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Steve Moran | 09.01.2019

There’s very little bother with annoying detail, save for knowing his stallion’s stats, and very limited sales pitch bullshit when it comes to Yarraman Park’s Arthur Mitchell.

I like that. Most of us would like to think we share a little of the same traits. But in my case it’s generally laziness, in his I suspect it’s just him.

And you could argue, of course, that such has been Yarraman’s success in recent years that the operation and its stock has sold itself.

Mitchell’s on the Gold Coast, of course, where selling begins today of (among some 1150 horses, pending withdrawals) around 30 yearlings offered by Yarraman and an extraordinary 59 (at last check) by their all-conquering, and thus aptly named, stallion I Am Invincible.

Last year, Arthur and brother Harry’s farm sold the $2 million sales-topper, a colt by I Am Invincible from the Magic Albert mare Tai Tai Tess.

Today, they offer the brother – Lot 204. A field day for any decent spin doctor, but not for Arthur who casually offers some level of optimism blended with a liberal dose of ‘we’ll see how it goes’.

“Look, he’s a pretty nice type. I like him and the talk around the sales is good but I don’t know whether he’ll top the sale,” he said.

Last year’s version is named Faretti and is in training with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott. “Gai hasn’t pushed him too hard but he’s coming along well and apparently had a jump-out this morning (Tuesday),” Mitchell said.

So, what about this draft, Arthur? Thirty four catalogued, compared to 13 last year – Yarraman’s largest ever?

“Yeah, imagine it would be,” he said.

What about this amazing number of I Am Invincibles? Surely be the largest one sale individual representation from a stallion housed at a ‘small’ stallion farm – i.e. one standing only two stallions at the time these yearlings were generated.

“Probably would be, I suppose but you’d have to check,” he said. Not bloody likely. I’m just going with it.

What about this sale, expecting another big year?

“We’ll see, I’d be surprised if it didn’t dip a little from last year. The nice horses I’m sure will still sell very well. There’s a good few international buyers about. The mood’s good but the economy’s not all boom and there’s probably a bigger tail,” he said.

What about the quality of your draft?

“It’s a nice even draft, they look good, they’ll sell well I’d think. Lot 72’s a lovely filly by Vinny (I Am Invincible) from Rose Of Choice,” he said.

What about Hinchinbrook who, of course, died earlier this year?

“Great shame. He’s got this nice horse, Unite And Conquer, in the Millions and Whispering Brook keeps winning. You just don’t know how long you’ve got them, do you?,” he said.

What about this large number of I Am Invincibles?

“Magic Millions is probably seen, by many breeders, as a natural destination for them,” he said.

What about the impact of raising I Am Invincible’s service fee? Bit of money. He’s gone to $192,500. (He stood at $55,000 in 2015 and 2016 and $110,000 in 2017.

“No, no impact. He was chockers. Served over 200 mares,” he said.

What about how well he’s going?

“Pretty good, isn’t he? He’s had 19 stakes winners already this season. Another seven between now and August and he matches Danehill and Snitzel,” he said.

What about how many he’ll have at Easter?

“Don’t know,” he said. Inglis says 19 colts, 13 fillies. He also has four lots on offer in New Zealand at Karaka at the end of the month; 20 at Classic; two in Perth and ten at Premier. Not sure about Adelaide.

What about a smoke?

“Yeah, I’ve got this new vape from England. Got nicotine in it,” he said.

Untimely loss

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

So says Three Bridges Farm’s Peter Liston, quoting Alfred Lord Tennyson, in reference to the death earlier this year of the farm’s stallion and 2014 Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Unencumbered.

It’s cheating really, writing a story about Liston. Just wrap a few words around his quotable quotes and job done.

“We buried him standing up, overlooking the paddocks and the river and most mornings I’ll see him and consider that I’ll have to find another superannuation fund,” Liston said.

This one, of course, is not an unfamiliar story. Stallion dies, offspring excel – not unlike the myriad of rock stars who’ve sold many more records dead than alive. I’m only surprised Liston didn’t break into a few verses of Jim Croce “like the pine trees lining the winding road”; sure he’d be a fan of the singer who was killed in a 1973 plane crash.

“I was just chatting to Mick (Malone) from Kitchwin Hills the other day. They lost Time For War and now he has one of the Slipper favourites,” Liston said in reference to the unbeaten Time To Reign, the half brother to Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign. (Kitchwin Hills has four Time For Wars on offer on the Gold Coast).

Yarraman Park’s Hinchinbrook, whose progeny continue to excel and who include one of Saturday’s Magic Millions Classic favourites Unite And Conquer, is another high profile stallion to die this year, like Unencumbered, prematurely. (Yarraman Park has a 34 strong MMGC draft, including five by Hinchinbrook).

Unencumbered doesn’t, as yet, have a favourite for any imminent major race but his progeny are starting to make an impact. His 27 winners this season has him second, only to Zoustar, in the second season sires by winners table and those winners include smart filly Felicia who scored her second win from as many starts in South Australia last Saturday.

“What he’s done this season has been amazing really, especially compared to last year when he had just three or four winners. He’s got two running in the Magic Millions Classic which is a fair effort. They might be long shots but sometimes long shots win,” he said, referring to Courseshewill and Oh Five Glory.

“And we think there’s better to come with a lot of good reports about his yearlings and he has a lovely crop of weanlings,” Liston said.

For all of this, Unencumbered does not have a massive number of yearlings on offer at the 2019 sales. He has three to be sold on the Gold Coast, plus thirteen at Classic, Premier and in Perth and Tasmania combined. Liston, who says the Farm has sold many of his weanlings and mares in foal, also expects about 14 to be offered in Adelaide.

This might make them all the more desirable. “We had some really nice mares go to him and he’s taken off now,” Liston said.

Lot 53, a colt from Recurring, is Unencumbered’s first offering today. Recurring was prepared by Gerald Ryan to win the 2005 Railway Stakes in New Zealand and has produced six winners from seven to race.

“He’s a ripper and given we’ve been fortunate enough to have no drought down in Victoria, it might be a good time to be buying Victorian. I really like him and so does Gerald (Ryan),” Liston said.

The Farm also offers Lot 277, a half-brother to the Brisbane Cup winner Sedanzer. Liston says his son Toby prefers this colt. “So we’ll see who’s the better judge,” he said. The third of those by Unencumbered is a filly, Lot 970, the first foal of a three-quarter sister to Holding who is offered by Daandine Stud – breeders of Capitalist and Written Tycoon. (Daandine Stud have an eight strong MMGC draft).

Unencumbered’s death has left Three Bridges without a stallion. That may change but, probably, on one condition according to Liston.

“I’d like our next stallion to have our brand on it,” he said. Ringerdingding, perhaps? The Three Bridges bred and arguably second best three-year-old colt in the country, although there’s likely a couple ahead of Liston in the queue via his current ownership.

Perhaps one of the two Unencumbered colts who are part of an eleven strong draft from Three Bridges at Magic Millions this year. “It’s the Melbourne Cup time of year for us so I’ve got myself up for it,” Liston said, in reference to a couple of significant health issues which he’s dealt with this year and which he wouldn’t want me, or anyone else, to dwell on.

“So you’ll be taking it easy up there?” I asked sheepishly. “Not a chance,” was the predictable reply.

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