The Maldon based McKnight family has a decades long involvement in Victoria’s breeding sector and that history was represented by Moonee Valley winner Tiffany’s Lass on Saturday.

The gutsy front-running daughter of Artie Schiller took out the Woodside Park Stud Handicap over 2500 metres. It was her second city win (along with two seconds) in her past four starts.

Her Kilmore trainer Danny Laws was ecstatic after the win, “To win a race at the Valley on a Saturday, it’s what you dream of,” he exclaimed post-race.

She has now amassed earnings of $234,000 with much more likely to come for the hardy staying mare

Brian and Judy McKnight, together with son Ashley welcomed the young filly on Derby Day eve back in 2013.

“We acquired the dam of Tiffany’s Lass, Tiffany’s Best as a four-year-old to race. She was originally trained by family friend, the late Ray Lawson, and although she showed ability, she had become sour with city life,” Ashley recalled.

“She hated being boxed and was quite difficult to handle, so we nurtured her into a better frame of mind. She developed into a lovely big mare and won five races for us, including the Avoca Cup, the Comic Court Handicap at Flemington and a gallant second in the Bagot (Handicap at Flemington).

“Towards the end of her career, she was even nominated for the Melbourne Cup. She was such a dominant stayer, with a great racing style, rolling along out in front, and her ability to break their hearts was her greatest asset.

“Now a wonderful producer, a sister (to Tiffany’s Lass) Tiffany’s Belle (Bel Esprit), is Danny Laws’ other galloper in work…we have retained her Hard Spun, (named) Another Tiff, who we have high hopes for. She will be coming back in to work soon. They all look more like their mum.”

Ashley indicated that Tiffany’s Best’s breeding days be coming to an end with a Trust In a Gust foal due in coming weeks likely to be her last.

“We will wait and see how she recovers before we make any decisions. She has been such a good mare to us, that we now want to be good to her,” he said.

It was a red-letter Saturday for Stockwell Thoroughbreds sire Artie Schiller with Tiffany’s Lass along with Perth based Reykjavik making it a city winning double for the second Saturday in a row for the sire.

Also on Saturday, Artie Schiller’s daughter Nipperkin ran into the placings at Morphettville while Majestic Pride was second in a black-type race in the USA.

“He has had very few runners, so to get consecutive metropolitan doubles is a fair achievement. We thank the McKnights for their continued support of Artie Schiller, and hope that we can help breed them another as good as Tiffany’s Lass,” Stockwell’s Mike Becker said.

“As a proven stallion in Victoria, for the price we are standing him for, he is certainly under the odds, and he is getting the support as a result. These consistent city winners are a timely reminder to breeders what great value he is.”

Ashley McKnight has always been impressed with Artie Schiller as a stallion.

“He throws good types, and prolific stakes winners, and now that he is back in Victoria, we will continue to support him with a mare this year too.”

“Mike has done a great thing for Victorian breeders by dropping his service fee to an affordable figure, so those that breed to race can access him. He will throw you a super racehorse, or if the family goes the right way, he is still commercial enough for the ring if you choose to sell.”

Oh, and what next for Tiffany’s Lass? Quote trainer Danny Laws…

“Now the restricted races are finished, maybe spring is an option. I will nominate her for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups; you have to dream.”

Perhaps she can just slightly outdo her dam and make that wonderful race on the first Tuesday in November!

By Bren O’Brien. Reproduced from

Reg Ryan knows what it’s like to breed a top-class horse and he feels promising 3-year-old Neutrality (Sebring) can become that this campaign, starting with Saturday’s Group 3 San Domenico Stakes at Rosehill (he subsequently ran second to Graff).

(TBV member) Ryan, who runs a 60-acre farm at Leneva near Wodonga in Victoria, bred the former star two-year-old Military Rose (General Nediym), who won the 2011 Magic Millions 2YO Classic, and hopes another of the foals from his farm, Neutrality, can kick off his 3-year-old season with his first black-type win.

“It makes it all worthwhile that if you’ve got a horse that can go on and be competitive at the higher grade. I don’t play golf, so this my main interest outside of work,” Ryan, who runs a roofing business, said.

Supporting the farmers

Ryan is in the Hunter Valley this weekend at the stallion parades and says the difference between how dry the area is compared to where his farm is located some 750km south, is stark.

“It’s bad,” he said. “We’ve had 75mm of rain at Wodonga in August already. Up here they haven’t had that for the whole year.”

“China Horse Club have announced that any prizemoney Neutrality gains in the $150,000 San Domenico S. will go to the Buy a Bale and Rural Aid Charities.

Neutrality’s current owners China Horse Club have announced that any prizemoney (he won $28,200) the colt gains in the $150,000 San Domenico Stakes will go to the Buy a Bale and Rural Aid Charities.

Neutrality ready for a big 3yo season

The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained colt is considered one of the leading chances for the San Domenico and Ryan said the trainers have a lot of faith in Neutrality’s ability.

“I talked to Peter Snowden down at the (Inglis) Premier Sale after his run in the Silver Slipper. He wanted to over-race in that race. He led them up the straight, but he blew out,” he said.

“They rated him as the best two-year-old they had at that stage, but if they had have kept racing him, they wouldn’t have had a racehorse, because he mentally wasn’t right.”

Having been given time to mature, Ryan expects that potential to realise into ability for Neutrality this campaign.

A cracking foal

Neutrality was sold for $400,000 at the 2017 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale to China Horse Club, with Ryan confident he had a good candidate for the sales as soon as he set eyes on the colt.

“He was a cracking foal from day one. He was always a big foal. He was great to do anything with. He was easy work as a foal,” Ryan said.

“I reared him at my place up until October of that year and then sent him to Middlebrook Valley Lodge to get him prepped for the Easter Yearling Sale.”

Neutrality’s dam Dama De Noche (Snippets) is one of nine broodmares on Ryan’s property in northern Victoria, while he also has a yearling full sister to Neutrality.

“She’s not as big as him, she’s a smaller filly but I wanted to get a filly out of her anyway, because the mare is getting a bit of age on her,” he said.

“She’s back in foal to Sebring, and so she’ll have another full brother or sister.”

Plans beyond this season for Dama De Noche are on hold for now, as she delivered the previous filly three weeks’ late and wasn’t served until just before Christmas last year. Ryan said that he may have to opt to give her a season off.

A hobby no longer

He continues to build his broodmare stock and recently acquired the Group 2 winning New Zealand mare Satinka (NZ) (Stravinsky) for $200,000 at the National Broodmare Sale, in foal to Zoustar.

As he continues to build his breeding operation, Ryan feels he has long past the stage of being a hobby breeder.

“When you are forking out for service fees and buying mares, you know that it’s gone well past that,” he said. “It’s not a hobby. You have to treat it as a business.”

The dominant debut win of Written Tycoon filly Alexandra Dreaming at Sandown last week was great news for two TBV members in quite different ways.

So impressive was the filly, trainer Henry Dwyer has fired in a late nomination for the Group 1 MRC Thousand Guineas (she is now a $26 fixed odds chance with

“She’s a Group class filly but wasn’t even named when the nominations closed for the classics,” Dwyer said. “The plan was to win today and then look at boosting her rating.”

TBV member and local bloodstock agent Sheamus Mills had originally bought the filly as a foal for $100,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale.

Having become one of Australia’s craftiest traders, Mills then on-sold her through the 2017 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale for $175,000 – a tidy profit over nine months.

Mills’ purchases have enjoyed quite some success at Victorian tracks over the past fortnight. Yulong Earth, Break And Enter and Belle Xaar have all saluted.

Meanwhile, Flinders based Musk Creek Farm got a very handy fillip for their Inglis Ready 2 Race Sale draft out of Alexandra Dreaming’s win.

They have her half-brother (by Not A Single Doubt) for the Sydney based sale…which will be held two days after the Thousand Guineas!

Alexandra Dreaming’s dam Umaquest (Umatilla) won a Ballarat maiden as a spring 3YO and graduated to a Listed victory in the Chester Manifold Stakes the following season. She’s already foaled the stakes-performed fillies Yattarna (Exceed And Excel) and Fromparis Withlove (Smart Missile).

The following story by Tony Arrold was published in The Australian on 20 August and gives some insight into the decision by Benalla’s Riverbank Farm to stand the unraced Boulder City, a sibling of the wonder mare Winx.

They threw a silk blanket bearing the words “26 in a row” across the back of wonder mare Winx at Randwick on Saturday.

