By Duane Ranger
The 2019 Queensland Mare-of-the-Year, Eleniark, has been sold to the United States for “an offer just too good to refuse.”
Co-owner and breeder, Michael Rafter, said the brilliant daughter of Somebeachsomewhere would now do her future racing with Australian-born trainer, Ross Croghan in New Jersey.
The former Grant Dixon trainee left for America a couple of weeks ago.
“The offer was just too good to say no to, and at my age, it’s better going to the Sales and buying a racehorse, rather than waiting three years for a mare to produce a pacer.
“It was sad to see her go, because Grant’s patience had finally got the better of her, and I believe she was in the best form of her life last season and at the start of this one. She’s up there with one of the best mares I have bred and owned,” said Rafter who has been breeding and owning standardbreds since 1991.
The 7-year-old black mare was previously owned by Rafter, Carl and Maureen Ryman, and Dixon’s mother, Darlene.
All-up Eleniark raced 64 times for 22 wins and 18 placings. She banked $193,375 and recorded a 1:51.8 winning mile rate in the Remembering Sovereign Open at Albion Park on June 8 this year.
She won her penultimate Australian race also at Albion Park on October 26, and then finished second behind Sams The Master in track record time (1:54.4) at Redcliffe Paceway on November 2.
She only raced four times this season.
“She had a few tricks, and Grant finally ironed them out. At her best she was very hard to beat, but in saying that she had been handicapped out of it here in recent starts.
“Once she became a Free-for-Aller it became very tough for her to win from gates, seven, eight, or nine – and that’s why we moved her on. She will get easier races up north,” Rafter said.
Eleniark’s career highlights included winning the 2018 Listed QBRED 4yo Mares Final, and running second in the 2016 Group Two QBRED 2yo Breeders Final.
Rafter explained that Eleniark was the first foal out of the 14-win 2005 Presidential Ball mare, Ark Monroe, who was the daughter of Rafter’s 1988 13-win foundation mare, Ark Maree.
“Ark Maree was by Torado Hanover and we paid $14,000 for her in 1991. In 2008 she was named Broodmare-of-the-Year.
“The family has left some lovely horses over the years including Atomic Ark, who won a heat of the Inter Dominions, Ark Amigo, who beat Lombo Pocket watch in the Queensland Derby. If you look on Ark Maree’s page you will se she has produced something like 162 winners,” Rafter said.
Eleniark is the first of four foals out of Ark Monroe, but only one of two bred by Rafter and co.
“Eleniark was born in 2012 and then a year later Ark Monroe left us a Rock N Roll Heaven filly named Ark Teamo, who won six races. I think she was retired with leg problems and Grant’s mother is going to breed from her.”
After Ark Monroe missed to Art Major and Mach Three, she was sold to Harvey Kaplan, who has since bred a 2-year-old Art Major filly, and a Sweet Lou yearling colt from her.
Eleniark’s sale was timely. It come shortly before Rafter’s 70th birthday.
“She was sold at just the right time. It’s sad to see the good mare go, but she gave us a lot of happy memories, and I’ll always remember the great horsemanship displayed by Grant to get her where she was when she left Australia,” Rafter said.