search the site
The announcement that the royally-bred Viking Ruler will continue his stud life in Victoria is encouraging not only for Victoria’s stallion-starved breeders, but also for the horse himself.
Viking Ruler (b h 1998, Danehill (USA)–Tristalove (NZ), by Sir Tristram (IRE)) will transfer this week from Sir Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge Stud, Cambridge (NZ), to stand at Robert Thompson’s historic Mornmoot Stud, near Whittlesea, only 20kms north of Melbourne.
Thompson said Viking Ruler will be welcome in his new home by taking up residency in the same stallion box that housed Mornmoot’s most famous stallion Century, who died, aged 25, in 1994. Century was crowned Australia’s leading sire in the 1978/79 season – he is the last Victorian-based stallion to achieve the feat.
Viking Ruler won the 2001 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick – his only win in nine starts – although he also finished second in the 2001 Group 2 AAMI Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley and the 2002 Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm before injury halted his career.
The stallion has been a resident of Cambridge Stud at Cambridge, New Zealand, since he retired in 2003. It was a fitting place for the stallion to start his stud career as his dam Tristalove (b m 1990, ex- Our Diamond Lover) was bred by Sir Patrick. She is a Group 1-winning granddaughter of the famous stud’s champion broodmare Eight Carat (GB) (by Pieces Of Eight (GB)).
Let’s be fair dinkum, Hogan is not letting go of Viking Ruler because he’s a huge commercial success, as the stallion’s recent Karaka yearling sales results – he averaged only $NZ16,000 from 10 yearlings sold (20 offered) – suggest he’s lost his appeal.
While Viking Ruler has sired a disappointing three Stakes-winners from his five crops of racing age – the multiple Group winner and Group 1 placed Red Ruler, Bart Cummings’ good sprinter and Group 2 winner Kroner and the 2009 Group 1 Queensland Derby winner Court Ruler – he will get a different type of mare in Australia, and it just might suit him.
It’s true that Cambridge gave the good-looking horse his chance, but it is likely the dour mares he received in New Zealand didn’t nick with this horse, who was a bit one-paced himself. Back in Australia, where the Danehill blood is supreme, Viking Ruler will get mares with speedier pedigrees, especially those with Star Kingdom blood – a proven nick to Danehill – as well as more mares linking to different sons of Northern Dancer than Danehill’s sire Danzig.
Viking Ruler’s younger brother Kempinsky, who also stands in Victoria at Independent Stallions, Nagambie, is starting to leave a few winners as his stock mature as 3YOs. Trainer Mick Price has a good opinion of his recent city-winning son of Kempinsky, No Vacancy (br g 2006, ex Lucid Dream (NZ), by Bassenthwaite (GB)), who trounced Guru Bob over 1200m at Moonee Valley on February 2, and Guru Bob followed up by finishing runner-up to star colt Denman in last Saturday’s Group 2 D’Urban Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Thompson has good client support at Mornmoot, where he stands the stallions Happy Giggle (by Rory’s Jester), Fomalhaut (Spinning World) and El Cumbres (Hussonet). Thompson claims he has 15 bookings to Viking Ruler at a pre-Easter fee of only $5500 (inc. GST) and his targets will be owners of broodmares looking to breed to race; a good tactic in Victoria as there is a wealth of breeders not involved in the commercial yearling sale side of the industry.
For instance, Makybe Diva’s sire Desert King, also by Danehill, is getting good support under at similar criteria at Bombora Downs, Bittern, on the Mornington Peninsula. In the last four seasons Desert King has covered books of 130, 130, 84 and 73 (2009) at a fee of $9900, yet despite that he doesn’t have a yearling in next week’s Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, which suggests that those breeding to him are wanting to retain the offspring to race.
Starspangledbanner’s win in Saturday’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield was confirmation for his new owners, Coolmore, that they made the right decision investing in their latest stallion prospect.
It the second time that the Australian arm of Coolmore has been able to convince owner John Magnier, based in Ireland, to buy an Australian-bred horse for stud duties without the knowledge that the horse’s pedigree and racing performances would make him a suitable prospect for the lucrative shuttle market.
