I like winning. I also like seeing other people succeed, when their hard work and sacrifice is paid off with good results. Everyone knows that no one works quite as hard as a horse trainer, it's a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job. But behind a trainer, is usually a pretty strong support team.
The latest issue of Ladies in RACING magazine arrived in my mailbox late last week and one particular story written by Tim Guille caught my eye... the story of two brothers supporting each other and making a mark in Melbourne's racing game... The Gelagotis brothers.
*Peter and Manny Gelagotis. Image courtesy adelaidenow.com
BROTHERS IN ARMS - by Tim Guille
There are passionate people in racing, and then there are the Gelagotis brothers, Peter and Manny. 50yo Peter and 48yo Manny were around all types of racing from a young age.
After migrating to Australia as a 16yo in 1956, Michael Gelagotis dabbled in owning and training harness horses and greyhounds for most of his early life. After several moves across country Victoria, Michael, his wife Effie, and his young family finally settled in Moe in Victoria's East Gippsland region, purchasing an eight-acre property and small take away shop to base himself. It was here he decided to move into training thoroughbreds. "Dad was a friend of Colin Hayes and was lucky enough to receive a few of his cast-off racehorses to work his magic with. He had some great success with horses like Royal Mask. After getting his full licence, he was off and started up his own stable," Manny said.
It was at Moe when Manny and Peter first got involved in the game. By the mid 90's, when Peter was 27 and I was 25, I was concentrating on soccer and he was getting more involved in horses, while dad was becoming more involved in the shop.. One day he took one of dad's horses to Moonee Valley and it won. Fair to say he was hooked then and there," Manny recalls.
While the training caper was still almost a hobby for Michael, it was the family food business that had most of his attention. As the business grew, it was decided that Peter would start learning how to train off his father and ultimately step into his footsteps.
With Peter focusing solely on training, the stable started to fill up with some well performed gallopers. Over time, the brothers were gaining more experience. "We started small with some success quite early and we started to get more and more street smart. We asked more questions, we got better breakers and farriers and spent more time building an understanding of the yearling market. We make sure we kept learning every day. We started to buy well at the sales. A good example was Mourinho, who was pretty cheap and turned out to be a Group 1 winner," said Manny.
Nowadays, the stable is very much a team effort even thought Peter's name is on the door. Peter is the head horse trainer, while Manny looks after the stable's business side. Even though there is a focus on growth for the team, the brothers never want to lose sight of their core values. "We want to stay at around 60 to 70 to maintain that boutique stable feel...one day we may move closer to Melbourne, more so because our brand is getting stronger and people want to be a part of what we do, so that is really exciting," he said.
The often-outspoken Manny has had his fair share of controversy over the last couple of years, but his passion about the industry is always at the forefront of his opinion. "I love racing and just want the best for the industry. Currently I think racing is poorly run because they just aren't listening to the stakeholders and are out of touch with their more important customers...I say all this in a positive manner and everyone has great intentions. I just don't think they understand where our great sport could go," he said.
The 2017/18 season is shaping up to be a great one for the Gelagotis boys, with horses such as Malaguerra, Illustrious Lad, Mr Wonderful, Moss N' Dale and Levendi representing the stable.
To read this article in full, as well as gain behind-the-scenes access to the racing industry, subscribe to Ladies in RACING magazine.
Find out more about the Gelagotis stable HERE. Follow Tim Guille on Twitter @timbguille
*Illustrious Lad. Image courtesy Horse Racing News.