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Rick Hore-Lacy promotes himself as the “stallion maker” on his website. He has good reason to be proud of the high-class colts he has trained who have gone on to outstanding careers at stud.
The list includes Australia’s super stud Redoute’s Choice (standing at Arrowfield), the evergreen Canny Lad (Darley), Victoria’s handy Dash For Cash (Swettenham) as well as Kenny’s Best Pal, Spartacus and Clay Hero.
Hore-Lacy today took the saddle off another quality colt destined for a stud career. Toorak Toff (pictured) was retired after showing the effects of a wind problem when finishing a first-up fifth behind Éclair Mystic in Saturday’s Red Tempo Stakes (1000m) at Flemington. The veterinary report revealed the colt had a slower than normal heart rate, an issue that manifested itself on further investigation.
The race was to be Toorak Toff’s lead-up to next month’s Magic Million 3YO Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast, for which he was nominal favourite.
Hore-Lacy said he would rather retire Toorak Toff than try for a throat operation that might correct the chestnut’s wind issues. The son of Show A Heart will be offered for purchase to some of Australia’s leading studs. Hore-Lacy believes they will line up with their cheque books.
The trainer has declared the colt the best-looking horse he has trained. “If he was blonde and had two legs, he’d be a 10 out of 10.”
Toorak Toff was a tough and courageous juvenile who emerged as an early spring star at three, winning the Listed Vain Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield before going to Sydney to win the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill.
As good as Toorak Toff looks, and as quick and tough as he was as a racehorse, he offers breeders something more – an important link to the past: the great, and diminished, Star Kingdom sire line.
And if he can be successful at stud, and I see no reason why he won’t be, then he will enhance his sire Show A Heart as a producer of stallions, which may ensure the continuance of the once dominant sire line that is unique to this part of the world.
Unfortunately, the Star Kingdom line faltered in the wake of a Northern Dancer/Danzig onslaught, but that’s not the only reason – it was already fading in the early 1990s when Danzig’s brilliant son Danehill changed the nature of the breed, first in Australia and then in Europe.
Star Kingdom’s line was strongest through his exceptionally fast son Biscay, who proved a wonderful sire of sires, but unfortunately, Biscay’s best son Bletchingly (br h 1970, ex-Coogee (GB), by Relic (USA)), who at one time had a couple of football teams of sons at stud in Australia, proved to be a disappointment in advancing the Star Kingdom line en-masse. The Bletchingly name hasn’t carried on through his best sire-son Canny Lad, who is more a sire of fillies that stud-prospect colts; and his other top son, Star Watch, died after only a few crops.
But it is through the unlikely genes of Cossack Warrior (br h 1983, Bletchingly-Mary (NZ), by Hermes (GB)) that this famous bloodline has held its place. Cossack Warrior (only five Stakes winners) was a handy sire of little influence other than through his brilliant son Brave Warrior (ch h 1991, ex-Nothing To Do (USA), by Nijinsky II (CAN)), who was proving something of a sire sensation when he died at the age of only six.
From Brave Warrior’s two crops of only 117 foals came an impressive seven Stakes winners, headed by the four-time Group 1 winner Show A Heart (ch h 1997, ex-Miss Sandman, by Regal Advice (NZ)), who like his son is a flashy chestnut and cracking good sort. Show A Heart has just finished covering his ninth book of mares at Glenlogan Park Stud, Queensland, at a fee of $30,250 (inc. GST). His first book of 124 mares in 2002 was at fee of $13,750.
Apart from Toorak Toff he also is the sire of the 2009 Group 1 Australian Guineas winner Heart Of Dreams and 10 other Stakes winners, including the outstanding filly Mimi Lebrock.
Of course, the Star Kingdom influence is still immense on the female side of Australian pedigrees. Mares with his blood have matched perfectly with Danzig and Danehill. It’s not uncommon to see a double or triple cross of Star Kingdom in the female side of a good racehorse’s pedigree. Toorak Toff has a double cross of Star Kingdom through his granddam, Blixen, who by Mighty Avalanche, a son of Kaoru Star.
