Cause For Concern
Bill Andrews and Ian Lidstone are old mates.
And that’s a good thing.
Because a few years ago, Brisbane lawyer and breeder Andrews had had enough of this Fastnet Rock mare of his and put her in an online sale. Lidstone, a Gippsland-based importer and hobby breeder, noticed her. He didn’t know her origins, but saw she was offered via another friend, of both men, in Bob Frappell of Queensland’s Clear Mountain Fairview Stud.
She was called Rock Paper Sissors, with the C snipped out to make length, and the game of luck that is breeding had dealt her and Andrews a rough hand.
Bred by New Zealand’s Windsor Park and sold to Melbourne-based trainer Danny O’Brien at Karaka 2010 for $80,000, she wound up in Queensland with one provincial win, among four in total, before Andrews bought her off the track for $14,000, adding to his “half dozen or so” mares.
In 2015, he sent her to Tycoon Ruler (Last Tycoon), then at Clear Mountain Fairview. She had a colt foal who was badly deformed and had to be euthanised.
He returned her to the same sire and the next year she had a foal who was dead soon after arrival, from colic. Andrews then sent the mare to the same farm’s new sire, Worthy Cause (Choisir) and a filly arrived, who broke her leg soon afterwards.
“That was enough for me. I had to get rid of her,” Andrews tells It’s In The Blood.
First, he put her in-foal to Worthy Cause again. Then he put her up for sale.
“I saw a Fastnet Rock mare online,” Lidstone says, “and the bidding was only about $1,000. Then I looked across and saw it was being sold by Bob. I rang Bob and asked what the story was. He said she was in-foal to Worthy Cause, and I recalled how when Bob had bought Worthy Cause I’d told him, ‘You’ve got half a chance with this stallion’.”
Frappell then revealed to Lidstone that Rock Paper Sissors was owned by their old friend Andrews, which may have stoked his enthusiasm further. He put in a bid, got her, and phoned Andrews.
“I said, ‘You know that mare of yours – I’ve bought her’,” Lidstone says. “He said, ‘For how much?’ I said, ‘$1,250’. He said, ‘You’re bloody kidding!’
“Bob had told me she was a beautiful mare. He’d said that to Bill too, but Bill was still getting rid of her.”
Rock Paper Sissors bore her new owner a colt. Lidstone and his wife Dawn kept him, but at least offered Andrews – and another close Brisbane-based mutual friend, Phil Gracie – a third each. Andrews declined – he wanted nothing more to do with the accursed Rock Paper Sissors or her damned offspring – so Gracie and his wife Maree took half.
A year ago today, the horse won on debut at Bendigo, and Lidstone swifty received a call from Andrews.
“He said, ‘Do I still own a third of him?’ Lidstone says. “I said, ‘No you don’t’. He said, ‘But I’m still the breeder’. I said, ‘I think you’ll find the breeders are Dawn and I!’”
The horse – who is now a four-year-old gelding – had been given a clever name by the Lidstones and Gracies entwining his sire’s title with hints of Andrews’ association with the dam: Cause For Concern.
And on Saturday he won the Group 2 Damien Oliver Handicap (1400m) at Flemington, to give him five wins from 13 starts, and more than $592,000 in prize-money.
Offers have been knocked back, of $800,000, and then $1 million. His owners are out to enjoy the ride, and his trainer Shawn Mathrick says he’ll win more than a million anyway – possibly as early as Saturday week’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield.
Andrews has had more than his share of better fortune. He was one of two owners of $2.3 million earner and dual Group 1 winner Scales Of Justice (Not A Single Doubt), and is one of four who race $1.8 million Group 1 winner Tuvalu (Kermadec), both trained by Lindsey Smith.
So he can laugh, or maybe wince, about Cause For Concern now, and probably will today when he and grass seed businessman Gracie meet up for their regular Thursday golf game.
“I beat myself up every time I talk to Ian and Phil, and I abuse them every time as well,” Andrews jokes. “And I always laugh when I see Ian listed as the breeder.
“To be fair, they gave me the opportunity to buy back into the colt. But I’d had enough. I’d said ‘I just can’t win with this mare’. Rock Paper Sissors was a jinx to me. She’s turned into a little bit of gold for them.”
Last Saturday at Flemington brought yet another plotline for these septuagenarian mates. Andrews is also a major part-owner in another Smith-trained gelding, the dual Listed–winning seven-year-old Corner Pocket (Toronado). While Cause For Concern was winning the last race on Derby Day, Corner Pocket was the other book-end on that field, and is now bound for retirement.