They took the risk with Haradasun (b h 2003, Fusaichi Pegasus (USA)–Circles Of Gold, by Marscay) a couple of years back, and were rewarded when Haradasun won the 2008 Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot to secure his place on the Tipperary roster.
While Starspangledbanner (ch h 2006, Choisir–Gold Anthem, by Made Of Gold (USA)) was already a commercial stallion prospect after his all-the-way win in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield in the spring, his ability to return in the autumn to win again at the highest level has enhanced his reputation.
The colt’s original owners – a syndicate that now races the horse on lease until after the Newmarket Handicap – created post-race scenes normally reserved for a football match, but the boys from Coolmore, Michael Kirwan and Colm Santry, were just as ecstatic. It’s always good to get it right when you are spending the boss’s money.
After the Group 1 Newmarket (1200m) at Flemington on March 6, Starspangledbanner will travel to Ireland to trainer Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle and is likely to be prepared for one or both of the Group 1 sprints – the King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) and the Golden Jubilee Stakes (1200m) (races his sire Choisir won in 2003) – during the Royal Ascot carnival, although the colt is proven at 1600m, so O’Brien could set him for the Queen Anne.
A Group 1 win in England, Ireland or France will see the horse emerge as a lucrative shuttle stallion, which suits Coolmore’s strategy – they are money men and it doesn’t make financial sense to have a stallion resting in his paddock when he could be shuttling to another breeding season in another hemisphere. The till needs to tick, constantly – as it has with Choisir. (Choisir has covered full books in both hemispheres since he retired in 2003, although he is being rested from this shuttle after his Australian spring when he covered 227 mares at a fee of $35,750 (plus GST).
You get the impression that success of the purchase of Starspangledbanner is important for another reason – how else will Coolmore Australia source new stallions for their Hunter Valley property other than buy them in Australia as yearlings or off the track.
With Danehill gone, Coolmore Ireland’s success is incumbent around their Sadler’s Wells sons Montjeu and Galileo, both outstanding sires and the stallions who have supplied Coolmore Ireland with their big Group 1 wins in the last two years.
Despite their great successes in Europe, Australian breeders will be less inclined to support sons of Galileo and Montjeu. Both stallions have shuttled in the past with mixed results and support – Galileo has been a distinct disappointment (perhaps tempered by the potential of recent Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes winner Linton), whereas Montjeu has done well from his New Zealand base, but his sons are stayers and not on the Australian breeder’s agenda.
It must be a worry for Coolmore’s Australian division, which has ridden on the back of the success of the wonderful Danehill for the last 15 or so years. The decision to send Fastnet Rock to Ireland for the 2010 breeding season is an important move by Coolmore, and obviously, in part, in a hope that this outstanding young sire will have an impact from a hand-picked private book of 60 select mares and provide appealing stallions for the southern hemisphere market.
Starspangledbanner is a beautiful colt with an attractive speed pedigree – with a double dose of the great Star Kingdom (4×6) – and he fits the mould of the modern Australian sprinter-miler as stallion. The next step is to see if the horse named after an American anthem can jig to an Irish tune.
Footnote: Starspangledbanner and Haradasun are closely related. Starspangledbanner’s granddam Northern Song (ch m 1992, Vain–Olympic Aim (NZ), by Zamazaan (FR)) is a half-sister to Circles Of Gold (ch m 1991, by Marscay), the dam of Haradasun and his champion half-brother Elvstroem (by Danehill (USA)).
It’s not often a good horse slips through the net of Sheikh Mohammed and his Darley crew, but last Saturday’s Listed Queen Adelaide Stakes winner Warm Love is one.
The 2YO filly, by Octagonal (pictured) from the Flying Spur mare Charangas, was dispersed in 2008 as a weanling by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Australia.
The filly, small and chunky and anything but her father’s daughter, was considered not up to standard to be retained in the Darley stables, or be retained, commercially, and be offered for sale as a yearling. The filly was put through the Woodlands Stud draft of Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale, and there weren’t too many takers.
But there was one willing to put up his hand and buy the filly, and this was no fluker. David Brideoake, former Olympic equestrian and successful thoroughbred trainer, saw something in the little filly that others didn’t. Brideoake secured her for only $9000.
