am Superman – Looks to be set for this assignment, was low flying in a recent barrier trial and gets in with no weight on his back.

4. Apache Chase – Flying machine will give a huge sight out in front from a low draw, is proven to handle the track and knocked off boom horse Ayrton last start.

Originally published asOut of Africa: Savatoxl’s Namibian connection

Source: Read Full Article