But keeping the sire line alive seems to rest on the broad shoulders and handsome heads of Show A Heart and Toorak Toff, and any Group 1 quality colts they can produce in the next 15-20 years.
Pedigree: Toorak Toff (ch c 3, Show A Heart-Orong, by Grand Lodge (USA))
The Americain travelling fairytale is over for now, without a hoped-for addendum in the Group 1 Cathay Pacific International Vase in Hong Kong.
The brilliant Melbourne Cup winner did not have the speed in his legs to run down Godolphin’s Mastery and English stayer Redwood in the $HK14 million (about $A1.8 million) race at Sha Tin yesterday.
A subsequent veterinary examination showed that Americain was galloped on from behind. He will have precautionary scans today to detect if there is deep-seated damage.
The task facing Americain was shown by the final 400m splits for the 2400m Vase and the 1200m Sprint, also a Group 1 race – the world’s quickest horses (Victoria’s super sprinter Black Caviar excluded) ran home in 22.86 seconds; the stayers ran their final split in 22.87.
Coming back from 3200 metres in last month’s Melbourne Cup at Flemington, the French-trained, Australian-owned Americain couldn’t go with Mastery, who stole a break 400m out – nor with Redwood, who was chasing – but ran on nicely to win the duel for third with another ‘two-miler, Japan’s Jaguar Mail, ridden by Craig Williams.
Both Gerald Mosse, Americain’s jockey, and Williams said the race tempo cost them any winning chance.
“The pace was way too slow for him,” Mosse said. “He does not have the turn of foot to catch these horses (but) he gave me everything he had and tried so hard.”
Williams said of Jaguar Mail, who he rode to win the Group 1 Tenno Sho (3200m) in Japan in May: “The pace was against him, but he ran very well.”
Americain’s trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre agreed with Mosse’s assessment and said the horse would go for a spell before resuming in Europe, possibly with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m, Longchamp) in October as his target.
The Sprint went to South African JJ The Jet Plane, who nosed out Singapore’s Rocket Man, with local favourite Sacred Kingdom third.
While disappointed that Rocket Man had his fourth second from four tries at an international Group 1 – he has won a Singapore Group 1 – trainer Patrick Shaw was happy that his horse gave his all.
JJ The Jet Plane is an extraordinary traveller, having started in South Africa for young trainer ‘Lucky’ Houdalakis before racing in Europe for Mike De Kock and Richard Hannon, and returning to Houdalakis for two home wins after a six-month spell, before travelling again.
The trip to the Hong Kong International Sprint took 100 days, with time in quarantine in England and Hong Kong. Next stop is Dubai for its big meeting in March.
Mastery’s Vase win brought a double star jump from jockey Frankie Dettori, who dismounted in flamboyant style on return and then again for the official presentation – after the winning jockey in each of the Group 1 races weighs in, he gets back on the horse, who has been resaddled, and is led to the presentation dais in the straight.
The International Mile provided Mosse with rich consolation, his mount Beauty Flash racing on the pace and winning strongly after injured Able One was withdrawn at the barrier to the anguish of a parochial crowd who had backed him into $3.30 favourite.
The 2000m International Cup, the richest race on the card at $HK20 million (about $A2.8 million), confirmed that English-trained filly Snow Fairy is one of the elite in the world this season.
The winner of the Epsom and Irish Oaks mid-year and the QE11 Commemorative Cup in Japan last month, defied the racing pattern to come from the rear to win by a neck for English rider Ryan Moore, who completed a big week – he won the international jockeys’ challenge with two successes from four mounts at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
After Snow Fairy beat local horses Irian and Packing Winner, Moore said: “I thought she had no chance when we were turning in, but she quickened up so well. She is very special – a machine.”