And at the Riverbank Farm near Benalla, in the north-eastern region of Victoria, Russell and Caroline Osborne threw their hands in the air, rejoicing at the image on a TV screen displaying the world’s best racehorse doing her winning thing.

Winx, who was foaled by her mother Vegas Showgirl seven years ago come September 14, means quite a lot to the Osbornes — maybe more than anyone else outside the tight circle of those directly involved with the daughter of Street Cry.

Riverbank Farm is the home of Boulder City, a young thoroughbred stallion so named with a Las Vegas theme as it is a city within Clark County — and, coincidentally, 26 miles (42km) from the world’s gambling capital — in the US state of Nevada.

Boulder City is a rarity among all active thoroughbred stallions in Australia because he has no proof of racing ability but will trade on a stud career with a pedigree that gives him bragging rights as Winx’s kid brother, having record-breaker Snitzel as his sire.

Vegas Showgirl has produced seven foals to date — four fillies and three colts — and is currently in Japan awaiting a covering next month to premier stallion Deep Impact.

Vegas Showgirl’s first born colt by Fastnet Rock, the now six-year-old Win Win Leader, was sent to Hong Kong where he was gelded and is yet to race, while stakeswinning El Divino, by Medaglia d’Oro, was put down after a serious injury in training nine months ago.

Boulder City, Vegas Showgirl’s foal of 2014, topped the 2016 Inglis Easter yearling sale at $2.3 million for a partnership headed by Emirates Park Stud.

But he had ongoing issues in training that brought about a decision to retire him, with Riverbank Farm taking in the now four-year-old two months ago. Riverbank Farm has a stallion roster of six and Boulder City, the youngest of the group, will command the highest service fee — $5500.

And there is an added incentive built in to fees of all six Riverbank stallions (conditions apply) with veterinary fees associated with the breeding cover included — that’s because Caroline Osborne is the resident vet.

The most notable unraced stallions to scale the heights at stud include Balloch, Mellay and Noble Bijou, a trio who stood in New Zealand, and Alibhai in the US.

Balloch, by the Tracery horse Obliterate, was born in England in 1939, the last foal of the 1920 1000 Guineas winner Cinna. Balloch held strong interest for New Zealand as Cinna’s 1927 foal Beau Pere was twice champion sire there, as well as taking three sires’ titles in Australia before being exported to the US.

Celebrated as the sire of 1952 Melbourne Cup winner Dalray, Balloch excelled as a broodmare sire, leading that category in New Zealand five times and also in Australian for 1966-67 when represented by Caulfield-Melbourne-Sydney Cups winner Galilee.

Mellay and Noble Bijou became breeding icons for New Zealand’s south island, with the unraced duo standing at the White Robe Lodge.

Indeed, in the year Mellay died — prematurely at 13 years old in 1974 — Noble Bijou, born 10 years after Mellay, arrived at the stud.

The Anderton family that ran White Robe Lodge looked beyond Mellay’s unraced record to gamble on a pedigree of high appeal — he was by Nearco’s 1954 English Derby winner Never Say Die from the outstanding Alycidon filly Meld who took British racing by storm in 1955 winning the 1000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and the Oaks and then beat the boys in the English St Leger.

Mellay claimed the NZ sires’ crown twice, with his premier runners including Princess Mellay (NZ Oaks, NZ Cup — twice), Swell Time (NZ Great Northern Oaks, Caulfield Cup), Rose Mellay (Auckland Cup) and Brown Satin (NZ Oaks). But Mellay was even more valuable as a broodmare sire, leading the NZ broodmare sires’ list five times.

Mellay was a hard act to follow for Noble Bijou but this son of par excellence stamina source Vaguely Noble (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, etc.) managed to do so, heading the NZ sires’ list four times and also topping the broodmare sires’ premiership five times.

When Noble Bijou won the sires’ title for the final time, in 1992-93, he achieved his first broodmare sires’ title in the same season — a virtually unheard of double feat in thoroughbred breeding history.

Found to be frightfully unsound when placed in training, Noble Bijou was marketed for stallion potential — and snapped up by White Robe Lodge — on the reputation of his year-younger half-sister Allez France, the winner of eight Group Is including the 1973 French 1000 Guineas-Oaks double and emulating her sire, Sea Bird, in the 1974 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Noble Bijou’s stock generally stood up to racing as, like Mellay, his sons and daughters were not possessed of early speed but were genuine runners over ground when given the time they needed to mature.

The brother act of The Phantom and The Phantom Chance did so much for Noble Bijou’s stud profile with seven Group I wins between them, along with Group I winners Lomondy and Lady Liberty.

But the defining feature of Noble Bijou’s stud career was his success with mares by the fellow unraced Mellay, a source to which White Robe Lodge had in abundance.

Noble Bijou had no fewer than six individual Group I winners that were products of Mellay mares – Alibhai (the NZ version which won four Group Is), Prince Majestic, Powley, Our Sophia and with Be Noble striking Group I success in South Africa.

Additionally, brothers The Phantom and The Phantom Chance were foaled by grand-daughters of Mellay.

The US version of Alibhai was a chestnut horse born in England in 1938, by Derby winner and six times British sires’ champion Hyperion from the stout racemare Teresina, a daughter of Tracery, grandsire of the afore-mentioned Balloch.

Alibhai was bought as a yearling and exported to the US but suffered tendon injuries to both forelegs and was retired unraced.

Leading sire in the US in three years, Alibhai’s principal runner was Determine who won the 1954 Kentucky Derby and 17 other races.

Determine, in turn, sired 1962 Kentucky Derby winner Decidedly and Santa Anita Derby winner Your Host who would subsequently sire the indefatigable Kelso, five times US Horse of the Year and remarkable winner of 39 races.

The popular punting adage ‘back Weir, drink beer’ has gained significant momentum in recent years, and for good reason.

Maintaining his leading Victorian Metro Trainer Premiership title since 2013/14, the Weir juggernaut capped off the most recent season with a tally of 490 winners, including nine individual Group 1 wins. Rightly so, backing Weir seems an obvious thing to do.

With $1.572 million in VOBIS bonuses and prizemoney earned by his stable in 2017/2018, Darren Weir was a mile in front of his Victorian training counterparts, $865,000 more than his nearest rival Lindsay Park!

Having also won the title last year with a record haul, Weir can surely lay claim to being the most successful VOBIS trainer of all time.

His draft of VOBIS nominated horses included the Epona Park bred, Snitzepeg, who bagged $127,500 in VOBIS returns.

The Weir trained 2018 VOBIS Gold Reef winner Snitzepeg (Ross Holburt-Racing Photos)

While Weir didn’t have the VOBIS banner horse this past racing season as he has in the past with Burning Front and Trust In A Gust, he had a stable full of 2YOs, 3YOs and older horses who were able to secure VOBIS bonuses and VOBIS Gold prizemoney right across the state.

His best VOBIS earner was the Epona Park bred Snitzepeg who took out the $180,000 VOBIS Gold Reef at Caulfield on the last day of the racing season.

Other Weir trained horses to have earned more than $50,000 in VOBIS dollars included Iconoclasm, Golden Script, Cliff’s Edge and Kiwia.

With a massive $24 million in VOBIS bonuses and prizemoney on offer this racing season, Weir says all horses in the stable are signed up to VOBIS where possible, even those raced by overseas owners.

“It’s a no-brainer for us to nominate all our yearlings to the VOBIS scheme as the benefits are fantastic no matter what level or quality the horse is,” Weir explains.

“With that in mind, it’s a great incentive scheme for all types of owners in a racehorse as, although it’s a one-off payment, the rewards are reaped for years to come.

“(VOBIS) certainly encourages us and our owners to purchase Victorian-bred horses at sales, as it’s a genuine and valuable scheme to be part of.

“We will have a lot of two-year-olds eligible for the new $1 million Showdown race and April is a great time of year for plenty of them to target, so we are looking forward to having a crack,” he said.

Based on his track-record, all well-educated punters should know the sensible thing to do when backing Weir is to look for the VOBIS logo!

TBV has produced the Victoria to Victory series highlighting Group 1 stars of Victorian breeding. Here is the story and video about Written By and his early days at Nagambie’s Basinghall Farm…

Nagambie’s Basinghall Farm, the operation of Tas and Julie Rielley, can proudly lay claim to raising one of the highest profile racehorses of recent times, Written By.

