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Neville Murdoch summed up the philosophy of his progressive farm, Larneuk Stud, perfectly when he said: “We are just a small farm having a red hot go.”
Murdoch made the comment when the ink was still wet on the contract after signing on star Sydney galloper Ilovethiscity to stand his first season at the Euroa farm.
It was a brave move, because Murdoch also was in the middle of a marketing campaign for another first-season stallion, the Australian-bred, Hong Kong star One World.
Only the “big boys” of Australian breeding—Darley, Coolmore, Widden and Arrowfield—would attempt to market two first-season stallions in one season; and Murdoch is trying to do it with two horses in a similar price bracket.
Ilovethiscity (ch h 2008, Magic Albert-Kensington Rose (NZ), by Kenfair (NZ)) will stand for a fee of $8800; One World (b h 2004, Danehill Dancer (IRE)-River Serenade, by Hurricane Sky) will cover his first book at a fee of $6600. The new stallions will join O’Lonhro (by Lonhro) and Bramshaw (by Encosta De Lago) in the 80-hectare farm’s stallion barn.
Murdoch said he had his eye on the two stallions for some time, and when Ilovethiscity came on to the market late in May it was a case of “I have to get him”.
“I don’t see it as a risk. I think it is an exciting time for us to have two new horses to present to breeders.
“The two stallion won’t compete for the same mares, because they offer broodmare owners two different sire lines. One World is a Danehill-line stallion, whereas Ilovethiscity is by Magic Albert, a son of Zeditave, so he is an outcross for Danehill-line mares.
“We have been delighted with the response to O’Lonhro. He has had two good seasons and his foals have been well received, so it is exciting times for Larneuk to have his first crop heading towards the yearling sales (in 2013) and these two new horses on the books,” Murdoch said.
Murdoch expects Ilovethiscity, who had most of his success on Sydney tracks, including brilliant wins in the 2011 Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m, Randwick) and the 2011 Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m, Rosehill), to attract a number of mares from across the border. “He had a great action and a brilliant turn of foot, which is what you need in a stallion,” he said.
Ilovethiscity retires as the best son of Magic Albert, a stallion whose stocks have risen dramatically in the past two years. Importantly, he comes from a dam line that also has produced two champion stallions—Lonhro and Grosvenor.
One World has been at Larneuk for some months after finishing his outstanding racing career in Hong Kong, where he was one of the top sprinters racing against world-class opposition for three years.
Murdoch is confident that the Hong Kong racing scene will become a source of stallions for Australia’s market. “Hong Kong has a very similar racing style to Australia, so the good horses from there, especially those bred in Australia, are a perfect fit,” he said.
He has been encouraged by the success at stud in Queensland of another former Hong Kong sprinter, the Danehill-son Hidden Dragon. Importantly, One World was a much higher-rated horse in Hong Kong than Hidden Dragon.
One World’s most impressive performance was his dead-heat with the great Rocket Man in the 2010 Group 2 HKJC Sprint Trial (1200m, Sha Tin), and in his wake was the champion Sacred Kingdom. This was at a time when Rocket Man and Sacred Kingdom were rated the best sprinters in the world.
One World, an imposing individual, represents the wonderful Danehill-Star Kingdom cross—in fact, he has a triple cross of Star Kingdom on his dam side—and he is a three-quarter brother to the top Australian sprinter, First Command.
Victorian breeders should dip their lids to Neville Murdoch for having a dip.
Photo: One World with Neville Murdoch.
This is an updated extract of Danny Power’s editorial in Inside Breeding magazine, which is available from July 1.
It’s not often that the spotlight for new stallions falls on Victoria, but it has for the 2012-breeding season.
For the first time in my memory, and almost certainly in recent history, seven outstanding Group 1 winners have found new homes in Victoria.
Suddenly, Victorian breeders have an enviable choice on an impressive menu of stallions—horses of all styles and sire-lines.
When you add this “magnificent seven” to an quality list of established and young sires already on stud rosters, it is proof that Victoria’s breeding industry is well and truly on the move.
While the star group is headed by the sensational imported racehorse Canford Cliffs (by Tagula), who will stand his first southern hemisphere season at Blue Gum Farm, Euroa, the lover of the Australian-bred stallion has a smorgasbord of class to choose from.
Victoria’s “Aussie six”—Toorak Toff (by Show A Heart, Rosemont Stud), Ilovethiscity (by Magic Albert, Larneuk Stud), Skilled (by Lonhro, Darley), Anacheeva (by Anabaa, Chatswood Stud)), Master Of Design (Redoute’s Choice, Swettenham Stud) and the most recent, Helmet (by Exceed And Excel, Darley)—are more than ably backed up by some exciting first-season sires, who didn’t win at the highest level, but retire with as much fanfare, including the Hong Kong star One World (by Danehill Dancer, Larneuk Stud) and Black Caviar’s talented brother Moshe (by Bel Esprit, Eliza Park).