“She was small, but well-built. I liked her pedigree. She is from Jim Campin’s breed, tracing back to his fast mare Tupelo Honey,” Brideoake said.
Tupelo Honey (b m 1982, Vice Regal (NZ)–Mary Poppins (NZ), by Fair’s Fair (GB)) is the dam of the extremely slick race filly Super Natural, winner of the Group 2 1991 Breeders’ Stakes (1200m, 2YO fillies) at Matamata (NZ), and the outstanding staying filly Domino, who won the 1990 Group 1 NZ Oaks and Group 1 AJC Oaks double.
Brideoake has previously bought the fast winning filly Fivestar Lass (b f 2006, by Elusive Quality (USA)), whose dam, La Mambo (by Marscay), is a daughter of Tupelo Honey and the granddam of Warm Love. Fivestar Lass, although unraced, was showing Brideoake considerable speed at the time as a rising 2YO.
Brideoake’s next issue was to find an owner for his filly. But those who saw her at his Mornington property couldn’t be enticed to buy the small, bay youngster even for a bargain price. “I couldn’t find a buyer, so I kept her myself and raced her with my family. It was only $9000,” he said.
Warm Love scampered over 800m to win at trial at Cranbourne in November and Brideoake pressed on to the races. The pocket-sized filly showed blistering speed to win first up, at Moonee Valley (1000m) on December 4, so impressively that Brideoake set her aside for the Blue Diamond Preview (1000m) at Caulfield on Australia Day.
Warm Love matched strides with the brilliant Crystal Lily in the lead and did well to hang on to third behind that filly and Shaaheq, both heavily fancied to win Saturday’s Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield.
In the adjoining stall, in fourth place, was the Darley-owned Koala Bear. The Darley men, Henry Plumptre and Trevor Lobb were the first to congratulate a beaming Brideoake.
Darley has not even retained direct residual value from Warm Love’s black type win – Charangas was sold, in foal to Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, at the 2009 Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale for $35,000. And who signed the ticket? – the astute Jim Campin, who immediately shipped his new buy home to New Zealand. He, too, saw the value of the blood of his old mare Tupelo Honey. Campin, too, is now sitting on a bargain.
Darley has retained Warm Love’s three-quarter sister, by Octagonal’s champion son Lonhro; the filly was down to be sold as a weanling at the Magic Millions last June, but the Darley team had a change of mind and withdrew her from the sale.
Warm Love is the 20th Stakes winner for old Octagonal, who has been banished to Darley’s Cootamundra farm where he covered only 31 mares last season. The once great racehorse and feted sire – after his sons, the brothers Lonhro and Niello won 14 Group 1 races between them – has been a disappointment mainly because his stock lack tactical speed and they have worrisome temperaments.
However, recently, and strangely, old Ocky (now aged 17, and available for a fee on application) has sired some very fast sprinting winners – the Perth Listed winner London (br g 2004, ex Harveynicks, by Lake Coniston (IRE)), Warm Love and the boom Melbourne sprinter Eight Bills (br h 2005, ex-Typhoon Billie, by Rory’s Jester), the winner of five of his six starts for trainer Gary Portelli.
Footnote: For the music minded, Warm Love gets her name from a song of the same title by the band Octagon.
Barrie Griffiths can be considered a lucky man. He certainly was when Sheikh Mohammed’s men knocked on his door to make an offer on Griffiths’ historic Northwood Park property, near Seymour, that was too good to refuse.
Griffiths had made his money out of the real estate game, particularly selling country properties for others, but this was a personal windfall for him and his wife Midge. (The magnificent tree-lined drive of Northwood Park is pictured with this story).
Northwood Park, once the home of leading breeder and administrator Alec G. Hunter and his descendants, is now Darley Northwood Park, the Victorian breeding arm of the massive Darley operation. Griffiths remains a neighbour after retaining about 450 hectares of the original property and buying a similar adjoining parcel of land.
Griffiths also was lucky when he bought a major interest in a colt at the 1986 Wrightson’s Trentham Yearling Sales and convinced his partners Ed McKeon and Brian McKnight to give the tough-looking bay, by Tawfiq from Joyarty (by Noble Bijou) to a young, up-and-coming trainer, Lee Freedman. They named the colt Tawrrific.
