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Sepoy is aiming to be only fifth Blue Diamond Stakes winner to go on to win the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill.
The Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m, Caulfield) was first run in 1971, when the Angus Armanasco-trained Tolerance (ch c, Better Boy (IRE)-Salma, by Smokey Eyes (IRE)), ridden by Roy Higgins, beat the fillies What’s The Verdict (by Court Sentence (GB)) and Fairy Walk (by Minor Portion (IRE)). Fairy Walk returned to Sydney to win the Slipper, while Tolerance struggled into 11th place.
History says that taking out the double is a very difficult task, and some great juveniles, including Blazing Saddles, Zeditave, Alinghi and Bel Esprit have tried and failed, such is the task that lies ahead of Sepoy.
Even Hurricane Sky (1994), who is the only horse to win the Blue Diamond in quicker time than Sepoy, could manage only fifth behind Danzero in Sydney.
There have been 29 two-year-olds attempt the double, but only four have achieved the feat – John’s Hope (1972), Manikato (1978), Bounding Away (1986) and Courtza (1989).
Since Courtza’s win, only three Blue Diamond winners have been able to place in the Slipper – Canonise (2nd behind Tierce in 1991), Paint (2nd behind Merlene in 1996) and Alinghi (3rd behind Dance Hero in 2004).
Here’s the list of Blue Diamond winners who have competed in the Golden Slipper:
Year Horse Placing (Golden Slipper winner)
2009 Reward For Effort 7th (Phelan Ready)
2008 Reaan 16th (Sebring)
2007 Sleek Chassis 14th (Forensics)
2005 Undoubtedly 15th (Stratum)
2004 Alinghi 3rd (Dance Hero)
2003 Kusi 12th (Polar Success)
2002 Bel Esprit 5th (Calaway Gal)
2001 True Jewels 5th (Ha Ha)
2000 Road To Success 15th (Belle Du Jour)
1998 Danelagh 8th (Prowl)
1997 Knowledge 7th (Guineas)
1996 Paint 2nd (Merlene)
1995 Principality 8th (Flying Spur)
1994 Hurricane Sky 5th (Danzero)
1991 Canonise 2nd (Tierce)
1990 Mahaasin 11th (Canny Lad)
1989 Courtza WON
1988 Zeditave 6th (Star Watch)
1987 Midnight Fever 11th (Marauding)
1986 Bounding Away WON
1984 Street Café 8th (Inspired)
1983 Love A Show 3rd (Sir Dapper)
1981 Black Shoes 12th (Full On Aces)
1980 Aare 6th (Dark Eclipse)
1978 Manikato WON
1977 Blazing Saddles 3rd (Luskin Star)
1974 Forina 9th (Hartshill)
1972 John’s Hope WON
1971 Tolerance 11th (Fairy Walk)
No amount of information is enough information in the pursuit of buying the best value yearling at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sales at Newmarket next month.
Leading Hunter Valley farm Kitchwin Hills today rolled out the Easter edition of its innovative yearling website, a unique information-package for yearling buyers.
This Kitchwin Hills initiative takes away a significant proportion of the research required by yearling buyers at all major sales.
“Since launching this at Magic Millions in January we have had quite a reaction from buyers,” Kitchwin Hills’ manager Mick Malone said.
“The concept is a basic one based around a simple objective – if a buyer happens to like one of our yearlings, the facility is now in place for them get to know everything and anything about the horse. It is also hoped that it will assist bloodstock agents, syndicators and trainers pre-sell any yearling of interest to their own clients.”
A vast amount of information is now easily sourced on each of Kitchwin’s yearlings listed for sale at Easter, featuring:
- internal farm foaling reports.
- foal photos.
- weanling photos.
- latest yearling photos.
- sire nicks.
- Sirecam video.
- relations’ current status – dam’s breeding record.
- dam’s sales history.
- sire’s stud record.
- sire’s sales guide.
- and more.
To view this information, go to Kitchwin.com.au or directly to Kitchwin Hills Easter yearlings.
Kitchwin Hills media release.
Please note: Kitchwin Hills is a client of Slattery Media.
The world’s richest race at the world’s richest meeting under lights at Meydan in Dubai at the weekend had no Australian runner but provided some enthralling contests and pointed to plenty to look forward to for Australian (and world) racing fans.
The $US10 million World Cup (2000m, on the artificial Tapeta surface) provided the “feel good” story, Japan’s Victoire Pisa (pictured) beating another Japanese-trained galloper, Transcend, to provide a quinella that brought a moment of joy and a welter of tears for the Japanese in Dubai, on an emotional knife-edge in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami this month.
