Russell's baby Bonnie salutes at debut!

Mar 01, 2013

If you watch the replay of the 1526m maiden at Sale on Thursday you will see at the bottom of your screen a very excited spectator who jumps for joy and throws his arms in the air as Bondi Break records an impressive half length debut victory.

You may think he is a happy punter but no, the win means much more than that. For it is Russell Keating, exceptionally proud breeder - with his wife Lynn - of the promising three-year-old filly.

"I ran about and Lynn burst in to tears," Russell said - admitting a day later that "we have watched the replay only about 30 or so times!"

The story of Bondi Break goes back a few years when Russell's brother Paul passed away - "he had been saving his whole life for his retirement and he didn't get to enjoy it," Russell said.

"I had always wanted to breed horses and I thought then and there 'stuff it, I am going to do what I want to do now!'"

Always a fan of outstanding stallion Nureyev, Russell found a nice mare by that famous horse's son Fasliyev for sale in Queensland - and as a bonus she was in foal to Break The Vault, son of a Nureyev mare.

Seven months after bringing that mare - Celtic Bond - to Victoria, she foaled down her filly. And there was some kismet to the day she chose to give birth - September 17 the anniversary of Russell's brother's passing.

Those who first laid eyes on the filly at Makybe Stud were not especially impressed - "they said she looked like a donkey!" Russell laughed, "she was a big, long girl with massive ears."

Things didn't go to plan early for the filly nicknamed "Bonnie" who was stood on by another mare - fracturing her pedal bone. Some time in the box saw her heal nicely however and soon enough she was home with the Keatings.

And she became their pet - "she was our baby on the farm - we'd play fishing games with a stick and string with her, she was great fun, a real dag!"

As Bonnie grew - bigger and bigger (she now stands at 17hh) - Russell started to think about trainers and asked his friend, racing journalist Steve Moran for some advice.

"He said Mick Kent was the best trainer so I approached him at the races and he agreed to come out and look at her."

"Mick and his son Michael came to the farm and I remember walking out in the paddock with them. As we got closer to her he said 'she looks like a nice big, scopey Oaks type'... I got chills when he said that!"

In and out of work since March last year, being given time to mature and grow into herself, Bondi Break showed a bit at the trials - getting back but always finishing on well.

Russell had that in mind as he watched Bondi Break at Sale, the big bay under the guidance of Craig Williams settling towards the rear of the field.

Holding his breath as Williams kept Bondi Break on the rails as the rest of the field fanned into the straight, he could hardly believe it when his filly - saving ground - hit the lead, quickly putting a couple of lengths on her rivals.

"You hope and hope things will go right - and when it all panned out so beautifully it was amazing!"

Very green and wayward in the way home, Bondi Break gave her rivals a chance to catch her but she kept finding despite running about - making Russell and Lynn the proudest racehorse owners in town!

"I always said to my friend Bill Knights (with whom Russell has raced horses since the 1970's) that I wanted the smile on his face he had when one of his home-breds won."

"I rang him yesterday and said 'I finally have that look!'"

The stable congrulates Russell & Lynn and their co-owners  Phillip Lonergan, Lian Fulton, Alan Stephenson, Ian Gibson, Jean Dugec, Steve Moran and Mark McDonald.

And we look forward to taking Bonnie to the races again soon!