A decision to send maiden galloper Tigertiger to the Mornington stable of Robert Blacker is paying dividends for his Foxton-based owner and breeder Ian Shaw after the son of Zed picked up his fifth win from just 10 Australian starts in the Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Shaw bred Tigertiger from his Gr.2 New Zealand Cup (3200m) winner Hoorang, who also numbered the Listed Marton Cup (2200m) amongst her nine career victories.
Shaw had plenty of belief in Tigertiger as a youngster but the now retried veterinarian struggled to get the best out of him in eleven New Zealand starts due to issues with equine asthma.
“I’ve always thought he had the makings of a pretty good horse, but I just couldn’t get him right when he was with me,” Shaw said.
“We ended up diagnosing him as having equine asthma, which we think was caused through an allergy to sawdust, so we had to try and mitigate the effects of that with him.
“I tried everything including cortisone puffers, wetting the sawdust and the like but nothing really worked,
“My son is based over in Australia at Ballarat and he is mates with Robert and told him about the horse.
“He rang me and said if I was looking for a change why not send him over and he would train him.
“I had a good think about it and decided to go for it, so he went over there later on in 2020.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Tigertiger, who pulled up lame after a track gallop one morning that necessitated a six-month spell before he had had his first Australian start.
“He was in full training then after a workout on the synthetic track at Mornington, he pulled up lame with a hoof issue,” Shaw said.
“To his credit, Robert took my advice and we put him out for a decent spell, so he didn’t have his first start over there until September 2021.
“He was placed three times before he got his first win over 2460m and since then he has won four more times and has never been out of the first three in all those starts.”
Shaw got the bug for racing when he was a practicing vet in the Manawatu region back in the 1960’s and after a dabble in horse ownership, took out a training license.
“I did my veterinary education at Sydney University back in 1960 after I managed to get a bursary from the Veterinary Farmers club,” Shaw said.
“I was bonded to them for five years after I graduated so spent time in Waipukurau, Taihape and Palmerston before I ended up going out on my own.
“I got into horse practice and as a bit of sideline I took a share in a horse that won three or four races.
“That got me hooked and I bought a ten-acre block for $15,000 and trained the odd one for myself.”
With a thriving practice, Shaw wasn’t fully invested in training for many years, however in 2006 fate intervened when he purchased a yearling filly by Zerpour sight unseen from a Westbury Stud dispersal sale.
“I sent my son up to take a look at a few I liked at the sale and I can honestly say anything by Zerpour wasn’t on my list,” he said.
“He gave me a call and said he liked the filly, so I had a look at her pedigree and was taken by the staying blood on the dam side.
“We ended up getting her for $3,500 and the first time I saw her was when she got off the float at home.”
The filly was named Hoorang and went on to provide Shaw with his biggest thrill in racing when she took out the 2009 New Zealand Cup in the hands of Kelly Myers, in front of a huge crowd that included British royal family member, Princess Anne.
“She was a really gritty mare and a hell of a stayer,” Shaw said.
“I think she was only 0.3 seconds outside the race record and that was after Kelly went via the carpark most of the way, so she really deserved it,
“The trophy was presented by Princess Anne, who was very pleasant, so all in all it was a terrific day.
“Hoorang came out and won the Marton Cup two starts later and we retired her with nine wins and over $340,000 in stakes earnings, so it was a pretty good investment we made in her.”
The mare has now added further success for Shaw with her son Tigertiger, who has Shaw believing he could be on the cusp of a dream come true.
“We weren’t that confident with Tigertiger on Saturday as it was a big step up in class, however he won it very comfortably,” he said.
“Robert was looking at the Adelaide Cup (Gr.2, 3200m) in March, but he may go out for a spell now and come back in the winter.
“He really loved that Flemington track on Saturday, and you never know, if he keeps on improving, we might have to think about a Melbourne Cup (Gr.1, 3200m) nomination.
“That is all a bit of a pipe dream, but you are allowed to dream every now and then, aren’t you?”
In the meantime, the 86-year-old Shaw will continue to work with Tigertiger’s half-brother Prince Leo back at home in Foxton and is keen to see him reach his full potential as well.
“I think Prince Leo could be as good, if not better than Tigertiger, as he just has a touch of brilliance,” he said.
“He has won three of 15 and is still maturing, so if he can make the same sort of improvement then we will have plenty of fun with him too.”