And the star Blue Diamond winner looks set for a huge spring with the stallion making Coolmore Stud Stakes his absolute target.

Bred by Hall Of Fame trainer Neville Begg and his wife Yvonne, the handsome son of Written Tycoon arrived at Basinghall with his Tobougg (Ire) dam Yau Chin at the tender age of just 22 days.

Yau Chin was bred back to Written Tycoon and they remained at the Nagambie nursery where the colt thrived, enjoying the lush pastures and mild climate.

“He was a lovely looking foal, with a great backend and shoulder, and a touch of arrogance, not boisterous, but certainly adventurous,” Tas Rielley said.

“Each season we foal down 80 to 100 mares, and you see a lot of nice foals, but when one goes on like this, with four out of five wins at the top end, it’s very special.”

The Written Tycoon colt then entered the Basinghall yearling preparation regime. And what a regime that is!

Reward for Effort, Littorio and I’ll Have A Bit are just some of the superstars that have come through the Basinghall school of yearlings.

Written By presented as a yearling at the 2017 Premier Sale by Basinghall Farm

Presented under the Basinghall banner or the 2017 Melbourne Premier Yearling sale, Written By attracted attention at Oaklands Junction. But Neville Begg, an astute judge of horseflesh, backed his judgment to place a $200,000 reserve on the colt who passed in just shy at $180,000.

“He was a very pretty horse, and he received plenty of positive attention out at the complex, but Neville set his price and was certainly not going to budge,” Rielley said.

Happy to take him home and race the striking colt themselves, Neville sent him down to his son on the Mornington Peninsula, trainer Grahame Begg. It was not long after he was broken in, that the promising reports started arriving.

The outstanding career of the son of Written Tycoon to date includes convincing wins in four of his five career starts for earnings of $1,409,000.

Having won the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (colts and geldings) two weeks earlier, all eyes were on the exciting unbeaten colt on one of racing’s biggest days at Caulfield.

When Matt Hill called “what a Victory” in the 2018 Blue Diamond, Written By had managed to overcome a wide barrier draw to dominate the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes with a compelling win by two and a half lengths over his competitors.

He then returned after a short freshen up to win the Group 3 Pago Pago in Sydney, with his final start for the season being the pinnacle Golden Slipper. Not to disappoint, he was a gallant fourth, and the first colt over the line in a brilliant field.

“We are just so pleased that Neville at the end of such a successful racing career has another really good horse to enjoy in his 80s. It will be great to see how he has matured, as I’m sure he has a lot more to go yet,” Rielley said.

“With Written By to aim at the highly competitive Coolmore Stud Stakes, we congratulate the Begg family on Written By’s brilliant career so far, and we will all be closely following this wonderful colt’s exciting spring campaign ahead.”


By Danny Power. Reproduced from Inside Breeding Magazine

Victoria’s north-east is a Mecca for thoroughbred breeding and wine production. There was a time, 100 years or more ago, that thoroughbred breeding was the dominant force of the region, and wine was kept to savour after a success on the racetrack, including winning the Melbourne Cup.

One of the great farms of the area, north of Nagambie on the Goulburn River, was Noorilim Estate, where one of Australia’s most famous racehorses and stallions stood at stud.

His unmarked grave is in the shadows of a sprawling mansion that these days hosts weddings and soirees that replicate the garden parties and dinners the barons of the district held for the wealthy pastoralists of Victoria’s early days. Not far up the road, trading under the same name, sits a new farm. It is in a growth phase that will resurrect one of the famous names of Australian thoroughbred breeding, Noorilim. Here’s the story of two farms, BY DANNY POWER:

The Noorilim of Old

There was a time, almost 100 years ago, when the north-east of Victoria—especially in a small enclave between Nagambie and Shepparton—was the epicentre of thoroughbred breeding in Australia.

In the second half of the 19th century, vast Italianate mansions were built along the free-flowing Goulburn River, which served expansive estates carrying prized cattle, sheep and the vines of a burgeoning wine district.

The thoroughbreds were added in the early 1900s pre- and post-WW1—where champion and outstanding stallions such as The Welkin (Jim Redfearn’s Tahbilk Stud), Woorak (L.K.S. Mackinnon’s Chatsworth Stud), All Black and White Star (Alex Creswick’s The Nook), Irish Derby winner Land Of Song (Norman Falkiner’s Pranjip Park) and Lanius (Dr Arthur Syme’s Toolamba Stud) stood in the district.

Joining them in 1919, at the newly established Noorilim Stud, was the legendary Melbourne Cup winner Comedy King (GB), who in 1910 was the first imported horse to win Australia’s most famous race.

Comedy King (br h 1907, Persimmon (GB)-Tragedy Queen (GB), by Gallinule (GB)) had stood from 1912 at owner Sol Green’s Shipley Stud near Warrnambool, where he quickly became a sensation.

When Green dispersed his breeding stock in 1918, pastoralist Norman Falkiner paid 7300 guineas for Comedy King and transported him across Victoria to stand in the north-east: firstly that spring at Pranjip Park, just out of Nagambie; and for the following 11 years at Noorilim, at Wahring, south of Murchison. He bought Noorilim in 1917 and established it as his stud farm from 1919 after selling Pranjip Park.

In five-seasons between 1918-19 and 1922-23, Comedy King (three times) and The Welkin shared the title of Australia’s champion stallion, splitting a dominant run of the Hunter Valley (NSW) stallions Linacre (Oakleigh Stud) and Valais (Widden Stud).

Comedy King’s profile was given an immediate boost when his son Artilleryman won the 1919 Melbourne Cup, and three years later another son, King Ingoda, won the great race—both stayers were conceived at Shipley Stud.

At Noorilim, Comedy King was joined by the imported Spearhead (GB), by Carbine’s son Spearmint (GB), who also became a leading sire. Spearhead supplied Noorilim with his only Melbourne Cup winner, the champion stayer Spearfelt, who won the 1924 Victoria Derby, 1925 VRC St Leger and 1926 Cup.

Other successful stallions to stand on the property included the imports Crowdennis (IRE), Ornamentation (GB) and the top-class local stayer David, winner of the 1923 Sydney Cup, three AJC Plates (1921-22-23) and three Randwick Plates (1921-22-24). David proved to be an outstanding sire of jumpers.

Noorilim was fit for a King and the king’s horses.

The magnificent National Trust-listed mansion—the work of renowned architect James Gall—has no equal in Victoria. It still stands in all its magnificence following a painstaking and brilliant renovation after cleaning business tycoon, art dealer and racing fan Rod Menzies bought it in 1998. It features Minton tiles, 15 marble fireplaces, 10 bedrooms, seven staircases and extensive underground living compartments and cellars.

Noorilim is named after the local Ngurai-illum Aboriginal tribe and is believed to translate to mean “many lagoons”, because the area was a natural flood plain of the lower Goulburn River before the construction of the Goulburn Weir, south at Nagambie, was completed in 1891.

The original Noorilim Run was 17,800 hectares. By the time the mansion was commissioned by William Irving Winter in 1879, this was reduced to just over 800 hectares adjoining both sides of the Goulburn, although, under Falkiner’s reign, the holding trebled.

The estate has had 11 owners in its long history and more recently has been used as a function centre for weddings and tours for the Menzies family—Rod and his son Brandon and daughter-in-law Lucy.
In 2016, the Melbourne Cup Tour visited Noorilim and, fittingly, the famous trophy was put on display in the magnificent entrance to the mansion.

Falkiner died, aged 56, in May 1929. His great stallion Comedy King died in December the same year and was buried at Noorilim, according to Brandon Menzies, behind the stable block.

However, in a twist, a few months after his death, Comedy King’s remains were exhumed and his bones sent to be displayed at the newly formed Australian Institute of Anatomy at Canberra. However, it’s unknown if Comedy King’s skeleton was ever assembled, and as recently as 2013 an attempt was made to match up boxes of equine bones at the institute to see if the great stallion can be “put back together” to stand alongside Phar Lap’s heart. It remains a work in progress.

The new Noorilim

The defined newness of Noorilim Park Thoroughbreds is evident as soon as you turn off Arcadia Road into a driveway lined with young trees that are dwarfed by the giant, ghostly river gums that are prevalent along the Goulburn River.

When Inside Breeding visited the farm in late April, everything was idyllically quiet, but as the tyres on our car crunched loudly on neatly laid crushed bluestone rock, a couple of rowdy stumpy-tail Blue Heelers sprang into life and some nearby workmen, who were diligently moving soil in front of the recently completed main house—a weatherboard in the modern colonial style—stopped at the intrusion.

