Western Trilogy proves overwhelming success
Perth racing’s Western Trilogy – the thoroughbreds’ $4 million The Quokka, the standardbreds’ $1 million Nullarbor and the greyhounds’ $500,000 Sandgroper – was a massive success, more than any administrator or Western Australian racing fan could have even hoped.
Bjorn Baker’s Overpass knocked off the local filly Amelia’s Jewel in the tightest of finishes, the on-pace interstater trying to hold off the challenge of Simon Miller’s three-year-old who halfway down the straight appeared to be in a forlorn position before charging from last.
The atmosphere and noise made it feel like a packed house at the MCG, such was the engagement of the crowd, thought to be close to 9,000, and it was a privilege to be trackside at Ascot to witness it.
Baker and Simon Miller, the trainer of Amelia’s Jewel, are tremendous trainers but their personalities, pre– and post- race, also added to the event with The Quokka beamed to the eastern states on Channel 7 free-to-air TV in the minutes before the all-important 6pm news.
Embraced by his boisterous slot holders RAM Racing – about 40 wearing big, black cowboy hats – Baker hammed it up to the cameras as he was mobbed, while Miller and Peter Walsh, the owner and breeder of Amelia’s Jewel, were extremely gracious in defeat, both of them also being prepared to speak to the journo pack on course.
The Western Trilogy has already cemented its place on the racing calendar and I am sure Racing Wagering WA and Perth Racing, the latter led by my old ANZ boss James Oldring, can only enhance the event after a stunning year one.
One change that is almost certain to happen next year is avoiding a clash between the dogs and the trots, with Cannington hosting the Sandgroper only an hour or so before Gloucester Park ran the Nullarbor.
It was difficult for those who attended both meetings, as I did, but it also meant others picked one or the other to attend. Next year, it is likely the greyhounds will be held on the Thursday night, giving free air to the trots on Friday and The Quokka providing the crescendo on Saturday.
As RWWA chief executive Ian Edwards told us on Saturday: “You live and learn. We did it (dogs and trots clashing) for a good reason on the Friday.
“It’s a good wagering night for the dogs, but Thursday is also a good night and the idea of an event (race meeting) on the Thursday, the Friday and the Saturday will be one we’ll look at for next year.”
Word filtered through during the Trilogy festivities that WA officials threw everything they could to try and lure Nature Strip to the West for the inaugural running of the $4 million The Quokka.
It was suggested one of the 14 slot holders (each paid $200,000 to participate) offered the connections of the champion sprinter, who ran fourth in the T J Smith (Gr 1, 1200m) at Randwick a fortnight before The Quokka, 100 per cent of the prize-money up for grabs in the $4 million race if he was to race at Ascot last Saturday.
Among the racing officials, hangers-on and journos being entertained by RWWA and Perth Racing officials was Victorian racing media executive Peter Campbell.
Campbell is chief executive of the Victorian Thoroughbred Racing Integrated Media Business (VTRIMB), the entity which manages Racing Victoria’s media assets including Racing.com, Best Bets, Winning Post and Racing Photos.
VTRIMB also has broadcast partnerships with Seven West Media and Sky Racing, which broadcasts WA racing, so it was no surprise to see Campbell in WA, although it is interesting timing with the Perth Racing-Sky Racing six-year agreement set to expire later this year.
It poses an interesting question. Could Racing.com, which already broadcasts South Australian racing to complement its Victorian product, make a play to add Perth to its coverage at some stage in the future?
Three of the more intriguing stallion service fees have been released this week, the Rich Hill pair of Proisir (Choisir) (NZ$70,000) and Satono Aladdin (Deep Impact) (NZ$45,000) and Godolphin’s champion Anamoe (Street Boss) who will stand for $121,000 in his opening season.
Anamoe’s fee generated the headlines – and provided a lesson that embargos when a wide media distribution list is rarely abided by – and while some say the Darley sire might be on the high side, if he is, it’s only just and the commercial breeders who support him will be in with a good chance of getting a return on their investment.
When Trapeze Artist’s first season fee was released around the Inglis Easter sale in 2019, first at $99,000 and owner Bert Vieira relented, upon the advice of Widden Stud, to reduce it to $88,000, there was scepticism suggesting breeders would not be prepared to pay that sum (they were, as it turns out, as he received 180 mares in his first season).
But during that early period when Trapeze’s service fee made people think twice, one breeder, it is said, had a light bulb moment, wanting to swim against the tide and booked in three or four mares immediately.
In the case of Darley and Godolphin, they will get right behind Anamoe and for outside breeders and those who take up breeding rights in him, they won’t be competing against the major shareholder of the horse when his first yearlings go through the ring.
In fact, it’s a safe bet that Godolphin will be reinvesting a portion of the service fee revenue in trying to buy some of his best-credentialed first crop at sales such as Magic Millions and Inglis Easter.
The service fee of $121,000 – just as Trapeze Artist’s fee at $88,000 wouldn’t cause as much of a stir if he went to stud now – can be justified and he’ll cover a quality and sizable book of mares, no doubt.
Godolphin, particularly under the management of Vin Cox, has been backing its young stallions with quality and a quantity of mares to ensure their unproven sires get the best chance to succeed at stud.
Godolphin, of course, has one of the best broodmare bands in Australia and a percentage of high-class mares will be sent in Anamoe’s direction this year.
“We’ve certainly given our first season sires’ a good look at it and that’ll continue again (with Anamoe),” Darley’s head of sales Andy Makiv told us.
“It’s always been around that 12 to 15 number; we sent 16 last year to Palace Pier last year, who is very much a similar horse to Anamoe – he’s Europe’s Anamoe.
“We sent 12 to Blue Point and Too Darn Hot in their first year and I suspect Anamoe will probably peak around 20 mares from us.”