There have been a few false dawns along the way, but out of the some dark times the landscape for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s latest juvenile winner looks exactly as it sounds: Fully Lit.
RedFox Thoroughbreds’ son of Hellbent (I Am Invincible) produced a sparkling debut to win by almost three lengths in Saturday’s 1100 metre two-year-old handicap at Rosehill, surging into Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) markets in becoming the eighth winner this season from what, for the stable, is a golden age group.
High early hopes followed by setbacks tend to run in this colt’s family.
Second dam Smile Of Desire (Red Ransom) won her debut for David Hayes in a metro class two-year-old fillies’ race at Werribee, in 2007. It was enough to make her favourite at Group level in the Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Caulfield in her next start. She finished third, for a dash of black type, but managed just one (bush) placing in eight more starts before retirement.
Having been transferred to Queensland prior to her last race, she was bought off the track for around $160,000 by Glenlogan Park, where Steve Morley was keen on matching a Red Ransom (Roberto) mare with resident stallion Show A Heart (Brave Warrior).
Things took an upswing. Her second foal of this mating was Vo Heart, who did at least win Eagle Farm’s Champagne Classic (Gr 2, 1200m) of 2013 at his fourth start, amongst six wins from 21.
Having tried Show A Heart three times, Morley sent Smile Of Desire to Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice), also in 2013, to produce a cracking filly.
Hopes were high, but then …
“She was a magnificent yearling, was scheduled to go to the Magic Millions sale, and would’ve been a headline horse from our draft,” Morley tells It’s In The Blood. “Magic Millions told us she was one of the better Snitzels in the sale.
“But then an issue came up on her X-ray, and we couldn’t take her. We try to sell everything we produce, but this time we decided to race her ourselves.”
Things began to look up. Named Sunlit, she won back-to-back at the Sunshine Coast and Ballina, before trainer Matt Dunn took her to Sydney for a Highway and she ran a close third.
The roller coaster took another dip. She injured a tendon and that was her last run, but then …
Morley put her to first season sire Written By (Written Tycoon), and along came a colt who’d quickly be a stakes-winner called The Novelist.
With that strapping type on the ground, an ebullient Morley sent Sunlit to Yes Yes Yes (Rubick), but what happened was No No No. Three times she was covered by him in that spring of 2020, and three times she missed. Striking out, in two senses, she went to Hellbent in late November, and the following late October out came the colt now known as Fully Lit.
Hopes were buoyant again, as he was prepared for the Inglis Classic sale. The Novelist, who’d fetched $110,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast for wizards with two-year-olds, Waterhouse and Bott, had just won his debut at Kembla Grange and his second start – the BJ McLachlan Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Eagle Farm.
When the gavel fell, however, the future Fully Lit was knocked down for just $60,000, which becomes the backdrop for the latest flip of familial fortunes: he’s won almost double that in one race, and is now a $26 chance for the $5m Golden Slipper.
“Yes, sixty grand was pretty disappointing,” says Morley of what’s become RedFox’s meat to his poison. “He was on the small side. He was compact and athletic, but was a late foal since the mare had been switched late on to Hellbent.
“But it’s great to see him win on debut. He had to work reasonably hard to get to the front, and he kept on kicking. There’s still not much of him, but he does look an athlete.
“It’s been a long journey from a mare in Sunlit who we thought would sell very highly as a yearling but never got to a sale. But, we had faith in her back then, and hopefully that faith will be repaid.”
Sunlit now has what Morley describes as a “beautiful” filly by North Pacific (Brazen Beau) heading to Inglis Classic next month, while he recently “upped the ante” and put her in-foal to Widden’s $220,000 flagbearer, Zoustar (Northern Meteor).
There’s a large dose of class in the female line that inspired Morley to kick this all off with Smile Of Desire.