“We got well entertained after the race. We stayed after the last for a fair while, had to lug this big bloody trophy, and had to carry the box around and everything,” Lidstone said, in words he might hope his old mate is reading right now.
“But at least Bill’s backed Cause For Concern a lot, so he’s still done well out of him.”
There are still more twists to suggest Rock Paper Sissors and her one named foal are riding some exquisite waves of fate and fortune.
Cause For Concern was at least born in one piece, but still one piece was missing.
“He was born a rig, so we had to get him gelded,” says Lidstone. But that’s not all.
“He won his debut and then was third at Sandown and came to our place for a spell. On Christmas morning about 5.00am there a was a big storm, and this huge branch came down in the paddock where he was.”
History would have put up $1.01 about the branch landing squarely on the promising horse. Instead, he merely bolted away … and crashed through a steel gate.
“Dawn said, ‘There’s a horse in the laneway!’” Lidstone says. “The branch must have frightened him, so he ran straight through the gate. It was pretty scary. He was sore as hell in the hindquarter. We were concerned he might’ve done some serious damage, but we got the vets to him and treated him over a few weeks and he came good.”
He returned to work, won at Sale third-up and Flemington the start after. A Listed second-place followed, also up the straight, before he scored at headquarters, under Damien Oliver himself, in a 1400-metre three-year-old handicap in July.
Oliver could well have ridden him to his Group breakthrough last Saturday but for his too-light 53 kilogram impost, and so Jamie Kah got him home, with a peach of a ride, while Oliver ran sixth in “his” own race aboard Vilana (Hallowed Crown).
“Ollie made the presentation and I said, ‘You could’ve won your own race if you’d been able to make the weight’,” Lidstone said. “But Jamie did tell me he’d tried very hard to keep her in a pocket in the run.”
Once considered a jinx, Rock Paper Sissors now has what Lidstone describes as a “cracking” two-year-old filly, about to go into work for his breeders, by Riverbank Farm’s Wayed Zain (High Chaparral). A dual Canterbury winner from just five starts, the ten-year-old stands for just $2,200, has had three winners from 13 runners with three crops running, including Sandown victor Gargantuan. Lidstone says Wayed Zain rated exceptionally well as a sire match-up for his mare.
There was perhaps less science behind her previous owner’s decision to send her to Worthy Cause. Andrews is a shareholder in the stallion – who’s now in his seventh season at Clear Mountain Fairview at his starting fee of $5,500 – but nonetheless it’s looking an inspired choice.
For one thing, sons of Choisir are proving themselves again and again at stud. Proisir, New Zealand’s new champion sire, has performers including Prowess, Legarto, Dark Destroyer and Coeur Volante. Starspangledbanner needs no introduction, and now his Cox Plate-winning son State Of Rest gives Choisir a grandson sire, at Newgate (for $44,000).
But also, Worthy Cause himself has built some extremely encouraging stats that suggest he is way under the radar.
He’s had just 32 runners from three racing crops, for 20 winners.
His first crop, of 16 runners, produced a Group 1 winner, with Hinged taking last year’s Surround Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
His second crop has had only ten runners so far but they include Group 2 victor Cause For Concern, making two stakes winners for the 12-year-old sire at 6.25 per cent of runners.
Frappell, who with son Mick also stands Sooboog (Snitzel) and Love Conquers All (Mossman), has to compete for the limited Queensland broodmare band with some larger and louder neighbours in Spirit Of Boom’s Eureka Stud and Better Than Ready’s Lyndhurst Stud.
But he’s hoping Worthy Cause can gain more traction, particularly if Cause For Concern can claim him a second Group 1 in the Rupert Clarke, for which he’s currently on the fifth line of betting at $15.
In a 25-start career, Worthy Cause won five races including the Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1800m) at the Gold Coast and Flemington’s Listed Paris Lane Stakes (1400m). His other claim to fame is running third to the great Winx in the race that started her 33-race win streak, the Sunshine Coast (now the Winx) Guineas.
“As a racehorse I thought he could’ve won a Group 1,” Frappell said. “And at stud, he’s doing a good job, considering the amount of mares he gets.
“He gets good results, has a good runners-to-winners ratio, gets colts and gets fillies. They’re nice types, tractable horses. Some run early, some run on a bit, so he’s got a bit of everything.”
Fingers crossed – and given history possibly toes as well – there could be another sparkling advertisement for Worthy Cause in a couple of years: Lidstone reports Rock Paper Sissors has gone back to the well, and is now in-foal with a sibling to Cause For Concern.