Sean Buckley Ultra Tune

Sean Buckley interview – Does he regret selling Nature Strip for $80k?

The short answer is no! Sean Buckley discusses the success of Ultra Racing and Nature Strip in an exclusive interview with

“It is a business that is developing every day and it is an industry I love being a part of,” Buckley said.

But when you strike early in your racing career, like Buckley did with Miss Andretti, that is risk reward. But in this sense, winning a race at Royal Ascot, with a horse sourced from Western Australia, is not about the bottom line.

“I still remember seeing trainer Lee Freedman singling Waltzing Matilda and drinking out of the trophy in the car park. I had my wife and kids with me, we had been to Dubai for a holiday, we got invited to the Royal Box, it was just the best day ever,” Buckley said.

Sean Buckley
Sean Buckley celebrating Miss Andretti’s King’s Stand win with Lee Freedman and Craig Newitt Picture: Gary Crispe

And it was a whirlwind week from the Tuesday when Craig Froggie Newitt getting home, leading fellow Aussies, Magnus into third and Takeover Target into fourth.

“I got offered $10 million from an Arab Sheik for her to run in his colours on the Saturday in the Golden Jubilee, but knocked that back. It wasn’t about the money.”

Miss Andretti failed in the Golden Jubilee, finishing 15th, with Takeover Target second to Soldier’s Tale but she’d come home and straight up in the spring won the Group 2 Schweppes at The Valley and Group 1 Age Classic at Flemington in Cup Week.

So too it wasn’t about the money with watching Nature Strip win on Tuesday night either.

“You could say I sold a horse for $80,000 that has won $18m, but honestly that is good for business, I don’t regret selling, I strive to breed a horse like that, I breed plenty of horses every year, I can’t keep them all,” Buckley said.

“I have a budget every year to buy mares and I think we paid $500,000 for Strikeline off the track, sent her to Star Witness and she produced a horse called The Barrister that we sold to Hong Kong.”O

And Sean Buckley now has Strikeline, the mother of Nature Strip, back in foal to Nicconi and you would suggest without much argument, that it won’t be sold.

It might seem though a touch ironic that is was both Miss Andretti and Strikeline which gave Buckley unwarranted headlines over an alleged embryo transplantation scheme. It was something that saw Buckley banned from racing horses (only) in Victoria until the matter settled with no action taken (but some damage done reputationally).

“I complied with every direction of the authorities and the stewards in relation to the inquiry. I was open and transparent, there was never any intention of any subsequent foal being registered with the studbook, we were simply regenerating their breeding cycles and it has worked.

“It was an embarrassment at the times, but we had never done anything wrong, and the right outcome was reached with Racing Victoria.”

Horseracing - racehorse Miss Andretti (l) ridden by jockey Craig Newitt winning race 6 from Gold Edition ridden by Damien Oliver at Caulfield 10 Mar 2007.  a/ct

Miss Andretti defeating Gold Edition at Caulfield in 2007

Buckley and headlines are no strangers. His expensive UltraTune advertising campaigns features the likes of Mike Tyson, Charlie Sheen, Pamela Anderson and other Hollywood celebrities, featured almost annually as the most complained about to with the Australia’s Advertising Standards.

“They kept changing the laws and we kept changing the ads,” said Buckley, “it was like a cat chasing a mouse, but we might have spent $3m on blocking out ads for a month and get $1.5m in publicity out of the backlash, they almost paid for themselves,” he said.

But that business nouse isn’t lost on Buckley as an investor or entrepreneur.

“It’s a good question what we can do to boost the image of racing or attracting a younger appeal. I still say it’s a rich man’s game. Horses are getting more expensive, and as good as syndication has been, I am not sure how much more recommitment on spend or new money is coming in.

“It is a sport and industry that relies heavily on the gambling dollar, as well as one that struggles with public perception on cruelty, the whip and animal welfare.”

A Buckley like UltraTune campaign mightn’t be the answer. He had actor Alec Baldwin – as Donald Trump signed to be his next advertising star – I’m not sure that could carry over into a racing relevance, but it is worth listening to someone who works and lives and has been successful outside of the – dare I say – racing bubble – while a major investor in it at the same time.

Read more from this interview with Sean Buckley over at


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