Week in Rowe-view

Smith’s belief in horse and sire

Win, lose or draw with first crop three-year-old son of Widden Stud’s Supido (Sebring) in  Buenos Noches in the San Domenico tomorrow, the colt’s trainer Matt Smith is confident that the horse – and his sire – have bright futures.

Warwick Farm trainer Smith produced Buenos Noches to win his first start impressively at Canterbury on August 5 and had little hesitation in raising the bar to the Group 3 race at Rosehill, where he will take on Best Of Bordeaux (Snitzel), Rise Of The Masses (Russian Revolution), Zoukerino (Snitzel) and Nettuno (I Am Invincible).

“It’s a tough ask on Saturday. He’s drawn poorly [barrier ten of 12] and he’s up against some far more experienced gallopers, so we’ll just have to see what happens, but he’s a nice horse in the making. When he learns what it’s all about, he’ll be fine,” Smith told me from the Widden Stud stallion parade yesterday, where he reiterated his belief in Supido, a Group 3-winning, Group 1-placed sprinter who was trained by Mick Kent in Victoria.

“We actually liked Supido as a yearling when he was sold [for $190,000 at the 2013 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale], so we followed through his career and we were able to secure a couple of Supidos for the stable,” he said.

“We actually liked Supido as a yearling when he was sold, so we followed through his career and we were able to secure a couple of Supidos for the stable. 

“Buenos Noches has got plenty of ability and we’ve got a mare in foal to him as well, so hopefully as time goes on, he’ll prove to be a very good stallion.

“It’s a tough ask on Saturday. He’s drawn poorly and he’s up against some far more experienced gallopers, so we’ll just have to see what happens, but he’s a nice horse in the making. When he learns what it’s all about, he’ll be fine.

“I’ve got another one trialling next Monday [True Blue] and they both show great speed and they’ve got good constitutions. They’re trainers’ type of horses.”

Smith also noted the strength and power displayed by young stallion Anders (Not A Single Doubt), who enters his second season at stud this year, as well as third season sire Zousain (Zoustar) who he says was ‘an outstanding moving horse with a great temperament – I liked him a lot.

The Group 1-winning trainer also maintained Trapeze Artist (Snitzel) has what it takes to make it as a stallion.

Smith said: “He was a super racehorse; he was very fast and he produced some beautiful yearlings who were well received and made good money at the sales. They’re big, strong types with good walks on them, so I am sure they will make good racehorses down the track.”


The excitement of two-year-old racing is fast approaching and my colleague Alex Wiltshire, while interviewing trainers mostly on their weekend runners, has quizzed them on their juveniles in the stable and which freshman sires have offered the most encouragement. 


“We haven’t done a lot with them just yet but the Harry Angels have been pretty impressive,” said Sam Freedman. “We were pretty bullish on them at the sales and from what we’ve seen so far they’ve really pleased us. He seems to be one of the up and coming stallions and he was a very good racehorses, so hopefully we have a couple that can go well.”


While Bjorn Baker said: “I’ve got a couple of nice Written Bys, they’re coming along really well. We’ll just see what happens over the next couple of weeks and we’ll put a bit more pressure on them and see how they cope.”




Victorian Sean Duke on Saturday celebrated stakes success with McKenzie Stakes (Listed, 1200m) winner Fast Witness (Star Witness), a horse he sold privately to Ciaron Maher and David Eustace as a yearling.

The victory could have led to Ballarat-based Duke lamenting selling the promising three-year-old’s dam Fast Shanti (Fastnet Rock) to Ealing Park before Fast Witness had made it to the racecourse, but he can console himself with the fact he still has Bana Wu (Shirocco) in his broodmare band of 15.

Bana Wu is the dam of trainer David Payne’s four-time Group 1 winner Montefilia (Kermadec), with Duke purchasing the mare for $92,500 from the 2018 Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale a year after the star mare was born.

“I’ve still got her and she’s in foal to Kermadec, so she’s got a full sibling to Montefilia and she’s about to drop. I thought that was why you were calling me,” said Duke ahead of my interest in Fast Witness.

Montefilia’s half-sister Nice For What (Shalaa), who was in utero when Duke bought Bana Wu, was sold by Maher and Eustace for $500,000 to agent Dermot Farrington, who was acting on behalf of Gilgai Farm’s Rick Jamieson, at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale in May.

Duke “still had a leg in her” during Nice For What before selling her to Jamieson, while he is yet to make a decision on Bana Wu’s 2022 mating despite “about five studs ringing me”.

He also races Bana Wu’s most recent foal, the unraced three-year-old Call Him Iggy (Ribchester), with Maher and Eustace.


The depth of the Racing NSW stewards department will be tested when Marc Van Gestel leaves his post as general manager of integrity, midway through the Sydney spring carnival to join the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

There had been calls made publicly, and some privately directly to RNSW chief executive Peter V’landys, to try and entice Van Gestel to stay in Australia, but there was no way the body could responsibly match the HKJC’s financial offer, believed to be multiples of his current salary.

No organisation, particularly the size and scope of the racing industry, can rely on just one person and the NSW stewards’ department needs to reward those who have worked under Van Gestel because, let’s face it, there’s been numerous who have chosen greener pastures elsewhere, no doubt for a variety of reasons.

It’s not just those stewards in Sydney, such as Wade Birch and Troy Vassallo, who have departed, the country stewards’ offices have an ongoing turnover of staff, in part due to the workload and immense travel, as well as the ability to earn more in other jurisdictions.

Good luck to Mr Van Gestel on his next venture, but no one individual is bigger than the sport and it’s time to let others step up and ensure competent replacements are also waiting in the wings.


Quote of the week: “I’m paying for my sins” – Group 1-winning trainer Tim Martin when asked on Sky Racing yesterday about how he was coping with extreme winter weather conditions running his stable from his new base of Goulburn in NSW. 

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