About 53,000 attended the meeting, which was telecast to Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the UK.
Photo: Mastery (Frankie Dettori, all blue) burst for home in the International Vase. Americain (noseband) is far right.
The decision by Patinack Farm to bolster their 2011 stallion stocks with two Derby winners is further evidence of a growing demand in Australian racing for stayers.
There is no doubt Australia owners are starting to realise that patience is a great reward and that most of the richest races for horses older than three are those races run from 2000m and further.
Patinack Farm two weeks ago announced it had invested in the 2010 Group 1 Prix de Jockey Club (French Derby, 2100m, Chantilly) winner Lope de Vega (IRE), and this week it has bought the 2009 Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) winner Monaco Consul (NZ).
Lope de Vega (ch c 3, Shamardal (USA)-Lady Vettori, by Vettori (IRE)), also won the Group 1 Poule D’Essai des Poulains (French Guineas, 1600m, Chantilly), so he has a degree of speed that will suit the middle ground. His form tapered in his final three starts, finishing 11th behind Workforce in the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m, Longchamp) before his retirement.
Lope de Vega will cover his first northern hemisphere season in early 2011 at Ballylinch Stud, County Kilkenny, Ireland.
Monaco Consul (br h 4, High Chaparral (IRE)-Argante (NZ), by Star Way (GB)) was injured when 14th behind Americain in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 2. He also won the 2009 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m, Randwick) and his trainer Michael Moroney said after the colt’s Derby win that he felt Monaco Consul was more of 2000m horse than a true stayer.
Both horses will stand at Patinack Park, Richmond Grove, next spring.
Patinack Farm owner Nathan Tinkler admitted he was conscious of the trend towards middle-distance horses and stayers in his media release after the purchase of Monaco Consul – albeit a document that spelled his name Tinker.
Of course, next year we will also see the champion So You Think retire to Coolmore Stud where he will join his sire High Chaparral, who has just finished his first Australian spring covering mares.
The first indication of this move by owners and trainers away from precocious speed was at the 2010 New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Premier Yearling Sale when Australian buyers clamoured over themselves like locusts in the Mallee to get hold of anything that was either bred or looked like a stayer – and that was a year free of High Chaparral, who didn’t shuttle in 2007 because of equine influenza.
Horses by Zabeel are always in demand at Karaka, but at the last sale buyers couldn’t get enough of yearlings by staying influences like Pentire and Golan. Even John Thompson, from New Zealand’s Rich Hill Stud, admitted he was caught by surprise by the surge of interest in Pentire. “I would have liked to have had more of them to sell,” he said.
Rich Hill sold a colt, from Amristar Jet, for $NZ600,000 – others sold for $NZ450,000, $NZ330,000 and $NZ240,000. Another Pentire colt, from Goodness Me, sold at Inglis Easter for $350,000. Not bad off a $NZ25,000 service fee.
I expect a similar growth in interest at Karaka next month, especially with High Chaparral’s second last Windsor Park crop to go under the hammer, and of course we will see a good number of youngsters by the great Zabeel, who at 24 is in the sunset of his career.
And while there are those that will be their staying horses as yearlings, there is a host of agents and trainers overseas trying to buy the next Americain – and like the prices for staying horses at the yearling sales, the vendors are waiting and the prices have gone up.
Photo: Monaco Consul beating Extra Zero in the 2010 Victoria Derby at Flemington.
Ortensia, it seems, has nine lives … and that’s a bonus for the Australian mare going into the tough Group 1 Cathay Pacific International Sprint at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on Sunday.
And the stable cats at Mornington didn’t need to use up any of their “nine lives” as the result of her track mishap at Hong Kong late last week, trainer Tony Noonan saying he didn’t kick any when told by phone of a cat spooking Ortensia when she worked on Sha Tin’s all-weather track.
Noonan, before he left for Hong Kong, learned of the mishap when son Jake, who was dumped from Ortensia when she reacted to the stray cat, rang within minutes of the accident.
