Tony's Racing Trifecta – Jockey, Trainer, Breeder!
A couple of years ago, at a broodmare dispersal sale, Tony Erhart came in for some lighthearted ribbing from fellow studmasters when he purchased Beremboke, a twenty-years-old daughter of Jungle King, for a couple of hundred dollars.
The dam of two winners, Beremboke was offered in foal to Prestbury Stud's Irish import Persepolis and eventually, at Erhart's "Solitaire Park Stud", Hatton Vale, dropped a beautiful filly, now a yearling.
Tony and his wife Lorraine paid up for the mare knowing that one foal from her by their resident stallion, Solitaire Kingdom (Planet Kingdom-Roman Star II) would make her purchase worthwhile.
They received a bonus in the filly foal which will carry on the Beremboke line when the old mare is no longer around.
A winner at six furlongs and placed three times at Eagle Farm, Beremboke was already the dam of two winners, including The Heist (five wins) and is a sister to Duchesne who won the QTC Sires' Produce Stakes.
Her value increases when the pedigree reveals winners such as Mon Frere (six wins including QTC St Leger), Hoss (six wins including BATC Doomben Newmarket Handicap and IATC Ipswich Cup).
Unfortunately Beremboke's first foal by Solitaire Kingdom, a magnificent chestnut colt died as a result of an accident shortly after birth but the bay mare is once again in foal to "Sol".
Tony Erhart the studmaster is not far removed from Tony Erhart the top jockey.
Now 36 years of age, Tony had always displayed a keen interest in bloodlines and this knowledge has enabled him to secure a top stallion prospect and several well-credentialed broodmares for Solitaire Park Stud.
As a jockey, Erhart had a few peers. He was regularly used by premier trainer T.J. Smith during the Sydney trainer's regular assaults on the Brisbane racing scene each winter.
Even as an apprentice, Erhart was legged up on the Smith stable elect in big races and his legion of followers profited by sticking with the ever-smiling hoop.
Erhart built up a reputation for never admitting defeat and his strong whip riding saw him in keen demand come raceday.
One of his more daring exploits in the saddle occurred at Albion Park. The apprentice rode his master's horse Saxon Miss to victory when the saddle slipped shortly after the start.
Erhart determined to the end, continued to ride his mount right out despite the saddle hanging at right angles to the normal position and Saxon Miss defeated Christar by a neck with a head to Made to Measure in third place.
Erhart returned to scale to the plaudits of the crowd while trainer Tony Mazzaglia copped a $100 fine.
Tony was born near Gympie to the north of Brisbane, and as a youngster quickly made a name for himself as a rider of note around the pony clubs.
Apprenticed to Tony Mazzaglia he became one of the best and most popular jockeys to ride in the Sunshine State for many a year.
Among his big-race victories are the Golden Horseshoe Stakes (Machete); QTC McDougall Stakes (Strong Success, Sierra Queen and Moon Trek); Brisbane Cup (Cachondeo); Queensland Cup (Lord Rego and Veil Kingdom); Ipswich Cup (Helmsman and Borehead); QTC Sires' Produce Stakes (Regal Adventure); Albion Park Cup (Golden Man); Weetwood Handicap (Talkwell); Toowoomba Cup (Bay Duke) and IATC Eye Liner Stakes (Bernard).
When Cachondeo won the 3200m Brisbane Cup in 1970 connections received first prizemoney of $25,150 plus a trophy valued at $160. A far cry from today's stakes. The winner of the 1983 Cup receives $66,000 prizemoney plus trophies!
Cachondeo was rising nine-years-of-age when he won the Cup. Followers of Erhart received a bonus when he steered the old-timer to victory at 40-1.
He literally gave bookings at Eagle Farm a skinner when he defeated the Nevill Begg-trained fully Affectionate by three-quarters of a length with a nose to Panvale who finished third.
The crowd of 30,000 appreciated the hometown victory and Erhart's vigour on his mount over the concluding stages of the race.