The daring of jockey Italian Marco Dimuro won the race for Melbourne Cup winning trainer Katsuhiko Sumii. Victoire Pisa (b or br h 2007, Neo Universe (JPN)-Whitewater Affair (GB), by Machiavellian (USA)) hit his head on the gates and was slow away, but Dimuro circled the field in the back straight to join Transcend (b h 2006, Wild Rush (USA)-Cinema Scope (JPN), by Tony Bin (IRE)) in the lead when his jockey, Shinji Fujita, slowed the pace in the back straight.
The Japanese dominated from the front to run the quinella, Victoire Pisa a half-length clear, with Monterosso (by Dubawi (IRE) from Porta Roca, the mare who provided Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien with his first Group 1) a neck back in third place.
Many of those at Meydan with the Japanese runners wore black polo shirts with the word “hope” on the sleeve alongside Japan’s flag and the date of the disaster on the back. Demuro said: “It’s just unbelievable to win the Dubai World Cup for Japan.”
(Sumii trained Delta Blues, the 2006 Melbourne Cup winner in another Japanese quinella, with stablemate Pop Rock.)
With an eye to Australia in the spring, it was the $US5 million G1 Dubai Duty Free (1800m), a leg of the Asian Mile Challenge, and the $US2 million G1 Golden Shaheen (1200m) that were of greater interest in strictly racing terms.
Duty Free winner Presvis, trained by Newmarket-based Italian Luca Cumani and ridden by Ryan Moore, could be a Cox Plate runner with Cumani a dedicated visitor each spring and with the Moonee Valley Racing Club offering to pay the way of internationals.
Presvis (b g 7, Sakhee (USA)-Forest Fire (SWE), by Never So Bold (IRE)) had twice had no luck in this race. This time he again came from well back but got a clear run to win from River Jetez and Wigmore Hall.
Cumani intends to send Presvis to Hong Kong for the Group 1 QE II Cup before heading to Singapore for the SIA Cup, both 2000m and both in May. After a spell, the Cox Plate will be considered.
The Golden Shaheen win by Rocket Man (b g 5, Viscount-Macrosa (NZ), by McGinty (NZ)) compensated for his unlucky defeat last year by American Kinsale King (a late scratching this year), and broke his international Group 1 duck after four narrow seconds – he has won two domestic Group 1s at Kranji and will return to Singapore to try to win his first home-track international Group 1 in the KrisFlyer (1200m) on May 22. Before then he will run in the Singapore Group 1 $500,000 Lion City Cup (1200m) on May 1.
He has run second in the KrisFlyer the past two years, to Hong Kong’s Sacred Kingdom and Green Birdie (fourth in the Golden Shaheen this year).
Rocket Man’s trainer Patrick Shaw is eyeing a spring clash with Black Caviar, in November’s G1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on the last day of the Melbourne Cup carnival and/or in the G1 International Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on December 11.
Rocket Man was beaten a head by South African JJ The Jet Plane in Hong Kong last December. JJ franked that form with a win in the turf sprint, the $US1 million G2 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Meydan at the weekend.
Another Singapore horse, Better Be The One, trained by Australian Michael Freedman and ridden by Danny Beasley, was a head and a head way third behind JJ and War Artist.
The run attracted Royal Ascot recruiter Nick Smith.
“Nick Smith immediately asked us after the race to come to Royal Ascot,” Freedman told www.turfclub.com.sg. “He said we would need to make a decision in about three week’s time.
“I want to get the horse home first and let the dust settle and then make plans after that.”
Better Be The One (b g 4, More Than Ready (USA)-Common Smytzer, by Snippets) raced in Australia as Common Interest.
Freedman had a big weekend with two wins at Kranji in Singapore on Friday and another on Sunday. Australian jockey Vlad Duric returned from suspension on Sunday to ride a treble. He leads the jockeys’ premiership with 28 wins from last year’s champion, Brazilian Joao Moreira (21).
Freedman (14 wins) is one of 14 trainers grouped on 10-20 wins. Perennial champion Laurie Laxon is on top with 20 from another New Zealander, Mark Walker (17).
$1m G2 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m): JJ The Jet Plane (M. Houdalakis, B. Fayd’Herbe) 1, War Artist 2, Better Be The One 3.
$1m G2 Godolphin Mile (1600m): Skysurfers (F. Dettori, S. bin Suroor) 1, Mufarrh 2, Red Jazz 3.
$2m G2 UAE Derby (1900m): Khawiah (M. Barzelona, S. bin Suroor) 1, Master Of Hounds 2, Mahbooba 3.
$2m G1 Golden Shaheen (1200m): Rocket Man (F. Coetzee, P. Shaw) 1, Euroears 2, Sunny King 3.
$5m G1 Dubai Duty Free (1800m): Presvis (R. Moore, L. Cumani) 1, River Jetez 2, Wigmore Hall 3.
$5m G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2400m): Rewilding (F. Dettori, M. Al Zarooni) 1, Redwood 2, Calvados Blues 3.
$10m G1 Dubai World Cup (2000m): Victoire Pisa (M. Demuro, K. Sumii)1, Transcend 2, Monterossa 3.
