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(E) Diva, who races in the red and white colours of Croatia
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  11/11/2003 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Diva, who races in the red and white colours of Croatia


Croatian Cup winner poised to take on the world

Makybe Diva, who races in the red and white colours of Croatia

By Ernie Manning

MELBOURNE Cup winner Makybe Diva is poised to take on the world's best gallopers in an overseas campaign. Owner Tony Santic, the millionaire South Australian tuna fisherman, announced plans for his five-year-old shortly after  yesterday's triumph at Flemington.
And trainer David Hall agreed the mare had the capacity to step up to the world stage.
Santic wants to takes his horse back to Europe and show the world how good she can be.
He said: "I bred Makybe Diva at a European stud and then tried to sell her there. Prospective buyers showed little  interest and offered only small amounts as a purchase price.
"I'd like to take her back to Europe and show them now how good she really is."
Santic's life story would make a movie script. Almost broke and on the verge of being evicted from his house several  years ago, he bounced back to be a leader in tuna fishing.
He also owns more than 100 thoroughbreds. Santic's family migrated from the Croatian island of Lobasta 45 years ago. He said: "My father went to work for the Ford Motor Factory at Geelong but within five years moved on to South Australia and returned to his old occupation of fishing."
Santic entered the fishing industry as a teenager but it was anything but a smooth ride.
He explained: "We had tuna fishing quota problems in the late 80s and the company went into receivership in 1990 and the bank was going to evict me, my wife Christine and five children from the house. "By the mid-90s, tuna fishing was booming again and I was able to go into my long time dream of racing gallopers. "I now have 50 mares and foals. I bought about 30 thoroughbreds in New Zealand a few years ago. "I'm still a hands-on fisherman in our business but I'll soon be concentrating on my horses, with my family taking over the fishing." Santic admitted he liked to punt big. "My first two bets on Makybe Diva at the call of the card yesterV More, page 111Big-race victory was planned to the letter V From back pageday were wagers to win $300,000 and $200,000," he said. "Two months ago, I backed Makybe Diva at 50/1, putting on $2000, with the $100,000 from that to go to my family." Makybe Diva, who races in the red and white colours of Croatia, with a Southern Cross for Australia, was named after the  girls in Santic's South Australian office. "They chose the registration by combining their own names, Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Diane and Vanessa," he said. While Santic had his office girls to thank for the name, Hall, 40, also had a lucky charm riding with him in yesterday's  race. "My partner, Leslee, gave me a lucky penny for my birthday yesterday week," Hall said. "I'll certainly make sure I never
lose the penny. "Hall outlined how the victory was planned for over 12 months.
"Makybe Diva did not win between last year's Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington in November and today," he said. "Everything was focused on her being at a peak when racing fifth-up at the Melbourne Cup." Hall is a son of Adelaide trainer Joe Hall and a cousin of former prominent northern jockey Greg Hall. "In 1987 I came to a Melbourne Cup carnival and won a minor event with Blue Boss," he said. "I was encouraged to move to
Melbourne and we bought stables at Epsom before moving on to stables at Flemington.
"I knew Flemington well because I'd worked there during my school holidays with my uncle Brian Hall, who was stable
foreman for the late trainer Tony Lopes at the famous Chicquita Lodge.
"I now have a 65-horse Flemington stable and 160 gallopers on my books.
"Tony Santic has been a patient owner and I told him early Makybe Diva was a staying type who would take plenty of time to mature.
"The mare will now go for a spell and then we'll look at Tony's overseas plans."
Hall has 20 horses in work for Santic and he believes the best might be yet to come from the mare because of her continued improvement. He comes from a large racing family and his father, Joe, is a successful trainer in Adelaide where 40-year-old Hall jun. also began his career. Hall sen. sent David to Sacred Heart College, the same school as master trainer Bart Cummings, who knows more about winning Melbourne Cups than anyone else.
November 05, 2003

© 2003 West Australian Newspapers Limited
All Rights Reserved.


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