Connections of the winner, trainer Jim Griffiths and owners Mr and Mrs Ian Hedley feared a protest from the runner-up as, despite Erhart using the whip in the left hand, Cachondeo veered out and appeared to take the running off Affectionate.
There were sighs of relief all-round when one of the filly's part-owners scrubbed any thought of a protest on the return to scale.
That Winter Carnival wasn't one of Neville Begg's happier experiences as apart from Affectionate running second in the Cup, Gypsy Moss carried the stable's hopes into second placing in the Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
While Tony scored on Lord Rego in the 1973 Queensland Cup (3200m), his victory on Veil Kingdom in the 1975 running of the underrated QTC event was most satisfying.
In his campaign leading up to the Cup Veil Kingdom had seven starts for three wins, three seconds and a third.
Starting at 6-1 Veil Kingdom defeated Au Feau (7-1) by six lengths with Valtine (9-2) a long head away third.
Erhart had brought his mount home in 3:19.1 which cut 1.2 seconds from Lavengro's race record and was only .6 seconds outside the 3200m course record established by Irish Whip in winning the Brisbane Cup.
Veil Kingdom was always travelling smoothly and was fifth to the turn at which point Erhart eased him out to make his winning run.
Veil Kingdom ran right away to win easily and give veteran trainer Norm McCallum an overdue success.
On the same day Erhart rode the winner of the Golden Horseshoe Stakes, Strong Success, who ran a race record 57.9 seconds in defeating Ros le Glen, Northern Player and Sierra Queen.
Tony won the Gold Coast Cup on Bay Duke after fiving the leader, Dream Prattern (20-1) four lengths start at the home turn.
Bay Duke started at 15-4 and Erhart received much credit for the perfect timing of his finishing run.
Another big race win with Bay Duke was scored in the time-honoured Toowoomba Cup in 1979.
Starting a 7-2 favourite, Bay Duke was having his first start at Clifford Park and carried second topweight of 58kg but recorded 2:03.8 for the 2000m only 1.8 seconds outside Bernalla's race record.
Tony remembers the race well: "Bay Duke was a son of Confidence and he travelled kindly in the early stages of the race, in fact we only had two horses behind us until the 500m mark.
"We moved up a bit closer to the lead there leaving Our Cavalier to chase us home.
"We had the sitting shot at the leaders on the bend and I was always confident of winning from that point," he recalled.
Bay Duke defeated His Request and Our Cavalier after coming with a typical Erhart well-timed run down the centre of the track to scorch past the leaders.
Tony Erhart was renowned for his alertness at the barrier and this played a major role in Bernard's win in the Eye Liner Stakes at Bundamba at the end of the 1980 Brisbane winter racing carnival.
Earlier Erhart and Bernard (66-1) had finished third, beaten four and a quarter lengths by Hit It Benny and Turf Ruler, in the Rothman's 100,000 at Doomben.
At Ipswich Erhart had Bernard quickly away from the barriers and settled the five-year-old outside the speedster Kero until the home turn.
On straightening Erhart quickly put pressure on his mount and Bernard responded to heavy whip riding to score by a length from Kero with Star Chat third.
The beaten brigade included Tarlou, Paravane, Pacific Prince, Sovita and Samei Boy.
Bundamba wasn't always a happy hunting ground for the jockey and it was at the Ipswich track that Tony was one of five jockeys involved in a race fall which left him in hospital with neck injuries.
Ironically, Tony and Lorraine could have stood Bernard as a stallion when the son of Baguette finished his racing career but they plumped for Solitaire Kingdom as their foundation sire.
Asked to nominate the best horse he rode, Tony declined to pick one over another, but suggested that Luskin Star was without doubt the best two-year-old he ever rode against.
Tony went to Sydney to ride the top Queensland hope Pacific Prince in the autumn of 1977.
The pair had finished third in the Todman Slipper Trial and took their place in the Golden Slipper.