Three years later, the partners and the young trainer raised their glasses in triumph after Tawrrific won the 1989 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington. – Freedman’s first of five Cup wins.
Another stroke of luck came around the same time after Griffiths sold his good mare Northwood Manner (by Knightly Manner (USA)), in foal to Amyntor (FR) (by Sir Gaylord (USA)), a stallion Griffiths part-owned, to Ed Barty at Trevenson Park, Maldon.
Barty put the resultant foal, a filly, through the Melbourne yearling sale in 1989 – it was a good year – and Griffiths liked her so much, he bought her. The filly, named Mannerism (b f 1987), also trained by Freedman, would go on to win the 1992 Group 1 Caulfield Cup, among her many great victories. It was a wonderful 1992 spring for the Griffiths, because they also won the Group 1 Thousand Guineas with Azzurro (b f 1989, Bluebird (USA)-Amhara (GB), by Priamos (GER)), bought as a yearling from the Adelaide sales.
During this heady time, Griffiths also won races with the River Rough filly Ride The Rapids (br f 1988, ex-Kilmarie, by Bletchingly), whose best win was the 1992 Listed James Carr Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
The following autumn, in 1993, Griffiths went to the yearling sales well armed and he selected a filly by Military Plume from a good imported family. It wasn’t a unanimous decision, as his advisor and good friend George Smith didn’t have the big filly high on his list. Griffiths stuck to his guns, and the filly, under the care of Freedman and with the name Northwood Plume (b f 1991, ex-Couldn’t Miss, by Forli (Arg)), would win the 1994 Thousand Guineas and Group 1 VRC Oaks (2500m, Flemington) double. In the autumn, the filly won the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
It was a run of success almost unparalleled when you consider Griffiths was buying only a couple of horses each year. It was success based not only luck, but on good management, careful selection, pedigree study (Griffiths like to buy from Classic winning families) and frugal spending.
In 1996, Griffiths looked like he had another star filly on his hands when Our Cashel (b f 1993, Sir Tristram (IRE)-Diamond Cashel, by Twig Moss (FR)) won the Listed Blue Diamond Preview (1000m) at Caulfield, but the filly injured herself and later that year died from complications from the injury.
The bad luck Griffiths had with Our Cashel was an omen, because for the next 12 years, he had little success with the handful of yearlings he bought each year, and during that time split his association with Lee Freedman.
But that has started to change this season. Griffiths’ famous blue and yellow checks have been carried to victory by eight different horses, all fillies and mares, including Sandown winner Royal Commands (b f 3, Commands-Princess Renee, by Zabeel (NZ)) and the Flemington winner Constant (br m 4, Grandera-Costance (IRE), by Machiavellian (USA)).
The other Barrie and Midge Griffiths-owned winners this season are:
Royal Consent (br f 3, Court Of Jewels-Mornmoot Lady, by Century) – winner Kyneton, Jan. 31.
Indian Curry (ch f 3, Testa Rossa-Indian Spice, by Marauding (NZ)) – winner Seymour, Jan. 7.
Off The Planet (b f 3, Fusaichi Pegasus (USA)-Planet Hollywood, by Star Watch) – winner Geelong, Sept. 25.
Delon (ch f 3, Falvelon-Zande, by Vettori (IRE)) – winner Seymour, Dec. 22.
Response (b f 3, Charge Forward-Live It Up, by Match Winner (FR)) – debut winner Ballarat, Feb. 4.
Lady Joy Belle (b m 4, Orientate (USA)-Lady With Style, by Desert Style (IRE)) – winner Seymour, Oct. 18.
Indian Curry, who finished eighth behind the exciting Launay (by Lonhro) today at Sandown, is of special significance as it is the first Griffiths-owned winner trained by Lee Freedman for more than 10 years.
One thing exciting and unpredictable about watching 2YOs racing is that it’s like visiting a restaurant for the first time – the expectations are great but you never really know if the food is going to match the reviews.
And when the culinary treat is a cracker, you want to tell everyone about it.
