Dunc’s mistake a Group Three winner

True Enough winning the Gr.3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m). Photo: Trish Dunell

Recent Gr.3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) winner True Enough (NZ) (Nom du Jeu) is what you would call a fortunate mistake.

Co-owner and breeder Mick Preston had his dam Valda’s Dream (NZ) (Sakura Seeking) booked to visit Fairdale Stud’s Full Fledged in 2012, but an oversight resulted in her being covered by Nom du Jeu instead who she had missed to previously.

“She was supposed to go to Fully Fledged but Duncan Fell made a blue and put her to Nom du Jeu,” Preston said. “To be honest I tried to think of a name like ‘Dunc’s Mistake’ or something.”

There are obviously no hard feelings as True Enough has gone on to win seven of his 15 starts and place in another six including a third behind Volpe Veloce in the Gr.2 Japan-NZ International Trophy (1600m).

True Enough could be in for his biggest season yet, with the six-year-old gelding holding a nomination for next month’s Gr.2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton.

Preston has had a long association with the family of True Enough, purchasing his granddam Kerry’s Dream (NZ) (Sir Sydney) in the late 1980s.

“Kerry’s Dream was bred by a very old friend of mine Kerry O’Brien,” Preston said.

“Kerry passed away and I bought her from his estate from the Waikato Sales when she was either a yearling or a two-year-old.”

Kerry’s Dream went on to win three races, all over a mile, earning her spot in Preston’s broodmare band. Valda’s Dream, named after Preston’s wife, was her fourth and final foal and was a winner over 1200m.

True Enough is the fourth foal out of Valda’s Dream, she has produced two other winners including Victory Drive who has just returned to pre-training.

“When I retired and sold my farm about 12 years ago I kept Valda’s Dream for a while and then it was getting too dear to be paying for grazing so I gave her to Mr Keenan in Wanganui.

“He had a young horse that he was trying to get off the ground as a stallion (Dial A Prayer) so I thought he could have a go with her and I knew he would give her a good home.

“Since then I bought one by Dial A Prayer out of Valda’s Dream.”

It is a feat in itself that True Enough made it to the races, let alone perform as he does due to poor health as a youngster. Preston recalls how a serious case of travel sickness nearly cost the then two-year-old his life.

“I didn’t see him till he was broken in as a rising two-year-old,” Preston said.

“It was his first time on a float and he came up from Palmerston North to Cambridge to get broken in and he got very travel sick.

“We nearly lost him. He was in a very bad way for quite some time but Alison Henry and the Cambridge Vets nursed him back to health.”

Once recovered and through his early education with John Malcom, True Enough was sent to the stable of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.

“I have known Murray for many years, since the 1980s,” Preston said. “The reason I sent True Enough and Victory Drive to Baker was because Murray had trained Nom du Jeu and he knew the family well.

“I thought he will be keen enough to have one.

“My friends that I have raced horses with and trained for a bit Warren and Delwyn Outtrim, bought half of him off me and it has gone on from there. They also own a share in the one by Dial A Prayer.”

Growing up as one of six boys in Wellington, Preston has been around horses for as long as he can remember through his father’s West Derby Stud in Ohau and his involvement in the thoroughbred world, by his own admission, was inevitable.

“Right from when I was a baby my Dad had horses so I didn’t have any alternative but to be involved with them,” Preston said.

“I can remember being on the stud as a kid, I had ponies before that, went hunting and amateur riding.”

Preston senior, a butcher by trade, would often give his boys a mare to breed from and the resulting foal would head to the sales.

“I had my first yearling go through the sales around 1943 I think,” Preston said.

“We were pretty young when Dad would give us mares so we could start breeding.”

This not only sparked a life-long involvement in the thoroughbred industry for Mick, but also his brother Paddy who has celebrated success as an owner and breeder and is a great supporter of the industry through Mills Reef Winery.

Though True Enough is the best horse Preston has been involved with as an owner he is no stranger to stakes race success. As a trainer he prepared top horses such as 1985 Wellington Cup winner Imaprince and 1964 Wellington Guineas winner His Grace.

Preston was also one of the original members of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and though he no longer has any mares he has the three racehorses that maintain his stake in the industry.

These days octogenarian Preston doesn’t make it to the races but is still an avid follower of the sport from his home in Taupo.

“I haven’t been to the races in about eight years,” Preston said. “I watch them all on TV, there are not many races that go past that I don’t see.”

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