Former racehorse trainer Mark Wallace recalls the great days with Benbaun and his move to Australia.
Mark Wallace was one of the brightest up and coming trainers in the UK, but in 2008 he made the surprise move to Australia after enjoying great success with the sprinter Benbaun.
Wallace who is a native of Tipperary recalls why he made the move to Australia ten years ago.
“We were based in Newmarket and things just started to slow down and we felt that a move down under was the right thing and at 36, it was probably the last time I would get a chance of such a move. The big draw to Australia was the prize money, it was triple the amount in the UK and Ireland so the hope was for a bright start and but the world economy was crashing so it didn’t really matter where we went, it was going to be near impossible for a small racehorse trainer to make money.”
Wallace had spent two spells in Australia before the move, he had been assisting the Randwick-based trainer Bill Mitchell, and then went on to work at a stud owned by Mitchell’s brother four hours outside of Sydney.
“Look, he didn’t work out down there, training was a lot different and we never got a bit of luck for the three years, there were certain things that if I could change I would but that’s too late now, we are a lot happier since we moved home and its all about family now”
Its ten years since Benbaun left Mark Wallace’s yard to go to Kevin Ryan, but the Tipperary man remembers some of the great days.
“The day he ran second to the Australian champion Takeover Target at Royal Ascot in 2006, it ended in a photo finish and he could so easily have won.”
Wallace had managed to buy him for just 7,000 guineas. Benbaun was sent back by his initial purchaser as a wind-sucker. “Now that was a bit of luck and it started the best four years of my training career”
In October 2007 Benbaun won the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye in Longchamp, beating the superstar Kingsgate Native, “We watch the race every year and remember the excitement and feeling of pure elation when he passed the post in front, its hard beat days like that”
Wallace has now moved into the breeding game, he is hoping to find some horses that can give him the joy and excitement that he had when training in Newmarket ten years ago.