Saturday’s Group 3 Blue Diamond Preludes (1100m at Caulfield) provided an entrée of juvenile racing that is the best we have seen so far this season. It should, because the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m), run at Caulfield on February 20, sits nicely as Victoria’s premier race for 2YOs and a worthy “understudy” to Sydney’s Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m), run at Rosehill in April. Anybody wishing to debate the Diamond’s prominence, should check out its honour roll – consider Hurricane Sky, Knowledge, Redoute’s Choice, Bel Esprit, Alinghi, Courtza, Manikato, Lord Dudley, Rancher, Zeditave and Bounding Away as great winners, and breed influences.
Psychologist (b f 2007, Choisir–Miss Conception, by Danzero) is a typical example of the surprises you can get at this time of the year – like the time Redoute’s Choice burst on the scene to win on debut the Listed Veuve Clicquot Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on February 20, 1999, and a week later overpowered Testa Rossa to win the Blue Diamond.
On Saturday, a short time after Psychologist had us sitting on the edge of our couches, the Scone colt – why is he called the Sydney colt by some media? – Beneteau (pictured as a yearling), a son of Redoute’s Choice, won the colts’ and geldings’ division even more impressively, and slightly quicker (1.02.45 compared to 1.02.67), than the filly. Beneteau is a royally-bred colt from Slice Of Paradise (by Encosta De Lago), a Stakes-placed sister to the champion filly, and 2004 Blue Diamond Stakes winner, Alinghi.
Both these youngsters are outstanding prospects. I always like to see juveniles win their races in style, by a space and in quick time, just as these two did on Saturday. It usually means they are a cut above the rest. When the youngsters go across the line in a bunch it rarely means they are a bunch of stars, and more than often we are in for a moderate year.
Psychologist showed blistering speed to win the fillies’ division at her first public appearance. Trainer Tony Vasil had been shaking his head at the times the bay filly was running on the track, but he knew he had something special when he jumped on her back for a gallop at Caulfield last Tuesday – “wow,” he said. On Saturday, the filly dashed from the barriers, dominated from the front and let down like a real star to beat the smart Listed-winner (in spring) She’s Got Gears (by Invincible Spirit).
The athletic Psychologist cost Hong Kong-based owner Raymond Ngai $120,000 at the 2009 Inglis Easter Yearling Sales (second session) – she was one of four yearlings in the sale (both sessions) by Choisir (by Danehill Dancer), and the only one to sell for more than $70,000. The most intriguing aspect of the filly’s pedigree is that she has a double cross of Danehill (3 x 3) – and she is the first Stakes winner with a double cross of the great stallion. We are starting to see the doubling of Danehill’s sire Danzig (by Northern Dancer) emerge in the pedigrees of top horses, and we are going to see a lot more of this doubling of Danehill, particularly in Australia where it was revealed last week the 47 per cent of all Australian foals born in 2010 will have Danehill in their pedigree (figures produce by Pedigree Consultants) – so much for worrying about artificial insemination narrowing the gene pool (see our story AI- the other side of the coin)!
Of course, Psychologist also has a double dose of Star Kingdom through the maternal lines of her sire Choisir and dam-sire Danzero – both products of the Danehill-Star Kingdom cross.
Beneteau is a beautiful, well-balanced colt. I was taken by his reaching, straight action as he burst between the leaders at the 200m – the smoothness and distance of his stride reminded me a lot of the action of his close relation Alinghi. This is a colt of the highest quality, and a welcome boost for his sire Redoute’s Choice, whose yearlings this year have been struggling to average a price to match what the breeders outlayed on the Arrowfield Stud stallion’s 2007 service fee of $330,000 (inc. GST).
Beneteau, who is prepared at young trainer Paul Messara’s Arrowfield Training Farm, butting Arrowfield Stud, near Scone, in the Hunter Valley, came to Melbourne after his debut win at Randwick (1000m) on Australia Day when he wobbled all over the place in the straight (as he had done in a trial win before his debut). It was revealed that he cast a plate in that race, and obviously that had a lot to do with his unbalanced action – a bit like riding a bike with a square wheel.
On Saturday, with the inside rail to guide him around the home turn, Beneteau stretched out for as good a Prelude win as Real Saga produced last year – and Real Saga was unlucky not to beat Reward For Effort in a high-qualilty Blue Diamond Stakes – and right up there with Bel Esprit’s win in 2002 (and he went on to win the Blue Diamond).