Victoria’s proven-stallion stocks are also on the rise. Eliza Park’s Bel Esprit (by Royal Academy (USA)) and Statue Of Liberty (by Storm Cat (USA))—the respective sires of sprint stars Black Caviar and Hay List—are firmly established on the stallion list for commercial yearling-sale breeders, while the up-and-comers such as Darley’s Domesday (by Red Ransom (USA)) and Independent Stallions’ Artie Schiller (by El Prado (IRE)) are two of the best young sires in the country.
Some of the impressive young Victorian-based stallions, who are yet to have runners, include the Newmarket Handicap winner Wanted (by Fastnet Rock, Eliza Park), Blue Diamond Stakes winner Reward For Effort (by Exceed And Excel, Chatswood Stud), the underrated dual Group 1 winner Turffontein (by Johannesburg, Blue Gum Farm), the Golden Slipper runner-up Von Costa de Hero (Encosta De Lago, Darley), the impeccably bred son of Fastnet Rock, Stryker (Three Bridges) and Eliza Park’s Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver (by Maria’s Mon (USA)).
Darley Victoria’s Andy Makiv wasn’t kidding when he said in early April that New Approach (by Galileo (USA)) was the hottest stallion on Darley’s books. So impressive were New Approach’s first-crop yearlings this year that Darley was forced to close his book within a week of the last gavel falling at the Sydney Easter Yearling Sale. This was supposed to be New Approach’s “tough” year, after covering three seasons at Seymour—tell the breeders that.
And then came Royal Ascot, when New Approach sired three Stakes-winning juveniles. By that time, his Australian book was well and truly closed.
The support for New Approach should be encouraging for everyone at Blue Gum Farm, because of the imported horses on the shuttle train from Europe, only Canford Cliffs can boast anywhere near the racetrack record of Darley’s chestnut.
New Approach, a dual Group 1 winner at two, trained on to win the Group 1 Epsom Derby (2400m) and Irish Derby (2400m) double before sealing his magnificent 3YO season by winning the Group 1 Champion Stakes (2000m) against older horses.
It’s safe to say he is the best-performed horse to stand at stud in Victoria.
Canford Cliffs won seven of his 11 starts. He was a Group 2 winner at two, but really hit his straps at three when he won the Group 1 Irish Guineas (1600m), Group 1 Sussex Stakes (1600m) and the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes (1600m).
At four, he won the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes (1600m) and the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m), when he thrashed the great French mare Goldikova to win his third Royal Ascot feature in three years.
Canford Cliffs finished his career with a second to the great Frankel in the 2011 Sussex Stakes (1600m) at Goodwood—he pulled up sore and was retired to stand at Coolmore Stud in Ireland in early 2012. If “milers” make the best stallions, then Canford Cliffs is the best 1600-metre horse to come to Victoria.
What’s the reason for this resurgence? Some say it is the lucrative Super VOBIS and the new VOBIS Gold are making the difference, and while that might be true in building confidence, I believe it is more that Victoria’s farms are having a good, old-fashioned dip at giving the Hunter Valley a run for its money.
More power to them.
Photo: The handsome Ilovethiscity (Magic Albert), who will stand his first season at Larneuk Stud, Euroa.
Coolmore Stud has found thoroughbred breeding’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is an extract from a story in the 2012 Inside Breeding magazine, out now.
Coolmore Stud, the big spending conglomerate that outlays a small fortune on the international search for stallions, must feel the irony that Fastnet Rock has fallen in its lap.
This was a horse Coolmore couldn’t sell and retained in hope more than with great expectation.
The big horse was a gangly, dopey, boof-headed yearling, but there were no takers at his reserve price of $300,000 at the 2003 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale despite the fact he was by the champion sire Danehill from a very precocious sprinting filly, Piccadilly Circus (b m Royal Academy (USA)-Gatana, by Marauding (NZ)).
“Too heavy … too coarse … too much money … take too long” were the general comments from those at the sales.
The yearling was sent to Harry and Arthur Mitchell’s Yarraman Park Stud to be broken in and educated.
Even then, the horse was on the market but the interest in him was minimal.
Paul Perry, at Newcastle, was selected to train the colt in the wake of his wonderful success in 2003 with Choisir, who won the Group 2 King’s Stand Stakes and the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes in the same week at Royal Ascot. Coolmore bought Choisir from Perry and the unwanted Danehill colt came as part of the reward.