Black Caviar continued her dominance of Australia’s sprinters with an emphatic, but different from the usual, come-from-behind win in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in Friday night. More than 10,000 turned out with the voice of double that number when jockey Luke Nolen let the big mare have her head at the 400 metres.
She was expected to stroll around in front, but “fell asleep” under the lights until Nolen woke her up.
Crystal Lily again was game in defeat. It was a heady, courageous ride by Stephen Baster to bounce her to the front, but in the end it takes more than good tactics to stop Black Caviar (b m 4, Bel Esprit-Helsinge, by Desert Sun (GB)), who has now won 11 from 11 – her last four at Group 1 level.
If all goes to plan – with three more races on her agenda in Sydney and Brisbane – the sensational sprinter will finish this campaign unbeaten from 14 starts with seven Group 1 wins for the season (on the trot) – her next assignment is the G1 TJ Smith Stakes (WFA, 1200m, Randwick) on April 9, followed by the G1 BTC Cup (WFA, 1200m, Doomben) on May 11 and finally the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (WFA, 1350m, Doomben) on May 28.
If so, this season Black Caviar will have won:
- in three states.
- at three carnivals.
- in each of the four seasons.
- from 1000m to 1350m.
- in races under handicap and weight-for-age conditions.
- setting a modern weight-carrying record (58kg) in the Newmarket Handicap.
- breaking race records.
If the Australian Horse of the Year title hasn’t already been sewn up, it will by the end of the season. Her only rival, So You Think, had a commanding “lead” after his memorable spring carnival, but he’s now in Ireland under the care of Aidan O’Brien. Any Royal Ascot heroics are ineligible. In another season, So You Think would have done enough in that one campaign to take the title … but not against the all-season dominance of Black Caviar.
Tough and classy Jimmy Choux is named after the famous shoe company, Jimmy Choo, and he put the boots into the local 3YOs in Saturday at Rosehill – his Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on Saturday was a dominant performance.
Jimmy Choux promises to be the best New Zealand colt/gelding to cross the Tasman since Veandercross and Surfers Paradise won the Rosehill Guineas in 1992 and 1991 respectively. He still needs to take a step to match the deeds of Bonecrusher from 1986, who won the Group 1 The BMW and the Group 1 AJC Derby, but Jimmy is a better horse than Surfers Paradise, who went on to win the Cox Plate in 1991, and Veandercross, who was stiff not to win the 1992 Caulfield Cup, won by Mannerism.
The connections of Jimmy Choux are keen to establish him as a commercial stallion, which is why they have been wary of tackling the Group 1 AJC Derby (2400m) in two weeks – the Doncaster was on their mind. They needn’t worry, because Jimmy Choux has the next 18 months to win himself a race that whets the appetite of the stallion-buying studs – a prestige 1600m Group 1 race in Australia.
Jimmy Choux has a very appealing pedigree for Australian breeders. His sire Thorn Park (by Spinning World from a the Bluebird mare Joy, from the famous Denise’s Joy family) was a brilliant racehorse up to 1600m, winning the 2004 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m, Eagle Farm).
Jimmy Choux’s dam, Cierzo, is by the wonderful Australian-bred Centaine (by Century from Rainbeam, by Vain) from a mare that is line-bred to Star Kingdom (4×4). Jimmy Choux has four crosses of Star Kingdom in his pedigree – yet another outstanding horse that represents the wonderfully unique place that Star Kingdom has in this part of the world, as well as the amazing versatility that his sons, grandsons et al have been able to impose on their progeny and descendants.
On the other hand, as good as Jimmy Choux is, the local staying 3YOs – the boys – are an average bunch. The filly, Shamrocker, beat the boys in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m, Flemington) and ran a terrific third behind Jimmy Choux and Retrieve in the Rosehill Guineas, and I don’t think she is a special filly in the class of the headliners such as Miss Finland and Triscay.
Retrieve looks to be the only horse with the talent, and improvement, to test Jimmy Choux in the Derby. The American-bred, Australian-foaled son of Rahy had to be ridden against his normal pattern on Saturday – jockey Kerrin McEvoy took him to the front after drawing wide – so he will be better suited by the distance of the Derby and a quieter ride.
Interestingly, trainer Peter Snowden thinks that Retrieve was underdone on Saturday, so much so that he is considering backing-up the colt in Saturday’s Group 2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m, Rosehill) to tighten Retrieve for the Derby seven days later.
Jimmy Choux is bred and owned by Richard Wood and his wife Liz. Wood also owned Count Chivas, the 1996 Sydney Cup winner. Like Jimmy Choux, Count Chivas has a pedigree dominated by Star Kingdom blood – being by Bletchingly’s underrated sire-son, Lord Ballina, who was also out of a Star Affair (by Star Kingdom) mare. Count Chivas’ dam Inquisit is by Imposing, a son of Todman (by Star Kingdom).
