Week in Rowe-view

New SAJC project to shun racehorse training

The South Australian Jockey Club announced the successful partners in its $350 million redevelopment of Adelaide’s only metropolitan track, Morphettville, a project which management says will shore up the future of racing in the City of Churches.

However, what was concerning about the lavish development, encompassing housing, retail and a community precinct, is that it appears the SAJC board does not see racehorse training at Morphettville as part of its long-term future.

On-course stabling at the track is at a premium – there are believed to be only 30 to 40 club-owned boxes on site – with the majority of trainers occupying their own off-course complexes such as Richard Jolly and Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas, among others.

SAJC chief executive Grant Mayer said trainers had been given certainty about training in Adelaide for the next five years, at least, but Jolly was disheartened to learn that there were no plans to invest money by the club in on-course stabling.

In an industry crippled by staff shortages, Jolly says moving training away from Morphettville would only exacerbate the issue for trainers and the industry as a whole.

“They want to try and push us to more suburban style training centres, but it’s hard to get staff in town, let alone trying to get staff at say Murray Bridge, where they are trying to ramp up training and that’s a crucial issue for the industry,” Jolly told us. 

“Being in the metropolitan area, we’re in a much better position to be able to get staff but we still find it hard and going to more of a country area, the problem really escalates.”

In Melbourne, Caulfield is no longer used as a training venue, and the opportunity for city children to be exposed to the industry and horses in general becomes so much harder when the horses aren’t there being trained day to day.

“It is probably a bit different interstate than what it is here with less volume of people and horses but, certainly, it would be a very sad day if they stopped the training at Morphettville,” Jolly said.

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The Adelaide Cup (Gr 2, 3200m) is on Monday week, coinciding with the state’s Magic Millions sale on March 14 and 15, and every year debate rages about when the Cup should be run.

Adelaide’s other feature races, such as the Robert Sangster Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and The Goodwood (Gr 1, 1200m), are held in May, but SAJC chief executive Grant Mayer says it is imperative that a major raceday – and the cup – is held on the March public holiday.

“I’ve said this every year for the five years that I’ve been here, I think the reality of it is South Australians have embraced the Adelaide Cup long weekend as their party weekend,” the former Adelaide United CEO said.

“The quality of the race and the timing of the race is something for other people, but that Monday in March is really important to this club to host a big event, and the Adelaide Cup is that big event and we’re happy where it is at.

“That said, we understand the counter argument, but leaving it as is on that March Monday is very important for the SAJC and the South Australian public who come out to support it. 

“There’s no need to lose that day.”

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As an observer of the breeding and sales segment of the industry for a relatively short time, and during a period of sustained growth, being ringside at the Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale was something to behold.

The demand for horses was immense – something Magic Millions’ David Houston foreshadowed prior to the two-day sale – and reports are that leading trainers such as Grant and Alana Williams and Simon Miller could have sold their horses three times over. 

Driven by the Westspeed and Westspeed Platinum schemes, which supports the WA breeding industry, the Perth sale set another record average and gross, and Magic Millions expects to break $20 million in turnover in 2024.

It was the strongest sale I have seen, but I was not alone, with Magic Millions’ David Chester suggesting it was also the strongest he has witnessed in 50 years.

If governments want to support racing – and Tasmania is the perfect example – using Westspeed as the blueprint for beefing up their own states’ breeding incentive schemes is the way to do it.

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Godolphin’s Blue Diamond winner Daumier will stand at Olly Tait’s Twin Hills Stud later this year. The Group 1-winning colt’s sire Epaulette now calls Turkey home, but Vin Cox is confident the stallion’s bloodlines will be to the fore on racetracks across Australia in the seasons ahead.

The final Australian-bred crop by the 2012 Golden Rose (Gr 1, 1400m) and 2013 Doomben 10,000 (Gr 1, 1350m) winner, born in 2021, numbers 51 yearlings, while his two-year-old crop has 94 horses to run for him.

