Participants at the Randwick Forum last week (TDN)
Many of the industry’s heaviest hitters came together at Randwick last week for the Australian Thoroughbred Workforce Development Forum, two days of robust discussion on the staff issues that are chipping away at the future of the sport.

It’s been a long conversation in the industry, the need to stimulate and secure a workforce. There aren’t enough trackwork riders, the hours are unsavoury, or everyday people lack the experience required for stud work… these are significant issues that racing and breeding operations face daily.

In an effort to tackle this, Racing Australia, in partnership with Godolphin and Thoroughbred Industry Careers (TIC), hosted a Thoroughbred Workforce Development Forum in Sydney last week, an intense two-day conference at Royal Randwick. It was an opportunity for industry-wide discussion on obtaining, training and retaining a racing and breeding workforce.

In attendance were some of the biggest names in the business.

John Messara provided a strong call to arms, and Greg Nichols and Myles Foreman were there for Racing Australia. Lindy Maurice represented TIC, and Vin Cox was there for Godolphin, while Katie Page from Magic Millions joined Lizzie Jelfs, Chris Waller, Ciaron Maher and Toby Liston, from Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, on a Day 2 panel.

International event rider Brett Parbery gave input on reaching out to the equestrian community, while Debra Briscoe was there for Tabcorp’s Wagering and Media arm.

In total, 80 participants appeared across two days of workshops and discussions, all of which aimed to create strategies to secure the industry’s future workforce.

The genesis of an idea

The inspiration for the event came from the UK in 2019, when Godolphin hosted a similar conference that gathered breeding, racing and education professionals from six countries.

In its wake came an intercontinental alliance, Together for Racing International (TfRI), which now serves industry stakeholders, job seekers, and educators and parents.

The pillars of the TfRI are education, community engagement and workforce skills, with participation and input from Australia, France, the UK, Ireland, Japan and the US. At its essence, the TfRI is a platform to showcase work opportunities within the racing and breeding industry, and the Godolphin conference was something of a revelation.

“The thing I love about this most is that it has brought six countries together to share ideas in an industry which, if we’re honest, is full of factions,” said ITV racing commentator Ed Chamberlin. “When those factions come together and unite, my goodness this is a powerful sport.”


Guests of the conference said the racing and breeding industries had enormous potential to offer a future to young people, and TIC’s Lindy Maurice was in attendance.

“The way we look after our staff, and the way we respect our future workforce, is really important,” she said.

Kidding around

Sydney’s event last week covered a broad range of industry issues, including the dearth of workers for both track riding and stud employment. While the former is a much-discussed issue, the latter is equally serious.

In Victoria, Toby Liston’s Three Bridges Thoroughbreds shrunk its operation just to alleviate a staff crisis. The popular breeder used to employ 15 people, but is today down to just 10.

“We had to shrink our business because we can’t find the right people at the moment,” Liston said. “Our problem at Three Bridges isn’t necessarily retention, it’s attracting people. The pool is diminishing.”

“Our problem at Three Bridges isn’t necessarily retention, it’s attracting people. The pool is diminishing.” – Toby Liston

Liston said this echoed right across the Forum at Randwick last week, with Chris Waller declaring that people just weren’t knocking on his door for work.

“Katie Page, she’s a very successful lady, and she said the industry was booming,” Liston said. “But she also said if we think it’s been difficult retaining and attracting staff this year, wait until next year. It’s only going to get harder, which was a bit frightening to hear.”


Liston is a board member of Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria, and he joined Page as a panellist last week tackling staff retention. He said her insight was spectacular, with her grounding in both retail and bloodstock. However, from his perspective as a breeder, he said one of the biggest hurdles facing the sport was its social licence.

“We need to get to the children with our messages,” Liston said. “There’s a perception among so many people now that racing is cruel. But there was also an analogy made that kids that go camping with their parents are three times more likely to go camping when they’re older, and I think it’s the same with horses. The experiences you get when you’re young will echo when you’re older.”

Crisis talks

Former jockey and licenced apprentice-coach Matt Pumpa was in the audience for the Workforce Forum. Pumpa made headlines earlier this year with the Lindsay Park riding school, an in-house program at Lindsay Park’s Euroa base which teaches existing staff the riding skills required to become work riders.

The school was an exceptional answer to the shortage of track-riders, with the program graduating its first set of riders in early March.

However, it’s not an easy model to replicate industry-wide, with Lindsay Park possessing a unique, all-encompassing setup that includes infrastructure and insurances, and Pumpa’s ticket to accredit new riders.

“The Forum was good because it discussed how to attract a younger community, and how we keep them,” Pumpa said.

“It talked about flexible work hours, working conditions and pay rates. It also spoke about these riding schools that people are talking about, but it all comes down to funding. There’s a lot of people who have tried to get that sort of thing off the ground, but it doesn’t get anywhere because of lack of funding.”

“(The Forum) talked about flexible work hours, working conditions and pay rates.” – Matt Pumpa

Pumpa’s motivation to attend the Sydney event was based on the Lindsay Park program, but he’s been in the business a long time across two continents (Australia and Asia), and the staff crisis isn’t lost on him.

“The trainers are concerned,” he said. “Chris Waller and Ciaron Maher, they spoke about it. But the whole thing was about creating pathways for staff, whether they want to ride trackwork or head down some other avenue within the industry. That particular part of it was very good, because not everyone wants to ride work. They might want to do something else.”

Singing from different hymn sheets

The Australian Thoroughbred Workforce Development Forum wrapped up its two days after lively discussion.

Project co-ordinator, Arrowfield’s Anna Power, said it was a success, with no personal agendas and a widespread acknowledgement that things have to be done.

“Most impressive was the participants’ collective understanding of the issues we face, and their willingness to share ideas and commitment to achieving real outcomes,” she said. “There is a growing recognition that the supply of racing’s wagering and entertainment product cannot be maintained much more without focus on the workforce.”

She added that the Forum was a vital step towards building the unified approach that was key to progress. However, there were varying ideas about the definition of unity when it came to the issue of ‘what next’.

Was it up to Racing Australia to adopt strategies, or did that fall in the laps of Principal Racing Authorities (PRAs)?

We have to remember that education is state-based in this country, by its very nature,” Myles Foreman told Sky Racing’s Bred To Win. “Within that context, we continue to look at what we can do as an industry, and Racing Australia’s role in that, to co-ordinate and bring people together where it makes sense to do so.”

Foreman said there were exciting things happening at a state level with the PRAs.

“The fact that it happens at a state level creates great outcomes, because we’re looking at it from different angles and achieving different outcomes,” he said.

But this wasn’t the opinion across the board.

“We can have as many meetings as we want, but if we’re not on the same page with a national collaborative approach, we’re wasting our time.” – Toby Liston

“For me, the goal from the whole couple of days was to have a national approach,” Liston said. “We need to have one nation, one body and one voice. For two days we spoke about the national approach, and then the last address basically said it was up to the states to look after their own education system within the industry. We can have as many meetings as we want, but if we’re not on the same page with a national collaborative approach, we’re wasting our time.”

Military approach

Lindy Maurice has long been a champion for this issue.

She created TIC with an eye on protecting the future of the billion-dollar racing and breeding industry, and her organisation, with limited funds, has been responsible for some of the brightest stars of the sport, mentoring and training close to 90 young people over the past two years into vital roles.

Maurice said there was no reason why the industry couldn’t look to existing platforms when it comes to tackling workforce problems, flagging Defence Jobs Australia as an example.

“Defence Jobs represents the Army, Navy, Airforce and Reserves, a one-brand platform for recruiting into the Defence Force,” she said. “Imagine how complicated that is, but they’re overseeing that the right people are recruited and that the educational pathways and development are available for many factions of the Defence Force. I’ve said many times that this is what we need for our industry from a marketing perspective.”

For Maurice, the strategy is simple, even if the execution of it is complicated.

“We just need to sell ourselves. Why not go out there with one voice and make it more powerful? It’s simple marketing, that’s the way I see it.” – Lindy Maurice

“We just need to sell ourselves,” she said. “Why not go out there with one voice and make it more powerful? It’s simple marketing, that’s the way I see it.”

Pressing on

The official wash-up from the Forum was that a collaborative approach was required, but it didn’t define whether that was national or state-based.

This isn’t a new thing in racing, or even in Australia generally, but it’s often a challenging one when it comes to tackling issues that affect a nation-wide industry.

Nevertheless, the Forum recognised a great cross section of many key topics in its two days of robust debate, including career pathways, staff registration and horse population data, and also diversity and inclusivity within the workforce.

Additionally, it flagged perceptions of the sport and a need for consistent marketing.

The working group, which comprises Racing Australia, the PRAs Racing NSW, Racing Victoria and Racing SA, plus Godolphin, TIC and Arrowfield Stud, will meet once again this week in a further effort to bring together the content, ideas and information shared at Randwick last week.

Article courtesy of TDN

Widden Stud take great pleasure in announcing the service fees for all 21 stallions on our 2021 rosters in both NSW and Victoria.

Topping the list is our powerhouse champion sire Zoustar, whose stocks have clearly been on the rise this year.

With his oldest progeny now five year-olds, Zoustar has built a formidable record as the sire of 22 stakes winners – 15 of them Group winners – worldwide with over 200 winners amassing in excess of $40 million in prizemoney.

His flagship performer being Champion 3YO Filly Sunlight, who was sold as a breeding prospect last year at the Magic Millions National Sale for $4.2million.

The sire of over 110 Australian winners of more than $10million in prizemoney this season alone, Zoustar has sired 13 stakes-winners worldwide since August 1 headed by Group I winning sprinter Zoutori and Group II winning juveniles Lightsaber and Glistening.

In the sales ring, Zoustar has hit new benchmarks in 2021 recording his highest overall average price across all sales with the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale showcasing 24 of his stock at an average of $390,625, while Magic Millions saw 51 yearlings average $288,922.

Zoustar has also had three yearlings this year sell for $1million or more with the colt from Lady Jivago fetching $1.25 million to become his highest-priced yearling to date.

