In a well-deserved victory for a sire who has promised so much, Prince Of Sussex not only showed up; he took out the inaugural running of the Showdown in brilliant fashion.
For Mornington trainer Matt Laurie, the $1 million-dollar Showdown race was always the Grand Final, and although the pressure was on, Prince Of Sussex certainly didn’t disappoint.
“I think he’s an extremely smart horse, and people would have seen that he worked only fair here on Tuesday, but he’s a game-day horse and you always feel there’s plenty left under the tank.” Matt Laurie said.
“They don’t always have to run time. They just have to turn up when it matters, and he does.” He said.
Challenged for favouritism by the highly spruiked Sartorial Splendor, Prince of Sussex was able to let his rival control the speed early, but on the home turn once jockey Michael Dee found some space, the talented two-old burst clear and left the field in his wake.
“I thought we were in a very awkward position,” he said. “He had to come back to the inside a little bit but once he found room, he picked them up so easily,” Laurie said.
Purchased for $145,000 from Swettenham Stud from the 2018 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sales, Laurie fell in love with Prince Of Sussex at first sight.
“This horse was a stand-out to be honest,” Laurie said on sale day. “I thought he was a $200,000-plus horse.”
One of my main clients Paul Dugan said he only had $80,000 to spend and fortunately, as it turned out, he had a little bit more, and he bought him for $145,0000.
“He’s an outstanding-looking horse, and it was just a matter of taking a punt on a first-season sire and for Toronado and what a start he’s had.”
Laurie said the horse was likely to be spelled for the spring with races such as the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas in mind.
“Being by Toronado, through High Chaparral, he should stretch out a little bit, and I know Peter Moody had a huge opinion of the mother (Il Diamante), who only had a limited career.”
The victory was a well-deserved triumph for the Nagambie’s Swettenham Stud, who stands the handsome son of High Chaparral, where Prince Of Sussex was conceived, foaled and reared on behalf of owner Chris Jackson.
Swettenham stud principal Adam Sangster was thrilled with the result of their race both for the farm and their stallion Toronado.
“He was always an outstanding foal, and there was much interest to buy him as a foal, but Chris wanted to take him through as a yearling,” Sangster said.
“The whole result is great for Toronado. He visited 168 mares last season, and he’s going to be even more popular next season, which will be his fifth season in Victoria.” He said.
“The great thing about this race is the Victorian breeders have contributed to it. There’s a lot of progressive young sires in Victoria.” He said.
“The Showdown is all about up and coming stallions and, while there were a lot of established sires with progeny in the race, a first season stallion has managed to pull off the big win.
“Toronado was a Group 1 winner at three and four in England, but was also unbeaten at two, which included multiple stakes wins, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Prince of Sussex trains on to Group success in the spring.
“Toronado got off to a flyer with his first crop in Europe for Qatari owner Al Shaqab Racing, producing 25 winners, five of them stakes horses.”
“That fourth season is notoriously tough for any stallion, but he ended up covering more mares than in years two and three. Trainers have loved the look of his yearlings and word gets around.”
Toronado stood for a fee of $22,000 in his first four years at Swettenham but given the popularity of his progeny at the sales and with winners such as Prince Of Sussex, he will stand for $27,500 in 2019.
Prince of Sussex is the second foal from winning Testa Rossa mare, Il Diamante, a half-sister to Group winner Montauk from the Tasmanian stake’s winner, Diamond Cove for breeder Chris Jackson.
“I’ve only got the one mare, Il Diamante, and she has two winners from two to race,” Jackson explains.
“I was a part-owner in Diamond Cove too, also trained by Peter Moody. I was keen to breed from her but couldn’t buy out the other partners, so I bought into her daughter Il Diamante which was also trained by Moods. She won a race, but had leg problems and, once retired, I managed to buy her out.
“She went to Equiano that first year and has been to Toronado ever since. I race the first foal, Algadon Miss (three from four) with several mates and she’s trained by Matt Laurie too.”
“We’re having a lot of fun with Il Diamante: she’s got a lovely weanling filly and will head back to Toronado on an early cover this year.”
“Prince of Sussex looked a cracking type from the moment I laid eyes on him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes even better over 1400 metres or a mile in the spring,” Jackson said.
“It’s very exciting!”
The Showdown is named in honour of champion stallion Showdown, who stood at Stockwell Stud at Diggers Rest between 1966 and 1983. He sired 46 Stakes winners, of which 13 were at Group 1 level including the Golden Slipper, Blue Diamond, Oaks and Derby winners. He was buried at Stockwell Stud in 1985 after his passing.