Lights Of Heaven
Lights Of Heaven is unbeaten from only four starts and she couldn’t have been more impressive winning Saturday’s Group 1 Schweppes Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville. Trainer Peter Moody has another star in his imposing team; already she is being claimed as a Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate contender in the spring.
When asked about her Caulfield Cup aspirations, Moody replied in typical laconic, simple style: “I don’t know if she is a Caulfield Cup horse … I’ve never had one before. She could be.”
Lights Of Heaven is owned by long-time Moody-supporter Ron Wanless and his wife Judy, who bred the filly. The Wanlesses also bred and owned Moody’s first Group 1 winner Amalfi, winner of the 2001 Victoria Derby.
The filly has an exceptional turn of foot that puts her in the elite class – on Saturday, she was laying-in on rider Luke Nolen as she surged to the front, but she was still able to put a space between herself and her rivals. Only Imposera (1988) has won the Schweppes Oaks and Caulfield Cup in the same year – Mannerism (Oaks in 1991) won the Cup as a 5YO in 1992.
There is a lot of time between now and the spring carnival, and it will be interesting to see what Moody does with Lights Of Heaven between now and then. She has come a long way quickly, and being by Zabeel, time will be her friend.
Lights Of Heaven has a most interesting pedigree. Apart from being a product of the Zabeel-Danzig cross – through her dam’s sire Volksraad (GB), by Green Desert (USA), by Danzig – she traces to the champion Australian mare Chicquita, her sixth dam, an VRC Oaks winner who went on to finish second to Comic Court in the 1950 Melbourne Cup. The die was set many generations ago.
Despite what you might read on Racing Victoria’s website, Black Caviar can’t talk – we have it on good authority that her blog is ghosted!
Her trainer Peter Moody is the man who does the talking for her (but not the ghost writing) and he has said many times he is running out of things to say.
Still, he dutifully butters up before each run to tell the media how his mighty mare is going – the latest report: all is well – and to help promote the meeting. Today, at his Caulfield stables called Cliché, no, Amalfi Lodge, he also tempted fate, counted his chickens before they hatched, even put the car(t) before the horse.
Moody, who will win a $134,000 Mercedes wagon if his runners top $1 million in prizemoney for the night season that ends with the G1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday, jumped into the driver’s seat for a photo opportunity, albeit not feeling all that comfortable.
He will earn the prize if Black Caviar (b m 4, Bel Esprit-Helsinge, by Desert Sun (GB)) wins the William Reid, worth $300,000 to the winner, and one of his other three entries runs in the first eight, or one of his five other acceptors for the meeting earns a few grand in another race.
TAB Sportsbet’s early market says the car is as good as in Moody’s driveway permanently. It has Black Caviar favourite at $1.10 and his other entries inside the top eight of a very lopsided market – Master Harry shares the second line at $15, Panipique sits on the third line at $21 (although she might run in the G1 Sportingbet Classic for mares over 1200m at Morphettville on Saturday instead) and Hinchinbrook is on the fifth line at $31.
Moody said there was no “stacking”. He admitted he would be happy to have the car but said, “we’re not gonna risk any horse for it”.
He said the Newmarket win at Flemington on March 12, Black Caviar’s record 10th without loss and achieved under handicap conditions, had been draining to horse and trainer, but had taken away the pressure that had hovered in the lead-in to that race.
He added, and he said he wasn’t being cheeky, that other runs at weight for age, including Friday night’s, should be “the icing on the cake from here on in”… unless someone “threw a curve ball”.
And he also said the hoopla that accompanied the Newmarket, such as signing autographs after the meeting – that’s him, not Black Caviar, who we have said doesn’t do her own writing – had made him appreciate how people had taken Black Caviar to heart.
Racing Victoria and the Melbourne clubs appreciate her, too, because she has delivered all that was promised as, post So You Think, the one champion of the Melbourne Festival of Racing.
Flemington has hosted Lightning and Newmarket wins and at its big finale the Moonee Valley Racing Club is keen to exceed its night-time crowd high of 8000 this season – despite the football and the grand prix cars, under 10,000 would disappoint.
Moody did not buy into whether Black Caviar or spring star So You Think, who is being prepared in Ireland for a northern hemisphere campaign, should be Australia’s horse of the year, other than saying of the mood at the moment, “we’re very fashionable”.
He said wasn’t fussed by extras such as awards unless they provided something to eat when you’re hungry. Prompted, he added, “or to drive”.
Somewhere in the hills at the back of Gundy, deep in the Hunter Valley near Scone, runs a herd of 100 polo mares with four attentive stallions to look after them. They roam like brumbies in more than 1200 hectares of bush and scrub, and are rarely seen.
Their owner occasionally gathers their offspring to break and train as the next generation of polo ponies.