In total, Zoustar has now had seven yearlings surpass the $1million mark and 46 sell for $500,000 and above, representing phenomenal returns for his supporters.

Zoustar stands at $154,000 inc GST.

Young gun Trapeze Artist produced stunning first foals last spring and is moving into the next exciting phase of his stud career with weanlings set to hit major sales in the coming weeks and months.

Written By’s first crop make their sales debut this year as he returns to his original fee of $24,750 in light of the continuing upward spiral of his sire Written Tycoon, whose champion son Capitalist is now the leading Australian sire of 2YO’s.

The Widden team eagerly anticipate the arrival of the first foals of Zoustars’s brilliant son Zousain, who completed the season with an impressive book of 188 mares last spring.

New recruits this year are dual Group I winner Russian Camelot (IRE) and brilliant speedsters Anders and Doubtland, who are all priced attractively, the latter pair similar in profile to their now retired outstanding sire Not a Single Doubt.

The ever reliable Nicconi has recorded 93 winners and progeny earnings of over $7.3m this season, his offspring highlighted by the world’s highest-rated sprinter in Nature Strip, who nailed a sixth Group I success when going back-to-back in the TJ Smith, a performance which saw his slot in The Everest confirmed.

Star Witness has enjoyed yet another bumper season, represented by nine stakes performers, including a quinella in the Magic Millions Guineas via Aim and subsequent Group I Newmarket placed Amish Boy, Group II winner Graff and Group III winners Explosive Witness and Threeood.

He has also had five juvenile winners this season including stakes-placed Swift Witness, Rhapsody Rose and the very promising debut winner Valuable Witness.

Reigning champion Victorian based sire Magnus occupies ninth position on the Australian sires table with 98 winners this season, including Group I winner Streets Of Avalon, while Bel Esprit continues to add to his tally 740 winners and $77m in progeny earnings.

Fiorente (IRE) notched his sixth stakes winner recently with the exciting 3YO Liqueuro, who looms as a leading fancy in the Group I SAJC South Australian Derby.

Champion 2YO National Defense (GB) had his first runner place second over 900m at Keeneland earlier this month, while dual Group I winner Palentino has a host of promising performers ready to hit the track.

Widden Stud NSW all prices inclusive of GST

ZOUSTAR $154,000
WRITTEN BY $24,750
ZOUSAIN $19,800
NEW ANDERS $16,500
SUPIDO $8,800
YOUR SONG $8,800

Widden Stud VICTORIA all prices inclusive of GST

NICCONI $27,500
MAGNUS $15,400
FIORENTE (IRE) $11,000
THRONUM $7,700

Wandjina, standing at Larnuek Stud in 2021

Boasting a top 20 strike rate, Snitzel’s Group 1 winner, WANDJINA, will stand at Victoria’s Larneuk Stud this spring.

With just three crops of racing age, Wandjina can lay claim to the likes of last season’s Group 2 winning 2YO Mamaragan, Kris Lees’ 5-times stakes placed winner of 7 in Wandabaa, the Group 2 placed pair of Express Pass and Rocky My Wand, along with black type 2YOs such as Deep Chill, Grand Scholar and Wanaroo, third on debut behind this season’s unbeaten 2YO, Tycoon Humma.

Notably, Mamaragan finished third to Farnan (now standing at $55,000) in the Group 1 Golden Slipper and followed up with another placing behind King’s Legacy (new to Coolmore) in the Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes.

For the current season Wandjina has produced a superior winners-to-runners hit rate (for 100 or more runners) than Exceed And Excel, Pierro, Lonhro, Medaglia d’Oro, Redoute’s Choice, More Than Ready, Street Boss, Not A Single Doubt and co.

With Wandjina yearlings selling up to $150,000 in 2021, the stallion is a particular favourite among Victorian buyers with Robbie Griffiths, Kavanagh Racing, Nigel Blackiston, Patrick Payne, Byron Cozamanis and Ken Keys all snapping up his youngsters in the last two years.

Testimony to his immaculate conformation and athleticism – something he’s not shy of throwing to progeny – Wandjina was sold as a yearling for $1 million and, racing out of the Gai Waterhouse stable, won by over 3 lengths in Sydney as a 2YO before racing on a three with a rapid fire third behind Shooting To Win in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas. In the autumn, Wandjina first won the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes, then the Group 1 Australian Guineas, before capping his career with a lip second to Dissident in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (beating home Chautauqua).

Among 108 stakeswinners for the all conquering, Snitzel, Wandjina is a half brother to three stakeswinners, including Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint hero, Inspiration, and is out of a half sister to Group 1 winning sprinters Masked Party and Festal, while close relations include Champion 2YO and Group producing sire, Dracula, Group 1 winner and sire, Complacent, and Group 1 NZ Oaks winner, Miss Sentimental.

Standing at a fee of $8,800 inc. GST, Wandjina’s joins Fastnet Rock stallion, Cluster (sire of this season’s brilliant 2YO, Rocket Tiger) and first season sire, Wolf Cry, who is off to a flyer with Group 2 placed, Wolves and Doomben 5.5 length winner, General Wolffe, among his first three runners. Both Cluster and Wolf Cry stand at a fee of $6,600 inc. GST.

For further information on Wandjina, Cluster and Wolf Cry, phone Neville Murdoch on 0418 105 706.

Mr Exclusive and jockey Beau Mertens, after winning the Dexion Victoria Handicap at Caulfield, April 24, 2021. (Scott Barbour/Racing Photos)

After a series of lengthy spells caused by setbacks, the Matthew Brown-trained Mr Exclusive finally broke through for his maiden city victory at Caulfield last Saturday.

The son of Victoria’s Widden Stud stallion Magnus, Mr Exclusive’s win came nearly two years after the Cranbourne trainer thought the now five-year-old would have the ultimate success in town.

Mr Exclusive was bred by the Brown family, well known for their sawdust and wood shavings business, and is out of their mare Purple Butterfly (Commands x Zaraffa) which they bred and raced.

“We raced the mare and kept after she’d finished and we still breed from her,” Brown said.

“Mr Exclusive even as a weanling you could just tell that he was a bit of a standout compared to the others, and he grew into a pretty good looking horse and always gave the impression straight away that he was going to be a nice horse and after his first couple of gallops we knew he was going to be above average.

“His first race, which was at Caulfield, he was back last and wide and flew home and ran fourth in a pretty handy field and Dwayne Dunn rode him that day and said you’re going to have a lot of fun with this horse.”

Brown said that while the family liked to breed a few horses each year with the sole aim of racing them, they are mindful of the high costs that some stallions command.

“We quite like to breed and Magnus is good value for money and a good bread and butter stallion,” he said.

“We have got full sister to Mr Exclusive which has been weaned and the mare is back in foal to Magnus.

“We have got a handful by Alpine Eagle (High Chaparral x Zephyria).

“We have taken a bit of a punt on them but obviously the High Chaparral stallions aren’t doing much wrong at the moment and the way Alpine Eagle is stamping most of his crops at the moment, they are pretty impressive horses.

“We have one that has been broken in, the other half to Mr Exclusive is by Alpine Eagle and he has just gone back to the paddock and is going to be quite a big rangey type and is probably going to take a bit longer. He is not going to be a two-year-old type.”

Brown said the Magnus yearlings were quite expensive this year and ranged from $26,000 to $320,000 at Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

“He does a good job for the mares that he’s had throughout his career and he has never really had top quality mares but he just continues to produce winners,” he said.

“They are normally tough and have a bit of attitude about them which I like.

“I think we were originally getting him for $12,000 or $13,000 so it’s not a dear horse especially when we are selling a few shares to the other owners.

“We obviously only breed to race so we have to be realistic with what we spend and when you look at Magnus’ strike rate for runners to winners, it’s a very appealing price range for us to go to him.

“He has done a good job and if he’d got better mares earlier on, I think his stats would be even better.”

Brown said one of the first horses he bought for $14,000 when he got his trainers licence was Little Bita Spunk by Magnus and the gelding raced 32 times for five wins, seven seconds and five thirds.

The gelding won at Moonee Valley and was unlucky in a couple of other races in town, but Brown was forced to retire him after he won his last race because of arthritis in his joints.

“But he still had a couple races in him if he had stayed sound,” he said.

Brown said that while the family had five or six broodmares, they aim to breed about four foals a year. But they’d probably breed more next year as he’d gained a few extras along the way.

“We don’t mind but we’d like to go to better stallions but you just have to be realistic as to what you can afford and is not out of our budget,” he said.

Brown’s father Scott has a 70-acre horse property where his son trains from. Their horses spell there, and the broodmares and foals are accommodated at the back of the property.

Brown was a concreter and worked on a few horse properties around Cranbourne and it wasn’t long before a couple of the stables offered him a job which he said panned out well as work was slowing down.

“I took it up and that’s pretty much how it started,” he said.

“I ended up riding and getting my picnic licence to ride and started to proceed with my trainers licence and I sort of knew pretty quickly when I was doing the horses that I quite enjoyed it and knew that was the way I was going to head.

“And it sort of started with me pretty much doing a bit of everything, mucking out boxes of a morning and doing a bit of maintenance around the farm, harrowing the track and all that sort of stuff.

“And then one day they threw me a helmet and said ‘your turn’ and I learnt how to ride.

“I did 12 months of track work before I took out my picnic jockey licence and I did that for two and a half seasons riding at the picnics and then my trainers licence came through.

“I worked with the Bruntons in Tasmania for about four months and was offered a licence to ride over there professionally and I did think about it but I always knew I was going to be too heavy and that’s why I came home and got my picnic licence so I got get a few years in without really having to worry about my weight.

“I was looking after their horses when they were over here and then leading up to their carnival they said I could go over there and work for them.”

As for Mr Exclusive, Brown said there a couple of races coming up at Flemington – one over a 1600m and the other over 1800m – which he’d consider.

“We’d love to obviously win a Cranbourne Cup so whether he is going to be the right horse to get into the race, we’ll have a look at that.

“But at this stage he’ll probably go back to Flemington which he loves and see if we can get a win on the board there.”

