Kiwi Chronicles

Class of 2018

Following on from last week’s discussion on stallions with two racing crops, this week we look at those sires whose initial crop will turn three on August 1.

The future appears to be in good hands, if the season just ending is any indication. Similar to the sires with two crops of racing age, those with one have shown real promise already.

Alphabetically, first up is Cambridge Stud’s Almanzor (Wootton Bassett) whose Dynastic is a very exciting galloper with an enormous stride, according to regular rider and champion jockey Opie Bosson.

We witnessed that stride in his Karaka Million (RL, 1200m) victory at Ellerslie in January, the colt’s second start, as he galloped away from the 200-metre mark and was extending his lead at the line. 

The same acceleration was evident at his third start in the Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) but he found the front too soon, and although he fought back when challenged, lost by a nose. At start four, the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m), the colt struck himself when trying Awapuni’s left-handed way of going for the first time. He is better than that. His spring could be anything and 1600 metres should be no problem.

Almanzor’s second stakes winner, Unanimous Consent, landed a Listed race at Aqueduct in New York, and the pair are backed up by three stakes-placed performers, plus winners at Flemington, Chantilly (four), Ascot, Newmarket and Saint-Cloud. It will be a major surprise if the stallion does not continue on an upward path.

Derryn (Hinchinbrook), domiciled at Grangewilliam Stud in South Taranaki, has made the most of his opportunities. From a handful of runners he has sired the very promising Sophmaze. The filly was a powerful winner of the Castletown Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at her fourth start. Sophmaze is highly regarded and may add to her stakes tally this week in the Ryder Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Otaki.

Haunui Farm’s Ribchester (Iffraaj) is well on his way, with four individual stakes winners, four more black-type performers and an impressive 38 individual winners as worthy representatives. His stakes winners have claimed success at Doncaster, Chantilly and Keeneland plus he has sired winners at Randwick, Caulfield, Epsom, York, Newbury and Deauville.

His sire Iffraaj (Zafonic) was a great addition to the New Zealand Stud Book, and his other sire-son Turn Me Loose is off and running with his first two crops.

With 32 winners, mainly in Japan, Rich Hill Stud’s Satono Aladdin (Deep Impact) has made a good start to life at stud. Of these, 17 have won as two-year-olds but none more impressively than Sydney winner Koshu, who on debut joined in at the 300 metres and simply ran them ragged. The Trelawney-owned filly looks smart and spring awaits. 

Satono Aladdin’s stock is showing versatility, too. Several have won beyond 2000 metres in Japan. We can expect his New Zealand three-year-olds to really come into their own.

Time Test (Dubawi), a horse that possessed an electric turn of foot and who shuttles to Little Avondale Stud in the Wairarapa, is another off to a strong start with a New Zealand Listed winner plus four stakes winners in the northern hemisphere.

Added to those are three black-type performers and winners at Epsom, Newmarket and the Curragh.

To have three runners in the Karaka Million with his initial crop may be misleading. A Group 2 winner at three and four and twice a Group 1 runner-up at five, Time Test’s runners can only be expected to perform even better with some maturity.

The same could be said for War Decree (War Front), based at Gus Wigley’s Inglewood Stud in Kaiapoi, Canterbury.

Similar to Derryn, he has had a mere handful of runners, but they include the Group 3-placed Val Di Zoldo and the Wingatui winner Turf War.

He is my “smokey” and could do what Ghibellines (Shamardal) achieved in his career; start out quietly then fire out winners all over the place. He has sufficient numbers to get the job underway.

We will all be much wiser this time next year but one or two of these six will make some noise. In a similar vein to the sires with two crops of racing age, our industry is depending on them.

 

The big wet

The Weather, and specifically wet weather, this past week resulted in the almost total abandonment of three meetings across our two countries.

Here in New Zealand, Rotorua never got out of the blocks and it was the same over in Perth, Western Australia, whereas Randwick called it quits after race one.

Australia’s recent autumn on the east coast was plagued with the big wet, causing havoc, especially on stakes racing. Fields were severely impacted and the results must have been affected to the degree that perhaps many of the best horses had their chances considerably reduced.

Yarraman Park’s Harry Mitchell, regarding the expected maiden Australian Sire Premiership by I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit), seems to agree and his comment to ANZ Bloodstock News’ managing editor, Alex Wiltshire, in Sunday’s edition is quite pertinent. 

“It’s incredible that I Am Invincible has (very likely) won the title considering the wet weather that we’ve had (in Sydney). We’re very lucky that a lot of his winners have come in Melbourne where it’s been dry, because Sydney and Brisbane have been very challenging. Most of his progeny don’t like the wet ground, it’s certainly been a disadvantage to us,” said Mitchell.

Is it time to consider making some changes to the Australian racing calendar? 

Aside from the Magic Millions carnival in January, the number of stakes races falls away after November then picks up again by February.

Australian stakes races by month – 2021-22 season

 

September October November December January February March April

        57           84            51             38             32         63          81     64

 

Purely looking at numbers, is there an avenue to bring forward some of the autumn stakes races? Might two or three weeks be possible? And would doing so reduce the chances of a wet autumn impacting stakes race programming?

 

Weekend wrap up

With Randwick and Belmont out of action, just two stakes races were run on Saturday. The Bletchingly Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Caulfield, won by King Of Sparta, sealed I Am Invincible’s first champion Australian sire title. The stallion has been a model of consistency having finished second in the previous four seasons, three times to powerhouse Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) and last year to Written Tycoon (Iglesia).

No one could begrudge the stallion’s breakthrough and the race for the money title itself, especially during the last couple of months, has been enthralling.

