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Paramount’s Classic script

Dunemann and Sparkes back in business for Inglis at Riverside

Some of Australia’s premier breeders have backed start-up Hunter Valley operation Paramount Thoroughbreds, giving a boost to its studmasters as they look for an immediate box office hit at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale.

While Paramount is a new name on the scene, those behind the stud aren’t industry rookies by any stretch, with Andrew Dunemann and Bridie Sparkes heading up the fledgling entity, which has an inaugural 11-yearling draft at Inglis’ season-opening sale in Sydney. 

Among those supporting Paramount are John Camilleri of Winx (Street Cry) fame and Lauriston Thoroughbreds’ James O’Brien, the breeder of dual Group 1-winning filly Global Glamour (Star Witness).

Fairway Thoroughbreds’ Camilleri sold four million dollar horses at the recent Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale through Segenhoe’s draft and an $800,000 Wootton Bassett (Iffraaj) filly at last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka through the Curraghmore draft and he has given his Classic yearlings to Paramount to look after.

Dunemann was a co-owner of Ridgmont Farm alongside Neil Douglas and the Cunningham family until the latter bought out their partners last year, providing the opportunity for the former National Rugby League player-turned-thoroughbred breeder to work alongside his partner Sparkes.

Sparkes was the long-time Strawberry Hill Stud manager for owner John Singleton until early 2023. Her departure was a forerunner to advertising millionaire Singleton dispersing the majority of his breeding stock and racehorses and selling his lavish New South Wales Central Coast farm to Coolmore’s Tom Magnier last spring.

Dunemann, Douglas and the Cunninghams bought Glastonbury Farms in 2020 from Yvonne and Mark Clerke and Duncan and Di Grimley before rebranding the Segenhoe Valley stud as Ridgmont in 2021.

Dunemann arrived at Inglis’ Sydney sales complex on Sunday with Paramount’s 11 yearlings ready for inspections to begin at Riverside Stables today.

The draft has been prepared at Hunter nursery Middlebrook Valley Lodge, the property which has also housed the Classic draft of Valiant Stud over the past couple of months.

Among the draft is a Camilleri-bred Capitalist (Written Tycoon) colt out of a half-sister to Australian Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Gust Of Wind (Darci Brahma) and a colt by Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Farnan (Not A Single Doubt), while Victorian breeder O’Brien has a Frosted (Tapit) filly out of a sister to Global Glamour.

Dunemann admitted he and Sparkes were thrilled to be entrusted with Camilleri’s yearlings.

“John is very good to deal with through [Segenhoe’s] Peter O’Brien and we’ve also got seven for Ridgmont and one from Lauriston as well. There’s some really good owners behind us,” Dunemann told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“I am in half of the Ridgmont ones, so when Ridgmont weren’t going to do a Classic draft, we put our hand up to say we’ll do them.

“They are horses who are out of mares that came from the farm when we started Ridgmont, so it’s great that we can take those to the sale.” 

Paramount’s Inglis offering also includes the progeny of Pierro (Lonhro), Deep Field (Northern Meteor), So You Think (High Chaparral), Pierata (Pierro), Calyx (Kingman) and North Pacific (Brazen Beau).

Dunemann is a realist and isn’t getting carried away despite the better-than-expected results experienced at the Magic Millions and New Zealand Bloodstock sales to start the season.

“There are a few who could have gone to Magic Millions or to Easter, but we decided that the Classic sale was a better fit for those horses. Hopefully we’ve made the right decision by taking them to the right sale,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone’s under any illusion that the segment that the majority of these horses will fall into is the one that has suffered the most throughout the economic downturn. Vendors with horses up to $150,000 were the ones who had tougher sales. 

“If you go through most of the ones who passed in, that’s where the majority of them lie, but in saying that, at Classic in the past, if you bring a nice type and/or a nice pedigree they appeared to sell and hopefully that’ll be the same again this year.”

Dunemann and Sparkes have been looking for a property of their own since last September and that search remains ongoing.

“It’s not that easy trying to find somewhere. Most places to run horses, you’ve got to have the infrastructure there as well,” Dunemann said.

“There’s obviously a balance there as well in terms of outlay and capital expenditure in weighing up what a place is really worth, so we haven’t jumped into it.

“We will be a bit selective and hopefully something comes up. If not, we’ll have to get jobs [working for someone else].”

Despite the disappointment of missing out on securing a farm of their own, the search did lead to the naming of Paramount Thoroughbreds.

“When we looked at the first property in September it just reminded me of the logo for Paramount [Pictures] with the mountains in the background and obviously paramount is a very powerful world in terms of … striving for the best, as well as leaving no stone unturned,” he revealed. 

“I’d like to think that’s what we’ve done during the [yearlings’] prep. Hopefully the horses can find nice homes.”

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