Wattle Brae Stud owner Gary Turkington is in the frame in more ways than one.
Turkington took a calculated gamble and returned Court Command to training this year instead of standing the young stallion for a second season at his historic Darling Downs nursery.
The punt paid off when Court Command scored a brilliant three length victory in the Family Nightclub Handicap (1300m) at Eagle Farm on Wednesday. Trainer Liam Birchley will now set the six year-old son of Commands for the G2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick or the G2 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Court Command was retired in 2008 after his final campaign stalled due to heavy tracks in the G1 Doomben 10,000 and Stradbroke Handicap. “I felt a little cheated with all the wet weather we had last year,” Turkington said. “We’re aiming to win a Group 1 with him before he comes back home next year.”
Court Command was a top-class three year-old winning the Up and Coming Stakes (G3), Golden Rose Stakes (G3) and Stan Fox Stakes (G2) before travelling to Melbourne for the Caulfield Guineas (G1). He was given no peace in front by the home defence but battled manfully into third place behind Wonderful World.
Court Command’s book of 109 mares at Wattle Brae was more than any other Queensland first-season sire in 2008.
MEANWHILE, Wattle Brae Stud will be at the centre of landmark legal action against the federal government over the 2007 Equine Influenza outbreak. Studmaster Gary Turkington claims E.I. cost his business more than $3 million.
Gold Coast law firm Attwood Marshall will use Wattle Brae as a test case for hundreds of other industry participants totalling over $60 million.
“Wattle Brae was quarantined for three months during the breeding season and all of our horses contracted the virus,” Turkington said. “The incompetence of the government and the (Eastern Creek) quarantine station cost us a lot of money and a lot of clients. They should be made liable.”
Attwood Marshall lodged papers at the Supreme Court of Queensland on Tuesday seeking compensation for losses suffered due to the E.I. outbreak. Wattle Brae is seeking damages for negligence, interest on damages and for legal costs.
The papers maintain officials acting on behalf of the federal government allowed the E.I. virus to escape the Eastern Creek quarantine station on the person, clothing or equipment of someone who had not undergone adequate, or any, cleaning or disinfection.
The case will be eagerly watched by all sections of the Australian racing and breeding industries. Attwood Marshall Lawyers partner Jeff Garrett said he expected to lodge more than 600 claims if the test case proved successful.
“Losses were suffered at all levels of the horse industry – from barrier attendants and farriers who have lost wages to breeders who have lost millions,” Garrett said. “We are hopeful the government will recognise the rights of the claimants and move quickly in regard to compensation.”