In terms of racing heights, it doesn’t get any bigger than Group 1 glory and that’s exactly what Julia-Rose Hayes has experienced, along with her passionate group of co-owners, with their beloved On The Bubbles (or ‘Boli’ as he’s known around the yard).
Tell me a little about how the ownership group for On The Bubbles was formed.
We caught up with some keen horse racing enthusiasts in the Viaduct after Cool Aza Beel and Probabeel took out their respective Karaka Million 2YO & 3YO divisions in January 2020. One of them, Jarrod Smith who races On The Bubbles with his fiancé Rebekah Palmer had a decent collect through a multi bet and said to us he wanted some “skin in the game.”
With the Karaka Sales the following day, we sought after picking a horse that we could get our friends involved in with our ongoing banter continuing from the night prior that ‘we’re going to get the next Karaka Million winner.’ At the sales we really took a liking to ‘Boli’. We were fortunate that David Ellis and the Te Akau team had bought the horse at the Sales and this was one horse that we had to be involved with. We got in touch with our friends who joined us in the ownership and rest was history!
He's taken you on a ride and a half! Tell me about that.
He sure has. He’s proven himself to be extremely versatile. Not many 2YO’s can sustain a preparation like On the Bubbles, racing for the first time in December, winning the Karaka Million and still having enough in the tank to win a Group One at the end of season.
I guess we first knew that the horse had his fair share of ability after he trialled at Te Teko in August where he flashed home for second to an eventual stakes winner Brix. He was a bit disappointing trialling at Ellerslie and Avondale and Jamie Richards and David Ellis made the decision to geld the horse. He was kept in work during this procedure and it would prove to be a stroke of genius. He was able to win on debut at Awapuni, looping the field from a wide draw and sprinting twice in the race to secure his spot in the Karaka Million. It was hard to weigh him up against the other Te Akau two-year-olds and it wasn’t until he blew them away in his next start at Ellerslie that we knew we had a serious horse on our hands.
From there, he went to win the Karaka Million, place twice to exciting Snitzel colt Sword of State and then topped the season off by winning his first Group 1 and our first Group One as owners in the Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes.
We’ve had some big celebrations ‘on the bubbles’ along the way and made some lifelong friends within the awesome group of people that are in the ownership. Everyone in this group and their connections are just so passionate about racing - we all share a great bond through the love for him and the experience. It’s pretty amazing that we’ve had over 150 supporter caps for ‘On The Bubbles’ produced with another order on the way! It’s fair to say, we have all needed to go to the spelling paddock by this point and are looking forward to the prospects of doing it all over again next season!
Explain the feeling of watching your horse win a race.
If I reflect back on the Karaka Million it was a genuine blur - my husband Hamish and I could not even get to sleep the days before as we were just so so so excited to have the favourite in the race. I went into that day with a pretty open mind. We were drawn wide and it was a fairly open race on paper even though Jamie Richards had told us he was in top order. Everyone dreams of winning a big race as an owner and I was beyond ecstatic as I was watching On the Bubbles stretch out and win the Karaka Million by 2 lengths. It was a dream come true, we had spent weeks saying what if - what if and wow that dream became a reality for us. It’s up there with one of the best moments of my life - I went in to shock and shed some pretty happy tears. As George Simon said we sure were ‘ON THE BUBBLES ALL NIGHT LONG!’
Does one win stand out as being particularly special to yourself?
It’s very hard to split the Karaka Million and Group One Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes. They are both equally special for different reasons. There’s not another night like the Karaka Million night, but wow it is pretty special to say you’ve been in the ownership of a Group 1 winner. His winning photos alongside his Karaka Million framed shoes take pride of place on our walls at home.
For someone looking to get involved in racing, what would you suggest as a good first step?
I would say just take that step and do it! Dreams are free and that’s the magic of racing! It doesn’t have to be expensive and it can be a great avenue for the love of the equine, socialising and to meet new people.
Do your research, head out to the Karaka Sales or the Ready To Run sales and meet your prospective trainers. Ask questions and never be afraid to engage in the process so you can truly catch the racing bug. I always say I learn something everyday working in racing and it’s true!
Why do you LOVE racing?
I LOVE racing because it brings people together like nothing else. It’s the reason my family and friends are so close, as we all love the beauty and talent of our equine friends and the thrill we get from racing and following them on and off the track is simply the feeling of love.