Packer missed Melbourne Cup boat with costly stayer

  An attempt by the recently deceased billionaire Kerry Packer and his good mate Lloyd Williams to win the 1986 Melbourne Cup with a leading English stayer acquired at a price rumoured to be several million dollars came adrift when the horse broke down on arrival in Australia.This horse, Longboat, had proved an outstanding stayer by finishing first and second in two cracks at England's premier stamina test in their flat racing, the Ascot Gold Cup over 4000 metres.

   Winner all told in England of nine of 18 starts including six stakes victories, this son of the good European sire Welsh Pageant was instead shuffled off to Packer's huge pastoral empire Ellerston east of Scone as a sire.

   He was never available commercially and from 11 seasons of use only had 59 foals returned to the Stud Book. Only five raced but three were country winners and another placed at Newcastle.

  The Packer-Williams partnership also tried to buy Kensei, the winner of the1986 Melbourne Cup, a short time before the big race but an offer of $1.5 million could not persuade his six owners to part with him.

  Unlike his father Frank, the owner for some years of the Aluinn Stud near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley and of quite a few good gallopers, Kerry was only involved in thoroughbred breeding and racehorse ownership on a very small scale.

  However, along with Williams, he raced the great galloper Mahogany (19 wins,16 stakes including eight Group1s, successes included AJC and VRC Derbys, VRC Australian Guineas, Caulfield Guineas and two renewals of the VRC Lightning Stakes) and champion two-year-old filly Merlene (won five of six career starts including the Golden Slipper and AJC Sires' Produce Stakes).