Recently, Kitchwin Hills stud manager Mick Malone and some of his staff have been seen scouring the nearby scrubby paddocks, meticulously sifting through the polo mares. Their search, so far fruitless, is for a gem that has got away, a mare whose fortunes have turned in the past four years.
This is not old Regret, but a mare with an even more apt name – No Finding. She hasn’t been seen since 2007 when Malone let her go to run with the polo pack after her owner decided he no longer wanted her. And for good reason – No Finding’s first eight foals had produced only two minor winners at Mount Isa and Broome. Her papers were stamped “dud”.
And then along came Dane Shadow, the magnificent son of champion sire Danehill and the champion Centaine mare Slight Chance.
Kitchwin Hills’ exciting young stallion covered No Finding in 2005 and 2006 – and the fortunes of the “lost” mare suddenly took a dramatic turn for the better.
The first foal, a colt (now gelding) named Coroner, is a promising city winner in Queensland; the second foal, also a colt and the one Malone weaned from No Finding before releasing her into the wilds of the Isis River valley, is a horse who makes this story one to whet the appetite of any film maker.
The colt, now named a very apt (in hindsight) Turnitup, could be trainer Peter Moody’s next Stakes winner. The 3YO gelding, having only his second start for Moody, charged over the top of his rivals to win 3YO Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield last Saturday. This is a horse on the up with Black Type his aim.
“We have been searching for her since we had the information that Turnitup is Stakes class, but true to her name we can’t find any trace of No Finding,” Malone said. “She could be anywhere – it’s 3000 acres!”
Malone said that at the time he let No Finding run the through the back gates, nobody knew of the incredible upgrading qualities of Dane Shadow, who is making a habit of “picking second-rate mares off the canvas” – the Kitchwin Hills crew always had hope and trust in Dane Shadow, but now they have the hard evidence.
“In those early days we took whatever mares we could, but now the progeny have hit the racetrack, albeit from small numbers of mares, winner after winner by Dane Shadow – like the Blue Diamond Stakes contender Holdontoyahorses – is showing up to be the best progeny produced by the dam.
“At the same time he has also shown us that when he gets a decent mare he produces outstanding results. Group horses such as Hurtle Myrtle, Red Tracer, Shadow Assassin and Shellscrape all emerged from just a handful of better-quality mares in those early years.
“It makes you wonder just what Dane Shadow can achieve from the better mares he has covered in his past two seasons. He has covered some very serious mares. We have a lot to look forward to with Dane Shadow, it’s very exciting for everyone at Kitchwin Hills and our clients,” Malone said.
He added that there are expectations of some great things from Dane Shadow when his class of 2012 – from his foals born last spring – hit the racetrack.
“The upgrade in mares from 2009 and 2010 is so dramatic that it’s a bit scary as to what we think Dane Shadow can achieve. Already we have seen his stock readily accepted by trainers at yearlings sales – they are selling up to 10-20 times his service fee.”
One thing is assured for Dane Shadow – the days of him covering mares who run with polo ponies are long gone.
I was at a yearling sale last year, standing with a well-known trainer and agent, when a vendor walked a tough-looking yearling from between the barns to stand in front of the group for pre-sale inspection. “What’s this?” was the question … “Al Maher colt,” the handler chirped.
“No thanks,” said the trainer without looking up from his catalogue to even take one study of the colt. The handler looked a little confused, for this was the star of the draft. After hesitation, the trainer barked, “Next please”.
“Al Maher colts, I won’t bother to even look at them. If it is a filly, it’s a different story. He’s a good sire of fillies, can’t get a colt,” he said.
At the time, Al Maher (b h 2001, Danehill (USA)-Show Dancing (NZ), by Don’t Say Halo (USA)), a Group 1 winning three-quarter brother to Redoute’s Choice, was enjoying a terrific run with his fillies, and even now, nearly 12 months later, his reputation as a “filly sire” is further enhanced. Five of Al Maher’s seven stakes winners from his 77 winners (to February 1) are fillies – his two Listed-winning males are Bigelow and Epic Dragon – and five of his eight stakes-placed offspring are fillies.
The top-class Majestic Music, a four-time Group winner, is the headline act for Al Maher, but he also is the sire of the quality Group 2 winners Speedy Natalie and Marheta, as well as the Listed-winning fillies M’Lady Pedrille and Becerra.
Despite the fact that Epic Dragon and, particularly, Bigalow, who ran a terrific third behind Pressday in the Group 2 Sandown Guineas (1600m), are young horses with loads of potential, the odds are stacking against Al Maher, with his oldest progeny now four-year-olds, being an all-rounder.
However, it can turn around and it doesn’t take much, just one cracking Group 1 class colt can sway the mindset. I remember something similar with Danehill, the sire of Al Maher, when he first started as a stallion – “can’t get a filly” was the cry after his first couple of crops were dominated by colts such as Golden Slipper winners Danzero (1994) and Flying Spur (1995) and the Victoria Derby hero Nothin Leica Dane (1995). A year later his star filly Merlene won the Slipper to help balance the ledger. In fact, Danehill fillies dominated the stallion’s big-race wins for the stallion in the next few years before his son Arena won the 1998 Victoria Derby.