When So You Think (High Chaparral) sired three successive Group 1 winners, namely Think It Over, Nimalee and Knight’s Order, on day two of The Championships to take the lead, the race was on and the duel remained competitive right up to near the end of the season.

Here in New Zealand, the Opunake Cup (Listed, 1400m) went the way of the 2019 winner, Helena Baby (Guillotine) who, from a handy second, took over the pace from the 600-metre mark then worked clear when starting the run home. He extended his lead from the 200 metres and was under no pressure at the post, winning by two and a half lengths.

The gelding has an interesting past. As a two- and three-year-old he won four of his six trials but didn’t step out until the March of his three-year-old career. Two second placings preceded five successive wins, the last of those being the 2019 Opunake Cup, as previously referenced.

Having progressed quickly through the ranks he then finished a game fifth in the Foxbridge Plate (Gr 2, 1200m) followed by a very solid third at Hastings in the Tarzino Trophy (Gr 1, 1400m). That may have been his career-best performance, going down only three-quarters of a length and a neck behind star mare Melody Belle (Commands).

That was his last start in New Zealand until this past May. The grey was sent to Hong Kong where he had 14 starts but never showed anything like the form he had revealed here at home. It’s different there and some horses simply don’t adapt to the change in environment.

“He has pulled up brilliantly after the race, so that gives me confidence to look ahead with him,” said trainer John Bell. “We will be thinking about Hastings and just what races we set him for there. He could run in all three Group 1s, as I do want to see him take on 2000 metres during this campaign. Whether we go to all three or just to the middle day over 1600 metres and then the last day over 2040 metres is what we have to decide.”

Helena Bay is one of four winners from five to race from his dam, Hot Stash (Secret Savings), a winner in Sydney. His granddam, Abeel Hostess (Zabeel), twice placed at Listed level, scored three of her five wins in Sydney and ranks as a three-quarter sister to triple Group 3 winner Zabarra (Zabeel).

His third and fourth dams, Fickle Hostess (Lunchtime) and Vaindarra (Vain), were both very smart two-year-olds. The former was a winner of the Magic Night Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m), while the latter won the Silver Slipper Stakes (Gr 2, 900m), a further two Group 3s at two and ran second in the 1982 Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) behind Marscay (Biscay).

 

The Montjeu influence

Helena Baby is a son of Group 2 Moonee Valley winner Guillotine, himself a son of champion sire Montjeu (Sadler’s Wells). Two further sons of Montjeu enjoyed success in Melbourne and Adelaide on the weekend, when Sing For Peace, by Montjeu’s son Tavistock, took out Caulfield’s Chairman’s Club Cup (2400m) while Cashin’ Chex, by Montjeu’s Mettre En Jeu, won a Benchmark 80 race at Morphettville.

Montjeu stood for just four seasons in New Zealand but made quite an impression. He was well patronised, averaging 120 mares per season. The industry would have strongly benefitted had he made a few more trips south.

Tavistock was from his final southern crop and is a premier sire, although was lost all too early. His successes are bound to continue over the next years but his paternal half-brothers have had a much tougher row to hoe.

Guillotine began his stud career at Windsor Park Stud, the same stud where Montjeu spent his time when shuttling between the two hemispheres. After six seasons he sired 136 winners from 257 to race for a very respectable winners/runners ratio of 53 per cent. Helena Baby is one of his eight stakes winners.

Mettre En Jeu, a Listed winner who also ran second in the New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m), has sired 38 winners from 85 to race but barely averaged 30 mares per season. Despite this, he has sired the stakes winners La Fille En Jeu, a Group 3 winner at Riccarton, and Plays The Game, a Listed winner in Western Australia.

 

Rich Hill Riches

Shocking (Street Cry) and Proisir (Choisir) chimed in, yet again, at Caulfield when Here To Shock and Passione added to their sires’ metropolitan winners.

 

The winner of two of his first three starts, including in Melbourne, Here To Shock was tried against the best of his crop at three but found the step up a bit steep. 

In his six starts at four, he has clearly strengthened, winning twice in town, and in Saturday’s victory in a Benchmark 78 contest over 1400 metres he was far too good, still two and a half lengths in front, even though he was eased down late. 

He is the older half-brother to Listed stakes winner Turn The Ace (Turn Me Loose) who is in great form in New Zealand, having won four races, including two of his last three starts.

Earlier on the same card, Cambridge Stud’s Passione (Proisir) enhanced her broodmare career with an impressive win in the Benchmark 70 handicap, also over 1400 metres. 

The filly was formerly trained by Lisa Latta at Awapuni and recorded a win and six placings, including a third in the Desert Gold Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m) at Trentham last January. Saturday’s win took place at her second Australian start with her new trainer Nigel Blackiston.

From the perspective of owners Cambridge Stud, the win could be the catalyst for some bold caps black type. The filly is well related, being a half-sister to NZB Filly of the Year Dijon Bleu (Burgundy). The family is highly regarded, so much so that a colt by The Autumn Sun (Redoute’s Choice) from their dam Pristino (More Than Ready) fetched $900,000 at the NZB Karaka Yearling Sale (Book 1) last March. Best of all, being owned by the Lindsays, she will eventually be back in New Zealand. Our industry needs these good fillies.

Talking of which, unheralded sire Vespa (Elusive City) has a good one in Brisbane, through the former New Zealand-trained Puntura.

In New Zealand, from seven races he won four in succession before heading to Queensland where in a further nine starts she has put together three more, including back-to-back wins, with Saturday’s Doomben success taking place at Benchmark 90 level.

Over the 1615 metres, Puntura was the main chaser into the straight, collared the leader at the 200 metres and was too strong at the line to win by a length.