Cover image courtesy of Caitlin Lavin
Uncommon James is co-trained by Caitlin's husband Matt Hoysted, who is less than a year into his training partnership with Steven O'Dea at Eagle Farm, a combination which has yielded 45 wins, but none yet at stakes level.
The Cable Bay (Ire) colt only had his first trial a month ago but the promise he showed there has been followed up by a close-up second on debut at the Gold Coast and then a comfortable 3l win at the Sunshine Coast last Friday.
The quick back-up into his first stakes test is not the usual path with a 2-year-old, but he has shown such relish for what has been put in front of him, the decision was made by Lavin and Hoysted to raise their sights with him.
"We have been monitoring him every day since his last run. Backing up 13 days into eight days is probably not the most ideal campaign, but it turned out that way because they put that race on at the Gold Coast a couple of weeks back," she told TDN AusNZ.
"Backing up 13 days into eight days is probably not the most ideal campaign, but it turned out that way because they put that race on at the Gold Coast a couple of weeks back." - Caitlin Lavin
"Since last week, he has eaten up. I believe the chiropractor has been over him, everyone is happy with him, he's been working well and is full of beans."
Pick of the bunch
Lavin runs Lavin Racing and Breeding, which is based at Noosa, and while the operation has scaled down from when she conducted her own training operation there five years ago, she still has a small band of broodmares she breeds from.
One of them is Pickabee (Jet Spur), a talented stakes-placed mare which she won five races with as a trainer in the family colours, and who is the dam of Uncommon James.
"I raced Pickabee and I personally thought highly of her. She had a few issues towards the end of her career, but I had a good opinion of her," she said.
"She was quite a massive horse, a massive broodmare, so I needed a stallion which wasn't too big. I was looking around and I had heard about Cable Bay at Woodside Park.
"I was in contact with Rick Jamieson and he was very interested in mating Pickabee with him. Rick was selecting the mares for him. He gave Pickabee the highest rating with Cable Bay. Obviously, he is a man who knows what he is talking about when it comes to his strike rate with breeding, I trusted that and went for it."
"He (Rick Jamieson) gave Pickabee the highest rating with Cable Bay. Obviously, he is a man who knows what he is talking about when it comes to his strike rate with breeding, I trusted that and went for it." - Caitlin Lavin
The resultant colt was foaled in late October 2018, and while he had some time to make up on the others on the farm, it quickly became apparent he had the right attitude to make a decent racehorse.
"He was one of four colts on the farm that year and he was the youngest by a few months, so he was always a little behind them in size and maturity, but nothing ever went wrong with him. He never went shinny, he never went fizzy in the head. He was always keeping up to the work he was given," she said.
"It’s an easier job when you have a horse with no issues or hiccups. We just keep pressing on and he just keeps delivering. He's still very green, but that's good, because there is a lot to work with there. He's a sound, happy horse and so we have been keen to keep raising the bar."
Lavin, who in a busy year is still completing the paperwork to officially change her surname to Hoysted, admits it's an added advantage being married to the colt's trainer.
"The updates I get are probably a bit better than the average owner," she said.
Ten-week old Lydia is keeping Caitlin busy as well, as she tries to fit her and Matt's routine with the horses around their new-found responsibilities as parents.
"She came to the races last week to see Uncommon James win. That was her first win, and she slept through the whole thing!"
A passion shared
Caitlin still travels up to Noosa for a few days each week to keep an eye on the Lavin family farm.
"We’ve only got a couple of broodmares. We scaled down a lot. We had 60 horses all up, which were 100 per cent owned across the Lavin family but we want to concentrate on quality not quantity," she said.
"We want to build up a bit but be able to afford the stallions that might cost a bit more, rather than have to spread across the cheaper ones."
"We want to build up a bit but be able to afford the stallions that might cost a bit more, rather than have to spread across the cheaper ones." - Caitlin Lavin
Pickabee is a good example of that having been to Newgate's Capitalist and Coolmore's Yes Yes Yes in the past two years. She produced a Capitalist filly last year.
"She's a little pocket rocket. She's a good size, a muscly little thing. She's got some attitude in her, but she's a nice filly," she said.
In foal to Yes Yes Yes, a stallion hasn't been chosen for Pickabee to go to in 2021 as yet.
Caitlin has great memories of her short but successful training career, where she was able to prepare 23 winners, having taken over from her father Peter. Most of those winners came in the white and blue hoops of the Lavin family.
"I loved it. I was obsessed with it. We had a lot of horses. Unfortunately a few years ago, Dad got terminal cancer, so I had to stop training and work in the family business. That was what caused me to get out of training," she said.
"I still hold my licence but my husband now has his training career with Steve, so I wouldn’t look to go back as yet.
"We’ve got all the training facilities here on the farm, where I live for half of the week, with the treadmill and the pool and walker and all that kind of stuff. It’s there if I need it but after having a baby and with Matt and Steve's partnership going really well, I'll leave it at that for now."
Hoysted, who has worked for Lloyd Williams and Michael Moroney before joining up with O'Dea, comes from one of Australia's great racing families and as his biggest supporter, Caitlin sees a long and successful career for her husband.
"His background is immense for the age he is. He was worked with horses pretty much from the day he could walk. He's got that great history with his family on both sides. He is very meticulous and pedantic about the horses and likes everything to be perfect. He's a hard worker and a good trainer," she said.