Years ago, my brother and I marked the New Zealand stallion Beaufort Sea (b h 1970, Nashua (USA)-Homeward Bound (GB), by Alycidon (GB)) as a one-sex wonder – a champion sire of fillies, and we followed his daughters on the racetrack with zeal. His 16 Stakes winners included the wonderful racetrack female stars Canterbury Belle, Seamist, Peat, Beaufort Lass, Kiwi Bride and Sea Princess (also the dam of the VRC Oaks winner Richfield Lady), and a host of other good racemares that didn’t win at Stakes level.
There are other twists in the gender game. Encosta De Lago’s fillies are speedier and more precocious than his colts, who, apart from a couple of exceptions such as Northern Meteor and Manhattan Rain, tend to want to get over ground. The same seems to go for Rock Of Gibraltar.
Which brings me to another recent gender trend with the latest superstar High Chaparral (b h 1999, Sadler’s Wells (USA)-Kasora (IRE), by Darshaan (GB)). Back in the spring, top New Zealand trainer Murray Baker said he was concerned that the stallion was a “colt sire”. Baker had trained quite a few fillies by High Chaparral and he was far from impressed with them, and he cited the stallion’s record. Baker thought High Chaparral might be similar to his predecessor at Windsor Park (Cambridge, NZ), Montjeu (also by Sadler’s Wells), who really struggled to leave a good filly – only two of his southern hemisphere Stakes winners are fillies.
High Chaparral’s five international Group 1 winners are all colts or geldings, four of those are from his southern hemisphere 2006 crop – So You Think, Monaco Consul, Descarado and Shoot Out. He has two Group 2 winning fillies, Joanna (France and Italy) and The Miniver Rose (Great Britain) – the latter is now trained by Lee Freedman.
At this stage, Fairy Oak, winner of the 2010 Group 3 Auraria Stakes at Morphettville, is his only Stakes winning filly from his two SH crops.
Others have also cottoned on to the trend as it’s no coincidence that at the recent New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Premier Yearling Sale the six High Chaparral yearlings (of 32 sold) that didn’t make $NZ100,000 were all fillies. You needed a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a colt.
Maybe it is because High Chaparral is quite a refined, feminine looking stallion that his fillies don’t have that masculinity to compete at the highest level. Last spring he covered 234 mares – the most by any Australian stallion – at his new Coolmore Stud home in the Hunter Valley, and many of those are heavier boned, muscular mares with speedy Australian pedigrees. It will be interesting to see if his “Aussie” girls can match it with the boys.
Photo: High Chaparral at Coolmore Stud.
Note: This story appeared in the March issue of Inside Racing.
It was hard to get a line on Saturday’s wet track at Rosehill. Some horses just didn’t handle it – odds-on favourites Sepoy and Maluckyday were two – yet others with suspect wet track form, such as Zavite and Aloha, ploughed through it for terrific wins at Group 1 level.
Even some riders also saw it differently. Sepoy’s jockey Kerrin McEvoy said the track was already a heavy rating when Sepoy finished second, in the pouring rain, behind Smart Missile (ridden by Glen Boss, who had a day out in the mud with four winners) in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m), race two – at that stage the track had been downgraded from dead4 to dead5.
So quickly did the track deteriorate that the filly Elite Falls ran the 1200m to win the Group 2 Reisling Stakes in 1 min. 12.36secs, nearly 2.5secs slower than Smart Missile took to win the colts and geldings race for juveniles.
Boss (pictured), on the other hand, said he was confident Aloha would handle it in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m), despite the fact trainer Mick Price had previously felt she wasn’t any good on a wet track. Boss said: “The track is all right; horses are getting a sure footing, I expect her to handle it.” He was right, Aloha won easily. In the same race, the mudlark Graceful Anna struggled home in 14th place, 13 lengths behind the winner. Figure that out.
Two races earlier, Boss had guided Zavite (100/1) to a surprise win in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (WFA, 2000m). Zavite also has been regarded by his trainer Anthony Cummings as a wet track duffer – 22 starts on tracks rated from dead to heavy for only one dead-track win – yet the eight-year-old veteran of 59 starts bowled along in front and then kicked back to beat noted-mudlark Descarado in a thrilling finish.
It was Boss at his brilliant best, and a “wet-track” ride equal to anything I have seen. He allowed Zavite to get comfortable in the going; encouraged him to find his stride and rhythm in an even tempo; held his head without panic even when Descarado headed him at the 300m; and then drove him hard to the line. Show the video to all young jockeys.