The main house is on the right facing a large, airy 19-horse barn on the left, opening on to the spelling yards and broodmare paddocks, and leading along magnificent trails between ancient gum trees stretching along the banks of the Goulburn River.

Lawns are green and manicured to golf-course standard, and offer an oasis-like backdrop to the parched surrounds of country that is aching under the strain of a hot summer and a drawn-out, ultra-warm autumn that has it calling for some early winter rain.

Noorilim Park, which is just north of Murchison, was established from virgin country that was originally part of the sprawling Noorilim Run, and like the magnificent nearby Noorilim Estate, it sits on the banks of the prized Goulburn.

Noorilim Park is the “baby” of passionate racing and breeding man Peter Carrick, who worked his way from an apprentice plumber in 1972 to become owner and managing director of one of Melbourne’s biggest commercial plumbing businesses, CDC Plumbing & Drainage, whose major projects include Etihad Stadium and The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Carrick bought the 115-hectare property in 2006, and while the farm houses Carrick’s impressive band of mares, foals and yearlings, it also is run as a commercial business offering a wide range of services to the general population of broodmare and racehorse owners.

The Noorilim Park team at Magic Millions, Sherah Sullivan (centre) with husband Mike (left) and agent Matt Houldsworth

Carrick’s son Glen is Noorilim’s business manager and ex-Kiwi Sherah Sullivan runs the day-to-day operations of the farm, and does well to keep the playful dogs in check.

Noorlilim Park is one of many outstanding boutique holdings that have been developed along the Goulburn River between Seymour and Shepparton, and they dot the river’s flow north between the “big” farms such as Darley Northwood Park, Swettenham Stud, Sun Stud-Smithfield, Paringa Park, Limerick Lane (recently bought by Yulong Investments) and Dorrington Farm (ex-Wood Nook).

Glen Carrick, 33, was working with his father as a plumber in the family business, but the racing bug took control as the farm began to develop and needed a hands-on involvement while his father was busy running the business.

“I’ve always loved the horses … used to have a punt with my father. This (to work in the horse business) is a great opportunity,” he said.

Carrick said the improvements on the farm were almost complete. “We are putting the finishing touches on the new homestead and there are plans to further develop the rose garden (between the house and the stables), which will be a nice feature when people drive into the property.”

The Carricks breed from a select band of mares that includes the Stakes-winners Minaj (by Commands), Anatine (by Fastnet Rock) and Lucida (by Danehill (USA)), as well as the royally bred mares Crystalised (by Zabeel (NZ)) and Special Lover (by Pins). A recent addition to the broodmare band is Dreams And Wishes, an All Too Hard filly from a daughter of broodmare gem Procrastinate.

Most of the colts are sold at the yearling sales and selected fillies are kept to race, but generally the Carrick philosophy is to buy high-class yearling fillies in the hope of value-adding on the racetrack.

This year the Carricks will race a Fastnet Rock-Ocean Of Tears filly they bought at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale for $650,000; and they paid $500,000 for an I Am Invincible filly, from the family of Sizzling, at the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast in January.

Noorlilim also is home to the bloodstock of leading syndicator Brad Spicer (Spicer Thoroughbreds), who uses the farm for the spelling of the near-60 horses on his books.

The Carricks returned the favour by combining with Spicer to buy a Zoustar-Bionic Girl colt (cost $360,000) at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale in March.

The Noorilim brand, once the leader at the yearling sales in the early 1900s, has returned to the sale ring under the Carrick banner.

Although they may not have a direct connection to the old-timers who once made this area and the Noorilim name famous, the Carricks have a level of passion and professionalism
that seems certain to breed its own success under the historic name.

The Noorilim timeline

1850s: Varying reports 
of Andrew Sinclair and Frederick Manton squatting on land then known as the Noorilim Run. The estate 
was later taken up by William Drayton Taylor

1870: After Taylor’s death, it became the property of Melbourne politician William Winter-Irving, who had married Taylor’s daughter, Frances, two years earlier.

1879: Noorilim (the house) was designed by James Gall and built for Winter-Irving.

1901 Samuel Finlay bought the farm following the death of Winter-Irving.

1917: Pastoralist Norman Falkiner bought the estate from Finlay. Falkiner died in 1929.

1930: James Tweddle, son of Goulburn Valley pioneer Joseph Tweddle, paid £40,000 for the house and 2950 hectares. Tweddle, a sheep and cattle man, had no interest in thoroughbreds.

1950s: There was talk of demolishing the run-down mansion, but the demolition company gave such an exorbitant quote, the owner replaced the roof instead of the whole building.

1975: Shepparton truck dealer and racing car driver Bryan Thomson and his wife Loel bought the property and spent 24 years on restoration of the home and garden.

1998: Bought by Rod Menzies for $3.325 million. Menzies built a winery and refurbished the house.

2010: Noorilim Estate put up for sale for a reported $10 million. A buyer couldn’t be found and it remains in the Menzies’ family under the direction of Menzies’ son Brandon and his wife Lucy. Wedding receptions and functions are held on the property. Daily tours can be made of the house and renowned botanical gardens.

A new video released by Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV) today tells the story of the early lives of three Victorian bred Group 1 winners who are aiming for further glory this spring.

Redzel, Le Romain and Written By all feature in the video with interviews of the Victorian breeders who helped raise them to be the champions they are today.

All three Victorian bred heroes will play big roles in the coming Spring Racing Carnival with each aiming to reproduce their Group 1 winning success.

“The stories behind these Group 1 superstars highlights how Victorian breeders and the Victorian thoroughbred breeding industry produce some of the very best performed racehorses,” TBV Executive Officer Patrick Clancy said.

“This past racing season Redzel, Le Romain and Written By produced some blistering performances, but they are not alone in terms of Victorian bred stars. The state’s breeding industry also played its part in the breeding of Daysee Doom, El Dorado Dreaming, Great Shot, Hey Doc, Santa Ana Lane, Sopressa, Leicester and Hong Kong Group 1 winner Mr Stunning among others.

Written By, Australia’s best juvenile colt

‘What a Victory’ was the call when the Blue Diamond winning colt Written By, the son of Champion Victorian Sire Written Tycoon, crossed the line in Victoria’s richest two-year-old race.

Bred by Neville Begg and trained by son Grahame, the colt spent his formative days at Tas and Julie Rielley Basinghall Farm at Nagambie.

“He was a lovely looking foal, with a great back-end and shoulder, and a touch of arrogance, not boisterous, but certainly adventurous,” Tas Rielley says.

“Foaling down eight to a hundred mares, you see a lot of nice foals, but when one goes on like this, with four out of five wins at the top end, it’s very special, and I’m sure he has a lot more to go yet.”

Le Romain – triple Group 1 winner

The Kris Lees trained Le Romain was bred at north-east Victoria’s Greta West Stud for loyal clients, the Carusi family.

John and Laurie McCarthy at Greta West Stud are strong believers in letting horses grow naturally at their farm – one of Victoria’s oldest family owned studs – and Le Romain has certainly been a beneficiary of this philosophy.

“The environment we have here, with good size paddocks and lush pasture is the best way, as it’s all about the balance. His dam Mignard is still going strong, and she is a favourite on the farm,” McCarthy said.

Redzel – the orphan who climbed Everest

The early life of Redzel was a difficult one, but he has now climbed to the highest heights of Australian racing having won two Group 1 races, another seven stakes races and, of course, the inaugural $10 million Everest.

Redzel lost his dam Millrich only a couple of days after being born. But thanks to the dedication shown by Kim Alderton, Christie Murphy and the team at Eliza Park International’s former Nagambie property, they didn’t give up on the orphaned foal, even after three attempts with three different foster mares.

“We made sure he got the right handling when he was a couple of months old, as he would muscle his way into the mares, being quite upfront. He maybe got a bit spoilt in the foaling unit, but he came to hand very nicely and was a pretty clever horse,” Alderton said of Redzel’s early months.

The video is part of the Victoria to Victory series produced for TBV by Jo McKinnon and her team.

Watch all episodes of Victoria to Victory on the TBV YouTube channel.

Renowned global horse transporter International Racehorse Transport (IRT) has signed a two-year extension on its sponsorship of Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV).

IRT is a loyal supporter of Victoria’s breeding industry and at this time of year plays an integral role in bringing an elite group of shuttle stallions to our state.

