How 25c bets laid foundation for incredible $5m Quokka dream

Craig Thompson may now be striving to score a $5m slot race but his racing passion kicked off as a kid when he stood outside the local TAB and got hardened punters to place 25c bets for him.

Thompson is a shipping magnate, the owner of WA’s Mount Hallowell Stud and a slot owner in The Quokka who will have explosive Sydney sprinter King Of Sparta running for him in the dash for cash in Perth on Saturday.

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Thompson’s first foray into horse ownership was with Theseo and he struck gold with the Gai Waterhouse-trained freak who won five Group 1s between 2008 and 2010.

But much further back, Thompson was bitten by the racing bug when he was 15 and hatched a plan to earn loose change so he could have a bet.

“When I was a kid, I started a lawn mowing service using the old man’s lawnmower so I could pick up a couple of bucks and have 25c bets,” Thompson told Racenet.

“I lived 300 yards down from the local TAB so my mates and I would select some horses we wanted to back and, because we were underage, we would ask some random bloke to go into the TAB to put our bets on.

Craig Thompson, who has King Of Sparta racing in his slot in the $5m The Quokka in Perth. Picture: Western Racepix

“Then we had to keep an eye on that bloke coming out of the TAB to give us our ticket and we also had to watch out for my old man coming down the road to put a bet on for himself.

“I did that for a few years and there was only one bloke who did me in when he ran off with the (betting) ticket himself.

“I think I was influenced by hearing the radio at home, which was on the races all the time.

“My old man is 97 now and he still has $1 each-way on horses.”

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Thompson, who had Queenslander Uncommon James run eighth in his Quokka slot last year, operates a major shipping company in WA which among other things acts as shipping agents, vessel operators and marine surveyors.

He had bloodstock agent Bruce Slade, who he first met in his days racing Theseo, assist in choosing the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained King Of Sparta to race in his Quokka slot on Saturday.

Sydney Racing

King Of Sparta is a key chances in The Quokka. Picture: Getty Images

King Of Sparta has been in devastating form, winning a $1m race on Gold Coast Magic Millions day before scoring the Group 2 Expressway Stakes at Randwick.

“This horse’s last two wins have been phenomenal,” Thompson said.

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“Fingers crossed he can handle getting across the country and racing the other way of going, that’s probably the biggest concern.

“It can be done, but it’s a tough gig.

“I do think we are right up to our ears in the race.

“The first horse I got into is the best horse I have ever had – Theseo.

“It won five Group 1s and it probably should have won seven or eight.

“Theseo won over $3m and that would probably be something like $15m these days, it was a great way to get into racing ownership.”

King Of Sparta, with champion jockey Blake Shinn to ride, is an imposing chance to give Sydney horses back-to-back wins in The Quokka after Bjorn Baker-trained Overpass won the inaugural edition last year.


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