‘Everyone says without Yulong you’d be stuffed, well, actually, no, we wouldn’t’
Cambridge Stud’s Henry Plumptre, who made the call to spend $950,000 on Joliestar (Zoustar) at the 2022 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale on behalf of Brendan and Jo Lindsay, was as relieved as he was excited when the juvenile made the perfect start to her racing career on Monday.
Wearing the Lindsays’ black and yellow checked silks, the Chris Waller-trained Joliestar scored at Warwick Farm in a 1200-metre maiden, but the manner of her victory was enough to convince many observers that there are bigger things in store for the filly.
She is a daughter of the Group 2-winning, Group 1-placed Jolie Bay (Fastnet Rock), a sister to Merchant Navy and Setanta, who has already produced the stakes-placed God Of Thunder (More Than Ready) and Emperor (I Am Invincible).
“She has got to be a good filly – she cost plenty,” Plumptre said yesterday.
“She has got a beautiful pedigree and I think I said at the time [of buying her] that if you are going to play at the top-end of the market with those really big families, you have got to be prepared to put that sort of money on the table because the competition is pretty intense.
“Even in a contracting market, this year that top end was highly competitive.”
After a booming southern hemisphere market over the past couple of years, 2023 has dropped back a peg, but hardly alarmingly, and Plumptre forecasts a bright future for the Australasian thoroughbred industry.
“I said to Brendan [Lindsay], I am very optimistic about it in terms of the future because the industry, not so much in New Zealand, but definitely in Australia, it’s very well-funded financially at the moment,” he said.
“There’s a lot of new investors coming into the industry and they’ve got good capital behind them and that’s what you want, it underpins it.
“We are not reliant on the Middle East, we’re not reliant on one or two big buyers. Everyone says without Yulong you’d be stuffed, well, actually, no, we wouldn’t.
“Yulong is a fantastic investor to have in the southern hemisphere, but we’ve got a broad spectrum of buyers and people who want to own bloodstock and breed.
“You only have to look at the new places [farms] which have popped up in Victoria in the past ten years. It bodes well for the future.”
There was the revelation at a meeting last Friday between soon-to-be-exiled Singapore trainers and the Turf Club president chief executive Irene Lim in which the key administrator admitted she knew last year about the 2024 closure of the city state’s racing industry.
In that meeting, after fierce questioning from aggrieved trainers, Lim made the startling admission but would not say on what date she was informed of the government’s decision to reclaim the land.
Last September, however, the Turf Club gave the impression that it was onwards and upwards for the local racing industry, appointing Australian administrator Dayle Brown as its chief racing officer and Soo Lai Kwok as assistant vice-president of the Malayan Racing Association and racing support.
In November, the Turf Club also announced the reinstatement of an additional ten feature races, taking the total to 20, in what was taken as a sign by Singapore’s owners and trainers to keep investing in new stock.
And that they did, buying 32 two-year-olds at Inglis’s Ready2Race Sale, 17 at the Magic Millions 2YOs In Training Sale and 24 at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale.
Perhaps, though, there were other signs that all was not as it seemed and that government support for Singapore racing was waning. Some of the lights at Kranji racecourse have been out of action for an extended period, meaning no night meetings could be staged.
The repair works to fix the lights were purported to cost $$250,000, money the Turf Club was unwilling to spend – and now we know why.
Singapore’s owners and trainers, led by trainers’ association president Michael Clements, met on Wednesday night to discuss the ramifications and how to ensure racing continues at least until the deadline of October 5, 2024.
A seven-member owners’ working group – Eric Koh, Paul Hickman, Jayven See, Constance Cheng, Joe Singh, Peter Lee and Gandharvi Racing’s Kuldeep Singh Rajput – make up the founding committee.
The cohort reportedly wants to push for an extension of time before the Kranji site is handed over to the government, but Clements and company admit it is long odds that the Turf Club and decision makers will come to the party.
“There are serious concerns that racing may well collapse in the next few months, simply because the structure of the closedown is just not feasible. There is that possibility that needs to be addressed,” Clements told Singapore’s The Straits Times after the meeting.
“Our initial work with the club will be to get through the next few months and into next year.”
While the trainers, jockeys and stable staff are distraught at losing, in many cases, their life’s work, it’s also the ancillary service providers, the stable bedding suppliers, the feed merchants, horse breakers and the agents who had carved a niche in the Singapore trade market who are also affected and will take a financial hit as a result of the sport’s imminent closure.
Talented rising five-year-old Extremely Lucky (Extreme Choice) will be transferred to the Sydney stable of Chris Waller.
The Will Clarken-trained sprinter – touted as an Everest hope after his third to Bella Nipotina in the Norman Carlyon last August – has not raced since last year’s AJ Moir Stakes (Gr 1, 1000m) at Moonee Valley, a bout of colic and a minor leg injury putting him out of the autumn.
Connections have decided to move him from Clarken’s Adelaide stable to NSW with a view of racing him in Sydney where many of his owners are based.
Owned by a syndicate led by Richard Pegum, who has numerous horses with Waller, Extremely Lucky was purchased by agent Suman Hedge after a barnstorming debut maiden victory at Murray Bridge in December 2021 for original trainer Sam Burford.
Under the care of Clarken, Extremely Lucky won twice in six starts, including the SAJC Lightning Stakes (Listed, 1050m) at Morphettville in July last year.
Racing is about stories, and there is no better tale than that of the underdog, writes Alex Wiltshire.
Last Saturday’s brilliant victory for King Colorado in the JJ Atkins Plate was one of those, and exemplifies the romanticism of racing that can be unrivalled.
Forty-seven Stable Of Stars owners in King Colorado were left with lifelong memories as they departed Eagle Farm, and for 35 of them, it was the first horse they had ever experienced in racehorse ownership.
But aside from the thrill of landing an elite-level race, many of the owners’ pockets would have been a little heavier, also.
King Of Colorado crashed in from $31 on Saturday morning, to $14 at the off, with some of the syndicate members getting an even juicer price in the days before.
“As owners we thought he had a good chance. I wasn’t confident in him winning but I thought he had a nice chance of acquitting himself well,” Stable Of Stars’ principal Grant Williams said the day after the race.
“A day before the race, Ladbrokes had him at $91. I kept ringing the stable asking if he’d lost a leg. I was just as surprised as anyone that he came into $14 at the jump.
“A nice story, though, is that every single one of my owners backed him when he was nominated. I said ‘we’re 99th in the order of entry, I don’t want you to lose your money’, but they just said ‘we love him, and want to have a bit on him’.
“There are so many nice stories. There’s a 19-year-old within the ownership group, he couldn’t stop hugging me after the race. He said ‘Grant, I’m 19, at uni, I had $50 on him – I don’t even have $50 – I won $5,000 and I’ve never even seen that amount of money in my life’.”
A maiden winner to Group 1 scorer in less than three weeks? If only it was always this way!