We all get caught up in the hype surrounding racing’s elite horses, and it’s easy to overlook the achievements of the bread and butter brigade. Serious students of the sport would be aware, that a horse called Bettor Party, currently racing in Adelaide has one of the best strike rates in the country.
The rising 9 year old has raced 156 times for 36 wins and 29 placings for a prize money tally of $284,905. The Bettor Party story began when trainer Greg Bond took a liking to the Bettor’s Delight colt at the 2011 Perth Yearling Sales.
The fact that his dam, the Panorama mare Party Date had won 25 races and $256,000 may have influenced Bond’s decision. The first of Bettor Party’s 10 wins for the Bond stable came in a 2 year old pace at Pinjarra, with Morgan Woodley in the sulky.
By early 2015 Greg Bond’s numbers had increased significantly, and he decided to move a few horses on. He entered Bettor Party in a claiming race on January 19th, with a $10,000 price tag.
Bronson Chabros was working for Bond at the time, and highly recommended the claimer to his father Eric, a small team trainer who was always on the lookout for the right horse.
Bronson's younger brother John-Paul, a fanatical student of harness racing, pleaded with his father to enter a claim.
Surprisingly, Eric’s claim was the only one lodged, and you wonder why experienced Perth horsemen completely shunned the rising five year old. Those who buy claimers, are acutely aware of the risk of soundness issues, and have to be prepared to “take the punt”.Eric retained 25% of the horse, sold 25% to his long time friend Phillip Gray, and 50% to his brother Jerry.
Eric and Phillip went to school together in Sydney, and later gained pharmacy degrees together at Sydney University. Phillips passion for harness racing obviously triggered Eric’s interest, and it wasn’t long before he was looking for mentors.
He was working full time at Tony Ferguson’s Penrith Pharmacy, and spending most of his spare time with trainers like Peter Tritton, Jim Robinson and Percy Birmingham, gaining invaluable experience with all three.
To this day Eric races his horses in Percy Birmingham's colours of purple and gold quarters with blue sleeves.
Jim Robinson was working for Laurie Moulds at the time, and persuaded Eric to buy himself a “going” horse. Jim arranged to have the horse boarded at the Moulds Riverstone stables, and to help out when Eric was busy in the pharmacy.
Fate stepped in, and Eric picked up a horse called Lord Lotus from Victoria for $2500.
“The horse’s owner loved a bet, and Lord Lotus had let him down a couple of times”, recalled Eric. “He got sick of the horse and decided to unload him as quickly as possible”
That owner will never know the significance of the favour he did Eric Chabros. Lord Lotus went on to win a total of 17 races in Sydney and Perth, despite a twelve months hiatus at one stage as a result of a cracked pedal bone.
Eric’s move to WA came after he met his wife Vicki on an overseas trip. She was a West Aussie girl, and wanted to live nowhere else other than her hometown of Perth, where she and Eric have raised a family of five.
“I took Lord Lotus to Perth only as a pet”, said Eric a few days ago.” I put him back into work after his enforced lay off, never dreaming he would go on to win another 8 or 9 races. He’s the horse responsible for creating my addiction to the harness horse”.
Eric was convinced Lord Lotus had been his “once in a lifetime” horse, but all those years on he has found an infinitely better one. He gave Bettor Party around 90 starts in WA over a two year period for 10 wins, and many placings.
Eric drove the horse to several wins himself, and was highly delighted when his sons Bronson and John-Paul also won races on Bettor Party. He’s quick to sing the praises of Mark Reed, who won 5 races with the horse, including a couple of standing start events. “We got Mark to take over when we introduced Bettor Party to stand start racing”, said the trainer. “Mark’s a very skilful driver from the stands, and I wanted the horse to get all the right signals”.
Eighteen months ago Eric was finding it difficult to place his gelding to advantage in Perth, and a move interstate became imminent. He had noticed that Adelaide offered regular standing start races, smaller fields, and handicappers who tried hard to give the faster class horses opportunities.
And so with 119 starts on the clock, Bettor Party headed to Globe Derby, and into the hands of the vastly experienced Les Harding. The veteran pacer has raced 37 times to date for the amazing stats of 16 wins and 13 placings for just over $100,000.
The compact 15.2 hands gelding is racing with great zest and purpose, and has formed a wonderful bond with the ace driver Danielle Hill. But best of all he’s inherently sound, and should provide connections with a few more thrills yet.
When an astute trainer like Les Harding starts to compare him with the best he’s trained, you tend to sit up and take notice. He’s a rising 9 year old, but is the best ahead of him?