It is equally important to the State’s thoroughbred breeding sector in facilitating the export of locally bred and sold yearlings to places such as South Africa, New Zealand and various jurisdictions of Asia.

The extended agreement sees IRT retain naming rights to the official Victorian Stallions Roster. IRT will also continue to have a prominent presence on TBV communications and at TBV events including the Victorian Owners & Breeders Race Day at Caulfield and the Victorian Breeders Awards.

Managing Director, Chris Burke, proudly affirmed IRT’s commitment to Victorian breeders through the transport of shuttle stallions and Victorian bred exports.

“First and foremost, IRT is well aware of the massive contribution breeders make in supplying horses to the racing industry, without which there would be no racing for us to enjoy,” Burke said.

“IRT shuttles stallions to Victoria each year, and we are grateful for the opportunity to bring in new bloodlines for breeders to access.

“We also appreciate our role in giving overseas purchasers the confidence that they can buy a Victorian bred yearling at an Australian sale and through a professional company, fly their horse back to their destination in good hands.”

Echoing Burke’s sentiments, TBV President, James O’Brien, is delighted that IRT has agreed to an extended partnership.

“IRT has been a trusted and loyal partner of TBV’s for several year now. They are critical to the operation of Victoria’s breeding industry, particularly with respect to shuttle stallions and yearling exports,” O’Brien explained.

“IRT shares our ambition to deliver positive outcomes for the Victorian breeding industry, and their direct support enables us to do exactly that.”

IRT recently delivered a raft of globetrotting stallions to Victoria for the imminent breeding season, ensuring our breeders have continued access to quality bloodlines and gene pools.

Those stallions include Americain (Swettenham Stud), Brazen Beau (Darley), Cable Bay (Woodside Park), Frosted (Darley) Highland Reel (Swettenham Stud), Jimmy Creed (Spendthrift), Street Boss (Darley), Toronado (Swettenham) and Warrior’s Reward (Spendthrift).

The Victorian bred champion and Caulfield Cup winning mare Jameka (Myboycharlie) has been retired.

The 2016 Caulfield Cup winner has not raced since winning the BMW Stakes by more than six lengths at Rosehill in March 2017.

The Gilgai Farm bred mare contracted travel sickness on the way back from Sydney following that victory.

Jameka as a foal at Gilgai Farm

The decision to retire the mare was made after discussions between owner Colin McKenna and Maher following Jameka having a jump out at Cranbourne on Tuesday.

Col & Janice McKenna with Jameka (Magic Millions)

Maher originally bought her out of the Gilgai Farm draft for $130,000 at the 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale. Out of the Gilgai broodmare Mine Game (General Nediym), Jameka’s siblings include the stakes placed, Magic Millions 2YO Classic runner-up Nikitas (Snitzel) and the unraced 3YO Shy Talk (Shamus Award) who is also with Ciaron Maher.

Jameka won six of her 24 starts and more than $4.8 million in a career that also included wins in the Group 1 VRC Oaks, Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase and the Group 2 VRC Sires Produce in 2015.

Col McKenna told the Warrnambool Standard that the breeding barn would be the next stop for the champion mare.

The Woolsthorpe based racehorse owner/breeder and his wife Janice paid $2.6 million to buy out Jameka’s other owners at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale earlier this year.

“Jameka has lost her top gear. She’s raced in some of the feature races on the Australian racing calendar and been very successful,” McKenna said.

“Ciaron said she was the best-looking horse at the jump-outs but she had lost the zest to race at the top level. She’s got nothing left to prove on the racetrack, so she’ll head to the breeding barn.”

A stallion to serve Jameka this season is expected to be announced in coming days.

Boutique Wangaratta breeders Allan and Cheryl Price were happy campers after win on debut by the Yulong owned, Ciaron Maher/David Eustace trained colt Yulong January in the first at Swan Hill last Monday.

The bay colt jumped well and settled outside the co-leader before forging away over the last 150 metres to win by two lengths with something in hand.

The win also demonstrated the enormous value of having Zhang Yuesheng’s Yulong Investments, a major new Chinese investor in Australian racing and breeding, headquartered in Victoria. While Yulong have purchased at the top end at yearling sales over recent years, they have also been a prolific buyer of lesser profile Victorian bred yearlings.

This was the fourth win from as many starters for the Price’s broodmare Duty With Honour, a city winner herself and whose brother to Yulong January in Justify That was a dual stakes-winner of over half a million dollars.

Yulong January is by the Greta West stallion King of Prussia, and was reared by Bucklee farm’s Leeanne Smith.

Allan and Cheryl give great credit to the McCarthys at Greta West as well as Smith and her devoted staff at Bucklee Farm, recommending both establishments to anyone looking for superior care of their broodmares, foals, yearlings or spellers.

The colt was purchased by Mr Zhang for just $20,000 at the Inglis Premier Sale in 2017. Allan indicated that an adverse X-ray of the stifle was part of the reason for that low price, however Allan and Cheryl could hardly stifle a smile after the colt’s decisive win!

The mare’s two-year-old Cluster colt is currently returning to work with leading Goulburn trainer Danny Williams. Williams, who has a high opinion of the youngster, was quick to nominate him for both VOBIS Gold and Magic Millions.

The win provided welcome compensation for the Prices, as their triple stake-winning home-bred 3YO Money Maher (Al Maher) unfortunately tore a suspensory ligament in the South Australian Derby and faces a long rehabilitation.

But, as Allan Price, reflected, “that’s all just part and parcel of the breeding business, you need to put the hits behind you and forever look to the future.”

He may have sunned himself in Queensland for a few years, but Sun Stud’s Bel Esprit – now back in Victoria – still won the title of leading VOBIS sire over the past racing season.

The progeny of the six time Victorian Champion Sire have been prolific collectors of VOBIS dollars over the past decade but none more so than in 2017/2018.

Progeny of Bel Esprit earned almost $685,000 in VOBIS bonuses and VOBIS prizemoney throughout the season.

Leading the way for the Sun Stud sire on the VOBIS earning front was four-year-old Bel Sonic. Of the $267,000 he earned during the season, an astonishing $142,000 of that was attributable to VOBIS returns…more than 50 per cent of total prizemoney won!

Bel Sonic after winning the $150,000 VOBIS Gold Carat at Moonee Valley (Ross Holburt-Racing Photos)

An impressive first-to-last victory in the $150,000 VOBIS Gold Carat at Moonee Valley in December helped catapult these earnings. The win even ensured the talented gelding a start in the $2 million Magic Millions Guineas, illustrating the many reasons it pays to sign up for VOBIS.

Sun Stud’s Mark Lindsay is excited to have Bel Esprit, back at home base, and looks forward to the $1 million VOBIS Sires Showdown in 2019.

“Bel Esprit is extremely competitively priced this season for such a popular stallion. At his current fee he offers arguably the greatest return on investment for breeders,” Lindsay said.

“Added to that, with $24 million in VOBIS bonuses and prizemoney on offer this season, he is a proven sire that will definitely pay his way.

“VOBIS Sires gives our stallions a competitive advantage and the running of the inaugural $1 million Showdown will only add to that.”

Other progeny of Bel Esprit that enjoyed a profitable season thanks to VOBIS earnings included Temple of Bel, Honey Esprit, Keen Array and Crystal Spirit.

Bel Esprit stands at Sun Stud this season for a service fee of $11,000 (incl. GST),

Having just held its biggest and best stallion parade yet, the momentum at Victoria’s Woodside Park Stud continues with the recruitment of two highly experienced staff.

Bringing their individual skill sets, a wealth of knowledge and a passion for thoroughbreds, Woodside has appointed Garry Isaac and Florian Boisset.

Home to a growing stallion roster – in both quantity and quality – Woodside Park’s determination to continually improve can not be doubted and these two appointments reflect that objective.

Garry has over 25 years’ experience in the thoroughbred industry having worked at some of Australian’s biggest farms.

His considerable know-how makes him a great asset in his role as Broodmare Manager and to the overall operations. He invested in his first horse at the age of 16 and, along with his wife, owned a successful horse business.

Ten years ago, he moved out of the corporate world into the industry full time. He worked for Marquee Stud where he developed and managed a 160-horse broodmare farm, and more recently he oversaw 450 horses for Aquis Farm as Operation Manager.

Meanwhile Florian (Flo) is joining Woodside in 2018 as Yearling Manager. He came to Woodside from Baramul Stud in NSW where he managed yearlings for over three years, ensuring they received the best care before and during their preparations for sale.

