Bargain buy to classics contender

By Peter Wharton

A horse, who was bought for a bargain $1,300 off a harness racing website, has now won 11 of his 17 starts – including a 1:52.6 winning effort at Menangle recently – and $66,756 in stakes.

On Deadline winning at Menangle

It is the three-year-old Sportswriter colt On Deadline, who was bred by retired North Canterbury pig farmers and hobby breeders Elizabeth and Brian Steele.

“We offered him at the Christchurch yearling sale but he was passed in. I had a $5,000 reserve on him and no one wanted to pay that,” Elizabeth said.

“He was a lovely looking colt.”

A few months later On Deadline was purchased by Pukekoke horseman Shane Robertson from the Gavelhouse website.

Robertson and his training partner Logan Hollis started On Deadline on three occasions as a two-year-old for a 1:56.1 Auckland win, a second and a third before selling him to a client of Bathurst (NSW) trainer Nathan Turnbull last August.

He has blossomed into a genuine Derby candidate.

The Steele’s association with On Deadline began when they paid the late Canterbury breeder Mike Stratford a meagre $350 for Chepstow, a Sands A Flyin mare from the prized Black Watch family.

“Mike was clearing out a few mares at the time and she was only a small mare,” Elizabeth said.

To the cover of Washington VC, Chepstow produced Justsoyouknow – her fourth and last foal.

Like her dam, Justsoyouknow did not race.

“We had three other horses in work at the time and we put her aside,” she said.

Her first foal, Heidi’s Girl (by Sir Lincoln), was sold as a yearling to Coes Ford trainer Ross Cameron and has not yet qualified.

Line of Duty as a foal with his dam, Justsoyouknow

On Deadline was her second issue followed by a colt by He’s Watching, who was unfortunately put down as a foal, and a weanling colt named Line Of Duty (by Vincent).

“We’re planning to sell the colt at the Christchurch yearling sales next February,” Elizabeth said.

Justsoyouknow is currently in foal to Vincent.

Elizabeth belongs to a family steeped in harness racing with her father George Cameron, brother Ian Cameron and nephew Kyle Cameron all being successful trainers.

“My father trained horses for around 60 years. He won a Dominion Handicap with Margin and the NZ Oaks with Stylos and Swift Princess,” she said.

Other winners bred by Elizabeth and Brian have been the siblings Write About Angus (4 wins to date), Hugo George and the Tasmanian Derby placegetter National News (6 wins) and the trotters Zoned Scarlett and Dram Of Pernod.