“I could tell by his voice there was something wrong,” Tony Noonan said. “In one way I was relieved, because when you get that sort of call you think there’s going to be something major wrong, but miraculously she escaped any major problem at all.
“She galloped on and just got a little bit disorientated and tried to climb over the rail.
The vet looked at her straight away, and we ended up working her an hour later because she appeared to be sound. And she hasn’t missed any work.”
Yesterday Ortensia (b m 5, Testa Rossa-Aerate’s Pick, by Picnicker) worked strongly over 1200 metres, the Sprint distance, wide on the turf for Jake Noonan, impressing watchers with her final 200 in 10.96 seconds.
Today, however, she merely exercised in the trotting ring inside the quarantine compound at the track, out of the sight of the media.
Tony Noonan said she was fine and he was happy with her condition.
Ortensia, however, is a bit erratic. As a young horse she flipped over in the mounting yard at Caulfield and had to be scratched, and now Noonan and his staff take extra care after she has been saddled for races.
“She’s just one of those horses that is terribly reactive. She gets distracted all the time,” he said. “(But) you just don’t plan on coming to another part of the world for a major race and have a cat jump out and scare you.”
It is believed the Sha Tin cat escaped unscathed, too, although a Hong Kong Jockey Club representative said someone jokingly volunteered to bring an ex-police dog he looked after on to the track to chase away the “villain”.
Craig Williams, four-times Victorian champion jockey, is due tonight from Japan (where he has a contract until Christmas) to ride Ortensia in the $HK14 million (about $A1.8 million). “He’s the one with the golden touch with her,” the trainer said.
Asked who Ortensia had to knock off to run a place, or better, Noonan said: “The obvious ones, but I think Rocket Man has done very well. I’ve been able to look at him all during the week and he looks super. It’ll be a tough race, though.”
Noonan drew barrier five for Ortensia – he said he would have preferred a little wider for a mare that drops out and finishes strongly.
Defending champion and race favourite Sacred Kingdom will start from two and Singapore’s star Rocket Man from six.
Melbourne Cup (and Geelong Cup) winner Americain drew nine for the Group 1 Vase (2400m), also worth $HK14 million. Hong Kong-based Frenchman Gerald Mosse, who won on him in both Australian starts, has the mount again.
Williams will ride Japan’s Jaguar Mail in the Vase – he won the 3200m Tenno Sho on him at Kyoto in Japan in May. He has drawn barrier seven.
Photo: Ortensia, with Jake Noonan in the saddle, at Sha Tin this week.
Nash Rawiller, who has become Australia’s top Group 1 rider since joining Gai Waterhouse’s Sydney stables in 2007, outrode the cream of the world’s jockeys to win one of the invitational races at Happy Valley last night.
The win, on Record High trained by Y. S. Tsui, came in the style typical of a Waterhouse runner. Rawiller pushing the 10/1 shot from the barrier in the 1650m race, settling in front, dictating the pace and breaking clear coming out of the sharp turn into the straight and holding on.
The pattern also is typical of racing on the tight Happy Valley circuit.
Rawiller enjoyed his moment in the spotlight, especially as it was his 36th birthday, but it was the Hong Kong Jockey Club and top English rider Ryan Moore who were the big winners. Moore won two of the four Cathay Pacific International Jockeys’ Championship races, on Something Special and Fearless.
Moore, a three-time champion in Britain and fresh from winning the World Super Jockeys Series in Japan last month, said: “It is really nice to win this event, on my very own this time … especially good as I didn’t think I held much chance coming into it.”
He pocketed $HK200,000 (about $A27,000).
The HKJC’s decision to extend the series from three races to four paid with a clear winner. With three races last year Moore tied with Johnny Murtagh and Christophe Lemaire with a win each.
