Deal to Sell Private Steer Awaits Vet Approval

By Ric Chapman

The immediate future of Australia's best galloper, Private Steer, will be decided in the next 48 hours according to her syndicate manager, Avo Damirdjian.

"We have fielded a very attractive offer from a prominent breeder who also races horses and we will accept the offer to sell if his vet believes she is worth it," claimed Damirdjian, who bought Private Steer (Danehill Dancer -- Lisheenowen by Semipalatinsk) for $60,000 (U.S.$43,400) out of a paddock as a weanling. She went on to win $3,407,290 (U.S.$2,478,200) from her 12 wins.

She raced 20 times and won three group I races. Her career was cut short as she prepared for a tilt at this year's $3 million Cox Plate (Aust-I) in October, after she was accidentally kicked by a stablemate while picking grass.

"And it seems the injury that looks as though it has ended her racing career is related to that same kick," confessed Damirdjian. "She has a fracture in the bone near her gaskin and as we (the syndicate which owns her) are not breeders, we will sell. I hope she doesn't race again as I think she has done more than enough, but that will be up to the new owner."

Damirdjian has promised the interested party he would not reveal the identity or the price offered but he smiled when a figure of around $1.5 million was suggested. "I can't give the amount away but I will say that figure is pretty close."

Private Steer, who was in training in Victoria when the fracture became noticeable, is to remain in Victoria for the next two weeks and then will be turned out for at least three months if the new owners want to continue racing her. If they choose to breed her this season, which seems unlikely, then Vinery's More Than Ready (Southern Halo -- Woodman's Girl) is being touted as the probable choice.

"The party interested in her is Australian so she will stay here," added Damirdjian who, knowing what he had when Private Steer was being prepared for her very first racing campaign, went to the same paddock and bought her weanling half-sister by the ill-fated Sandpit.

"So post-sale of Private Steer I will at least have something to go on with," he said noting this filly, now a 3-year-old and named Tapestry, like Private Steer, is in leading trainer John O'Shea's stable.