Prior to Baramul, he worked at a number of farms in NSW including Arrowfield and Turangga Farm.

Florian moved to Australia from the South West of France in Bordeaux and has always had a strong affection for horses.

Both new members of staff would have been left in no doubt about the desire by Woodside to compete amongst the best in Australia after taking in the stallion parade held recently.

A large number of mare owners, bloodstock agents, trainers and industry participants were present to take in the roster of four quality stallions…and, of course, enjoy the morning’s delicious breakfast buffet, and hot barista coffee.

Victorian Champion sire Written Tycoon was obviously a highlight for the crowd, but his three barn-mates also garnered enormous interest.

Woodside Park Stallion Parade 2018 – Written Tycoon

Invincible Spirit’s son Cable Bay has continued to furnish into an impressive stallion over the past year while ‘son of a gun’ Rich Enuff and his glistening coat stood out.

Many of those in attendance were there to get the first sight of Deep Impact’s son Tosen Stardom in his new breeding career. The multiple Group 1 winner – with substantial backing from Australia and Japan behind him – is a genuine chance at being one of Australia’s hot young sires.

Woodside Park Stallion Parade 2018 – Tosen Stardom

With the new breeding season just days away, Woodside principal Mark Rowsthorn is keen to indicate his commitment to the stud and to Victoria.

“The philosophy of the business is to be the very best farm we can possibly be, to be the best in
Victoria across the entire range of thoroughbred activities,” Rowsthorn said.

“We currently have four stallions standing at our stud and we are looking to increase this number in the coming years.

“I believe we have the facilities, the expertise and the weather to grow out and produce the top-quality yearlings and the racetrack champions.”

With the sales ring and race track performances already achieved by Woodside and its stallions, it’s hard to doubt such statements!

Homebred racetrack success continues to spring eternal for Victorian breeders, the Gordon and Devitt families, with their three-year-old colt Tony Nicconi putting his hand up to be their next star.

A son of their homebred stallion Nicconi, Tony Nicconi is a progressive colt that confirmed his potential with a tenacious win in the Group 3 MRC Vain Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.

A dazzling debut winner at Caulfield, the Lindsay Park trained colt was stepping up sharply in class for this 1100 metre sprint. Tony Nicconi toughed it out into a strong headwind to have enough left at the finish to hold off the fast-finishing Long Leaf by a long neck.

“David was delighted with the performance and said he would keep Tony sprinting. He is looking at running in the McNeil Stakes over 1200m at Caulfield in two weeks before running in the Group 2 Danehill Stakes, with the ultimate aim, the Coolmore,” co-owner/breeder Russell Gordon said.

Russell’s father Les and family friend and co-breeder and owner Peter Devitt, along with Robert Sangster and Colin Hayes enjoyed much success early in their racing days with their first galloper King’s High winning the Victoria Derby and the Australian Guineas.

“We were lucky to find another champion after King’s High with Niconero, who won five Group 1s for us. He was out of Nicola Lass who we also bred and raced. She is a proven ‘blue hen’ given that another of her progeny is our stallion Nicconi,” Gordon said.

“Peter and my father started buying, breeding and racing horses with Colin and once we were old enough, my two brothers and I became involved as well. We have made sure after my father passed away we have continued his legacy.

“Now David Hayes is involved in a few of the mares too. Another Nicconi, Hear The Chant, a Group 3 winner of the Thoroughbred Club Cup, will now join our broodmare band, and is off to Zoustar this year.

“It’s a funny story of how Tony Nicconi was named. We are very good old friends with Tony McEvoy through our long association with the Hayes family so when my brother Craig ran into Tony at the airport, he mentioned that he should get a few Nicconis into his stable.

“Tony replied with a cheeky grin, a few, I have eighteen of them in the stable – they are calling me Tony Nicconi!!!”

“And so our little Nicconi colt was named. He’s pretty sharp McEvoy, as he has since tapped us a few times on the shoulder after a win to ask when he is getting his sling for the naming rights…and it may be a decent amount, especially if Tony Nicconi comes out and wins a Group 1 this spring!”

Tony Nicconi is the first stakes winner and third live foal for Elusive Quality mare Wickham, who was purchased by the Nicconi Syndicate for $80,000 at the 2010 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

A daughter of Group 1 placed Alydar mare, Quinpool, Wickham’s first Nicconi foal, My Michelle, was a multiple winner and city placed, while her next, Booradley is a city winner.

Phil Warren’s ever-consistent homebred galloper Streets Of Avalon has hit winning form for Mornington trainer Shane Nichols and is now ready to head to the lucrative Country Cups circuit.

The son of Magnus out of the Black Minnaloushe mare Kamuniak, Streets Of Avalon has had five placings this preparation from eight starts, so to bring up a second consecutive win at the end was definitely worth celebrating.

“He has been ultra-reliable. His preparation before he had ten starts for nine placings – which is quite remarkable, especially when five of those placings were in the city,” trainer Shane Nichols said.

Having always been a fan of Magnus, Nichols still sees the Sun Stud entire as one of the best value stallions going around.

“I have had a bit of luck with Magnus over the years and I think I trained his first stakes placegetter early in the piece. He really is a stalwart of Victorian breeding and for the price it’s hard to find better value anywhere. He is VOBIS Sires, VOBIS Gold, soft tracks, wet tracks, sprinter milers, they run at two, train to three – he can do it all,” Nichols said.

“He has a stack of horses that win $100,000 and while they might not be his headliners, they certainly give their owners a great ride. While at the sales, Magnus lets you sell a yearling for $100,000 or under and still make money, which is pretty difficult, but his service fee gives you that profit margin.”

Owner/breeder Phil Warren was first introduced to racing as an owner through good mate Simon O’Donnell and OTI Racing.

Warren later became a breeder after buying Kamuniak, the dam of Streets Of Avalon, from OTI after she was retired.

“Kamuniak is a full sister to Group 1 winner Jokers Wild. She will head back to Magnus this season and is about to drop a Starspangledbanner foal any day.
“I have a sister (to Streets of Avalon) who has just turned one, who I will race with a few friends and a three-year-old Fiorente filly with Jarrod Mclean at Warrnambool who just needs some time.

“Over the last few years I have started a little breeding operation, with my two mares both residing at Supreme Thoroughbreds with good friends Neil (Shaw) and Brent (Grayling).

“Neil is a great help advising me on which stallions to use, and they do a wonderful job raising and growing them out before they head off to Shane to train.

“I haven’t sold any myself, but funny enough Streets Of Avalon was actually prepped up and going to the breeze up sales, as I was looking to reduce my numbers.

“However after he galloped so well, I changed my mind at the last minute and kept him, and I’m so glad now that I did!” Warren exclaimed!

“My other mare Scrunchie (Stravinsky), who is a three time winner, was kept due to my daughter’s emotional attachment. She now has the best of care at Supreme and is about to foal a Rich Enuff and will head off to Sepoy this season.”

Warren was keen to praise of the work of Streets of Avalon’s trainer.

“Shane (Nichols) is a brilliant communicator, he does an exceptional job keeping all the owners in the loop with regular voice memos and videos. He is possibly backing up Streets Of Avalon next week if he gets a run, and then will freshen him for the spring and the country cups – which will be terrific fun.”

A $1 million yearling with a Swettenham pedigree going back several generations who then went on to become a sire at a low-profile farm at Bacchus Marsh may now have his ‘banner horse’…or at least a horse better than any of his other progeny.

The Parwanvale Stud at bred Parwan Prince, a son of Stanford, claimed a Sandown win to give both jockey Lucinda Doodt and Cranbourne trainer Jade Darose their first city triumph.

For Parwanvale breeder Tony Morahan, it was a thrill to see a son of their past resident stallion Stanford get a city winner on the track.

“I was looking to stand a stallion and Stanford fitted the bill. He was beautifully bred and an outstanding type. He was an attractive option for a small stud to acquire a stallion with a blueblood pedigree.”

A top priced yearling, Stanford was a $1.1 million buy at the 2001 Inglis Easter yearling for a syndicate that included Gai Waterhouse, Adam Sangster and Vinery Stud’s Peter Orton.

Bred by Swettenham Stud, the son of Danehill, he was a half-brother to Group 1 Caulfield Guineas winner Schubert and the dam of Darley’s emerging sire Gonski.