Fastnet Rock was raced by the group from Coolmore who owned Piccadilly Circus when she raced for trainer Lee Freedman, including Sue Magnier, wife of Coolmore’s principal John Magnier, Coolmore’s bloodstock agent Demi O’Byrne, and\ three men from the Australian arm of the Irish-based outfit, Michael Kirwan and Duncan Grimley, who at the time were joint general managers, and chairman Ken Barry. (Grimley has since left Coolmore.)
Surprisingly, because of his size and relative backward nature, Fastnet Rock emerged as a spring two-year-old. He finished second in a trial at Randwick in September, but Perry set him aside without a race. In the autumn, the big horse emerged as a Golden Slipper contender; a race in which he finished a game fourth behind Dance Hero in record time—splitting them was the outstanding eventual Group 1 winners Charge Forward, now a leading sire, and the crack filly Alinghi. It was a “hot” Slipper, because behind him were Dane Shadow and Econsul.
For a horse most people doubted would race until he was a three-year-old, Fastnet Rock proved an incredibly durable juvenile, despite not winning a race. His Golden Slipper run was his sixth for his first campaign—including seconds in the Group 3 Skyline Stakes and Group 2 Pago Pago Stakes—and it didn’t finish there. He backed up a week after the Slipper for his third run in 14 days to finish fifth behind Dance Hero in the Group 1 AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
Although Fastnet Rock had the “look of a three-year-old”, there were doubters that he was genuine A-grade. He seemed to lack an explosive turn-of-foot, and some people felt he had been given too tough a campaign as a youngster in Coolmore’s quest to give him an elusive Group 1 as a two-year-old to cement a huge value on him as a stallion prospect.
One person who didn’t doubt Fastnet Rock was Perry. He recognised a toughness in the youngster that others not so close to the stable didn’t see.
In the spring, Fastnet Rock, after finishing second behind Charge Forward—Dance Hero third—in the Group 2 San Domenico Stakes (1000m, Randwick), finally broke through with wins in the Group 2 Up And Coming Stakes (1200m, Warwick Farm) and the Group 3 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m, Warwick Farm).
An attempt to step him up in distance in Melbourne failed when he could manage only eighth behind Econsul in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m, Caulfield), but freshened and back in trip, he bounced back with a win in the Group 3 L’Oreal Stakes (1200m) down the straight at Flemington on Derby day. To confirm his talent and toughness, he backed up seven days later to beat the older horses in the Group 3 Lexus Classic (WFA, 1200m) at Flemington.
In the autumn, Fastnet Rock, mature and primed, won the first two legs of the Melbourne sprint treble—the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m, Flemington) and the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m)—before his terrific second behind the brilliant Alinghi in a memorable Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
His second to Shamekha on a slow Randwick track in the Group 1 TJ Smith (1200m) was his final run.
Perry took the colt to England for the Royal Ascot carnival, but he didn’t run there after developing travel sickness. It was a shame, because a win at Royal Ascot would have fulfilled Coolmore’s desire to “make” Fastnet Rock a dual-hemisphere shuttle stallion—maximising profits—as he certainly was as good as, if not better than, Choisir. His Australian record certainly suggested he was.
Fastnet Rock’s speed-oriented pedigree is a major factor in his success, but also his immense size means that he is throwing fillies with great strength and bone—and a big advantage over their female rivals. Atlantic Jewel, Irish Lights and Mosheen are Group 1 winning fillies with a tremendous turn-of-foot.
The icing on the cake for Coolmore is that Fastnet Rock also is shaping as a sire of sires. His best sons are fast and tough—much like him—and in most cases better looking thanks to the astute selection of the mares he has covered.
Already Fastnet Rock has seven of the best young stallion prospects at stud in three states:
Fastnet Rock sons at stud (in stud fee order):
Wanted (B h 2006, from Fragmenation, by Snippets)
Eliza Park Stud, Kerrie, Victoria. Fee: $33,000.
Wanted is Fastnet Rock’s first Group 1 winner and his first son to be retired to stud. After a string of outstanding Group 1 placings behind some great horses, Wanted won the 2010 Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m, Flemington).
Conservatively used in his first season because he is a rig—Wanted covered 75 mares—but he stepped up to 112 mares last season with strong fertility figures. His commercial stud career is assured.
His first crop foals have been the highlight of the 2012 weanling sales season, selling for $255,000 (colt from Regal Arena, by Arena), $190,000 (filly from Aquatint, by Supremo (USA)) and $117,500 (colt from Vestment, by Danasinga).