With three wins, but six seconds from his 24 starts, the gelding was harshly rated according to Brown who said the horse was collecting good prize money for the minor places and also picking up too many rating points.

Mr Exclusive just got beaten in the 2019 edition of the Group 3 Sandown Stakes (1500m) and then he went out for a 21-week spell after having a wind operation. He came back in for one run but was then sent for another 29-week spell before returning for two runs, followed by another 20-week spell before resuming over 1600m at Caulfield on April 3 which was the lead up race to his victory last Saturday.

It was an emotional Brown who spoke after the race.

“He just missed out on winning at Flemington and Caulfield, when we thought he’d won, and here we are a year and a half later trying to win one in town with him,” he said.

“It’s been a long road and everyone has been patient.”

Brown said it was even more special for the family to have bred the horse.

“It’s been a tough couple of years with him,” he said.

“It was like a weight was lifted off the shoulders on Saturday.”

And Brown said he went into the race thinking it was winnable so he was surprised when Mr Exclusive started at $26 – but they got odds of $31.

“Everyone was pretty happy with that,” he said

Presentations after Mr Exclusive won the Dexion Victoria Handicap at Caulfield, April 24, 2021. (Scott Barbour/Racing Photos)


Royal Mile wins the Chairman’s Stakes at Morphettville (Atkins Photography) 

Mornington trainer and breeder David Brideoake, pulled rank on his family when he opted to send a daughter of one of his good race mares to stud.

Raven Protector (Hector Protector (USA) x Raven Runner) won six races for Brideoake who admitted her breeding record never matched her feats on the track.

Her six progeny to race – all geldings – won several races between them but never reached any great heights with one finishing his career at Alice Springs and the other in Broome.

Brideoake said the pick of Raven Protector’s foals was her only filly – named Street Blaze (Street Sense) – but she was unraced because of a shoulder injury.

“And much to everyone’s disgust and my family advisors, I decided that I wanted to keep a bit of the Raven family alive and so I bred Blazing Rebel (Rebel Raider) and the Danerich (Royal Mile), a Dandino (Dunalley) and I’ve got couple of Good Journeys out of Street Blaze which I also bred,” he said.

“Street Blaze was the biggest and strongest one, by Street Sense (Street Cry x Bedazzle), and I’ve got a bit of an affinity with those but she injured her shoulder and couldn’t race.”
Royal Mile, the second of Street Blaze’s foals, has been something of a revelation for Mount Gambier trainer Lee Creek who admits he just had to have the horse when offered as yearling in the Magic Millions Adelaide Sale by Brideoake.

The now three-year-old won the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m) earlier this month and backed it up by winning the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (2040m) at Morphettville last Saturday.

The gelding’s next assignment is the Group 1 $500,000 South Australian Derby (2500m) on May 8.

Creek admits he got Royal Mile cheap at $26,000 and from eight starts the gelding has had five wins and three narrow seconds for $181,230 in prize money.

Brideoake gave the now retired 21-year-old Raven Protector plenty of chances to produce in the breeding barn where she had foals by More Than Ready, Tale Of The Cat, Not A Single Doubt, Exceed And Excel, Choisir, Hard Spun, Street Boss and Street Sense. The mare also had encounters with Nadeem, Domesday, Von Costa De Hero and Reward For Effort.

The first foal Brideoake bred, and also trains, from Street Blaze is the now four-year-old Blazing Rebel (Rebel Raider) which started racing last year and is a last start maiden winner over 2050m at Wodonga in December. The mare’s third foal is an unraced Dandino two-year-old filly – and she has a yearling filly and weanling colt by Brideoake’s stallion, Good Journey.
Brideoake concedes that he might have to send Street Blaze to a better quality mare this year –possibly Darley’s Frosted.

“She has made her way from zero to hero,” he said.

“He (Royal Mile) was a nice big horse and I own a breeding right in Danerich and I’ve liked the horse all the way through and I just think the fellow (Lee Creek) has handled the horse beautifully.

“The horse has got pretty good stamina on the female side because Raven Protector was by Hector Protector.”

Hector Protector (Woodman x Korveya) won five Group 1 races in France – three at 1600m, one at 1400m and the other at 1200m.

“And Street Sense won a Kentucky Derby (2000m) so there is enough stamina there,” Brideoake said.

Brideoake said it was pleasing that he’d kept a filly that his good race mare produced and was happy to send her to Victoria’s Rangal Park stallion Danerich.

“And even though somethings fail for themselves, often something comes up,” he said.

“I guess I might send her to a good horse this year and I’ve got Frosted pencilled in.

“You are going to produce something that should sit well in the market place to sell.

“His (Frosted) numbers are fabulous.”

No-one is happier than Creek, who bought Royal Mile for his stable client, semi-retired farmer Rob Dycer.

“The Derby is only fifty fifty and I want to make sure he is fine and pulled up well and all the rest of it and I’ll make a decision on the weekend,” he said.

“He has always been a highly talented horse from day one. We’ve just plotted our path carefully and it’s certainly almost fallen into play.”

Royal Mile already boosts an impressive record and finished less than a length from the winners in his three seconds and has won from 1000m to 2040m.

“He has always shown that he had it,” Creek said.

“I always said to the owner that he looks like a 2000m-plus horse and we’ve taken him along slowly to get there.

“He was a pretty hot tempered, high energy yearling/two-year-old and he went straight from the sales to my breaker and he was gelded straight away.

“He had a lot of preparations as a two-year-old and was in and out. Then I think the light switch flicked and he just sort of rapt his head around it and away he has gone.

“He is an exciting horse.”

Creek said Royal Mile would head to Melbourne at some stage but if he races in the Derby he’ll then go straight to the paddock and says obviously a Spring Carnival program will be mapped out somewhere down the track.

“But he’ll definitely outgrow Adelaide fairly quickly, I’d say,” Creek said.

Creek told his owner Dycer, who was sitting next to him at the sales, that he thought the horse was a $60,000 or $70,000 yearling.

“He was by Danerich but was just a cracking type,” he said.

“He had good x-rays and everything you wanted in a horse.

“And I’ve probably got to thank David Brideoake for sending his mare to Danerich because I was always after another Danerich.

“I had a couple by Danerich and won a lot of races with them and when I saw a couple of them at the sales that year I thought I’d like to get another one.”

“I had a horse called Kill Bill (Danerich x Peony) that I won 11 with and she won a race for us on Warrnambool Cup Day,” he said.

“And they are just good bread and butter horses, but he’s never bred a superstar but Lord Of The Sky is probably the pick of them.

“But I just thought I wanted another Danerich and they are hard to find.

“The other Danerich I had, Kirvic, won five for me. A couple of guys from Penola, which is a town not far from here, only paid a couple of grand for her.

“She ran a dozen or so placings. They were no stars but just nice horses.”

Creek said Dycer was also involved with talented sprinter Casino Wizard (Any Given Sunday x Casino Nights), a multiple listed winner for the Mount Gambier trainer.

“He has been in bits and pieces with us for a few years,” he said.

“And he was always keen to buy a horse and race it himself so I have done a good job picking this one out for him.

“He is a pretty happy man at the moment and he is in his early seventies and his enjoying his time in his twilight years.”

Royal Mile had his first start in a three-year-old-plus maiden over 1100m at Penola last October when he notched up one of his three narrow seconds.

Creek said the horse had an excuse each time he’d been beaten, often because of drawing an inside gate. He also finished runner-up at his second start over 1000m at Naracoorte before breaking his maiden status at the same distance and track.

“He was the victim of drawing an inside gate and not being able to get out at the right time,” he said.

“He can’t keep running first and second all the time and we’ll see what happens as we go forward.”

And Creek has not hesitation in keeping apprentice Jacob Opperman on Royal Mile and he has been on the horse for all his races – even in the non-claiming ones.

He predicts Opperman, who is apprenticed to his father Jamie, will become the next Jamie Kah and said the youngster, who rode his first winner last May, had already had offers from some of the bigger trainers to go on loan.

“We’ll keep chipping away and see where we end up,” Creek said.

Mare and Foal at Bassinghall Farm (Bassinghall Farm)

Nutrition plays an extremely important role in how your mare and foal develop and can weigh heavily towards ensuring that the foal develops to its full potential and your mare is equipped to continue producing commercial foals long into the future.

Early Lactating Mare
Once you finally have your new ‘super star’ hit the ground, your mares’ nutritional requirements go into overdrive. Your newborn foal will be growing at 1-2kg per day. The mare will be producing up to 20 litres of milk per day to ensure the foal is receiving the right amount of nutrients. As a result, your mares’ energy requirement will be nearly double (175%), protein will be (220%), Calcium and Phosphorous increase to (270-280%).

It is nearly impossible for your mare to actually consume this amount of nutrients, so she will have to draw on body reserves to ensure she maintains milk production for the foal. This is why it is important to make sure you keep your mare in a good to moderately fleshy (CS3.5-4) condition score during the last trimester of pregnancy.

During this time, you may re-breed your mare. If she is in good condition with a well balanced diet, the chances of a successful conception on first return will greatly increase. Studies show incorporating certain nutrients such as selenium have improved conception rates in mares and fertility counts and sperm conformation in stallions.

Late Lactating Mare
For mares in late lactation which is generally termed from 3 months after foaling until weaning the mare will still have increased nutrient requirements compared with your ‘dry mares’. The mares’ energy requirements will be 150% of a dry mares requirements. Protein will be approximately 160%, so as will Calcium and Phosphorous. As you can see the nutrient requirements for Lactating and Dry mares are quite different. As a management tool separating your wet and dry mares will enable you to ensure that each mare and foal are fed to their requirements and not an average of both.

Correct nutrition of your pregnant mares and foals is an investment into the future of your up and coming equine athletes. Consulting your equine nutritionist to develop a feeding program for your whole stud is extremely important to ensure all your horses’ nutritional requirements are met. They will take into consideration what type and categories of horses you have, what quality and quantity of pasture and roughage is available at various times of the year and what supplementation may be required to ensure all your horses nutrient requirements are met in the most economical and practical way.

Visit and make use of our nutrition tools and calculators to find the right diet for your horse.