“His dam Rossignol, and granddam River Dane, who won the Falmouth Stakes were part of one of Sangster’s most extensive and successful families. It was a exciting time in breeding, as Danehill was just emerging,” Morahan said.

Stanford’s pedigree also included the Singapore Champion Miler, Recast and the dual listed winner Pinezero, through the strong female line.

Stanford stood at Parwanvale from 2006 until 2011 when he was sold and moved north to continue his stallion career before, retiring from stud duties in 2015.

“It was unfortunate that Stanford didn’t live up to the high expectations at stud, but it is nice to see him still getting a winner on the track,” Morahan said.

“I sold Parwan Prince privately to Henry Dwyer for $100,000 and he had a few wins with him on good country tracks, but one morning he got loose from the lead pony at trackwork and did a bit of mischief,” Morahan said.

Unfortunately his issues got the better of him, and Henry sold Parwan Prince to dual licence-holder Jade Darose for $7000 at the 2016 Inglis August Sale as a tried racehorse.

“Jade has done a wonderful job, she has got on top of his issues and it’s great to see her getting the rewards. He has won $100,000 since and she may even have a crack at a Saturday race!” Morahan said.

Out of Raheen Queen (Desert Sun), Parwan Prince has now had 22 starts for seven victories and amassing $141,240 in prize money.

“I’m still shaking,” Darose said after Parwan Prince’s win.

“It’s amazing. He did such a good job. He’s been such a hard horse to have. He’s got a lot of problems but he’s so tough. It’s mainly keeping his head right because he’s so unsound. But if he’s feeling good, he’s racing good.”

There’s an old saying that weight will stop a train and the Greta West Stud product Le Romain (Hard Spun) did, briefly, look like he might run out of steam in Saturday’s Group 3 Show Quality over 1200m at Royal Randwick.

And who could have blamed him: the triple Group 1 winner was lugging 61 kilos, while the slightly more fancied, Siege of Quebec, was eight kilos shy. However, after hitting the lead 200 metres from home, Le Romain wasn’t prepared to give his rival an inch, eventually running out a length and a half winner.

Surprisingly, it was the first return to the winners’ enclosure for Le Romain since capturing the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (beating Chautauqua in a thriller) back in March 2017, but the now 6YO has hardly been disappointing. Indeed, the 10 starts between drinks having included five seconds (four of those at Group 1 level), a third in the Doomben 10,000 and a fourth behind Trapeze Artist in the TJ Smith, again at Group 1.

Complicating matters, Le Romain had a serious colic attack last year and had to be operated on for a twisted bowel: quite often a death sentence for our four-legged chums.

“It was lucky they picked it up so early and operated on him straight away,” explains Mark Carusi who, with brother Anthony, bred and part-owns Le Romain.

“Le Romain has had his share of bad luck along the way…he drew really badly in the Doomben 10,000 and finished less than half a length from the winner (English), and was then beaten a lip in the (Group 1) Kingsford Smith Cup.”

Le Romain has currently won seven of 27 starts with 13 placings for $2,792,075 in stakes, with his other Group 1 successes being the Randwick Guineas and Cantala Stakes.

Following Saturday’s Show County win, there is considerable talk about Le Romain being offered a slot in October’s $13 million The Everest.
“It would be terrific if he got a run in the Everest,” Carusi points out, “but we’re not pushing for it. I’d like (trainer) Kris (Lees) to run him in the ($1 million Group One) Epsom Handicap (over 1600m at Randwick on 29 September)

Concreters by trade and based at Camden in NSW, the Carusis keep their mares at Laurie McCarthy’s Greta West Stud in north east Victoria which is where Le Romain’s dam, Mignard, normally resides.

Purchased by the Carusis for $18,000 at the 2009 Inglis Spring Thoroughbred Sale, Mignard – a winning Strategic mare from the family of Champion 2YO Black Shoes – was sent to former Darley Northwood stallion, Hard Spun (63 stakes winners) in the spring of 2011. The resultant foal … Le Romain.

“I loved Hard Spun … he was a terrific stallion and wish he was still standing in Australia,” Carusi adds.

“Le Romain’s half sister, Isabeau, only had the one start for us, while the 3YO out of the mare, Mikuro (by Kuroshio) was passed in for $140,000 on the Gold Coast last year and has since placed in two of her three runs. The full sister to Mikuro – Mbappe – is now a 2YO and will be raced by us too and the same goes for the Exosphere filly foaled last year.

“Mignard is in foal to Frosted and will be heading off to Astern this spring.”

The Cockram name is famed in the Victorian thoroughbred breeding industry…and a rather talented horse is helping to keep that name in lights.

The Tony McEvoy trained 6YO Dollar For Dollar won the Group 3 David R Coles AM Spring Stakes at Morphettville on Saturday and his breeder Bill Cockram was thrilled.

The gelding has been off the scene since early February when a disappointing 9th of 13 in the CF Orr Stakes, but his form leading into the Group 1 sprint was hard to fault with four successive victories – culminating in the Group 3 Sandown Stakes – followed by placings in the Chester Manifold and Barton Stakes.

McEvoy has confirmed that Dollar For Dollar’s major spring targets are likely to be the Group 1 Memsie Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield in a fortnight and possibly the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes – also over 1400m at Caulfield – on 22 September.

Rider Jamie Kah, who so skilfully steered Dollar For Dollar to the finish line in the Spring Stakes and has been on board for the last five wins, is also a huge fan. Indeed, the race commentator went so far to suggest Kah loves the horse more than her boyfriend, which no doubt left said boyfriend with mixed feelings (hopefully he took a decent swipe at the $4.40).

“He (Dollar for Dollar) makes me so emotional … it doesn’t matter what sort of race he wins, he just puts his ears back and tries even harder when the pressure comes on,” Kah enthused. “He’s the cheekiest little horse … no other horse gives 150 per cent. He’s come back amazing.”

As for Bill Cockram, whose father, Ted, has retained a share in the horse, he’s quite the disciple too.

A son of High Chaparral from the Group placed Encosta de Lago mare Pretty Penny, Dollar For Dollar is a half-brother to five other winners including Group winners Sertorius and Clifton Red and was bred at Cockram’s Shadow Glen Stud in Victoria.

“That was a terrific run on Saturday and he looks like he’s come back better than ever,” Cockram pointed out.

“I’ve liked this bloke since day one: Dollar For Dollar actually foaled down at 10am, which is unusual for mares given the majority are born in the dark of night.

“Our farm manager Brett Bennet and I were there when Dollar For Dollar’s dam Pretty Penny began foaling and it quickly became apparent that it was going to be a difficult birth. It was really touch and go there for a while and we could well have lost Dollar For Dollar.

“What a stunner he was though when he came out … these four white socks and a blaze.
“Right from the word go he was full of himself … always confident and more than a little bit naughty. He was constantly rearing up on Pretty Penny’s back and giving her hell.

“What’s more, he took full advantage of his good looks to lure in unsuspecting visitors, only for them to walk away with the colt’s trademark teeth imprints on their arm after trying to give him a pat!

“I put a lot of time into the colt and while he was always a handful – not to mention mouthful – he was also highly intelligent.

“When Dollar For Dollar was a yearling – and this was a long time before our yearlings were being prepped for sale – Tony McEvoy visited the farm and he fell in love with the colt. He left with a 50% share.

“Dollar For Dollar showed great promise from early on but needed plenty of time to mature (making his debut at Gawler in April 2016 as an autumn 3YO).

“Having that patience though is rewarding us in spades.”

Dollar For Dollar has now won eight of his 16 outings, with a further three placings for $380,695 in stakes.

The Cockram family ties to McEvoy go even deeper with another strong connection via the stable’s dual 2017 Group One winner and spring hopeful, Hey Doc.

“We raced Noble Glow, Hey Doc’s granddam, with Tony (McEvoy) and also bred and raced Hey Doc’s dam, Heyington Honey,” Cockram explains.

“She was a very quick horse Heyington Honey but had some problems. Turned out to be quite successful in the breeding shed though!”

By Matthew Stewart. Reproduced from the 2018 Inside Breeding magazine

There is a touch of “unfinished business” about Blue Gum Farm’s quest to resurrect the stud career of Manhattan Rain, and everything is falling into place.

When Philip Campbell reflects on Blue Gum Farm’s greatest equine loss, and then leaps forward almost two decades and contemplates a star recruit, he chuckles that “it’s funny how things turn out”.