Her mother was a two-time winner named Miss Marbles (Lure), and her dam – Fully Lit’s fourth – was Hooked Bid (Spectacular Bid). She was a Canadian-bred winner in Britain, who found fame as the dam of Magical Miss (Danehill), the third-last filly to complete the Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m)-VRC Oaks (Gr 1, 2500m) double, in 2001. In something of another golden age, for this sort of thing, Special Harmony (Spinning World) repeated the trick in 2003, and Miss Finland (Redoute’s Choice) became the last to do the double in 2006, and probably the last ever, given the Guineas now comes after the Oaks.
“Smile Of Desire was very appealing genetically,” Morley says. “She was a Red Ransom mare, and they go very well with a lot of stallions, being a bit of an outcross. And she was out of a mare by Lure, who’s another great broodmare sire. And being from the same family as Magical Miss, the whole package had a lot going for it.”
Further back, you strike pure American gold. Fully Lit’s sixth dam was the great Goofed (Court Martial, 1960).
A four-time winner, Goofed became a Reine de Course mare, thanks to throwing three stakes-winners: Barcas (Sailor), who in turn sired New Zealand Group 1 winner of the 1980s Cosmetique; dual trans-Atlantic Group 1-winning mare Nobiliary (Vaguely Noble); and best of all, the dual top-tier winner and highly influential stallion Lyphard (Northern Dancer), who among many top-liners sired Dancing Brave and Three Troikas, who both won four Group 1s including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr 1, 2400m).
Not just boasting a direct line from Goofed, Sunlit paired with Hellbent puts a good deal of spice into Fully Lit’s pedigree.
There’s proven magic in blending three key male members of Lowe’s No.7 family in Danzig (Northern Dancer), Bletchingly (Biscay) and Lunchtime (Silly Season). In one example, it’s a mixture featured in these pages last year in the pedigree of the Hayes brothers’ promising four-year-old mare Caste (Sir Prancealot), winner of two stakes races and two others amid seven starts.
It comes into Fully Lit thus: Danzig is on both sides for Hellbent and Sunlit, through three different sons, at 5m, 5m x 5m, 5m. Lunchtime is at 6f x 7f, 5m – the last one via Snippets, Snitzel’s damsire, and the first two as the sire of Jesmond Lass. And Bletchingly is in twice, 5m x 6m, because of his mating with Jesmond Lass that produced Canny Lad.
Canny Lad is doubled, at 4f x 5f, through his two wonderful daughters Cannarelle – dam of Hellbent’s great sire, I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) – and Shantha’s Choice, dam of another all-time-great in Redoute’s Choice, the sire of Snitzel, who’s the sire of Sunlit.
Therefore, in both Hellbent and Sunlit, Canny Lad comes into the female line of the sire’s sire, which is right where Morley loves a repeat.
“Where Canny Lad is duplicated, especially in Hellbent’s pedigree, is a very important place for me. I do work hard on matings, for our own mares and Glenlogan’s clients’ mares, and I’ve had a lot of success in mating horses like that,” Morley says.
He points also to dual Group 1 winner Heart Of Dreams, one of the finest sons of Show A Heart (Brave Warrior). Nijinsky (Northern Dancer) is the sire of Brave Warrior’s dam, and of Heart Of Dreams’ damsire, Royal Academy.
“So it’s along that female line of the sire’s sire I look at, and try to find a duplication on or near the top line of the dam,” he says.
Had he not found a mare with Canny Lad, he would have looked for one with I Am Invincible’s second damsire Zoffany (Our Native), or his third damsire Cardinal (High Hat), et cetera.
The theory is being borne out. Two of Hellbent’s strongest nicks are sons of Redoute’s Choice in Snitzel (seven winners from 11 runners) and Not A Single Doubt (five from eight). And Redoute’s himself ranks as I Am Invincible’s second-best nick, with 54 winners and three stakes victors from 64 runners.
All in all, Fully Lit appears to have a lot going for him. It’s not about the size of the dog, but about what’s gone into him.