The crowd had dwindled and the bids were sparse when Lot 202 walked into the ring at the 2015 Bathurst Gold Crown yearling sale.
Chris Frisby had already secured a couple of “cheapies” and wasn’t really interested in a third. He sat down for a moment and took a cursory look at the Sportswriter colt from Rooftop Fairy.
The Sportswriter stock were well regarded, and the colt’s dam was by the much respected Village Jasper but there wasn’t a ripple of interest. “He was on the plain side and looked just a bit dull in the coat”, recalled the Perthville horseman.
Chris threw in a token bid at $3,500, and assumed he had made a purchase when no further bids followed. “Next thing the auctioneer announced that the colt had been passed in, so I got to my feet to leave”, recalled Chris. “A few minutes later somebody rushed over to tell me the vendor would take $3,500 if I was still interested”.
He was gelded pretty early in the piece and given the stable name of “Sam”. Judy Frisby assumed ownership, with Peter Delaney taking a share. Peter is the father-in-law of Anthony Frisby and lives on the property with his daughter and son-in-law.
His racing name evolved for no particular reason other than to follow on from another talented Frisby horse Uncle Lile, who retired two and a half years ago with a record of 29 wins and $224,000.
Last Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle, exactly four years and 59 race starts after the Gold Crown sale, that unwanted son of Sportswriter won his first Group 1 race and took his earnings to just “shy” of $400,000.
Typical of the Sportswriters, Our Uncle Sam was precocious enough as a two year old to win three races, including the Silver Pace at Melton.
He won six as a three year old without setting the world on fire, and was sent for a long spell after finishing 5th in the Queensland Derby.
He resumed as a four year old in Dec 2017, putting together four straight wins before a disappointing ninth in the Hondo Grattan Stakes. He bounced back with a good second in the Paleface Adios Sprint, but failed in Jilliby Kung Fu’s Chariots Of Fire run in a sizzling 1.48.8. He was just not cutting it at the very top level, prompting Chris to get him into the paddock pronto.
He wasn’t sighted again for three months and had done so well that his trainer opted for three Bathurst trials before resuming. He spent this entire preparation in Queensland where he won three out of seven, including the Patron’s Purse at Redcliffe. Spring was coming as Chris turned him out again, little realising Our Uncle Sam’s best days were just around the corner.
He began his current campaign with the usual two Bathurst trials, followed by two starts at Menangle for placings in fast class events. He was in great shape when the Inter Dom series began, and accumulated sufficient points with a fourth, seventh and second in the qualifying heats. He was unlucky enough to strike Tiger Tara in career best form, but was super in finishing second in the Grand Final albeit 14.4 metres from the winner, but at a staggering 1.53.9 rate for 2760 metres.
Sam was whisked home to finish third in the Shirley Turnbull Memorial, before returning to Victoria for a third in the Shepparton Cup, followed by a good fifth in the Ballarat Cup.
He again struck the rampaging Tiger Tara at his awesome best in the A.G. Hunter Cup, finishing a 14.5 metre second with a similar margin to San Carlo in third place.
Next assignment for “Sam” was the Canadian Club Sprint at Menangle, in which he got stuck outside the leader in a 26.1 first quarter. He was brave in finishing fourth only 4.3 metres from the winner Spankem.
He missed the cut for the Miracle Mile, but landed in a lovely Group 1 race worth $100,000 and was absolutely magnificent in winning. Anthony Frisby is a vastly improved driver, and his display in the Bohemia Crystal was exemplary. Our Uncle Sam tried his heart out in the straight to hold off the unlucky Ellmers Image. No win this season has been more richly deserved.
I think Chris Frisby would be the first to admit he never expected to find another Dinki Di, who finished racing in 2007 with the tremendous record of 25 wins and 31 placings for $312,000.
Our Uncle Sam has already won $80,000 more than Dinki Di, and it’s a safe bet there’s more to come. He’s sound, he’s getting stronger, and he has a zest for racing.
Chris and Judy Frisby live on 121 hectares which is stocked with 500 head of sheep. Chris is currently working some thirteen horses, ably assisted by Anthony, Stephanie Burling and the ever reliable Ron Jones. Anthony Frisby runs his own small lucerne farm, but makes the time to help out with the horses every morning.
Chris drove his own horses for a few years and calculates his winner tally at around fifty, but is more than happy for son Anthony to handle the driving duties these days.
Chris and Judy lead very busy lives. Apart from the farm and the sheep, they are responsible for the operation of two produce stores- the main one at Bathurst, the other at Wallerawang near Lithgow. Judy’s very passionate about her hobby of showing horses of varying breeds. One of her favourites is the pretty grey former pacer I’m Blue Double Dee with whom neighbour Steve Turnbull won many races.
It’s well known that Steve’s wife Jenny is a sister to Chris Frisby. Most of the conversation in the district revolves around harness racing.
A very genuine mare called Major Occasion went within a few metres of giving Chris and Anthony a Group 1 double on Saturday night. The daughter of Art Major raced outside the leader, $2.60 favourite Our Dream About Me all the way, and went down fighting. Major Occasion is going to prove a wonderful “support act” for Our Uncle Sam down the track.
There’s nothing like a winner to regenerate the interest of a true trotting devotee. In Chris Frisby’s case it’s a Group 1 winner, and nobody was surprised to see him putting his hand up at last Sunday’s APG sale at Warwick Farm.
Interesting to note that three lots were knocked down to C. Frisby of Perthville NSW. He purchased a Somebeachsomewhere filly and colts by Art Major and Pet Rock.
And so Chris Frisby’s search begins for another Our Uncle Sam.
(Banner image courtesy National Trotguide - Our Uncle Sam soaks up Group 1 glory.)