Eduardo Cojuangco was renowned for his business sense but it was horses that captured his heart.
A long-time boss of food and beverage company San Miguel and principal of thoroughbred nursery Gooree Park Stud, the Filipino businessman died this week aged 85.
Gooree manager Andrew Baddock worked for Cojuangco for more than three decades and said despite his boss’ worldy success, he was never happier than when with his horses.
“Even though he was a really wealthy businessman and politician, he was probably a farmer at heart,” Baddock said.
“He loved nothing better than coming out here and looking at his mares and foals.”
Renowned for their strong frames and hardy constitutions, Gooree horses have had sustained success on and off the track.
Group One winner Desert War is among the best to have sported Gooree’s well known colours of red with black stripes, while Northern Meteor, Your Song and Hallowed Crown have also forged careers at stud.
Baddock said Cojuangco had a soft spot for 2002 AJC Derby winner Don Eduardo, who was named after his father, and the ill-fated Northern Meteor who had a short but spectacular chapter as a stallion.
“He enjoyed winning a maiden at the provincials and winning a Group One. He realised how hard any of it was to do,” Baddock said.
The grandfather of Godolphin trainer James Cummings’s wife Monica, Cojuangco routinely had around 100 horses in training at the height of his bloodstock investment.
He had scaled that back to 50 as his health deteriorated and Baddock said those horses would continue racing, at least in the short-term.
Cojuangco’s death comes three months after Gooree announced it would open its doors to outside clients for the first time in 35 years, offering an array of services including pre-training and sales preparation.
“It doesn’t happen overnight but we’ve just got to get our name out there, let people know we’re available and the facilities are here for everyone to use,” Baddock said.
“It’s a unique property where you can go from conception to being ready to race and not leave the farm.”
Gooree won’t have a runner at Randwick on Saturday but it will be represented at Newcastle by the Kris Lees-trained Awesome Lad.
Baddock won’t be surprised to see some divine intervention.
“I’d be backing the next one that runs,” he said.