Beneteau and Pyschologist, along with Crystal Lily (b f 2007, Stratum-Crystal Snip, by Snippets) – winner of the Listed Blue Diamond Preview (1000m, fillies) at Caulfield on Australia Day) – stand out as the three youngsters likely to fight out the Blue Diamond Stakes; you can tack on Listed Talindert Stakes winner Star Witness (ch c 2007, Starcraft–Leone Chiara, by Lion Hunter) and David Hayes’ smart filly Shaaheq (b f 2007, Redoute’s Choice-Damaschino, by Last Tycoon (IRE)) to the mix. My tick is for Beneteau.
Beneteau was bought by Blue Sky Thoroughbreds for $1m at Inglis Easter last year for the specific purpose of achieving what he already is heading to do – win a Group 1 race and emerge as highly-valued (tens of $1 millions) stallion prospect. Breeders Arrowfield Stud stayed in the equation to ensure that Beneteau, if he wins the Blue Diamond Stakes, has a ready-made home when he retires.
We’ve had a delicious entrée, let’s hope the main course lives up to expectations. It should, the ingredients are outstanding.
NOTE: Plenty of thought has been applied to the naming of Beneteau, a French (multi-national) company renowned as a builder of luxury boats since 1884. Alinghi was the name of the Swiss-owned 2003 America’s Cup winner. Alinghi, and Beneteau’s mother Slice of Paradise are from the mare Oceanfast. Alinghi’s unraced 2YO by Hussonet (in training with Lee Freedman), has continued the Oceanfast inspiration – she is called Line Honours.
One final question: how is it that the registrar can let through this well-known corporate business name, yet be so strict with others?
James Bester has long been regarded as one of the best judges of a yearling in Australia. The former South African also is known for his frugal buying, so when Bester won the bidding for the $NZ2 million sale-topping Zabeel-Diamond Like colt at Karaka on Tuesday, I took a lot of interest. (I wasn’t at the sale, the second I’ve missed since 1996).
And when he said the colt (pictured at Karaka) was “physically the best yearling I have seen in the southern hemisphere”, I can understand why Bester kept bidding.
“Chiefly I buy on conformation and this colt was exceptional, but to also present with the best page in the sale is extraordinary. Zabeel on Danehill is outstanding, and a very fast mare more to the point to counter Zabeel’s staying influence.“It was easy to spend that sort of money when you know the background the horse has had, and being from Cambridge Stud, from that family, I had every confidence,” he said.
The breeding buffs who live in a world of nicks and crosses, won’t like to hear that Australia’s most efficient buyer of good horses from the yearling sales – and I’d argue Bester has few peers – is first and foremost a conformation buyer. Other outstandingly successful yearling buyers like George Smith and Lee Freedman also stand by the conformation-first adage.
After spending a fair bit of time with Bester looking at yearlings – he’s free with his theories when out in the field – I was keen to study the video of the Zabeel-Like Diamond colt. The colt fits the Bester model perfectly – he has athleticism, style, balance, perfect head-carriage, beautiful head, great length of hip on a well-rounded rear, sloping shoulder, deep girth and he is correct. Most importantly from Bester’s point of view, the colt moves like a cat, is effortless and light, with a Bester-loving straight, ground-skimming front action. View the pedigree and video.
The colt, a bay out of Diamond Like, a Stakes-winning “princess” from New Zealand’s royal thoroughbred family, a family founded by the imported broodmare gem Eight Carat (GB). Like Diamonds, by Danehill (USA), is a fast daughter of the brilliant Group 1 winning filly Tristalove (b m Sir Tristram–Diamond Lover (NZ), by Sticks And Stones from Eight Carat (GB)).
Diamond Lover, a Group 1 winner of the Railway Stakes (1200m, Trentham) is the dam of four Stakes winners, including Don Eduardo (2002 Group 1 AJC Derby 2004, Randwick) and Tristalove, who won the 1993 Group 1 AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m Randwick) and Group 1 South Australian Oaks (2400m, Morphettville).