Tony recalled that half-way through the Slipper Luskin Star moved effortlessly towards the leaders.
When Lloyd Boy dashed clear on straightening most racegoers could have been excused for thinking the Bart Cummings entry had the Slipper won.
"But Luskin Star was fair-dinkum travelling half-pace," recalled Tony.
"When Wade fave him a dig in the ribs Luskin Star took off and simply cantered past Lloyd Boy and won with his ears pricked.
"Luskin Star was a champion two-year-old," Erhart emphasised.
Tony had his last ride in a race on March 31, 1981, and immediately applied to the QTC for a trainer's licence.
He has built up a stable of solid supporters and has already produced winners at Eagle Farm and Bundamba.
Erhart conditions his horses expertly and the seasons ahead should see a steady stream of winners being prepared by the Hendra-based trainer.
And you can bet that more than a couple of them will be the produce of Solitaire Kingdom.
The son of Planet Kingdom was purchased by Tony and Lorraine in mid-1979.
Solitaire Kingdom only served four mares in his first season, the Erhart's operating their property then on a private basis. However, the handsome chestnut was represented by his first commercial crop of yearlings at the 1983 Sales on the Gold Coast.
One, a well developed chestnut colt out of a Peerless Dock (dam of Peerless Cruise) was purchased by H. Butler of Gunnedah for $8,000.
Solitaire Kingdom is a dead ringer for his sire, the well performed son of Star Kingdom who was put down after round-the-clock veterinary attention could not mend multiple fractures to one of his legs.
A 1967 foal, Planet Kingdom probably recorded his best victories in the AJC Craven Plate and the Queensland Tattersall's Cup.
Last year Planet Kingdom supplied the winners of the QTC Fourex Grand Prix Stakes and Derby (Our Planet) and the BATC 100,000 (Ideal Planet).
His sons at stud included Cosmic Planet, Mighty Kingdom and Gypsy Kingdom. It would come as no surprise if Planet Kingdom becomes a dominant sire-of-sires in the late eighties.
Solitaire Kingdom boasts one of the more sought-after distaff lines in European breeding and is related to Ela Mana Mou. His dam, Roman Star II (GB) is by Romulus (Ribot-Arietta by Tudor Minstrel) from Alor Star, by the great Alycidon, a son of Donatello II. Hyperion appears 4x5x5 in Solitaire Kingdom's pedigree.
Solitaire Kingdom has letdown into a magnificent stallion and his yearlings certainly carry his mark.
The Erharts have built up a quality band of broodmares to put to "Sol" including Peerless Pleasure (Aloe-Peerless Glance) a three-quarter sister-in-blood to the champion Mode; Village Dancer (Village Square (USA)-Watusi) by the sire of the dam of Rare Form; Galway Belle, by Emerillo (Fr) out of a full sister to VATC Caulfield Cup winner Beer Street; Kurrawa (Aloe-Darwalla) the winner of five races and a member of Beremboke's family; Royal Clan (Kingfisher-Royal Choice, by Todman); Society Girl (Royal Rocket out of an Emperor (Fr) mare) the winner of several races including a two-year-old event at Gosford in particularly fast time, and perhaps the star of them all Ariane.
What started as a hobby farm has now developed into a fully commercial stud but with a difference.
While Tony Erhart is unyielding in his approach to training horses, there's just enough sentiment around the stud to make it a particularly happy property and this atmosphere must rub off on the thoroughbred inhabitants.
Tony is the first to admit that he, Lorraine and their two sons, Craig and Darryl, have a lot of work still to do at Solitaire Park Stud. Everything necessary to ensure the well-being of the stallion, broodmares, foals and weanlings is done without question and the livestock are in top condition.
Tony Erhart was a champion jockey without ever winning a Premiership, as a fully-fledged hoop.
That's something Tony Erhart the trainer, Tony Erhart the studmaster, might just rectify.