The long trip home from Oaklands to Cranbourne can be a bit of drag at any time, especially when Melbourne’s roads choke up for no apparent reason.
Cranbourne trainer Greg Eurell was headed home and feeling quite pleased with himself after paying $150,000 for a Street Boss filly at the 2019 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale.
It was a filly he’d picked out – from Blue Gum Farm’s draft – and one he really wanted with a budget of $150,000 for stable client Tom Coen.
But Eurell knows that all too often you don’t get what you want.
As he idled onto the Bolte Bridge he answered his phone and the caller introduced himself as the breeder of the horse, Neville Duncan from Western Australia.
The name was familiar and so it should have been, as Duncan bred and raced Northerly, a gelding whose two Cox Plate victories were among his nine Group 1 wins. And then there was there was another one he’d bred and raced, Marasco, also a multiple stakes winner.
Duncan and his wife Susan’s Oakland Park Stud, through Blue Farm drafts, sold sale toppers Ducimus (Snitzel x Beauty World) for $700,000 at the 2016 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale and got $725,000 for a Snitzel x Jestajingle at the 2020 sale.
Duncan freely offered his thoughts on the filly, out of the Contract Racing bred Riptide (Exceed and Excel x River Express), as Eurell listened intently.
“The fellow who bred her, Neville Duncan, was very confident that she would get over a bit of ground,” Eurell recalled.
“I remember when I spoke to him and I’d left the sales and I was on my way back home and a phone call came up and I was right on the Bolte Bridge.
“He said it’s Neville Duncan and I just want to have a chat to you about the filly and I’ll tell you one thing and he said whatever distance you get up to and if that doesn’t seem to work, go further.
“It was an interesting thought and certainly everything we are doing with her, I’d be surprised if she couldn’t run 2000m.”
Eurell chuckled when he said he couldn’t dispute what Duncan had achieved in breeding with his horses, especially with the famed Northerly and Marasco.
“I thought there is no going against what you say because you know the caper,” he said.
The filly, named Ripper Rita, won the VOBIS Sires Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on Saturday, and now has her sights set on the Australasian Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville on May 1.
Eurell said the race for three-year-old fillies had always been the target.
“Ideally we’ll head to Adelaide for the Australasian Oaks and that’s been the target all the way through and fortunately these races have worked out well to get us there,” he said.
“You couldn’t have scripted it any better at the moment and it will be a good exercise to see if she can run the 2000m.”
While Eurell said he wanted the filly for Tom Coen his family, there was a budget to consider.
“He told us his budget and she was our target and to be honest I thought she’d probably go for more, just being the type of filly she was,” Eurell said.
“It was incredible on how sort of things work out. I think I had my bid and she was rocking along pretty good and I wanted to make sure I hit the $150,000 and luckily that was their reserve and that was our budget and it all worked out.
“Honestly I thought she’d be around the $200,000 bracket and I was absolutely thrilled. When I first saw her in Phil’s (Phil Campbell’s Blue Gum draft) draft she just grabbed me straight away.
“Just a nice horse with a lot of scope about her and for a big filly she as very well developed and very well balanced.
“We probably could have squeezed another hand up. If she’d gone over $160,000 we would have pulled the pin. She was just one that we kept going back and having a look at all the time and you’d love to be taking her home and fortunately it happened.”
Eurell is big supporter for Darley’s Street Boss who he said is “flying” and can produce a little bit of everything which he says makes him a great stallion.
“And he is good value and no doubt they’ll capitalise on his efforts over the past 12 months,” he said
“He is a nice horse and he throws good sensible horses and they are good horses to train and it makes the job a lot easier.
And breeder Neville Duncan says that although he bought Riptide In foal to Street Boss, he’d sent mares from WA to Victoria probably five years in a row to support the stallion. onHOnest
“It takes a while to get them onto the track. The fourth year you use the stallions, you have only just got horses that are starting to run,” he said
“I have shown a lot of faith in the stallion and he’s punched way above his weight.
In his early days in Victoria, he wasn’t supported strongly and I was trying to find broodmares in the early days to foal to him and I couldn’t find one that would be an upgrade.
“On a lot of parameters he is good stallion but I use other parameters. I do a lot of homework on who the mares are and where they were raised and when you factor in a book like he got in the first four years or so and then you factor in some other stallion around the place that’s just been sold to stud for $40 million or whatever and you look up the mares they’ve got and you go you’ve got no chance really. To punch above you weight like he has, his upgrades are remarkable.”
Riptide produced Frost David (Frosted) which is an unraced two-year-old for which was sold by Duncan in Melbourne as a weanling for $80,000 but is now in Perth.
“We bought two mares after about the third year of Street Boss at sales across Australia and we were sourcing mares which we thought was an upgrade but they were few and far between,” Duncan said.
“And then we sold Riptide in foal to Demerit and it’s since gone to an American owned stallion (Vino Rosso at Spendthrift).”
Duncan admits that he “hates” sending his broodmares all the way to Victoria because of the travel but sent 15 in 2019 but was obviously restricted because of COVID last year when they sent four to Darley to be served by Blue Point and three to Frosted.
“In 2015 it was most of our mares as we’ve only got 25 and I’m always upgrading them,” he said.
“The travel is a big ask.
Duncan his wife Susan own and operate Oakland Park stud where they also stand two stallions – Sessions (Lonhro x Seances) and King’s Troops (Redoute’s Choice x Royal Snippets.
Sessions, whose oldest progeny are four-year-olds, has an amazing 75 per cent winners to runners strike rate which Duncan said is amazing for a young stallion.
And Duncan also gives an interesting insight when he looks at the record of some stallions and says he eliminates from the statistics the big prize money from races like The Everest, or massive prize money won by one horse like Winx.
He said it gives a better reality rather than one horse “tweaking” the statistics.
“If I am doing figures I will eliminate those big races from the stats – but it would be nice to win one,” Duncan said.
Duncan said they race by default – the ones they can’t sell, plus they lease out a few fillies which are out of their better broodmares.
And Blue Gum’s Phil Campbell said Ripper Rita’s half-brother Crown Prosecutor (Medaglia D’Oro) won the New Zealand Derby (2400m) on the Saturday before the filly went through the Premier Sale “so it was a pretty decent pedigree upgrade.”
“Ripper Rita was a bit rangy Street Boss filly and wasn’t a short coupled little sprinting type filly and Neville Duncan is very much into the genetic testing and what not,” Campbell said.
“And Neville always maintained that she was bred to be a nice middle distance filly and she has repaid Greg’s client really well already.”
Campbell has been the agent for Duncan for several years, and also looks after his broodmares when they arrive in Victoria, and has obviously had some excellent results for the WA breeder.