It has already been a big 2021 for Leneva Park, with its latest milestone the announcement of service fees for its two foundation stallions. We caught up with General Manager Mick Sharkie to discuss the road ahead for the burgeoning Victorian breeding operation.

There is a palpable sense of excitement in Leneva Park General Manager Mick Sharkie’s voice as he drives the highways of Victoria inspecting prospective broodmares to purchase to support the stud’s two stallions, Fierce Impact (Jpn) and Royal Meeting (Ire).

This week Leneva Park, founded by ambitious young businessman Luke Vandersluys as a pre-training business that has now evolved into a breeding operation as well, reached its latest significant milestone, when it confirmed the service fees for Fierce Impact ($16,500 inc GST) and Royal Meeting ($11,000 inc GST) for 2021.

With a strong strategy for growth in place, something Vandersluys has experience with in his burgeoning Countrywide Asphalt business, the time has come for the hard work to be done to ensure that both stallions get the right launching point.

With the prices up on the board, the nominations team are flat out fielding calls from prospective clients, while Sharkie is putting in the miles to assess potential additions to the Leneva Park broodmare band, with the advice of some key mentors very much in the forefront of his mind.

“If you are going to stand stallions, you have to recruit the right mares to send to them. That’s something that I’ve really learned with by friendship with Toby Liston and the Liston family, particularly what they’ve done in the past 10 years at Three Bridges,” Sharkie told TDN AusNZ.

“It was great to be a fly on the wall and sponge all that information off Toby, and experience that journey with them, not knowing that years later, we’d be in a similar position.

“It’s an exciting time but you need to get the method and strategy in place, without getting to caught up in that excitement.”

Along with the excitement, there is pressure for Sharkie and his team to deliver on that expectation and they are taking a ‘no stone unturned’ approach to getting the Leneva Park stallion brand off on the right note, particularly when it comes to foundation stallion, Fierce impact.

“That’s why we are doing the legwork, going around looking at these broodmares and doing the pedigree work and getting experts in that field to assist us to get off on the right foot. We want to make sure that in the first year, while numbers are important, it’s key to get the right type of horses,” he said.

“With Fierce Impact, there is enough exposed information here. There is a lot of pedigree work that has been done on Deep Impact to suggest that there are some really positive leads we should explore. Then when you look at the horse himself, you get an idea on the type of mare that will suit him.

“You do all that homework and you come up with a few ideas about the sort of mares to try. We want to make sure we give him every possible chance. For those who want to book mares to him, we want to have that informed conversation, so they can send the right mares to him. If we can get that part of it right, it will relieve a lot of the pressure.”

The discussion around Royal Meeting is a little different, as he has already served a season at the Seymour-based property under the Aquis banner in 2020. Leneva Park assumed the lease on the 500-acre property after Aquis stepped away from Victoria and elected to retain the Group 1-winning son of Invincible Spirit (Ire).

Sharkie believes that with the support of existing shareholders in the stallion, plus Leneva Park’s own mares, and repeat business from his first book of 88 mares, Royal Meeting is well-placed to take another step forward.

“We’ve had some good discussions with the shareholders in Royal Meeting and a lot of them are Victorian-based and they are keen to keep supporting him. They are also keen to know our plans with the horse and we are going to support him too,” he said.

That should mean Leneva Park will be quite active in the upcoming broodmare sales at Sydney and on the Gold Coast.

“There is not a magical number we want to buy, but we are a Victorian operation and in the future we want to support to the Inglis Premier Sale,” Sharkie said

“Magic Millions are amazing as well, and we sell in Adelaide and one day we want to have strong Gold Coast drafts, but I think starting out, the Premier Sale is the target we want to take.

“We are looking for mares that can get us there. We want to get into Book 1, with strong horses and really commercial horses. That’s the starting point for us in the short term.”

Sharkie also said it was important that Leneva Park wasn’t blinkered in its approach to breeding to sell.

“We haven’t got a huge amount of mares ourselves, so we have had to build those numbers. We are also very conscious we need to be breeding out, not just to our stallions, but also to other stallions as well, in Victoria and in the Hunter. We don’t want to have paddocks of Fierce Impacts and Royal Meetings. It’s important to have other stuff on offer,” he said.

Determining where Fierce Impact, a Japanese-bred, triple Group 1-winning miler, sat in the market in terms of price, was not a straightforward task, but there were some overall principals at play, according to Sharkie.

“The last fortnight we’ve had so many calls regarding Fierce Impact. As soon as peoples’ minds start turning to where they want to send their mares, or mares they want to buy at the upcoming sales, it ramps up,” he said.

“The owners had an idea that he’d be in between that $15,000 to $20,000 mark for a while now. We sussed out the market, we spoke to some breeders we respect, we spoke to auction houses and contacts and said this is the price we are looking at and they all gave us confidence that $16,500 including GST was the way to go.

“We don’t want breeders to have to think twice about it. We want it to be a no-brainer decision for them. First-season a proven performer at an elite level, a great pedigree and being by Deep Impact over an American sprint-mile family, we tick a hell of a lot of boxes. The last one we wanted to tick was value, and I think we’ve done that.”

Royal Meeting’s price of $11,000 (inc GST) is a carry-on from what he stood for last year at Aquis, but the challenge with him, given the environment he was introduced to the market at, is getting more people familiar with what he has to offer.

“Brian Byrnes, who has been retained by us from his time at Aquis, did a fantastic job of getting 88 mares to that horse last year given he arrived a week before the season, straight off the track, in the middle of COVID when nobody could really see him,” Sharkie said.

“We want to build on that. We want to make his second season a real statement. We want to show people what he looks like, that’s key. If you put a picture of Invincible Spirit next to Royal Meeting, baring a white sock, they are nearly identical.

“They are so similar in type. Their heads are almost identical. He’s like the physical clone of his sire. We know how well Invincible Spirit has done out of here.”

The success of the 2021 season will be a base off which Leneva Park will look to build from with a larger stallion contingent in the near future.

“I think if we can prove ourselves with these two this year, that gives the market really good positivity that we can add another one or two next year,” Sharkie said.

“The market tells you that it wants speed and they are the easiest horse to fill and from the perspective of the balance of the roster, it’s important to get that right. Adding a speed stallion in the next year or two will be important.”

Governed by the strategy for scaling the business put in place by Vandersluys, Sharkie will also seek the advice of key mentors in ensuring that growth is sustainable, bouncing ideas off close confidants like the Liston family as well as Anthony Mithen of Rosemont Stud.

“Having Mitho there as someone who came from a non-horse background has been great and what they have managed to do, albeit with a stronger budget than what we have got, is really inspiring,” he said.

“I’ve had some real open and frank conversations with Mitho about the mistakes that they made early days and your eyes are wide open to that. It’s similar with the Listons and Three Bridges. That friendship with that family, for me personally, has been invaluable.”

Leneva Park enters the stallion market at a very interesting time in Victoria, with the departure of Sun Stud and Aquis and uncertainty over Woodside Park, while Widden has entered the market and Yulong has significantly ramped up its game with the acquisition of Champion stallion Written Tycoon.

The flux in the marketplace is not something which concerns Sharkie, who feels it’s an exciting time to be involved.

“I’m a big believer that it’s better to have activity than no activity. When you have organisations like Widden opening an arm in Victoria, that speaks to the positivity and the opportunity in the Victorian breeding market,” he said.

“Then when you have a horse like Written Tycoon relocating to a relatively new farm like Yulong, that talks to the seriousness of Yulong and that they are here for the long term. That’s fantastic. It’s all very good for the Victorian market.

“We are aware that if those bigger guys are making noise and getting attention, it always flows on to all parts of the industry. That positivity only builds and it will benefit everyone.”

*Story courtesy of TDNAusNZ, 23.4.2021

Tagaloa ridden by Luke Currie wins the CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington Racecourse on February 08, 2021 in Flemington, Australia. (Pat Scala/Racing Photos)

Yulong Stud has announced the retirement of Blue Diamond Stakes winner Tagaloa (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), who begins the next chapter of his career this spring.

Outstanding looks and a quality pedigree earned Tagaloa a $300,000 price tag at the 2019 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, and he quickly compiled a racing career to match.

“Tagaloa exemplifies the ideal profile for an Australian stallion – he’s good looking, a Group 1 winner at two, trained on to win another Group race at three and is a complete outcross,” said Sam Fairgray, Yulong’s Chief Operating Officer.

Trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, Tagaloa made an early impression, winning his only trial before stepping out to place third in the Group 3 Maribymong Plate on debut. He then backed up with a win in the Strath Haven Preston 2YO Plate at Moonee Valley.

His 2-year-old season was headed by a dominant victory in the G1 Blue Diamond S. at Caulfield, beating home Hanseatic, Away Game (Snitzel) and Personal (Fastnet Rock). It was the second-fastest time ever by a 2-year-old over the track and distance since August 2007.

Tagaloa returned at three to win the G3 CS Hayes Stake in an exceptional performance, running a faster last 400m than G1 Lightning Stakes winner Nature Strip, on the same day.

He then went on to place in the G1 Australian Guineas, while other notable results included a second in the G2 Todman S. and fourth in the G1 Golden Slipper. He retires with a record of three wins and more than $1.4 million in stakes.

Tagaloa is the first son of superb Japanese stallion Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) to go to stud in Australia, and a major opportunity for Victorian breeders.

“To have a horse like him, a stunning physical and Blue Diamond winner with an international outcross pedigree, stay in Victoria is a massive vote of confidence in the local industry,” said co-trainer Trent Busuttin. “Yulong are leading the pack, setting the standard of new development in the Victorian industry.”

A son of two-time champion Japanese sire King Kamehameha (Jpn), Lord Kanaloa was Japan’s champion first-season sire in 2017 – siring 32 winners in that debut season, 12 more than his nearest rival. The two-time G1 Hong Kong Sprint winner has so far sired a total of 25 individual stakes winners, headed by the ten-time winner and twice Japanese Horse of the Year Almond Eye (Jpn).