Hinchinbrook (B h 2007, from Snippets’ Lass, by Snippets)
Yarraman Park Stud, Scone, NSW. Fee: $16,500.
Hinchinbrook looked a genuine Golden Slipper chance when he won the 2010 Group 3 Skyline Stakes (1200m) and the Listed Canonbury Stakes (1100m) at his first two starts, and he was far from disgraced in the Slipper when he finished fourth behind Crystal Lily. He finished his 2YO campaign seven days later with a solid third behind Yosei and Skilled in the G1 AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m, Randwick) when he was run down in the final 50 metres. He didn’t find form in the 2010 spring, but bounced back last year in the autumn with third placings in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate and Group 1 William Reid Stakes before finishing second to Hay List in the Group 1 All-Aged Stakes.
Hinchinbrook, a three-quarter brother to Snitzel, covered 119 mares in his first season in 2011.
Rothesay (b h 2006, from Schiaparelli, by Woodman (USA))
Glenlogan Park Stud, Qld. Fee: $12,100.
Rothesay was a crack racehorse from the start for trainer Gerald Ryan, who rated the horse highly. He lived up to his reputation with a brilliant, storming victory in the 2009 Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1600m, Eagle Farm) and at four he beat all but More Joyous in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m, Rosehill) before injury forced his retirement after only nine starts.
Rothesay, whose granddam Canny Lass was an outstanding multiple Group 1 winner, comes from one of Australia’s great families—he is closely related to Canny Lad and Sepoy.
He was very popular in his first season at Glenlogan Park, covering 152 mares in 2011.
Stryker (B h 2006, from Laetitia, by Woodman (USA))
Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, Eddington, Victoria. Fee: $11,000.
Winner of the Group 3 BTC Classic (1350m, Doomben) and third behind Denman and Trusting in the 2010 Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m, Rosehill) and third, behind Shellscrape, in the 2011 The Galaxy (1100m, Randwick).
Stryker is a magnificent-looking stallion who cost Ingham Bloodstock $600,000 as a yearling.
He represents the famous Denise’s Joy family, which apart from producing champion fillies such as Tuesday Joy and More Joyous, also is the foundation family behind New Zealand’s outstanding young sire Thorn Park.
Stryker covered 124 mares in his first season in 2011.
Therock (B h 2006, from Bumps, by Scenic (IRE))
Bombora Downs, Bittern, Victoria. Fee: $3850.
Therock was an eye-catching horse from early on—he was a $407,000 Magic Millions weanling in 2007. Started his career with a bit of fanfare for trainer Gerald Ryan after winning three trials as a 2YO. Raced twice at two before emerging in the 2009 spring as a 3YO to win consecutive races at Warwick Farm and Rosehill, but a leg injury stopped him going to Christchurch for the Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas.
Therock is closely related to the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Reward For Effort.
He covered 28 mares in his debut season at Waterford Stud, Western Australia, before moving to Victoria.
New for 2012
Foxwedge (B h 2008, from Forest Native (USA), by Forest Wildcat (USA))
Newgate Farm, Scone, NSW. Fee: $33,000.
Foxwedge was sought after by a number of studs, but Henry Field’s Newgate Farm won out. He ticks a lot of boxes—Group 1 winner, Group 1 contending 2YO, magnificent looking colt; and solid international pedigree.
He first showed he was an A-grader when he almost ran down the champion colt Sepoy in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m, Flemington) last spring, and he confirmed that by beating Hay List in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m, Moonee Valley) in the autumn. He didn’t come up in the Sydney autumn and missed the plane to Royal Ascot, but his future was already sealed.
Smart Missile (B h 2008, ex Comical Smile (USA), by Comic Strip (USA))
Arrowfield Stud, Scone, NSW. Fee: $22,000.
The decision by John Messara’s iconic Arrowfield Stud to chase Smart Missile as a stallion should be recommendation enough for breeders. Smart Missile may not be a Group 1 winner, but nobody will doubt he was a Group 1-class horse. At two, he was the only horse to beat the champion Sepoy—in the Group 2 Todman Slipper Stakes (1200m, Rosehill)—and, of course, Smart Missile lost the chance to prove that form when he was withdrawn from the Slipper at the barrier. Sepoy went on to win.
Smart Missile also put up a monstrous performance, charging late for second behind Manawanui in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m, Rosehill) at three, and was stiff when 10th behind Toorak Toff in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m, Caulfield) when badly blocked for a run.
Smart Missile comes from a famous stallion-producing family—his fifth dam Rough Shod is a breed shaping broodmare who is the fourth dam of Sadler’s Wells and the third dam of Nureyev.