I hear the connections of Maluckyday – fourth in the Ranvet – weren’t happy with Jim Cassidy’s ride. They must have been watching a different race to me, because with Boss setting a genuine tempo in front, Maluckyday wasn’t able to get comfortable in the going at any stage. It was obvious at the 800 metres, with Cassidy niggling at the gelding, that another day would be a better day for Maluckyday.
Yes, Maluckyday finished a wonderful second behind Americain on a rain-affected track – rated slow6 but run in the rain which made the surface slushy – in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup in the spring, but he had only 51kg on his back (on Saturday at weight-for-age he lumped 59kg) and that result only highlights that each track surface is different – some horses will handle wet surfaces on some tracks and not others. For instance, how can a slow, sandy Strathayr track at Moonee Valley equate to a non-Strathayr surface? … two different ball games, and a trick for people looking for wet trackers based on statistics without researching at which track the horse earned its wet-track credit.
I suspect that a firm track in two weeks on Golden Slipper/The BMW day will see some considerable form reversals from Saturday’s meeting. Be wary.
Sepoy (ch c 2, Elusive Quality (USA)-Watchful, by Danehill (USA))
Smart Missile (br c 2, Fastnet Rock-Comical Smile (USA), by Comic Strip (USA))
Elite Falls (b f 2, More Than Ready (USA)-Niagara Falls, by Danehill (USA))
Zavite (b g 8, Zabeel (NZ)-Miss Vita (USA), by Alleged (USA))
Maluckyday (b g 4, Zabeel (NZ)-Natalie Wood (NZ), by Yachtie)
Descarado (b g 4, High Chaparral (IRE)-Karamea Lady (NZ), by Lord Ballina)
Aloha (b m 4, Encosta De Lago-Tennessee Midnight, by Danehill (USA))
Graceful Anna (ch m 4, Canny Lad-Lamellar, by Grand Lodge (USA))
While this week is racing heaven at Cheltenham in England for jumps racing fans – the big one of the four-day meeting, the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Imperial Commander, Long Run, Kauto Star and Denman, is on live on pay TV late Friday night Melbourne time – the next stop on the flat racing circuit is Dubai’s World Cup meeting at Meydan on Saturday, March 26.
Singapore’s Better Than Ever warmed up for the $US5 million G1 Dubai Duty Free (1777m) with a course record win in 1:37.69 in the G3 Polytrack Mile Championship at Kranji on Sunday, starting at “Black Caviar odds” of $6 (the Singapore unit is $5). It was his 14th win from 15 starts, all at Kranji.
Better Than Ever (b g 4, French Deputy (USA)-Songfest, by Unbridled’s Song (USA)), in the Duty Free, and champion sprinter Rocket Man (b g 5, Viscount-Macrosa (NZ), by Mr McGinty (NZ)), in the $US2 million Golden Shaheen (1200m) on the artificial Tapeta track, will fly the flag for Singapore at the meeting.
Rocket Man will return to Kranji for the $S1 million KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) on May 22, a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge – Black Caviar won the first leg this year, the Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February.Australia has seven KrisFlyer entries, including Gold Trail and Eagle Falls, the Oakleigh Plate winner who ran well at Kranji last year. The others are Ahdashim, Hay List, King Pulse, Love Conquers All and Ortensia.
Ortensia’s trainer Tony Noonan has nominated Buccellati and Kutchinsky for the headline race on the same card, the G1 S$3 million Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m). Other Australian noms are Dao Dao, Fanjura, Maluckyday and the Perth galloper Phenomenons.
Hong Kong is the international focus between Dubai and Singapore, but this year the Hong Kong Jockey Club has split its April meeting – the G1 BMW Champions Mile, a leg of the Asian Mile Series, will be on Monday, April 25, and the G1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) will be run on Sunday, May 1.
Australian noms are – Mile: Danleigh, Dao Dao, Masquerader, Melito, More Joyous, Phenomenons, Triple Elegance and Whobegotyou. Cup: Buccellati, Danleigh, Dao Dao, Kutchinsky, Maluckday and Phenomenons. The HKJC said 18 G1 winners had been nominated for the Champions Mile, listing US Champion Turf Horse Gio Ponti, Singapore’s Better Than Ever, Godolphin’s Mendip and the Gai Waterhouse-trained More Joyous as possible headliners, although Melito is shaping as Australia’s best likely runner.
Visitors could be pitched against Able One, last year’s G1 Champions Mile winner, and December’s G1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Flash, who completed a hat-trick of international and local G1s when taking the 1400m Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup last time out and will bid to make it a four-timer in the Dubai Duty Free. Gerald Mosse will ride.
Thirty-one G1 winners have been nominated for the QEII. They include superstar filly Snow Fairy, winner last year of the G1 Epsom Oaks and G1 Irish Oaks as well as the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup in Japan before she mowed down a high-class field in the G1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup.