Like her dam, Tristalove, who died in 2005, has produced four Stakes winners – Viking Ruler (Group 1 Champion Stakes, 2000m, Randwick), Kempinsky (G2 AAMI Vase, 2040m, Moonee Valley), Lovetrista (2008 Group Waikato Gold Cup, 2400m, Te Rapa) and Diamond Like (2003 Listed Lightning Handicap, 1200m, Trentham).
As you can see, because of the speed influence of Diamond Lover’s sire Sticks And Stones, a son of Todman and Noholme’s brother Faringdon (Star Kingdom-Oceana), this is essentially the “fast” side of the Eight Carat family, although Don Eduardo, Viking Ruler and Kempinsky were stayers.
It’s the speed influence of Diamond Like that appeals to Bester in the pedigree, otherwise I doubt he’d pay $2 million for a Zabeel, with the prospect of the colt needing to be gelded on his way to the Melbourne Cup, as most Zabeels do.
Bester bought the colt for a group of four clients, most of whom have successfully invested in yearlings on Bester’s advice in recent years, including the star filly Virage de Fortune and the Group 1 placegetter Von Costa de Hero.
Bester’s Karaka purchase was the highlight of a sensational two days of selling at New Zealand Bloodstock’s beautiful complex. The money flowed to produce an average of $183,119, up 26 per cent on the average of 2009 – a tremendous result for New Zealand Bloodstock.
The average was below the heady, Nathan Tinkler-inspired 2008 result when the average was a few dollars shy of $200,000. The 2007 average was a record $156,567.
Trainer David Hayes put Our Aqaleem (pictured) in illustrious company when he likened Saturday’s impressive Flemington winner to At Talaq and Almaarad, two of the best horses to be imported to race in Australia by the Shadwell stables of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum.
Hayes said that of the imported horses trained at Lindsay Park, only At Talaq and Almaarad have race performances the equal of Our Aqaleem.
“He’s an Epsom Derby placegetter, which proves his class,” Hayes said.
At Talaq (by Roberto (USA)) won the 1986 Melbourne Cup (3200m, Flemington) and three years later Almaarad (by Ala Mana Mou (IRE)) won the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley. Both horses were Group 1 winners in Europe before being imported to Australia to be trained by Hayes’ father Colin.
In Europe, At Talaq won the 1984 Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris (3000m, Longchamp) and Almaarad was taken to Germany by trainer John Dunlop to win the Group 1 Aral Pokal (2400m, Gelsenkirchen).
Sheikh Hamdan also owned David Hayes’ only Melbourne Cup winner, Jeune (by Kalaglow (IRE)), who won the great race in 1994. Jeune came to Australia as a multiple Group winner in England, over 2000m and 2400m, but had failed at Group 1 level. In Australia, he won four times at the highest level for Hayes.
It was a wonderful training performance from Hayes to win first up with Our Aqaleem, especially over 1600m, from a break from racing of 917 days (due to his twice fracturing his pelvis) – his last run in England was on July 31, 2007 when he finished a long neck second behind Yellowstone in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes (2400m) at Goodwood.
Before that Our Aqaleem placed third behind Authorized in the Group 1 Epsom Derby (2400m) at Epsom Downs – the margins were five lengths and two lengths. Unplaced in that Derby was Mahler (11th), who was third to Efficient in the 2007 Melbourne Cup, and also Yellowsone (8th).
I’ve had a look at the records, and I believe Our Aqaleem is on the road to become the first Epsom Derby placegetter to win a Stakes race in Australia – certainly in modern times. (Our Aqaleem raced in England as Aqaleem – his name required the prefix because of a New Zealand-bred galloper by Elsuive City (2005) with the same name).
It is his performance in the Epsom Derby that gives Hayes the confidence to predict his new horse, despite his long break from racing, has the talent to be a serious weight-for-age horse, especially at 2000m and beyond, and a possible 2010 Melbourne Cup contender.
“He’s an ideal (The) BMW horse,” Hayes said, resplendent in his boater, embellished by the BMW logo. The BMW is Australia’s only Group 1 weight-for-age race over 2400m (run at Rosehill in April), but first Hayes plans to run the Our Aqaleem second-up in the Group 1 Australian Cup (wfa 2000m, Flemington) next month.
Our Aqaleem, like At Talaq, Jeune and Almaarad, is relishing his new environment and the Australian-style of speed training that has helped him to be competitive over distances much shorter than he would be asked to race over in Europe.
