Brendan Cormick, The Australian
Brett Cavanough, with All Too Hard at his Albury stable. Picture: Simon Dallinger
Brett Cavanough was the first man to put a saddle on champion mare Black Caviar. She was one of almost 800 horses broken-in or pre-trained by Cavanough over the past 12 years for his mate Peter Moody, who began a 12-month suspension 10 days ago and walked away from racing.
The demise of Moody Racing, the leading metropolitan stable in Victoria, has had a domino effect.
As well as the 60 staff members looking for work in the racing industry, ancillary business will have to scale back their operations. Cavanough, whose grandfather Frank mentored Moody back in Queensland, long before he moved to Melbourne and became leading trainer with more than 300 horses on his books, has to close a stable block at Albury where he is the leading trainer.
The former world champion shearer, who has ridden racehorses since he was a track work jockey in his early teens, has had to lay 12 staff members off. “I could walk away. I had all my eggs in one basket and they got smashed,” Cavanough said this week. “On average, turnover was about $500,000 from Peter’s horses. There were always 80 or 90 here.”
Moody had his licence to train suspended for six months, with the remaining penalty set aside subject to him not transgressing in the ensuing year. One of his horses had an elevated reading of the banned cobalt in 2014, but the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board was not satisfied it was administered to affect performance.
Cavanough said Moody was to appoint a trainer in a caretaker capacity and would assume the mantle once the penalty was served, but that idea was shelved literally overnight. “I’m still in shock,” he said.
Another breaker and pre-trainer linked to Moody is the Pakenham-based Julien Welsh, who always had 20 or 30 horses rotating out of the spelling paddock to his set-up and into Moody’s Caulfield base.
“We’re busy with breakers at the moment but I’ll notice a difference around August,” Welsh said.
“It will affect us greatly. Peter has been the backbone of my business. He always paid his bills on time, which you can’t say for everyone in this business. I’ve got a staff of 30 so I’ve got wages, a mortgage, the feed. I’m never over 30 days with my credit and I can thank Peter for that.”
Welsh, who broke in last season’s Australian Horse of the Year Dissident, forecast the need to lay off staff if he can’t fill the boxes left by Moody’s departure.
Moody has relocated horses to trainers around the Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Queensland. Last week at his Caulfield stables, he auctioned off the lot, from stable trucks to stable ponies. Saddles, bridles, buckets and brooms. Even the odd souvenir. Everything had to go.