Army of supporters living their Doncaster dream

Collinsville, a mining town with a population of 2000,  is roughly the same number of kilometres from Royal Randwick - and home to the most ardent Alma's Fury supporters you will find.

Trainer Paul Murray takes Alma's Fury for a stroll. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Trainer Paul Murray takes Alma's Fury for a stroll. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

While state battle lines are never crossed in rugby league's fiercest amphitheatre, the cheers bellowing from far north Queensland at Doncaster time today will likely be for a home-grown NSW roughie.

"It's amazing how big the following is," said Greg Kern, the conductor of the Queensland-based band of owners.

"One of the owners works out on a mine site out at Mt Isa and everybody out there, plus the mining township of Collinsville where my sister has a number of businesses in the town . . . everybody barracks for Alma's Fury."

Maybe none more so than Kern and his family, scattered up and down Queensland's east coast.

First there's brother David, plus sister Margaret, who town legend has it boasts a Monopoly-like assortment of businesses in Collinsville. Then there's Townsville-based cousin Jim, an accountant.

They can thank former Australian Securities and Investments Commission head and ex-Racing NSW chairman Tony Hartnell for the Alma's Fury 'ride'.

In breeding circles, he's best known for nurturing world champion sprinter Takeover Target at his Meringo Stud property near Moruya, the closest stud farm to the Pacific Ocean. Hartnell retains a 50 per cent stake in Alma's Fury.

But he was also responsible for introducing Greg Kern to Kembla Grange horseman Paul Murray, who trained the ill-fated Predatory Pricer for Hartnell.

"I've always been interested in racing," Kern said.

"I'm a company director and I've been on the board of companies with Tony Hartnell.

"Tony's a former chairman of ASIC and a senior partner in Atanaskovic Hartnell, so we'd have board retreats at his stud farm. That's when I started buying horses."

None were even remotely close to Alma's Fury, which is at $71 with bookmakers for the famous $2-million Randwick mile. Kern never dreamed of his protege featuring in the prestigious event.

Up to late December, in 18 starts against stakes company, he had never won.

Alma's Fury went down in a head-bobber to All Legal in the Villiers Stakes prior to Christmas.

And even as late as last Sunday connections were still leaning towards a Stradbroke-centric campaign in Queensland after the five-year-old rallied for second in the Doncaster Prelude.

"The horse went very well last week and we think the horse is probably at its peak," Kern said.

"It was a 50-50 decision, but we thought it's going well at the moment so let's have a go at the Doncaster.

"Paul [Murray] has done a lot of work to get the horse to where it is today and we think the horse has got a chance. Obviously we're up against the great Pierro. He's a great horse - but you're always going to come up against something like that in a Doncaster.

"Paul said we've just got keep working at it and try different things - and he was right. Paul is focused on getting the results."

And if he pulls off the biggest result of his training career to date, the folk of far north Queensland will know it.


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