Tagaloa is the first foal out of winning mare Vasilissa (Jpn), whose sire Heart’s Cry (Jpn) is best known in this part of the world for producing the breathtaking Cox Plate winner Lys Gracieux (Jpn).

Vasilissa is a half-sister to three black-type performers, headed by stakes winner Tricolore Bleu (Jpn) (Stay Gold {Jpn). Their dam is Penkenna Princess (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}), who won two races at two then trained on to win the G3 Fred Darling S. and placed in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas.

“We were impressed by his temperament as a yearling, this came through as an early 2-year-old and makes him a beautiful horse to deal with now,” said Busuttin.

“On type he’s a big powerful, striking colt. He’s got a lovely head, athletic physique and a great frame.”

At this year’s Inglis Australia Easter Yearling Sale, a half-sister to Tagaloa by Not a Single Doubt fetched $900,000.

Tagaloa will stand at Yulong Stud alongside Written Tycoon, Alabama Express, Grunt (NZ) and Yulong Prince (SAf), with fees to be announced this week.

Ripper Rita ridden by Jamie Mott wins the The VOBIS Sires Guineas at Caulfield Racecourse on April 17, 2021 in Caulfield, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

It is days like last Saturday that make Blue Gum Farm’s Phil and Patti Campbell proud of the results their operation continues to achieve.

Phil recently spoke of the achievements on Saturday of three fillies which went through Blue Gum’s draft at the 2019 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

“We had three, three-year-old fillies from our sale that year all salute, including Ripper Rita who won the $500,000 Vobis Sires Guineas at Caulfield; Tyche Goddess who won the Group 3 Auraria Stakes at Morphettville and a nice filly named Good Omens that Chris Waller has got, won the first race at Kembla Grange impressively,” Campbell said.

Tyche Goddess who bears the Pope family colours was part of Blue Gum’s 2019 draft (

Ripper Rita (Street Boss x Riptide) sold for $150,000, while Tyche Goddess (Teofilo x Cornelia Maria) was passed in just shy of her $100,000 reserve. Good Omens (So You Think x Emerge) was sold for $360,000 which was the fourth highest price paid for a filly at the sale. Both Tyche Goddess and Good Omens were bred in Victoria while Ripper Rita was bred in WA by long time Blue Gum Farm clients Neville and Susan Duncan.

Campbell also mentioned that Blue Gum Farm stallion Turffontein had a great day on Saturday as well with his Group winning daughters Fontiton and Fontein Ruby, who were both born and raised at Blue Gum before being sold as yearlings, providing the first two home in the two-year-old in Adelaide.

Generation, who is by Snitzel out of dual Group winner Fontiton (ex Personal Ensign), won the race while Carmen Lucia, who is by Fastnet Rock out of dual Group winner Fontein Ruby (ex Charming Ruby), finished second.

“The Turffinator also won well at Kyneton on Saturday for Turffontein, we just had a lot of fun results,” Campbell continued.

Tyche Goddess ran third in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes at Flemington last Spring but Campbell said the filly had had enough by the time she got to her next start, the VRC Oaks (2500m).

Tyche Goddess and Ripper Rita are both scheduled to run next in the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville, while Freedman Racing could also take last start Caulfield winner Agreeable (Sebring x Affable) that way. Agreeable was another offering by Blue Gum at Melbourne Premier in 2019.

“That 2019 draft has been an absolute ripper for us,” Campbell said.

“Last Spring’s Group 1 Coolmore winner September Run and Group 2 Sandown Guineas winner Allibor came out of it. From the 24 lots that we offered, 21 have started their racing careers, 13 have already won races and five of them are already Stakes winners. That’s 24% Stakes winners to runners.”

And with the likes of Ripper Rita, Agreeable and Good Omens looking to open their Stakes winning accounts, it seems a certainty that the results of the draft will only get better!

Ripper Rita ridden by Jamie Mott wins the The VOBIS Sires Guineas at Caulfield Racecourse on April 17, 2021 in Caulfield, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

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.

Connections of Ripper Rita after winning the The VOBIS Sires Guineas at Caulfield Racecourse on April 17, 2021 in Caulfield, Australia. (George Salpigtidis/Racing Photos)

“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.

Ripper Rita as a yearling when she went through Blue Gum Farm’s draft.

“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.

Ben Hayes with Finance Tycoon after winning the The Showdown at Caulfield Racecourse on April 17, 2021 in Caulfield, Australia. (George Salpigtidis/Racing Photos)

The success of the Victorian breeding industry was celebrated in spectacular style when Melbourne Racing Club hosted the sixth edition of the Victorian Owners and Breeders Day at Caulfield on Saturday.

The headline act of the day was the third running of the $1 million The Showdown (1200m) for two-year-olds, followed closely by The VOBIS Sires Guineas (1600m) for three-year-olds.

And about 48 hours later the industry was again celebrating with confirmation that arguably Australia’s best stallion – Written Tycoon – was on on his way back to Victoria after being acquired by Yulong.

The Woodside Park stallion had been on ‘loan’ to New South Wales for last year’s breeding season but his ambitious and surprise purchase by Yulong has returned him to where he made his name and belongs – Victoria.

It was only fitting that his Victorian bred son, Finance Tycoon, won last Saturday’s The Showdown for trainers Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes.

The Sires Guineas winner filly Ripper Rita, trained by Greg Eurell at Cranbourne, was bred by Western Australian breeder Neville Duncan who bred two-time Cox Plate winner Northerly and another champion, Marasco.

Ripper Rita was sired by Darley Victoria’s stallion Street Boss who continues to enhance his reputation with his consistency and big race wins.

Interestingly Ripper Rita, which was sold through Blue Gum Farm’s 2019 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale draft, and the colt, Finance Tycoon, were both $150,000 purchases.

Finance Tycoon added to Written Tycoon’s battle to reclaim the title of Australia’s Champion Sire 2020/21.  He currently trails Not A Single Doubt by less than $50,000.

The stallion’s return to Victoria capped off a big weekend for Yulong after their homebred filly Hungry Heart (Frankel x Harlech) made it three in a row with victory in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.  It followed her Group 1 win in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and the Group 3 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m).

Hungry Heart bred in Nagambie by Yulong wins the Australian Oaks (Steve Hart)

It’s also been a celebration for the Nagambie area where Yulong is based. As well as Written Tycoon now calling the town home, it was also the home and birthplace of Hungry Heart, while the outstanding son of Written Tycoon, Ole Kirk which was bred by Rick Jamieson’s Gilgai Farm, also based just minutes from Nagambie. He has now been retired to stud with two Group 1 victories alongside his name.

The Victorian Owner Breeders Breeders Race Day celebrated the success of the Victorian Breeding Industry with the emphasis on Victorian stallions and the lucrative VOBIS Gold scheme.

And that really is the pinnacle with Written Tycoon less than $50,000 off the top of the list.

Melbourne Racing Club chairman Peter Le Grand spoke glowing of the Victorian breeding industry and the Victorian Owners and Breeders Day when he addressed his guests at the committee room luncheon before Saturday’s races.

Le Grand welcomed guests to what he described as a special day for Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria – the sixth edition of the Victorian Owners and Breeders Day.

“And what a special race day it is,” Le Grand told guests.

“It is a very important meeting in our autumn carnival and has grown in stature over the years.

“We see the third running this afternoon of the $1 million The Showdown over 1200m.

“More than $2.7 million is on offer today in prize money and bonuses and enormous credit goes Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria.

“We salute you for the work that you are doing for Victorian breeders and for race horse owners in general.

“The Victorian breeding industry continues to go from strength to strength bringing to an economic impact of $193.3 million to the state of Victoria and that’s not to be sneezed at.”

Le Grand also outlined the following points to the guests which included many of Victoria’s biggest breeders.

  • More than 5,100 people are actively engaged in the breeding industry in Victoria – predominantly in regional areas – with 1,419 of those in full-time employment.
  • In 2020, 137 stallions called the state of Victoria home, which equates to 29 per cent of the industry’s stallion roster. In the 2020 breeding season, 3,410 thoroughbred foals were born which equates to 27 per cent of the total number of thoroughbred foals born in Australia.
  • Rosemont Stud’s Shamus Award is currently leading the Victorian sires table for the 2020-21 season, with Swettenham Stud’s Toronado – who sired Prince of Sussex – in hot pursuit in second place.
  • Widden Stud, the longest continuous family-run farm in the world, has announced that they will have a base in Victoria. Taking over the farm in Riddell’s Creek previously owned by Sun Stud, they are bringing with them both Nicconi, who sired six-time Group 1 winner Nature Strip, and Star Witness, whose progeny include multiple Group 1 winner Global Glamour. They have also announced multiple Group 1 winner Russian Camelot and Group 2 Danehill Stakes winner, Doubtland.

Le Grand said everyone should be proud of the Victorian breeding industry and he personally wanted to thank on behalf of everyone in racing, Thoroughbred Breeders Victorian chairman James O’Brien for his leadership.

“Thank you James to your committee and your CEO Charmein Bukovec for the work you do for racing and the breeding industry in Victoria,” he said.

As well as the return of Written Tycoon to Victoria there is plenty of excitement with the new boys on the block.

Written Tycoon will stand at Yulong this coming season (Bronwen Healy)

These include Hanseatic, a stakes-winning son of Street Boss formerly trained by Freedman Racing, who will stand at Rosemont Stud. He started favourite in last year’s Blue Diamond Stakes, but was beaten a neck by Tagaloa.

Darley Stud have announced that their unbeaten French champion Earthlight and Ghaiyyath, Godolphin’s multiple Group 1 winner who was the highest-rated horse in the world when he retired, will stand at their Northwood property in Victoria.

Yulong have announced that Yulong Prince, the horse which gave founder Yuesheng Zhang his first Australian Group 1 win in the Kennedy Cantala at Flemington, and the 2020 Blue Diamond Stakes hero Tagaloa, will both stand at the Nagambie farm.

Leneva Park will stand Matt Smith’s multiple Group 1 winner, Fierce Impact, who was sired by revered Japanese stallion Deep Impact.

The new stallions on the scene will only complement the established ones that breeders continue to support as they are offered an abundance of breeding options to suit their mares.

