By Dean Baring
Just over a week ago I had the pleasure of a chance meeting with a great harness racing identity, Greg Bettiol. While Greg’s core business GBL Property Consultants Pty Ltd www.gblproperty.com.au which was established back in 1997 & has now been very successfully involved in the development of more than 4000 properties, l get the feeling harness racing is Greg’s passion. The two things that really caught my eye as l walked into his office, was a beautiful looking broodmare with her foal as a screen saver on Greg’s computer and a wonderful scrap book of harness racing memories. Greg tells me he’s been collecting these from the age of 12 for this family.
The Bettiol family have a great association with the sport that goes back to the 60’s when Greg’s Dad (Ed) and Uncle (Ritto) started racing horses at the Melbourne showgrounds with Trevor Spry. While the Bettiol Brothers were new to the sport back then, it didn’t stop them finding some very smart horses. From the late 60’s to mid-70’s a very young Greg Bettiol looked forward to speeding his school holiday time at the family’s Kilmore property working and caring for horses with his Dad and Uncle.
Two horses of this time do need to be mentioned. The first, Kings Mead, had career earnings of more than $100,000 and was the winner of the very first running of the Victoria Cup a 2538m, back in 1974. This was a standing start race that had true excitement written all over it as the very best horses in the country raced around the 610metre track with thousands of happy spectators screaming for their favourite horse to get up.
Kings Mead is not from the strongest family ( A240 ) in fact I can’t find a classic race winner since Apollo Shining (Cuisine – Lady Balmoral- Shirley’s Gift ) who was born in 1979 and had career earnings of $25,169.
However Kings Mead did have one the very good horse from the same A240 family Scotts Way, This horse that was born in 1947 and won some pretty serious races in the west, some worth mentioning are:
1953 WA Christmas Hcp
1954 WA Richmond Raceway FFA
1954 WA Gloucester Park FFA
1954 WA Easter Cup
1956 WA Gloucester Park FFA
Scotts Way went on to sire just 40 foals over a stud career that went for 11 years. The best in my view was the Filly Dainty’s Daughter a great mare that won 36 races for a total of $79,120. A Group 1 winner who also proved to be a very handy broodmare. Her best was a striking looking chestnut colt called Dainty’s Devil winner of $70,895.
Ed and Ritto Bettiol made the tough call in the mid 70’s to take a break from the sport, and this meant moving on some really strong mares and foals. One from this family was the Victorian Oaks Group 1 winning mare Ashputtel this mare ended up with G L Lang and went on to become a great producer. From her 11 foals she had 9 winners the best was the bay colt called Auditor. With a career that finished in America we have him down as 158-27-27-17 with earnings of $149,221. The great news was that it didn’t take Greg and Ed long to come back to the sport they both loved. By the early 80’s they had set up a base at Warrandyte to breed horses and get back into the game. This was also the time they joined forces with Don Guy and success was soon to appear.
Tarport Ed a Bay gelding by Tarport Skipper out of Eds Lass a U108 mare. While this branch of the family hasn’t been a smash hit Tarport Ed gave his owners a lot of joy. He finished his career of 117-14-7-15 and $31,653 in stakes. Tarport Ed’s half-sister Seeing Red has also provide some great entertainment over the years for the family – this Don Dove trained mare went on to win $16,554 for her 46-4-13-7 record and this daughter of Entrepreneur did a great job at stud getting 5 winners from just 6 foals. Edslittlebeauty (trained by Tony & Paul Pellegrino ) the only filly from her, who was by Safely Kept did win $22,060 on the track, but this branch of the family looks like its lost to the sport now.
In 2001 the Bettiol Group purchased a N2 mare called Marculata, a Walton Hanover daughter. Her very first foal for the group was Marledo a gelding by D M Dilinger that won $66,258. For those people that follow this very strong family Marculata is the half-sister to Macrandra the Classic Gary mare that left the Group 1 winning troublemaker Filly Distant Memory winner of $173,155, from just 24starts. To follow this family on Distant Memory had a outstanding Mach Three filly in the 2016 APG Sydney Sale. She was passed in for $70,000 and now named, Hows The Memory, after just three starts has the record of 3-2-1-0 for $10,650. Denis Howe who bred and owns this filly along with Trembath’s who train and drive her, believe she could go on and do an outstanding job on the track.
In more recent times Greg’s horses have gone under the banner of GBL Standardbreds and after purchasing some mares from an Alabar dispersal sale the fun has continued. One of those mares was Dundee Hanover the half-sister of Adams Mate – winner of $440,965. This mare is from the N29 family and her first three foals, The Marksman $98,231, Dundee Flyer $37,483 and Dance Angel $32,406 have all done a great job on the track and it’s not over yet for this mare. Her 10th and 2nd last foal Deadly Assassin won its first race only hours after l walked out of Greg’s office. It now has the record of 6-1-3-1 for earnings of $7,125.
Greg speaks very well of Grant Campbell and Kerryn Manning and it was so pleasing to this week see Our Sir Ivanhoe get up and win at Swan Hill. This Gelding who now has a 45-9-3-9 for $49,123 in stakes is out of a mare Greg bred called Princess Cassi.
This mare was trained by Bruce Morgan and finished her career 48-9-4-6 with earnings of $34,463
It’s clear to me that the number of horses that Greg is breeding and racing has been cut back significantly and this seems to be so often the case in our sport these days. However, reports from Stephen Cleave (who is doing a great job with some pre training work with 3 x 2yo’s) has Greg very excited about the next 12 to 24 months in the sport.
Greg was almost lost to the sport a few years ago which would have been a great loss, however he credits a great family friend of many years, Peter Judd and his team at Benstud for keeping him engaged in breeding and racing horses. Peter’s kindness and friendship over the years is not lost on Greg and now with Craig playing a major role in the sport, l see no reason why this partnership won’t produce many more winners in the years to come.
Approved By Dean Baring www.harnessbred.com
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