Tynong owner/trainer Tom Scanlon broke a long drought in the metropolitan area last week when his bargain basement mare Elegant Queen led all the way over 1400 metres in benchmark 64 company at Sandown with promising Cranbourne apprentice Ethan Brown in the saddle.
For many years Scanlon has trained a small team (usually two horses) from his farm, which in recent years he has converted from dairy cattle to beef cattle to enjoy semi-retirement. Scanlon milked 100 dairy cows on the property for more than 30 years.
His previous city winner was the gallant grey Distraction, who saluted in March 2006 at Sandown, piloted by another dairy farmer in legendary hoop Neville Wilson.
Scanlon bought Elegant Queen for $1500 as a yearling from a Scone sale in 2014 and races the daughter of Nicconi with wife Ann, and children Kathy (Upton), Rachel, Daniel, Paul and Alanna (Pomeroy).
The victory was Elegant Queen’s sixth from 28 starts, with her stake money at $124,890.
Despite never having had many horses in his stable, Scanlon has enjoyed his share of success, learning the basics from his father (Tom senior) and brother Kevin, who trained Coroner to win the Pakenham Cup in 1979 and 1980.
Local jockey Ian Virtue rode Coroner on both occasions.
Virtue, now 77, still rides track work at Pakenham on a regular basis, having retired from race riding in 2001.
Tom Scanlon first tasted success as a trainer in 1982, when a mare called Must Have Blue won at Traralgon and Stony Creek with Graham Virtue (Ian’s son) in the saddle.
Must Have Blue’s son Show Off Lad (by then-popular stallion Bit of a Skite) won seven races (at Pakenham, Stony Creek, Drouin, Traralgon, Healesville, Yea and Balnarring).
By then Scanlon had the training bug and there was no stopping him.
Success stories for the stable over the years include Navajo Poet, a $600 purchase from Caulfield trainer Brendan McCarthy who went on to win eight races ($143,490 stakes) including city events at Moonee Valley and Caulfield, and still holds the Traralgon 1430-metre track record, set in December 1996.
Distraction joined Scanlon after winning seven races in Queensland. He was finally retired as an 11-year-old with 18 wins to his credit from 147 starts.
His Sandown win as an eight-year-old was the highlight of his career with Scanlon, who led him off a motorbike in training.
Tried horse purchases Jeune de Coeur (eight wins) and Holy Heart (two wins) have been good money-spinners for the stable in recent years.
Elegant Queen will tackle a heat of the Mitavite Summer Challenge at Sandown on February 22.