And there is no doubt that the Victorian Owners and Breeders race day held annually at Caulfield, will continue to highlight the best of the Victorian industry in the years to come.

Written Tycoon has won the Australian Sires Premiership (Bronwen Healy)

Yulong Stud is excited to announced superstar sire Written Tycoon will join its stallion roster this spring.

Australia’s leading sire of stakes winners and stakes wins this season – and ranked second by overall earnings, winners and wins – Written Tycoon adds proven star quality to an exciting young roster that features the Group 1 winners Yulong Prince (SAf), Alabama Express and Grunt (NZ).

Yulong’s chief operating officer Sam Fairgray is delighted by the acquisition, which takes the stud’s stallion line-up to a new level.

“Written Tycoon is one of Australia’s best stallions, it is an absolute privilege to welcome him back to Victoria, and have him join our roster at Yulong Stud,” said Fairgray. “We are greatly appreciative to Sheriff  Iskander for entrusting us with Written Tycoon in the twilight of a truly extraordinary career, where the best is yet to come.”

The winner of the G2 Todman S. in a racing career for his owner Sheriff Iskander, who has maintained his involvement right through to the present day, Written Tycoon began his stud career in 2007 at a service fee of $8,250, but his exceptional results soon brought a meteoric rise.

Australia’s leading first season sire in 2010-11, and leading sire of two-year-olds in 2015-16, Written Tycoon has sired a total of 625 winners from 842 runners to date.

His 42 individual stakes winners include Golden Slipper hero Capitalist, Blue Diamond winner Written By, and fellow Group 1 winners Ole Kirk, Pippie, Tycoon Tara, Music Magnate (NZ), Despatch, Tyzone, Booker, Odeum and Luna Rossa (NZ).

Many of his sons are now forging their own careers at stud, including leading first season sire by winners and Stakes winners Capitalist, Rich Enuff, Winning Rupert, Written By and Ole Kirk.

“Yulong is a young farm with major ambitions which have been backed up by major investment in infrastructure and bloodstock,” said Fairgray. “It’s a great outcome for Victorian breeders have Written Tycoon back in the State and further indicates Mr Zhang’s commitment to the Australian industry.

“Acquiring an elite proven stallion like Written Tycoon will give our quality young broodmare band every opportunity for success.”

Written Tycoon is the second new addition to the 2021 Yulong stallion roster following the announcement of dual international Group 1 winner Yulong Prince.

They join third season sire Grunt, who has his first crop of exceptional quality foals and popular CF Orr Stakes winner and second season sire Alabama Express.



Sam Fairgray, CEO

Ph: 0418 427 568

Troy Stephens, Nominations and Sales Manager

Ph: 0455 316 666


Luke Wilkinson, Bloodstock Manager

Ph: 0413 489 736

Multiple Group 1 winner Russian Camelot to stand at Widden Victoria (Racing Photos)

The dust has barely settled at the new home of Widden Victoria following the arrival of Nicconi and Star Witness at the Romsey property earlier this week, and already the Widden team are delighted to announce two exciting new stallions who will make their debut at the inaugural Open Day and the official launch of Widden Stud Victoria this Sunday.

True to their earlier statement that they anticipated growing the current roster, dual Group I winner Russian Camelot (IRE) and brilliant sprinter Doubtland will be joining the barn as the Widden Team announce their arrival in Victoria.

“We’re aiming to build a sustainable commercial roster of sires for the Victorian market that can satisfy the needs of a wide range of breeders and in Russian Camelot and Doubtland we have two outstanding prospects,” said Antony Thompson.

Russian Camelot is no stranger to making history, as Timeform’s highest-rated Australian 3YO of 2020 and the only northern hemisphere-bred 3YO to win an Australian Derby.

Russian Camelot is the epitome of an elite European style thoroughbred, but one that has proven his stripes in Australia under our unique training and racing conditions with great success.

“A winner from 1400 to 2500m, he was a Classic victor, a genuine weight-for-age champion and his profile suggests to us he could ultimately be a similar style of sire to So You Think.”

By highly regarded Sadler’s Wells line sire Camelot, Russian Camelot was purchased from the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale for 120,000 guineas with the specific goal of racing in Australia.

Trained by Danny O’Brien, Russian Camelot made history when winning the Group I SAJC Derby at just his fifth race start as a Northern Hemisphere bred three year-old, something that had never been done before.

He returned in the spring to run in only the best races, winning the Group I MRC Underwood Stakes (1800m) and placing in the Cox Plate, Caulfield Stakes and Makybe Diva Stakes all at Group I level.

His final appearance before injury curtailed his career was a gallant first up second in the $5million All Star Mile beaten just half a length by Mugatoo (IRE).

“I think he’s the best horse I’ve had anything to do with, particularly to do so much so early in his career,” said Danny O’Brien.

“He’s got charisma, if you’ve ever seen him close up at the races, he just looks the part. He is a horse that just turned up in any weather and under any conditions, gave his all and never let anyone down. He was just an outstanding racehorse.”

Russian Camelot retires a dual Group One winner with an overall record of four wins and five placings from 11 starts, with $2.3million in earnings.

“I felt his best racing was ahead of him up in Sydney this autumn and to next spring and beyond. There was always the expectation he was getting better,” added O’Brien

“I have no doubt he will have a significant impact on our industry for years to come through his stud career.”

Russian Camelot will be standing for a fee of $22,000 this season.

For broodmare owners looking for a stallion bred for Australian speed and precocity, Doubtland fits that profile perfectly.


Group 2 Danehill Stakes winner, Doubtland to join Russian Camelot at Widden Victoria (Bradley Photographers)

Doubtland was an undefeated two-year old, winning the Group III ATC Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) by four lengths and the Group II VRC Danehill Stakes (1200m) at three, before finishing fourth in the Group I VRC Coolmore Stud Stakes.

After being identified and purchased by Hawkes Racing for $1.1million at the Inglis Easter Sale, Doubtland was a yard favourite, with Wayne stating on record: “He’s the best-looking colt in my yard. Expensive, with a hell of a pedigree – he’s got two Golden Slippers (winners) in his pedigree. He’s the real deal, this bloke.”

“He was the most expensive yearling by Not a Single Doubt sold in 2019 and his win in the Kindergarten was by the biggest margin ever achieved by a colt in that race,” said Antony Thompson.

“The Ratings Bureau (Dan O’Sullivan) assessed his performance that day as superior to past luminaries that have won the race, including such as Astern, Hallowed Crown and even Bivouac.”

The highest rated 2YO by Not a Single Doubt to stand in Victoria, Doubtland’s brilliance and precocity on the track is an accurate reflection of his pedigree, which features not one but two Golden Slipper winners in Rory’s Jester and Ha Ha.

Doubtland is from a fast, running family with the first four dams producing 100% winners from foals to race indicating great soundness and natural talent being passed down the line.

Of Doubtland’s Danehill Stakes win, William Pike raved “It was electric. It was the way he did it. I had to angle for a run and he let down at the same time.”

Doubtland will be kicking off his stud career at a fee of $16,500.

Widden will also be offering shares and lifetime breeding rights for those interested in investing in the future success of these exciting prospects.

“We will have a full team of our staff on hand this weekend to discuss breeding plans and available options for the season ahead.” Thompson concluded.

Anamoe, sired by Street Boss won the Inglis Sires on Saturday. Street Boss has sired two fillies who will contend the VOBIS Sires Showdown this Saturday (Steve Hart)

Two Street Boss fillies are poised to lead Godolphin’s raid on the rich The Showdown (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

Following some extraordinary success in Sydney last Saturday, Darley – the breeding arm of the global powerhouse Godolphin – will hopefully be represented in the $1 million race by Victorian sire Street Boss’ Arcaded and Sliders.

With three victories from four starts, including a Group 3 and a Group 2 win, Arcaded is also entered for the Percy Sykes Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer James Cummings will make a decision on where the two-year-old runs in the next couple of days, but Caulfield is certainly a tempting proposition.

Arcaded, which is out of Lonhro mare Gloriette, is a last start winner of the Group 3 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill and had a 30 day freshen-up before a 1040m trial at Randwick last Friday where she finished third.

The filly is based in Sydney at the moment, while Sliders is at Cummings’ Flemington stables.

Out of Glissade (Redoute’s Choice), Sliders has raced four times for  one win over 900m at Newcastle and a second at Rosehill over 1100m. She was unplaced at her most recent start at Caulfield on April 3 in the listed Redoute’s Choice Stakes (1100m) when she was caught out wide. Glissade is the dam of Group 1 winning Flit.

Sliders also holds a nomination for the Percy Sykes Stakes, but is expected to stay at home for The Showdown.


There are several factors to take into consideration before deciding whether Arcaded will stay in Sydney or races in Melbourne. Cummings is expected to accept for both races and then make a final decision based on barriers and the composition of both fields.

But hopefully both fillies will be running in The VOBIS Sires Showdown.

Darley’s Andy Makiv said a definitive decision had yet to be made by Cummings.

He said Arcaded was obviously a very talented filly and also extremely valuable.

“Obviously she is nominated for both races and they are million dollar races,” Makiv said.

“And it’s up to James Cummings and the stable to determine where she runs and she is obviously in good fettle and ready to go on Saturday.”

Another Street Boss filly, the Greg Eurell trained three-year-old Ripper Rita also looms as one of the key players in the VOBIS Sires Guineas (1600m).

Last Saturday, Cummings prepared four stakes winners for Godolphin, including two at Group 1 level in Sydney.

Street Boss’ Anamoe won the Group 1 Inglis Sires Produce for two-year-olds which more than likely will see the colt eventually becoming another Darley stallion.

Makiv said with a couple of Street Boss’ nominated for The Showdown and one in the VOBIS Sires Guineas, it showed that the American stallion is in good shape.

“He is going really well and is a good stallion,” he said.

“With Arcaded and Anamoe, he is having a fabulous year. They are two very good two-year-olds and it is fantastic for him and he’ll warrant a reasonable fee this year. I haven’t worked it out yet.”

Makiv said that 100 mares caps out Street Boss who is currently in America on stud duties.

