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FEE SHOCK: I Am Invincible’s price cut, status quo for Hellbent and Brave Smash

Yarraman Park has made the shock decision to reduce the service fee of two-time reigning champion stallion and commercial goldmine I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) after 14 remarkable seasons at stud based in the Hunter Valley.

Brothers Arthur and Harry Mitchell, the joint principals of Yarraman Park, will stand I Am Invincible at $275,000 (all fees inc GST), down from his 2023 peak of $302,500, in spite of another standout season on the racetrack and in the sales ring.

I Am Invincible’s son Hellbent, the sire of this season’s Sir Rupert Clarke (Gr 1, 1400m) and All Aged Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) winner Magic Time, will maintain his 2023 service fee of $38,500 as he pushes towards a top ten position on the Australian general sires’ table, the highest-placed third season stallion on the premiership.

Their rostermate Brave Smash (Tosen Phantom), who relocated to Yarraman last year after the Mitchells and partners bought a controlling interest in the sire from Aquis Farm, also remains at an unchanged fee of $33,000 with his first crop which includes Group 2 winner and multiple Group 1-placed filly Kimochi soon to turn four.

A runaway premiership leader as he charges towards his third straight champion sires’ title, the Yarraman Park kingpin I Am Invincible is just $200,000 shy of Snitzel’s all-time progeny earnings record of $29,243,613 – achieved in season 2017-18, the year of the first of Redzel’s back-to-back Everest (1200m) victories – as the Mitchells announce their fees for their trio of sires with three months of the racing season still to run.

This season has also seen I Am Invincible break new ground, siring his first two-year-old Group 1 winner with highly promising Te Akau-owned colt Move To Strike taking out the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) in New Zealand while stablemate Imperatriz has shown her wares in Australia, winning the AJ Moir Stakes (Gr 1, 1000m), the Manikato Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), Champions Sprint (Gr 1, 1200m), the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (Gr 1, 1000m) and William Reid Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) this season, taking her record to a stunning ten Group 1 wins.

The recently retired five-year-old Imperatriz, who was on Monday confirmed to be offered for sale at the upcoming Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, could be the most valuable broodmare prospect sold at auction in the southern hemisphere this year – if not ever.

Arthur Mitchell said “we didn’t need to bring it back, but we thought we would” of I Am Invincible’s 2024 fee.

“He’s still got the numbers around him to keep him ticking over … and we thought $250,000 [plus GST] was pretty fair,” Mitchell told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“The interesting thing is, and I didn’t really take much notice of it, but he was runner-up four times before he won his first [champion sires’ title] and he got beaten twice I think on prize-money when Redzel won The Everest. So, I think he’s doing a pretty amazing job. 

“We won’t be over-taxing him, but we’d like to keep him working away consistently without pushing him too hard. 

“He looks like a 12 or 14-year-old, that’s what he looks like, so he still looks fabulous.”

Rising 20-year-old I Am Invincible covered 157 mares last year, his 14th season at stud at a career-high fee, has sired 16 stakes winners so far this season with Tiz Invincible, I Am Me, the recently retired Newgate Farm-owned colt King’s Gambit and the highly promising filly Estriella all winning black-type races since August 1.

Two-year-old colt Bodyguard also won twice at stakes level this season while trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott unveiled a juvenile son of the champion sire at Rosehill on Saturday with Ikasara scoring at his first start, indicating bigger races were in store.

I Am Invincible’s yearlings this year, conceived off a $220,000 service fee, averaged $586,246 at a median price of $500,000 with a filly out of Oakleigh Plate (Gr 1, 1100m) winner Booker (Written Tycoon) selling for $3 million at the recent Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale to US investor John Stewart of Resolute Racing while another American buyer, Jes and John Sikura of Hill ‘N’ Dale Farm, purchased a filly out of Madam Rouge (Zoustar) for $1.7 million at the Magic Millions sale in January.

Eight other I Am Invincible yearlings also sold for $1 million or more at this year’s yearling sales. 

The Mitchells also considered increasing the service fee of Hellbent this year, but in the end decided against it.

While the John Muir-owned and Grahame Begg-trained mare Magic Time, a first crop daughter of Hellbent, also won the Nivison Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) this season, the stallion has also had Hell Hath No Fury win the Guy Walter Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) in Sydney and trainer Jason Warren’s Benedetta has won two Group 3s and she finished third in the Robert Sangster Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) in Adelaide on Saturday. She also ran fourth in the Newmarket Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) at Flemington while two-year-old colt Fully Lit won the Inglis Millennium (RL, 1100m) in February.

Miss Hellfire, three-year-olds Vivy Air and Kristilli and two-year-old filly Grinzinger Love have also all been stakes-placed this season.

“People thought we were going to put him up and we haven’t. Hopefully we’ll get some good support [as a result]. We’re trying to lift the quality of his mares as much as we can,” Mitchell said of Hellbent.

“Like his father, they look like they train on and get better with age. He only just got beaten in that Group 1 on Saturday. Benedetta ran super and she’s a very, very good mare and obviously Magic Time’s outstanding.

“I think he’s proven he can get topliners and I think he should attract better mares.”

Brave Smash has two first crop stakes winners on his CV this season with the Gary Portelli-trained Kimochi winning the Light Fingers Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) to go with her placings in the Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m), Flight Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) and Coolmore Classic (Gr 1, 1500m) while the late Brave Mead also won twice at stakes level for trainer Ciaron Maher.

His second crop two-year-olds She Smashes and Smashing Time have also already won this season.

He covered 112 mares last year, his second biggest book in five years at stud.

“There’s not many mares left to sell in Brave Smash, he’s nearly fully booked now,” Mitchell said.

“He’s an incredibly promising young stallion. The good young horse in Western Australia Brave Halo ran in the [2023] Blue Diamond and got galloped on, so unfortunately we lost him, but Kimochi’s been a superstar and then unfortunately we lost Brave Mead.

“He was also on target to be a super horse. Brave Smash is a complete outcross, he gets good sorts, the trainers like them, they’re brave horses, they try hard, and I think he’s on an upward spiral.

“He hasn’t had huge books coming through but we’re going to manage him as best we can.”

Mitchell believes Yarraman’s trio of stallions provides breeders with a safe entry to the market.

“One thing is, they’re proven stallions,” he said. 

“They’ve proven they can get Group horses and I think if people want to breed safely they have to go proven if they can.”

Yarraman Park service fees (fees incl GST)

2024 2023

I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) $275,000 $302,500

Hellbent (I Am Invincible) $38,500 unchanged

Brave Smash (Tosen Phantom) $33,000 unchanged

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