Our Aqaleem is by Grand Lodge’s best son Sinndar (IRE) – winner of the Epsom and Irish Derbys and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2000 – a stallion who has been moderately successful at stud for the Aga Khan, while Our Aqaleem’s dam, Dalayil (by Sadler’s Wells (USA)), is a half-sister to top-flight juvenile Group 1 winner and good sire Alhaarth (by Unfuwain (USA)). The third dam Green Valley (FR) is best known as the dam of the French 2000 Guineas winner and top sire Green Dancer (by Nijinsky II (CAN)) and the top-class Group winning American handicapper Val Danseur.
Footnote: Doctor Fremantle (by Sadler’s Wells (USA)), fourth in the 2008 Epsom Derby behind New Approach, is one of about 20 horses imported to Australia with the Melbourne Cup as their mission. Doctor Fremantle, part-owned by the AFL’s CEO Andrew Demetriou, has settled in well at trainer Lee Freedman’s Markdel stables, at St. Andrews, on the Mornington Peninsula.
Every now and again you can witness a horse win a lowly bush maiden and know you are watching something special.
The day Schillaci powered over the top of Mavournae to win his maiden at Kyneton in October 1992 was one of those – Linton’s win yesterday at Cranbourne is another.
Saturday’s Lightning Stakes meeting at Flemington was a wonderful feast of racing hat produced some outstanding performances – Nicconi confirmed that he’s as good as any sprinter in the land; Star Witness is a brilliant juvenile whose talent overcame his inexperience; Tallow is an Oaks filly; and Our Aqaleem, after 30 months on the sidelines, is a high-class import in the mould of trainer David Hayes’ 1994 Melbourne Cup winner Jeune.
But none of Saturday’s racing stirred the emotions more than Linton (gr g 2006, Galileo (IRE)–Our Heather (NZ), by Centaine) charging to the line to win by seven lengths, with jockey Nicholas Hall sitting quietly.
The sight of Linton, who turned for home in sixth place, sweeping clear of his rivals with a beautiful, long, low action, reminded me a lot of his sire Galileo (pictured at Coolmore Stud) doing the same to his opposition at the end of the 2001 Group 1 Epsom Derby.
It was a performance similar to Weekend Hussler’s first win – also at his second start after a fourth at his debut – by 3.5 lengths at Cranbourne on September 2, 2007. At his next start, Weekend Hussler won a restricted midweek 3YO race at Sandown by eight lengths. By the end of his preparation, he had won two Group 1 races – the Caulfield Guineas and Coolmore Stud Stakes.
Linton is an exceptional talent in a season of 3YOs of great class and depth. Believe me, he could be the best of them all.
We have waited for a long time for Galileo (by Sadler’s Wells), who is rated the best sire in Europe, to leave his mark in Australia. To say he has been a disappointing sire is an understatement, and Linton comes from his second last Australian crop before Coolmore Stud decided he was worth too much in Ireland, and not enough here, to continue to shuttle south.
I first took notice of Linton when he made his debut, finishing a luckless fourth behind Encosta Belief in a 1410m 3YO race at Flemington on January 16. Hall protested unsuccessfully against the runner-up Take The Rap (winner of Saturday’s Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes at Flemington, beating Encosta Belief), and I have little doubt that Linton would have tested the winner with a clear run.
I wrote about Linton on The Breed after that – “Linton looks an efficient prospect” – and looked at his pedigree through his dam, the Centaine mare Our Heather. Linton’s third dam is the top broodmare Vedo Bay, the dam of the high-class Group winning mares Balmacara and Vedodara.
It’s interesting the co-owner Lloyd Williams, who paid $200,000 for Linton at the 2008 New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Ready To Run Sale, elected to go for the much softer option of the Cranbourne maiden rather than the Group 3 race at Flemington, despite the fact Linton was competitive with that class of horse in his debut run.
Williams also hasn’t entered the gelding for next month’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington, when clearly, the horse has the talent to be competitive. It’s likely Williams has big long-range Melbourne Cup plans for his new star, and the aim may well be to get him into the 150th Cup in November with the lowest weight possible.