“We will stick to the same number but will probably charge more and I think that will be the key to him,” Makiv said.

Street Boss has shuttled to Darley in Victoria since 2009. His biggest book was in 2015 when he served 119 mares on a $11,000 service fee.

The son of Street Cry served 98 mares last season with a $27,500 service fee.

Scissor Step, bred by Hesket Bloodstock is ready to take on the VOBIS Sires Showdown (Racing Photos)

After running second in last year’s The Showdown with River Night, Flemington trainer partners Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra are back for another crack at Saturday’s $1 million race for two-year-old horses that were sired by VOBIS Sires-nominated stallions.

This time around they will saddle up Scissor Step for Hesket Bloodstock.

And there are plenty of similarities with River Night (Night Of Thunder x River Pearl) and Scissor Step (Toronado x Watch Your Step).

River Night was bred by David and Jenny Moodie’s Contract Racing, while Scissor Step was bred by Hesket Bloodstock, a breeding operation with the Moodies and Ashley Hardwick.

Scissor Step’s dam, Watch Your Step (Sepoy x Gypsy’s Best) was also bred by Hesket Bloodstock, while River Night’s dam River Pearl (Helmet x River Crossing) was bred by Contract Racing.

With one win and two thirds from Scissor Step’s three races – two at 1100m and the last one over 1000 when he finished third to the unbeaten Starry Legend in the VIOBIS Gold Rush (1000m) at Bendigo  – Zahra is confident Scissor Step will appreciate the 1200m of Saturday’s race at Caulfield.

“He hasn’t done much wrong and he has gradually improved,” Zahra said.

“Scissor Step seems to put himself in the race.

“After racing at Bendigo he went straight to the farm to just give him some time out of Flemington and to freshen him up a bit.

“He is a beautiful horse and did a lot of the bullocking the other day and a lot of the chasing and the 1200m, is going to probably suit him a lot better as well.

“And Toronado is going well and is probably nearly the best Victorian stallion at the moment. He has some nice mares and a lot of hobby mares for a lot of the smaller breeders and he got a Group 1 winner (Masked Crusader) the other day and was Group 1 placed last Saturday.

“He can get the job done.

“Our bloke has had three runs and a freshen up and the 1200m should be ideal.”

And Zahra said it was a great race for huge money and the form from last year’s race had stood up with River Night since winning a stakes race – the Redoute’s Choice Stakes (1200m) – and The Showdown winner Khoekhoe (Turffontein x Walvis Bay)  is also a stakes winner – the Super Impose Stakes (1800m) – and was competitive in last Saturday’s Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.

River Knight finished a narrow second after being overhauled by the fast finishing Khoekhoe in last year’s race.

And the Salanitri brothers, John and Frank, are also back after having two runners – Just A Tribute and Fender Bender (both by Street Boss) in The Showdown last year for prominent owner and breeder, Eddie Hirsch.

Frank, who is racing manager to John, paid $155,000 for King’s Ransom, the son of Reward for Effort at the 2020 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

Out of Viva Dubai (Dubai Destination x Always Forever), the horse was offered by Two Bays Farm and bred by Hill Holme Lodge.

Frank Salanitri has remained in the ownership, along with Hirsch and several other owners.

After winning his maiden at Kilmore in February, the gelding failed to beat a runner home at his next start at Moonee Valley in the Listed Valley Pearl at Moonee Valley.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what sort of field we’ll get,” Salanitri said.

“Two-year-olds are so unpredictable and you don’t know whether you’ve got them one day to the next, that’s the thing with it.”

Salanitri said he lined up The Showdown after King’s Ransom ran at Moonee Valley (1200m) at his last start.

“I thought for a million dollar race it’s worth a throw at the stumps,” he said.

“He’s not hopeless and didn’t get any favours at all at The Valley, but whether he measures up to them I suppose we’ll know on race day.”

Salanitri said the stable had some good clients in the horse and while it would be exciting to have a runner in a $1 million race, he pointed out that it was hard enough to win a maiden, yet alone a race of the calibre of The Showdown.

“But unless you have a go, you don’t know,” Salanitri said.

And he said that when King’s Ransom was being auctioned late in the Inglis sale they thought they might get him for $70,000 or $80,000.

But he said there were about five “big heads” also keen, with Aquis  the under bidder.

“So there were quite a few there waiting for him and he was a cracking style of horse and unfortunately we had to geld him as he was squeezing up a little,” Salanitri said.

“But we want a race horse and he was not going to be a stallion. We cut him and hopefully we’ll see further down the track.”

Salanitri said King’s Ransom was thriving after his two runs but they still had to get a benchmark on him as he’d only won at Kilmore.

“But as I said he didn’t have any luck at all at The Valley,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see how we go but we are willing to roll the dice and regardless of what he does in the race, I think he’ll go to the paddock.

“He has been trained out of the paddock up here at Tylden, where we are based now, and he is enjoying it.”

Miss Inbetween is ready to take on the VOBIS Sires Guineas (Racing Photos)

One year on from finishing fourth in last year’s The Showdown, three-year-old filly Miss Inbetween is back to tackle the VOBIS Sires Guineas at Caulfield on Saturday.

Trained at Mornington by Michael Mehegan, the daughter of the ill-fated Sun Stud stallion Fighting Sun had little luck in The Showdown (1200m), but the 1600m distance of the VOBIS Sires Guineas is expected to be more suitable a year later.

And the filly which finished fourth, beaten just 2.7 lengths in the Group 3 Alexandra Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on her second last start in March, goes into the Sires Guineas with winning form after scoring over 1400 metres in a fillies and mares benchmark 70 at Sandown last week.

Just like The Showdown was always Miss Inbetween’s target, the VOBIS Sires Guineas was also a race the three-year-old filly was set for months ago.

Mehegan said it had always been the plan to go the $500,000 race  and luckily everything is  going to plan for the filly which has won two twice, had four seconds and two thirds for $229,900 in prize money from 14 starts.

“This race has been the long range plan for her and we’ve been trying to get a win with her in between,” he said.

“It’s been a struggle until the other day.”

After The Showdown fourth, Miss Inbetween was spelled for 19 weeks and then ran two consecutive seconds in maidens at Mornington before winning her first race at Sale (1415m) last October. A third in the Group 3  Fillies Classic (1600m) at Moonee Valley came after a second, also over 1600m at Caulfield,  and followed her maiden win at Sale.

Mehegan said that after being spelled for 15 weeks, the filly was unlucky in her first-up run in the Group 3 Typhoon Tracy (1200m) at The Valley in February when she finished sixth of 12, beaten 3.2 lengths.

“Then at her next run she was galloped on at Flemington which really set us back and she tends do a few things wrong, but the 1400m the other day was basically to give her some confidence to go into this race to give her every chance,” he said.

“And in last year’s race (The Showdown) it was a disaster because she missed the start, had blinkers on the first time and she changed directions about six times and ran up the bums of other horses. It was just a nightmare – a horror watch. But she ran super in it.”

Mehegan said the 1600m wasn’t an issue, but it would depend on how she was ridden, with her good gate speed providing the option to go forward to put her on the speed.

But with most starts without cover, the trainer said it was obviously hard to lead or sit outside the leader and do all the “donkey work” for the others, especially with good horse sitting off her.

“Because she has got good gate speed, she can go forward and the other day dropping back to the 1400m she settled further back and there was good speed in the race and she had cover and it worked out perfectly,” Mehegan said.

“She probably doesn’t need to necessarily have to sit that far back but she just gets ridden where she is comfortable. It all depends on barriers, especially at Caulfield.”

Craig Williams has ridden Miss Inbetween five times, including her last start victory, but he’ll be in Sydney on Saturday. Mehegan has booked leading jockey Jamie Kah.

“It was good to get Jamie on,” he said.

Miss Inbetween was passed in as a weanling at the 2018 Great Southern Bloodstock sale on a $30,000 reserve.

Mehegan purchased her the following year at the 2019 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale for $25,000 and retained a share in her.

The filly was offered by Springmount Farm at Romsey as the agent for breeder Wayne Comerford who bred her from his broodmare Ruby Ninetails (Red Ransom) whose dam Whipping is a half-sister to the champion Zipping (Danehill).

“I’d seen her before at Springmount Farm and she was a really nice type and there was just nothing wrong with her,” Mehegan said.

“I guess being by Fighting Sun they had never made huge money and she was out of a Red Ransom mare.

“She came through late in the sale and there was no one there and the breeder stayed in for half, along with the co-breeder Tony Dragicevich who has 20 per cent.

“Wayne sent a couple to Fighting Sun and I’ve got another one here by Fighting Sun who is a two-year-old.

“When I bought the filly she was a cracking type but probably a little bit plain as a yearling and she had a good walk and there was nothing wrong with here.”

Mehegan said that for an outlay of $25,000 and a return of nearly $240,000 – so far – it was looking like a pretty rewarding investment.

“There was no way you could let her go for $25,000 as she was too nice a filly,” he said.

“I would have gone a little more, I guess.

“She has got a lot more to offer as she is a progressive filly and I think she is capable of winning that Sires race and it’s been her target and every race has been aimed at getting her right for this race.

“It’s not like it’s an afterthought and it was always going to be her grand final. You just don’t get too many opportunities to race for half a million dollars in a restricted race where you have to be by a Victorian stallion and be VOBIS and VOBIS Gold qualified and it eliminates a huge percentage of the horses. It’s for three-year-olds at set weights.

“We always thought she’d be better over further and when she came back in this was her target races

“Everything that’s been done this preparation has been geared toward this race.

“The Showdown last year was also our grand final. We had to worry about qualifying last year whereas we didn’t have to worry about it this year.”

Mehegan normally has between six to eight horses in work at any one time and bought two horses at this year’s Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

His best horse has been the mare Prussian Vixen, the winner of the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes 1200m in consecutive years – 2017/18.

Prussian Vixen (King of Prussia x Miss Eileen), which he owned and raced with family members, has a colt by Impending and is in foal to Street Boss.

Breeder Wayne Comerford has Miss Inbetween’s dam Ruby Ninetails back at his Queensland property.