Local rep Douglas Whyte, the South African who has won the past 10 Hong Kong jockeys’ premierships and leads this one just over three months into the season, won the other invitation race on My Goal to finish second overall with 18 points, also placing on Jolly Wongchoy. Rawiller was third with 12. (Twelve points were awarded for a win, six for second and four for third.)
Australian Brett Prebble, also representing Hong Kong as its No.2 rider – and the man most likely to eventually dethrone Whyte – was a clear favourite in jockey challenge betting on the four races, but had to settle for fourth place on 10 points with a second and a third.
And to top off a bad night, Prebble was suspended for eight days for improper riding for lifting an elbow towards Japan’s Hiroyuki Uchida in tight racing up the straight in the fourth leg of the challenge.
The Happy Valley jockeys’ series provided a strong lead-in to the Cathay Pacific International race meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday that features four Group 1s – the Sprint (1200m), the Mile (1600m), the Cup (2000m) and the Vase (2400m).
Ortensia, trained at Mornington by Tony Noonan and to be ridden by Craig Williams, is the sole Australian representative and is regarded an eachway chance in the Sprint. France’s Australian-owned Melbourne Cup winner, Americain, is favourite for the Vase. Gerald Mosse will ride.
Prebble will still be able to ride the favourite Sacred Kingdom in the Sprint.
Photo: Nash Rawiller wins on Record High at Happy Valley.
Americain’s owner Gerry Ryan gave Frenchman Gerald Mosse videos of the Melbourne Cup to study before he came to Victoria to ride the horse in Australia’s greatest race.
Mosse, who says that at 43 he is mature but not a veteran, decided to do a little extra study of the Cup when he arrived for its 150th running.
To that end he bought a copy of The Story of the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s Greatest Race, the book published at the start of the 2010-2011 season.
“It was a magnificent book because of the story of the culture,” Mosse explained after trackwork at Sha Tin in Hong Kong this morning. “I wanted to understand the culture and why there was such prestige to win a race like that.”
Mosse got more than an inkling from the book, and found out personally how big the race was when, on November 2, he won it on Americain. The win, and the whole atmosphere of Cup day, blew him away.
But Mosse and the horse – and all connections, including French trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre and owners Kevin and Colleen Bamford and Gerry and Val Ryan – are not resting on their laurels.
Americain was despatched to Hong Kong before returning to Europe and on Sunday will start favourite in the $HK14 million (almost $A2 million) Group 1 Cathay Pacific Internatinal Vase (2400m).
“Everything so far is perfect. I’m very happy with him,” said Mosse, who splits his time between his contract with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and riding for de Royer-Dupre, who is based in Chantilly (France). The pair, by the way, won the Vase last year with Daryakana.
Of Americain dropping back in distance from 3200 to 2400 metres, Mosse said: “I don’t think it will be a problem, in my opinion. The ground being a bit harder will be my concern.
“Right-handed, too, he will be much better than Melbourne.” (Hong Kong races the Sydney way, whereas Melbourne races are run left-handed or anti-clockwise.)
However, Mosse stopped short of declaring Americain a good thing in the Vase. “We are going to be competitive, but this is international Group 1 form that the horse has never beaten so far,” he said.
“He beat the best in two-mile horses in Australia, but a mile and a half is a bit different. It’s a different kind of tactics for your horse, but he showed me that he is very honest and will do his best.”
Americain (b/br h 6, Dynaformer (USA)-America (IRE), by Arazi (USA)) did steady work on the all-weather track this morning.
Australia’s Group 1 $HK14 million Sprint representative Ortensia (b m 5, Testa Rossa-Aerate’s Pick, by Picnicker) appears to have taken no harm from an earlier incident at Sha Tin where she was spooked by a cat, dumped track rider Jake Noonan and jumped a rail.
Bandaged on both legs she worked smoothly on the turf this morning.
The Sunday meeting has four Group 1s – the $HK16 million Mile over 1600 metres and the $HK20 million Cup over 2000 metres are the other two.
