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Well-bred Distinction pleases English syndica -

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Well-bred Distinction pleases English syndicate

Reporter: Mary Gearin

KERRY O'BRIEN: Winning the Melbourne Cup is a dream common to everyone connected to every horse
that runs in the famous race.

None more so than the connections of the well-bred English horse, Distinction, which ran a solid
sixth today.

But if Distinction's breeding is a credit to the stud book, so is that of its owners to Burke's

Mary Gearin reports.

MARY GEARIN: As storms upset plans and fashions at Flemington this afternoon, one hardy group was
more accustomed to the conditions.

GENTLEMAN 1: We're very experienced at this in England.

LADY 1: This is very, very English.

MARY GEARIN: A party of 26 Englishmen and women has made the long journey to watch the progress of
their six-year-old pride and joy, Distinction, and enjoy the Melbourne Cup carnival.

LADY 2: I want to bet on this one.

MARY GEARIN: It's a syndicate like any other, just a tad more tattler than battler.

There's the Countess of Coventry, a Bermuda-based insurance company owner, a top-level headhunter
and theatrical producer - a couple of knights couldn't make the trip.

But they're as giddy and excited as any owners involved in the great Australian handicap.

GENTLEMAN 1: I've got so many bruises up this arm and that arm, I'm running out of places that
haven't been bruised and I keep pinching myself - it's just unbelievable.

LADY 1: You just feel so proud.

MARY GEARIN: And they're not just here for the big day either.

It's been a long lead-up campaign.

How many sirs and countesses have you got in the syndicate?


There's a few earls, lords, and ladies and sirs.

MARY GEARIN: Luckily, blue blood doesn't stop you enjoying a barbie.

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who lists the Queen among his owners, and the Honourable Harry Herbert,
Distinction's syndicate manager, have been trekking to the outer suburban course of Sandown to
watch their steed, as have some of the owners, proving they can do the hard yards for a horse they
genuinely treasure, not just for his potential pay-out.

GAIL HACKING: But he's always been a big favourite, hasn't he?

He's just so lalloping and easy going and you walk into the stable and he's just - yeah, he's just,
he's lovely really, isn't he?

HON. HARRY HERBERT: It's not meant to be some sort of posh, exclusive club.

It isn't.

It is open to everybody.

And, um, we don't advertise because it was felt the horses ought to be doing the advertising.

SIR MICHAEL STOUTE, TRAINER: It's such an efficiently run machine that they're better informed than
most single owners.

MARY GEARIN: Their common ground is the 17-hand, notoriously laid back, mountain of a mount they
affectionately call 'Big D'.

LADY 3: You sort of say it like 'Big D', you know!

You sort of say it like that, and he sort of looks at you like, "Yeah, that's me."

MARY GEARIN: Of course, that might just stand for big dollars.

The Danehill gelding cost the owners about $50,000 a share as a yearling.

This is where he started his racing career, the rolling hills of Highclere Castle, home to the
syndication business.

And for Harry Herbert, it's the family shack.

HON. HARRY HERBERT: Racing has been part of our history here for I suppose really over 100 years.

Many, many top-class horses have been raised at Highclere.

It's wonderful soil, it's underlying chalk and it's beautiful downland.

MARY GEARIN: Highclere Racing has produced some high-profile champions in just over a decade in the
syndication business.

Thrived really, despite its strange link to the curse of Tutankhamen.

Harry Herbert's great grandfather, Lord Carnarvon helped open the tomb, then died of a shaving
wound shortly after.

HON. HARRY HERBERT: His little terrier dog which he was devoted to, was back here at Highclere and
howled and howled and died exactly the same time - which was pretty spooky stuff.

MARY GEARIN: And only 82 years later, Distinction was scratched from the Caulfield Cup with a
mysteriously high white blood cell count.

HON. HARRY HERBERT: Sir Michael was worried because if the horse hadn't come right very quickly
then obviously he couldn't have got the work into him.

Thankfully, he's come right.

MARY GEARIN: What did you think of that gallop?

GAIL HACKING: I thought it was wonderful, just as he got around here he got the look in his eye.

He's ready to race, definitely.

MARY GEARIN: Just as his owners were definitely ready to party.

Derby Day, and the Distinction syndicate high-tailed it to a private marquee, although there was
every chance the right honourables could come face-to-face with the spring carnival's

PHILIP NOWELL, PART-OWNER, DISTINCTION: There's a great atmosphere and so nice to be a part of it.

MARY GEARIN: Haven't seen the louts yet, though?

PHILIP NOWELL: Haven't seen the louts, no, but I'm very tolerant with all Australian louts.

GENTLEMAN 2: How do we place a bet?

We're ignorant Pommies.

LADY 4: They're racing at Morphettville,

PHILIP NOWELL: They're racing at Ascot apparently.

LADY 4: Yes, don't know which Ascot that is,

PHILIP NOWELL: Must be theirs rather than ours.

LADY 4: Oh yes, I think so.

JOHN NEWHAM, PART-OWNER, DISTINCTION: Don't get the impression this is anything sort of elevated.

We are ordinary people, we made our way, we put our money in, we don't suffer on this class
business at all.

JULIA LUCAS, PART-OWNER, DISTINCTION: I think you just go into it knowing you've torn up the money
and thrown it away, that's the basis I work on and anything that comes back is a bonus.

MARY GEARIN: But let's face it - you don't bring a horse out to Australia without having some hope
on Melbourne Cup day.

The big lad started well, running near the eventual place-getters the whole way and around the last
bend he looked to be in the running.


Go on!

MARY GEARIN: Alas, it was no curse, just too much pace that did him in.

HON. HARRY HERBERT: One, two, three, four, five, six seven, eight.

Go on!

Go on!


You know, we just want to see if he came in the first 10.

From a financial perspective that's quite important.

It's a great thrill.

COUNTESS OF COVENTRY, PART-OWNER, DISTINCTION: I think the best horse won, I think she's a
wonderful mare, and I think she deserved to win.

And we're very, very pleased with sixth place, we're very proud to have taken part.

GENTLEMAN 2: Just to have been here in Australia and to have done it is magic, and the people have
been so friendly and I want to come back, race or no race.

I'm coming back to Australia for sure.