“We’re still quite long on Epaulette and we can see his star continuing to shine. With Epaulette … it was a business decision to sell him to Turkey and then along comes Daumier in his very next crop,” Cox said. 

“Like I say, we’ve still got plenty of them in the pipeline and we expect him to (continue to) have racetrack success.”

As well as the former Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained Daumier, Epaulette is also the sire of South African three-time Grade 1 winner Soqrat and US Grade 1-winning mare Red Lark. He is also the sire of Australian Group winners Paradee, Meryl, Military Zone and Khulaasa among 19 individual stakes winners.

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Racing Victoria’s decision to move the Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) and Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) from early in the spring to mid-November will encroach on the turf occupied by Perth, which so successfully conducted its The Pinnacles Carnival last November and December.

The Rupert Clarke, traditionally occupying a September time slot, could keep eastern state horses in Victoria instead of heading west for the Railway Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) and possibly the Northerly Stakes (Gr 1, 1800m).

Racing Wagering Western Australia and Perth Racing continue to innovate and perhaps the Rupert Clarke will be used as a lead-up to the $1.5 million Gold Rush (Gr 3, 1400m) at Ascot in mid-December. 

However, Perth’s $4 million slot race The Quokka (1200m), to be run for the first time on April 15 as the Sydney carnival winds down and Brisbane starts, could help sway the pendulum in WA’s favour. Already, the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Manikato Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Bella Nipotina (Pride Of Dubai) and Bjorn Baker’s speedball Shades Of Rose (Rubick) have sewn up slots with Ladbrokes and Magic Bloodstock’s Peter Tighe respectively.

Owner-breeder Peter Walsh’s star WA filly Amelia’s Jewel (Siyouni) will represent Tabtouch.

A plane from Sydney is scheduled to depart on Monday, April 3, to fly Quokka runners to Perth.

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Rosemont Stud’s Promise Of Success (Dansili), a 27,000gns purchase from the 2020 Tattersalls December Mares Sale in the UK, will have only a light Sydney campaign, with trainer John O’Shea planning an assault on the Queensland Winter Carnival.

A revelation since being sent to Australia by Rosemont Stud and Tweenhills’ David Redvers and Hannah Wall, who co-own the mare alongside Nigel Austin and Anthony Mithen, Promise Of Success is slated to resume in tomorrow’s Wenona Girl Quality (Gr 3, 1200m) at Randwick from barrier one.

Promise Of Success came to Australia as a four-start maiden, but she has won five times since June 2021, including the Emancipation Stakes (Gr 2, 1500m) almost 12 months ago and the $2 million Invitation (1400m) at Randwick in October to take her prize-money earnings beyond $1.3 million.

O’Shea also has stablemate Jal Lei (Sebring) resuming in the Wenona Girl and it is the intention to chase black-type success with the four-year-old mare.

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If you need proof that the community race meetings across Australia, the grassroots of the industry, are important to the towns and regions in which they’re held, then last Saturday was it.

Dederang’s once-a-year picnic race meeting, with a pool of $34,000 in prize-money across six races, was called off 24 hours before the first was due to jump after a section of the track was deemed unsafe.

After three years of Covid, the volunteer-run club pushed ahead anyway with a phantom meeting – money raised from the annual event supports the local footy club, the bowls club and other community groups – and 1500 people turned up, many of them children.

They still had a great day sans the horses.

The picnic and non-TAB circuit across the nation, at times, may not make much sense to the beancounters at the respective principal racing authorities but last Saturday demonstrated just what a gathering like Dederang means to the one-road town in north-east Victoria.

To Racing Victoria’s credit, it sent a team of turf experts to repair the problem area of the track and a horse galloped over it on Friday morning, but RV stewards weren’t satisfied – and jockeys’ safety is paramount.

The picnics provide a gateway into the industry for people who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to racing or horses in general and some of those will become the jockeys, owners and trainers of tomorrow, let alone the punters the industry so desires, and at an age well before they turn 18 and their pursuits and passions are already well developed.