Voodoo Lad snares his first Group 1 in Perth
Some Group 1s are more winnable than others and so it proved a wise move by connections to send high class Victoria-trained sprinter Voodoo Lad (I Am Invincible) across to Perth to capture last Saturday’s weight-for-age Winterbottom Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at Ascot.
The seven-year-old gelding had failed in nine earlier Group 1 appearances in the eastern states, although twice a runner-up, but here he was a more than worthy winner to cap an excellent 33-start career which has seen him record four Group 3 wins and two Listed successes among 12 earlier wins and placings, which had gathered earnings of $1,360,910, a total now boosted to $1,966,110.
Voodoo Lad’s margin of victory in the Winterbottom was decisive, defeating top Western Australian sprinter Enticing Star (Testa Rossa) into second place by three-quarters of a length with another Victorian raider, Malaguerra (Magnus), a short neck away in third place. Race time was 1:10.24, with the final 600 metres covered in 35.96.
For Voodoo Lad’s jockey Damien Oliver, this was his 115th Group 1 win which places him second only to George Moore among Australian riders. while it was the 36th Group 1 success for trainer Darren Weir and his sixth in the last few months after a marvellous Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Voodoo Lad’s strong, late finish also gave his sire I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) his seventh individual Group 1 winner and continued the sire’s great run this season, especially with juveniles, which has him on top of the Australian sires’ lists for both wins and winners and a close third on the general sires’ list based on progeny earnings.
Earlier in the day I Am Invincible had also provided Starlight Stakes (Listed, 1100m) winner Invincible Star at Rosehill, while on the following day his promising two-year-old colt Strasbourg captured the Max Lees Classic (900m) at Newcastle on debut.
Voodoo Lad was bred by the late Noel Leckie who retained a quarter interest in the gelding after selling him to Segenhoe Thoroughbreds Australia for $36,000 at the 2013 Inglis Scone Yearling Sale.
Noel Leckie, chairman of the Scone Race Club at the time of his death and an accountant prominent in the Scone community, bought Voodoo Lad’s dam O’Fortuna (Gilded Time), a placegetter, from Catherine Remond, daughter of the late Stanley Wootton, a man whose contribution to the Australian breeding industry since the 1950s has been enormous.
The Wootton influence dominates the female half of Voodoo Lad’s pedigree.
An Australian who spent many years as a trainer at Epsom in Britain, Stanley Wootton imported to Australia several successful stallions but none to compare with breed-shaper Star Kingdom (Stardust) while he bred and raced famous brothers Todman (Star Kingdom) and Noholme (Star Kingdom),three times champion sire Bletchingly (Biscay) and that horse’s ultra brilliant father Biscay (Star Kingdom) who is duplicated in Voodoo Lad’s background.He also brought to Australia Voodoo Lad’s sixth dam Ballina (Whistler).
O’Fortuna produced only six foals before her death in February, 2012. Four became winners with Voodoo Lad the standout.
Sabrina Fair (Salieri), second dam of Voodoo Lad, was bred by Catherine Remond but while she won three races over 1000m her ability as a racehorse was many lengths inferior to that of her brother Schillaci (Salieri), one of Australia’s champion sprinters of the early 1990s and an eight time Group 1 winner of more than $2.29 million.
Bialia (Bluebird), a stakes winning half-brother to Schillaci and Sabrina Fair and later a sire in Tasmania, were bred by Catherine Remond from AJC Widden Stakes (Listed, 1000m) winner Biscarina (Biscay), a mare she inherited from her father.
The family tracing back through Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Forina (Vibrant), Voodoo Lad’s fourth dam, continues to breed on, producing more recent black type winners such as Russeting (Commands) and French Fern (Lope de Vega).
Voodoo Lad is linebred 5m x 4f to Biscay whose maternal grandsire is Makarpura (Big Game), another Wootton import, and further back he also carries duplications of Native Dancer (Polynesian), Princequillo (Prince Rose), My Babu (Djebel), Nasrullah (Nearco) and Fair Trial (Fairway) with two additional strains of Star Kingdom in his seventh generation.
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