For such a high-achiever, it’s no wonder Melbourne bloodstock agent Tony Cavanagh still has goals both in and out of racing.
A Group 1 winning owner-breeder, former stud owner, TBV Life Member and FBAA Foundation Member through Anthony G Cavanagh & Company, he is also an Australia Day Ambassador and has close ties in the art, entertainment and football worlds.
Now 71 years-young, Cavanagh started out as assistant secretary of the Victorian Racecourses Licences Board in the late 1960s before joining Wright Stephenson in 1970 where he soon became head of the pedigree department when champion sires such as Better Boy and Showdown ruled the roost in Victoria.
He was also on the original sub-committee that commenced grading black-type racing in Australia.
Tony has bred and raced numerous top-class gallopers over the years. There’s been none better than 1985 Blue Diamond winner Let’s Get Physical and one of his goals in racing is to grab another Group 1 for 2YOs with friend and client Rod Menzies.
A good starting point is the $500,000 Karrakatta Plate at Ascot on April 14 with their brilliant filly Agent Pippa. A daughter of emerging Lonhro sire Demerit, she has opened at $6 with the WA TAB behind $3.50 favourite Lady Cosmology.
“I purchased a half-share in Agent Pippa for Rod after she cruised home on debut in October,” Cavanagh recalled. “We brought her across to Melbourne for the Maribyrnong Plate but she wasn’t 100% following a work-out so we sent her straight back to Perth.
“She had excuses first-up and then came out and blitzed the (G3) Gimcrack Stakes last month. The 1200m of the Karrakatta is the only query…a good gate will bring her right into the race.”
Cavanagh has been involved in racing for over 50 years but his life doesn’t revolve wholly and solely around horses. A firm believer that participants should have other interests outside the industry, he’s currently celebrating a seventh year as an Australia Day Ambassador.
That role began at Coleraine-Glen Thompson in 2012 followed by Edenhope-Harrow (2013), Horsham-Natimuk (2014), Stawell (2015), Wycheproof (2016), Bannockburn (2017) and Ballarat (2018).
“It’s a national program and Ambassadors are drawn from all walks of life – politicians, entertainers, sports stars, community leaders,” Cavanagh said. “I was nominated by David Mann and chose the regional areas instead of the city and suburbs.
“Ballarat has been a highlight for me with its rich history from the gold-rush days to its architecture and racing culture. After the speeches and flag-raising ceremonies, we went to the soccer club for lunch and that brought back memories.
“It’s situated on the old Miners Rest racecourse which was closed in the 1960s. Racing used to be pivotal in bringing towns together. It was part of the social fabric and we have to make sure it continues to be an important component of country life.
“I’ve learned so much about the people who helped shape the Victorian western districts and there have been some real surprises along the way.
“Helena Rubenstein was a refugee from Poland when she arrived in Australia. She moved to Coleraine in 1894 and lived there for three years before going to Melbourne for a time and then back to Europe to launch her cosmetics company.
“The first Australian cricket tourists in 1866 were a team of aboriginals from Harrow near the South Australian border. They were coached by Tom Wills who was one of the founders of Australian Rules football. He had to sneak them on board the boat at Queenscliff before it sailed to England.”
Team captain Johnny Mullagh was a star of the tour and Cavanagh’s involvement went to another level when he helped initiate the Mullagh-Wills Foundation with former Carlton AFL media-director Ian Coutts.
“We had a ceremony at the MCG on the morning of the 2016 Boxing Day Test to commemorate its 150th anniversary and Aunty Joy carried a message book and message stick on to the ground before the match. Another Aboriginal team will travel to England this year and there will be a ceremony at Lords.”
Put that down as another goal for Cavanagh outside of racing. “It’s reconciliation through sport and a peaceful way of finding common ground,” he reasoned. “It’s as relevant on Boxing Day and Australia Day as it is for every day of the year.”
Federation of Bloodstock Agents Australia (FBAA) was formed in 1988 to maintain, improve and develop the standards, status and services of bloodstock agents throughout Australia. Its members operate with the utmost integrity and professionalism and are bound by the strict Industry Code of Conduct.