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The day AFL boss Demetriou almost derailed Stradbroke fairytale



While racing is full of stories of cheap horses making it to the big time, Soxagon takes it to a new level after Burke purchased a “fire sale” mare for $600 and eventually sent her to a free stallion which produced a foal with “awful” legs that would go on to net almost $1m in prizemoney.Heading into retirement in his final days as sports editor at The Courier-Mail, Burke almost even had his grand plan derailed by former AFL supremo Andrew Demetriou.“I was going through the Magic Millions catalogue, it was the broodmare sale and there was a (Nathan) Tinkler fire sale added on to the end of it,” Burke said. “I picked out 10 mares in foal, half a dozen or so of them got withdrawn. “In the end, I didn’t even end up going because Andrew Demetriou, who was the CEO of the AFL at the time, decided during the week that he was going to be up here on the Friday with his entourage and wanted to have lunch in the boardroom. “I was still going out the door and (former editor) David Fagan suggested I should hang around (to host Demetriou).“My wife Anne and son Dominic went down to the sale and came back with two mares.”One of those mares was Strike On Goal, who was in foal to Raheeb at the time, that Burke would go on to sell at the Magic Millions. His biggest decision then came on where to go next with his bargain basement mare.“I was talking to (former racing editor at The Courier-Mail) Bart (Sinclair) and he said Kevin Dixon, the former Racing Queensland chairman who was running a stud at the time, had a couple of free services,” he said, adding they were Monashee Mountain and Rocker.“Bart said to go for Monashee Mountain, he had sired a Stradbroke winner in La La Montagna and I thought it made sense, but then I thought about it and saw Rocker was by Fastnet Rock out of an Encosta De Lago mare.“You can’t get better blood than that anywhere in the world, let alone Australia so I said I was going with Rocker – I loved him as a horse.”The rest is history, but Burke said the fairytale story wouldn’t have been possible without his vet Stuart Bryce, who eventually came up with the name for the horse and Melissa Porter from Karalee Park, who prepared the horse as a juvenile before making his way to Toowoomba to race.“(Bryce) named him, he had four white feet when he was born and then when we want to freeze-brand him after three or so months, Bryce was doing the markings and I said ‘what’s missing?’” Burke said.“He couldn’t see it, then he looked at the photos and he went ‘the socks are gone’.”Soxagon is rated a $17 chance with TAB to win Saturday’s Stradbroke Handicap.

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