“My wife Linsey and I were watching the Carlton game and she kept making up double-strength cocktails.
“I had about three of them, and I was so happy when Carlton won with that goal after the siren that I thought I would try and ring Coolmore and ask about Sir Dragonet again.”
Kheir says he then spoke to Coolmore Australia boss Tom Magnier, with whom he had earlier negotiated, and took part in a three-way conversation with him and his brother, MV Magnier, to negotiate a fair deal.
“I was thinking if Carlton could get a win after the siren, I might be able to get this horse,” he said.
“I have been looking at him for about a year, ever since he beat Dashing Willoughby by nearly 10 lengths [when winning the 2400-metre Chester Vase, an Epsom Derby trial, on soft ground at his second start].
“They just wanted too much money for him then. We also tried to get him three months ago, but he was still too expensive.”
Kheir would not disclose the purchase price, but said it was ‘”nowhere near'” the $3 million reported cost.
He and Coolmore have dealt with each other in the past, with both having interests in Everest winner Yes Yes Yes, while he bought Il Paradiso from the Irish group after its unlucky run in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
Sir Dragonet, to be trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace at Caulfield, will be aimed at the Cox Plate and then the Melbourne Cup. On Tuesday, the TAB slashed the horse’s Cox Plate odds from $51 into $11 equal favourite with Russian Camelot.
“I watched his earlier races and I thought this is a horse who will stay further than the 2000 metres,” Kheir said.
“This is what we are all in racing for, to be involved in the biggest and best races on the great days in the spring.”
Sir Dragonet’s best win – at Chester – was on a very soft surface, so whatever he does in the Melbourne spring he is likely to encounter those conditions if he is aimed at the big races in Sydney next autumn.
Meanwhile Aspetar, a $15 Cox Plate chance with the TAB, was scratched by Roger Charlton ahead of Wednesday night’s group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York following unsatisfactory blood test results.
Godolphin star Ghaiyyath is the heavy favourite, while O’Brien’s Magical – who beat Sir Dragonet in the Gold Cup and is Cox Plate nominated – is among the contenders.
The winner of the Juddmonte International Stakes will earn an invite to Melbourne and is eligible for a $1 million Cox Plate bonus should it complete the double.
Damien Ractliffe is the Chief Racing Reporter for The Age.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing