A New Career for Cataract King aka Magic Mike

Cataract King’s story began on a high note: he was conceived in his sire Flying Spur’s Premiership year, born in the Spring of 2008 and sold as a yearling for $250,000 at the 2010 Inglis Easter Sale by Kulani Park on behalf of his breeder Mark Ruff.  Handsome as it was, the price was only $30,000 above that year’s sale average.

The buyer was former Arrowfielder Byron Rogers, now of TrueNicks, Performance Genetics & Matchem Racing, bidding for his father Dr Chris Rogers and Dr Paul Hughes who raced Cataract King throughout his 10-start, 16-month racing career.  His yearling photo shows what appealed to Byron who remembers the bright chestnut colt as “a very good -looking yearling, a good-sized horse with good length and scope.”

Cataract King’s New Zealand-bred mother Bruges (by Groom Dancer) won seven races, three of them in Melbourne for trainer Colin Little, and her family has produced many stakeswinners over the past three or four decades.

Cataract King won only one race, a maiden at Wyong in March 2012, but it’s fair to say that he possessed more ability than his record shows, as Byron explains.

“We sent him to Kris Lees at Newcastle and he was a horse that continued to grow over his two-year-old year, so we gave him the time he needed and he didn’t get to a trial until early in his three year old year, and to the races until mid-February.

“Kris was very patient with him, and he ran a good fourth at his first start behind the stakes performer Upshot, before winning his second start well.” 

So far, so good, but that hopeful beginning was quickly undone by a throat infection.

“Not long after that win Cataract King was unwell and had a temperature and mucus in the throat. He was treated and remained in training but it took him a few weeks to get over it.

“He then trialled well and, thinking he was a horse of some talent, Kris got him ready for a campaign in Queensland. We thought he could get a mile and might be a Queensland Guineas horse, so we started him at Scone where he was very disappointing.

“After the race his jockey Christian Reith said he wouldn’t stretch out and he made a noise when pulling up. That was unfortunately an indication of the start of the issues we had with him that ultimately compromised his racing career.” 

Byron, Chris & Paul didn’t give up easily though, and sent him to Joe Pride’s Sydney stable which is where Brooke Somers first met him.

Brooke recalls, ”I rode most of his work and thought he was a great character with oodles of personality.”

Cataract King changed stables again, and was prepared by Mark de Montfort for his last two raceday appearances, but his racing career ended in July 2013. As Byron notes, “We never saw the talent he showed at his second start. It was a shame as he was always a nice horse to be around, very genuine, but unfortunately his career wasn’t what it could have been.”

However, as racing’s door closed, a new door was about to open for Cataract King. Mark knew that Brooke loved the horse and so he was gifted to her.

Brooke says, “I got straight into retraining and he was a natural jumper from his very first try.”

Registered with Equestrian Australia as Magic Mike, the now 8YO gelding has made a fine start to his new career, despite a setback followed by a busy new life for Brooke, as she explains.

“I had a car accident, broke my leg and took up full-time training at Hawkesbury with 20 horses in work so Mikey’s show career has been hot and cold, as he has to wait for when I have time.”

Nevertheless, from limited outings he’s compiled an impressive record, including:
1st 1.05m at Showcase Of Showjumping
2nd 1.10m at Showcase Of Showjumping
3rd introductory Berrima One Day Event
4th preliminary Wingham Horse Trials
Double Clear 1.20m at Sydney International 3DE showjumping classes

Mike keeps a connection with the racing world, moonlighting occasionally as a lead pony at Hawkesbury, and attending race meetings as buddy for nervous travellers.

Brooke sums up what makes him special. “Mike’s best attributes are his phenomenal athleticism, he can jump like an imported warmblood, careful as a cat, and dance around a dressage arena.

“He is so brave and honest, he loves to jump cross country and tows me into the water and charges down drop fences. His inquiring and trainable attitude makes him the perfect sport horse, and best friend.”

There have been updates to the story for Mike’s breeder and dam too.  A year after Cataract King was born, Mark Ruff sent another mare, Irish Nova, to Flying Spur, and the result was dual Group 1 winner and Champion New Zealand Sprinter Sacred Star.

Last Spring Bruges returned to Arrowfield for the first time since 2007, and she’s now safely in foal to gorgeous young stallion Scissor Kick.


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