In 2003, Blue Gum lost its rising megastar sire Encosta De Lago because the great horse had, simply, become too big for Victoria.

“He’d have been here forever if only he hadn’t become Encosta De Lago,’’ the farm’s owner Campbell said, capturing the irony nicely.

So Encosta De Lago was trucked from the iconic Euroa farm to Coolmore Stud in the Hunter Valley where he would become arguably the greatest Australian-bred sire of all time. His progeny, with 114 Stakes winners, including Alinghi, Chautauqua, Racing To Win and Sacred Kingdom, would win almost $180 million around the world.

Fourteen years on, and in a case of spectacular timing—another month or two may have been too late—Encosta De Lago’s gifted and royally bred son Manhattan Rain was loaded on a truck at Arrowfield Stud, not far from Coolmore, and was on his way to Blue Gum.

Campbell can now laugh about his near miss; the inability to stump up the $1.5 million Coolmore had attached to Encosta De Lago at the end of his glittering racing career. “I wish to God we’d had the money, but we didn’t, but they (Coolmore, who owned 50 per cent) were keen to stand him here and we were glad to have him,’’ he said.

“It wasn’t long before he was worth $40 million. But that’s the way it goes.’’

There was an exciting symmetry between the legendary father and the promising son, Campbell said.

The extremely versatile Encosta De Lago—who retired from stud duty in 2015, aged 21—had the ability to sire a precocious 1200-metre Blue Diamond winner (Alinghi in 2004) and a 2800-metre VRC St Leger winner (Order Of The Sun in 2014) and Manhattan Rain is doing similar things,’’ Campbell said, referring to Manhattan Rain’s recent VRC St Leger winner Runaway and last year’s Golden Slipper (1200m) heroine, She Will Reign.

“We think he has a very bright future. To get a really good son of Encosta, it’s just so exciting.’’

Manhattan Rain’s first Blue Gum-era foals will drop this spring—off his career-biggest book of 112 mares at a fee of $19,500 (inc. GST)—20 years after the first progeny of Encosta De Lago did the same.

Encosta De Lago retired to Blue Gum a Group 1 winner of the Vic Health Cup (1400m, Caulfield) from only eight starts for Lee Freedman, and there was initially lukewarm expectation for the son of Fairy King (USA), which was reflected in his middle-of-the-road (for Victoria) first-season service fee of $8500 (inc. GST) in 1996-97.

Seven years later, around the time the truck pulled away from Blue Gum bound for the Hunter with its expensive cargo, Encosta De Lago’s fee had leapt to a then Victorian record $38,500 (inc. GST) and in future years would skyrocket to peak at $302,000 (inc. GST) in 2008.

Campbell remembers the call from Coolmore’s Michael Kirwan, who explained that Danehill’s death (in 2003 in Ireland) in a paddock accident had left Coolmore without a flagship—and just one possible successor.

“Oh, it’s all very vivid. I remember Michael informing me that (Coolmore principal) John Magnier would ring me personally. It was their call. They owned the controlling interest in the horse and he was on the verge of superstardom at the time, at about the same level as a horse like Pierro now,’’ he said.

“But we have great pride in what we achieved with him, as well as what he went on to do. His greatest number of Group 1 winners came when he was here, with a far less commercial band of mares. He was a remarkable ‘upgrader’ of mares.’’

As a high-class son of Encosta De Lago, Manhattan Rain had always been in Blue Gum’s sights and “we made a really strong pitch” after Manhattan Rain retired in 2010 as a Group 1 AJC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m, Randwick) winner and a Golden Slipper, Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate placegetter (beating all but fellow three-year-old So You Think in 2009).

He was also a half-brother to Redoute’s Choice (by Danehill (USA) from Shantha’s Choice, by Canny Lad), the champion colt bred and raced by Sri Lankan businessman Muzaffar Ali Yaseen. A majority share in Redoute’s Choice was sold to Arrowfield where he became three-time Australian champion sire and breeding arch rival to Encosta De Lago for more than a decade.

“Mr Yaseen had a strong connection to Arrowfield via Redoute’s Choice and Manhattan Rain went there instead. We were disappointed but we got another shot,’’ Campbell said.

Early last year, Manhattan Rain was on the outer at Arrowfield. He’d had a nice string of Stakes winners, including Scarlet Rain, Wild Rain and Moonovermanhattan, and She Will Reign was winning her way towards the Golden Slipper.

But the Arrowfield bar had been set extremely high.

“Every year they’re getting these super sensational new candidates and it puts pressure on horses like Manhattan Rain (who had covered only 32 mares in 2016). They contacted us, we snapped him up in 24 hours,’’ Campbell said.

A few weeks later, She Will Reign won Australia’s greatest two-year-old race. “Ha, maybe we got lucky with the timing but I still think they were keen to find a Victorian home for him.”

Under Blue Gum’s banner, Manhattan Rain’s credits as a stallion have continued to rise: She Will Reign trained on to win the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m, Moonee Valley) last spring; the export Whisky Baron won a 2000-metre Group 1 in South Africa; and the stallion has found another promising local 2YO in Let Me Sleep On It (pictured left), who easily won the Listed Redoute’s Choice Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield in April, three days after Runaway won the St Leger at Flemington.

“He’s settled in beautifully,” Campbell said of Manhattan Rain. “He’s extremely fertile. He’s covered his biggest book ever. He’s a son of Encosta, a half to Redoute’s and his progeny are winning over any distance.

We’re happy.’’

So are Victorian breeders.

Cannons Creek breeders Carol and Norm Hassell likely could be heard from Flemington as they watch one they bred, Choisborder, secure yet another win for trainer Darren Weir on Saturday.

It was a third win from four starts and second metropolitan win in a row for the gelding bred nearby the shores of Westernport at the Hassell’s Shadowbrook farm.

“He was just a standout colt from the time he was born, and although he could be a bit of a lad, we always had very high hopes for him,” Carol Hassell said.

“Although I couldn’t be at the track (on Saturday) as we were busy working the horses at home, I was watching and screaming all the way down the straight. We are just so pleased to see him winning so well and so convincingly.”

Out of the Royal Academy mare Borderline, Choisborder was originally sold for $280,000 through the Musk Creek Farm draft at the 2016 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale to Hong Kong buyers.

He entered that same Oaklands Junction sales ring in June for the 2018 Great Southern Sale where he was purchased by his trainer.

“We bought him as a tried horse for only $34,000, so he is now quite a bargain,” Weir said post-race at Flemington.

“As he wasn’t suited to go to Hong Kong for his previous owners, they wanted to move him on and having previously trained him, I thought he would be a fun horse to stay involved in. So I got a great bunch of mates involved and they have had a dream start.”

Carol is full of praise for Weir, noting that finding the right trainer is half the battle.

“We are fortunate he went to a good stable, as he has had every opportunity to reach his potential. Darren has been very patient with him,” Carol said.

“He is showing his versatility, having won on three very different tracks across two states…the win at Flemington proves he has mentally matured. Let’s hope there is more to come and maybe a very exciting spring ahead!” Carol said.

Carol and Norm have built up a small commercial band of mares over the last couple of years and have more recently been selling their yearlings under the Shadowbrook banner with success.

“I started dabbling in breeding about four years ago and enjoy preparing them myself,” Carol said.

“Borderline (dam of Choisborder) has been a wonderful broodmare, already producing the stakes performed filly She’s Miss Divine (Show A Heart). I sold her Zoustar yearling this year under our banner to Tony McEvoy at (Inglis) Premier for $180,000. I have heard that she is doing everything right, so we are excited to see her debut on the track.

“Borderline also has a three-year-old by Shamus Award called Which Ever Way with John Salanitri that is yet to debut. We gave her a year off last season, and she will be heading north this season to Flying Artie for an early cover.”

“We have two going to Premier next year, a Dundeel Colt out of Fast Gal (Fastnet Rock) and a Written Tycoon filly out of Dubai Me Roses (Cape Cross). We sold her full sister at Premier this year for $250,000, which was a great result, and I hope this yearling will be just as popular.

“We try to keep our mares in Victoria and support Melbourne Premier as much as we can. We would love to breed more down here.”

Shadowbrook has extensive pre-training and spelling facilities including a modern water walker

Shadowbrook is a 50-acre undulating pastured property. As well as the breeding side of things, the Hassells also offer pre-training, water walking and spelling facilities. Leading trainers including Jason Warren, Peter Gelagotis, Steve Richards and Mick Price are amongst their clients.