Tonight’s lead-in meeting at Happy Valley has a different “quadrella”, with four races in an international jockeys’ challenge that has a Who’s Who of riders, including two Australians – Nash Rawiller, based in Sydney, will represent Australia and Brett Prebble will ride for Hong Kong. Prebble sits second on the local premiership to South African Douglas Whyte, who also will represent Hong Kong, as will Howard Cheng, the top-placed local rider.
Prebble is an early favourite to win the series, having drawn what looks like the strongest book.
(The Story of the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s Greatest Race is published by the Slattery Media Group. RRP $99.95)
Photo: In full flight: Gerald Mosse gives Americain a testing gallop at Sha Tin.
They don’t make people like Bill Pearson any more. And now there is one less of them after Pearson, aged 88, died on Monday.
Pearson came from a larrikin era affected by the adversity of depression and war, and the subsequent good times that saw him play in a VFL premiership team for Essendon in 1946 and become a pioneer of the greyhound industry.
He was a scallywag who loved a good story and a joke. His infectious, lisp-affected laugh was his signature. Like most men of his era, he loved his beer and his mates. Each afternoon, he could be found in the same pub, in his favourite corner drinking his favourite beer with the same mates – telling the same stories.
He once claimed to be a man unique to the world. “I am the only person to see Phar Lap, play football with Dick Reynolds … and pat Zoom Top.”
Pearson saw Phar Lap win the 1930 Melbourne Cup when, aged eight, he was shining shoes on the Flemington hill for a penny a time. In his years at Essendon, cut short by a serious knee injury, he was regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation, a man that could hold his own in any era – fast and skilful.
His reference to Zoom Top, regarded as Australia’s greatest greyhound, came from his love of the sport that he made a life business.
Pearson was not a man to rile; he was as tough as teak and spoke his mind without fear or favour. Despite playing with Essendon legend Dick Reynolds, Pearson didn’t hold the football icon in high esteem, and he made it known. “He cost us a premiership one year and when we won it in 1946, we all got a four-pound sling, while he got a new car,” he bemoaned.
Pearson’s greyhound form guide – the Gold Guide – became the bible for greyhound punters. In the halcyon days, Pearson’s detailed form and tips filled a full page of The Age newspaper twice a week. Pearson was recently inducted into the Australian greyhound industry Hall of Fame.
I can’t remember when I first met him, but it was when I was in secondary college, at St Bernard’s, in Essendon, because I shared a classroom with his second eldest of four sons, Mark, a scallywag in the mould of his father.
Mark was a lot like the old man – a fun-loving larrikin. He was as thin as a pull through for a rifle, but possessed a talent for anything but schoolwork. A few years later I played with Mark in the same amateur football teams as oldest son Peter (‘Snake’) and Paul. The “baby” of the family John, also became a top amateur footballer.
In the mid-1970s, one of my first jobs in journalism was to work for the new weekly form guide newspaper, Tabform, a racing, trots and dogs publication founded by Pearson and Southdown Press. Pearson became a close friend.
Three of the four brothers – Peter, Mark and John – remained in the family business, producing a highly successful weekly greyhound newspaper, the National Greyhound Form, as well as online form products. The old Gold Guide still exists.
Pearson’s mind started to wander a few years ago, but the boys kept his desk in the office and the patriarch didn’t miss a day. The only trouble was that his forgetfulness was causing some issues, because Pearson would get out his phone contact book and start ringing everybody and anybody, sometimes three and four times a day, forgetting that he’d made an earlier call.
I was on the call list, so was local Moonee Ponds identity, crime matriarch Judy Moran, who fielded daily inquiries from Pearson, oblivious to recent events about the family. Eventually, the sons had to hide the contact book.
Pearson’s mind may have failed him in later years, but his infectious character and love of life and his family didn’t. Today there’s an empty stool in a corner in a bar somewhere with his name on it.