By Andrew Smith
He was bought in an online auction for $600 and racked up over $280,000 in earnings on the racetrack, but Paniagua is now enjoying the richness of retirement in a different arena.
The gelding’s glittering career netted nine wins from 23 starts, including a golden run in 2020 that saw him claim a Cairns Cup and Country Cups Challenge Final at Doomben.
There were wins also in Magic Millions Guineas in Townsville and Mackay, as well as starts at Eagle Farm, the Gold Coast, Atherton and Rockhampton.
But it’s a small property just outside Mareeba where Paniagua is now enjoying life after racing in the hands of his former trainer Alex Malliff and wife Kellie.
Retiring the seven-year-old in 2022, they are focused on turning the horse they now call “Frypan” around the stables into a champion showjumper.
“He did wonders for us on the racetrack…(in mid-2022) he unfortunately had an injury, he started to do his tendon,” Kellie said.
“It wasn’t bad but he just showed a couple of signs so we retired him straight away because he’s been very good to us.
“He sat in the paddock here with us for 12 months, had heaps of time to recover and then he had a little bit of a wild, last-minute throw in the deep end starting his jumping career.
“There was a spot available in the David Finch clinic that the North Queensland Showjumping Club had organised and I said ‘oh well, give him a couple of rides and we’ll just put him in the small class at the clinic and see how we go.’”
Saddling up on their former champion, Kellie recalls that the Tycoon Ruler-Danni Sharleen product took to the new discipline like a duck to water.
“He actually shocked me a bit - he was a bit nervous when I first got on him at the clinic and he was sort of looking around and didn’t want to stand still,” Kellie said.