Hong Kong will run its G1 Derby this Sunday, with champion Australian jockey Damien Oliver heading to Sha Tin to ride Military Move for trainer John Moore.
Meanwhile, a well-known name was a winner at Happy Valley last night – Think Big. This one is a five-year-old Lucky Owners gelding, who has won two of 18 starts. He was one of four winners for trainer Denis Yip at the meeting. The “real” Think Big won the 1974-75 Melbourne Cups for Bart Cummings.
The Singapore Turf Club reports that nominations for its May Group 1 races could produce the strongest line-ups in their short history. The SIA Cup nominations are headed by Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco (trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien), Gio Ponti (twice American Champion Turf Horse), Bold Silvano (trained by Mike de Kock), Luca Cumani’s Presvis and the brilliant Snow Fairy.
Entries for the KrisFlyer, which comes under the Global Sprint Challenge banner for the first time, include Hong Kong pair Sacred Kingdom (winner in 2009) and Green Birdie (last year’s winner), and local Rocket Man, bidding to improve on his seconds to those two.
Japan’s G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m), a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, is slated to go ahead on March 27 despite the earthquake disaster. Hong Kong connections have decided against sending Green Birdie and Joy And Fun to the race at Hanshin.
Photo: Ortensia in Hong Kong last December.
I have a theory that the best runners of some stallions – definitely not all – can be those that don’t look like their sire, which usually means they throw to the dam side.
The former Golden Slipper winner and prolific sire of winners, Rory’s Jester (ch h 1982, Crown Jester-Rory’s Rocket (GB), by Roan Rocket (IRE)), a big chunky chestnut with flaxen mane and a big white blaze, was a prime example. The flashy chestnuts, in the image of their old man, seemed to be the precocious early runners, but few of them amounted to anything special, and few trained on. Couldn’t say the same about the bays.
In many cases Rory’s Jester’s bays were lighter framed, had better heads, were a bit more athletic, and were essentially his best. The bays included the brilliant Group 1 speedster Isca, the reliable and enduring Racer’s Edge, who also is a good sire, the international-winning sprinter North Boy, Aragen, Chortle and Toast For The Coast.
Savabeel (br h 2001, Zabeel (NZ)-Savannah Success NZ), by Success Express (USA)), the 2004 Group 1 Cox Plate winner, could be another stallion with a similar trait to Rory’s Jester.
Savabeel’s filly Do Ra Mi (pictured), a sensational last-to-first winner of the G2 Kewney Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday, looks nothing like her sire. She’s a small, strong, lengthy bay filly in the image of her dam, Aulide, who in turn credits her physique to her sire, the wonderful Snippets (by Lunchtime (GB)).
From what I have seen Savabeel, who stands at Waikato Stud, Matamata, New Zealand, stamps his stock very much in his image (click here to view) – athletic horses with a bit of leg, but maybe lacking in bone and strength, especially as yearlings. In some respects the Cox Plate winner has been a bit disappointing as a sire, as he was expected to be the son of Zabeel to carry on the famous sire-line.
On Sunday, Savabeel made it a weekend Stakes double when Kudakulari won the Listed Canberra Guineas for trainer Bart Cummings. Like Do Ra Mi, Kudakulari hasn’t thrown to his sire in looks, as he is more the size and shape of what we know his grandsire Zabeel can throw.
I first developed this theory (and that’s all it can ever be) when I was looking at the early stock of former star galloper Stylish Century, an almost jet-black son of the almost jet-black Double Century. Most of the progeny of Stylish Century inherited his colour and physique – black, not tall, but long and athletic – but his best runners, including the classy Runaway, narrowly beaten by Mossman in the 1998 Group 2 AAMI Vase at Moonee Valley, looked nothing like their sire. In Runway’s case, he was out of a Sir Tristram mare, Lady Tristana, and he looked every bit a son of Sir Tristram.
I had bought Runaway as a yearling because of his resemblance to the Sir Tristram side of his pedigree, and a year later, I also bought Stylish Century’s other top-class son, the multiple Group winner Buster Jones (ch g 1994, ex-Show Queen (NZ), by Balmerino (NZ), who was a flashy chestnut with a white blaze and two long white socks on the front. I don’t know where the chestnut colour came from, although Stylish Century’s great grandsire Better Boy could throw blacks, bays and flashy chestnuts with splashes of white but I was later told that Buster Jones had the same physique as his famous granddam, champion New Zealand racemare Show Gate.
Savabeel, who inherited his dark brown colour and attractive physique from his mother Savannah Success, has six Stakes winners – his oldest progeny are now four – and it’s hard not to believe that his immense talent on the track won’t come through in his progeny, no matter what they look like. Maybe a bit of patience is the right play, because he is a son of Zabeel.
Stylish Century: br h 1986, Double Century-Stylish, by Forex (GB)
Kudakulari: b g 2007, Sabaveel-Oenotria (NZ), by O’Reilly (NZ)