She has a colt and a filly by Impending and is in foal to Frosted. Comerford said he breeds six to ten a year.

“I send a fair few of my mares to Victoria,” he said.

“I sent a few to Fighting Sun and other stallions.”

Comerford bought Miss Inbetween’s dam, Ruby Ninetails (Red Ransom x Whipping) to race.

“I actually bought Miss Inbetween’s mum, Ruby Ninetails and her mum, Zipping’s half-sister (Whipping by Desert Prince x Social Scene),” Comerford said.

“When I found out that Ruby Ninetails, by Red Ransom was for sale, and she was the last of the Red Ransoms, I thought I’d better get one of them.

“Ruby Ninetails had a tendon issue but won her third start over 2100m so I thought she was a good stayer so I thought I’d send her to Fighting Sun because I wanted to put a bit of speed into her, a bit of Australian Colonial sprinting and it’s seemed to have worked.”

He said Ruby Ninetails first foal by Bel Esprit looked like being an Oaks horse but bowed a tendon and Miss Inbetween’s full brother, Fighting Fire, was sold to New Zealand where he is a winner and still racing.

“It’s a progressive family so hopefully there’s more to come,” Comerford.

He said he planned to race Ruby Ninetails’ Impending filly and would sell her Impending weanling colt which would be sold as a yearling.

“I have got another Fighting Sun filly (Funky Me) out of More Joyous’ family out an Authorized mare (Helen Royale) and she is a two-year-old also with Michael,” Comerford said.

“The prize money to race in Victoria is just phenomenal.

“But breeding is a tough game. I thought I’d get $30,000 or $40,000 for Miss Inbetween at the sales. Her full brother sold for $60,000 as a weanling (and $120,000 as a yearling).”

The ownership group, put together by Comerford, comprises of his mates from all over Australia.

Comerford has a family insulation company at Hervey Bay and keeps his band of brood mares on his 40 acre farm on the Stanley River at Woodford.

And he believes Miss Inbetween will only get better as she matures.

Lot 72, a son of Written Tycoon was knocked down to Coolmore for $900,000

Above: Lot 72, a son of Written Tycoon was knocked down to Coolmore for $900,000.

Inglis catalogued upwards of 40 yearlings with Super VOBIS stickers at the Australian Easter Sale and among the first to parade was the Written Tycoon colt (Lot 72) purchased by Coolmore Stud for $900,000.

Bred by Woodside Park and Sheriff Iskander, he was sold (as agent) by Arrowfield Stud and is the second foal of Perth winner Secret Doubt (Not A Single Doubt).  His second-dam Covertly won a G1 Railway Stakes at Ascot.

“He’s a smashing colt and is bred on the same cross Enthaar,” Woodside Park noted.  “She is a dual G3 winner (Gimcrack Stakes & Chairman’s Stakes) and it’s a cross with four winners from five runners!”

Secret Doubt’s first foal is the unraced 2yo filly Little Miss Magic.  She is also by Written Tycoon and was runner-up in an early-season Randwick trial for trainer Bjorn Baker.

Written Tycoon’s filly from Ballet Rose (Lot 210) was offered by Encompass Bloodstock’s Steve McCann and she was snapped up for $420,000 by former Hong Kong trainer John Moore.  Her dam is a winning half-sister to King’s Rose (NZ One Thousand Guineas Gr.1).

“They told me she was originally going to the Magic Millions in January,” Moore said.  “Written Tycoon is in vogue and I like the cross with Exceed And Excel.  She’s a very nice filly and I guess you have to go over the budget to buy the better types here.  We’ve been blasted out of the water on a few yearlings already.”

Rifa Mustang received $400,000 for another Super VOBIS eligible filly by Written Tycoon from River Pebbles (Lot 46).  Her dam is a half-sister to Kulgrinda (G3 Irwin Stakes & LR Carlyon Stakes).

“Congratulations to Andrew Williams for securing this beautiful filly,” the Southbank-based business tweeted.  “She’s a strong, precocious type with an impeccable pedigree and was presented in exceptional condition.”

Glentree Thoroughbreds owner Bruce Wilson went back-to-back on Day 1 with $560,000 for a Snitzel filly (Lot 206) and $400,000 for a Frankel filly (Lot 207).

Peter Devitt also doubled up with a pair of Zoustar fillies that both realised $350,000.  Lot 79 is a half-sister to Melbourne stakes performers Shokara and Muswellbrook while Lot 331 is the first foal of Hear The Chant (G3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes).

Makybe received $350,000 for its Fastnet Rock filly (Lot 463) from the family of Procrastinate who has 11 stakes winners under her name including Group 1 fillies Laisserfaire and Personal.  Longwood nursery Rockmount chimed in with $300,000 for a So You Think filly (Lot 192) who is the first foal of Ana Royale (G3 SA Fillies Classic).

Lot 227, the Snitzel x Bulbula colt which the Victorian Alliance went to $1.2 million for (Inglis)

Rosemont Stud’s Anthony Mithen admitted only the fittest survived last week’s Inglis Easter Yearling Sale after two record-breaking sessions in Sydney.

Mithen went the distance as a buyer and vendor at Riverside Stables while his stallion Shamus Award delivered knock-out Group 3 victories in Melbourne and Sydney.

The Rosemont Victorian Alliance has been active at the majors this year targeting stallion prospects but their 11th and final buy was knocked down for $1.20 million.  Even though the Snitzel – Bulbula colt (Lot 227) was offered at the tail-end of Day 1, Mithen and bloodstock agents Suman Hedge & David Redvers had to fight off some intense competition before landing the final bid.

“There were high-fives and handshakes all-round,” Mithen said with just the hint of a smile that masked the relief of a battle well-won.  “He’s a lovely colt with a fast pedigree and we thought he was the best Snitzel on the grounds this year.

“He’s among the last of the Shadwell yearlings to be offered here and it’s an honour and privilege to take him back home to Victoria.  I’m sure he will do Shadwell proud.”

The Snitzel colt (Lot 227) comes from a flying juvenile family out of Melbourne.  He’s a half-brother to Aryaaf (G3 Ottawa Stakes) and their dam Bulbula (Shamardal) won a LR Merson Cooper Stakes.

The Victorian Alliance also purchased a Written Tycoon – Shaaheq colt (Lot 77) for $200,000.  He’s another Shadwell-bred youngster from a Redoute’s Choice mare who won the G3 VRC Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes in 2010 and was runner-up to Star Witness in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes that year.

Their third buy was the I Am Invincible – Beat the Benchmark colt (Lot 213) that made $525,000.  He’s the first foal from a New York black-type winning mare who was also Group 1 placed in a Natalma Stakes.

Mithen also signed for an I Am Invincible – Heart Of Thrills filly (Lot 333) on the Rosemont account after going to $1.20 million.  She’s a half-sister to Thrillster (LR Atlantic Jewel Stakes) from the family of Spendthrift Australia sire Swear and G1 Hong Kong Sprint winner All Thrills Too.

“We thought she was the filly of the sale and there were some very smart judges on her,” Mithen said.  “I thought she could perhaps go for as much as $2 million.  That would have been beyond our maximum so I’m delighted to buy her.”

Rosemount recouped that selling 6 yearlings for $1.14 million topped by a Redoute’s Choice colt (Lot 190) bought by Ciaron Maher Bloodstock for $350,000.  His dam Amanpour (Northern Meteor) won a G1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes

Next best were a pair of Shamus Award colts sold (as agent) for $180,000 to the bids of trainers Danny O’Brien and Henry Dwyer.

Shamus Award (Snitzel) stands at Rosemont and he bookended the Easter Sale with G3 Victoria Hcp (1400m) winner Mr Quickie at Caulfield and G3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) winner Duais at Randwick.

Jockey Hugh Bowman believes the Edward Cummings-trained Duais can make the necessary improvement to double up in the G1 Australian Oaks (2400m).  “She is strong, she can stay and she settled well today,” Bowman said on Saturday.  “She joined in when I asked her to and she showed a lot of fight when she needed to.  And, she’s trained by a Cummings.”

Robert & Sylvie Crabtree lead Catchy back to scale after the Blue Diamond (Sarah Ebbett)

Dorrington Park owner Robert Crabtree reached a career-high as a vendor at the Inglis Premier Sale in March and he lifted the bar even higher with a $1.20 million filly at the Inglis Easter Sale last week.

Crabtree topped the leader-board at Oaklands with a $1.10 million Written Tycoon colt sold through Blue Gum Farm to James Harron Bloodstock.  It was his first seven-figure graduate but he eclipsed that in Sydney with a stunning I Am Invincible filly at Riverside Stables.

The I Am Invincible – Catchy (Fastnet Rock) filly was sold on his behalf by Bhima Thoroughbreds for $1.20 million to Chris Waller acting for Hermitage Thoroughbreds.  “Melbourne was terrific but this is just incredible,” Crabtree declared.  “I was tempted to keep her but you have to pay the bills.”

Crabtree paid Coolmore Stud $220,000 for Catchy at the 2016 Easter Yearling Sale and sent her to Lindsay Park where her first campaign was planned and successfully executed in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes.  She also carried Dorrington’s red and white checked silks to Group 2 victories in the Danehill Stakes at Flemington and Arrowfield Sprint at Randwick.

After accruing $2 million prizemoney, Catchy was retired in 2018 and her maiden cover to I Am Invincible produced the standout filly in Sydney.  Crabtree offered to keep a share but that was declined by Hong Kong-based Hermitage owner Eugene Chuang.

Crabtree and his wife Sylvie can take some solace in the knowledge Catchy has a Zoustar filly foal back home at Nagambie.  And she is carrying a PPT from the first southern-hemisphere crop of Godolphin’s Group 1 star Too Darn Hot (Dubawi).

“Her I Am Invincible is just a magnificent filly and I thought she looked more like a colt,” he said.  “It’s been a great journey with her and it’s terrific when it works.”

Chris Waller’s bloodstock agent Guy Mulcaster had been very impressed with the filly from first sight.  “Catchy was a great race mare and this filly is such an athlete,” he explained.  “We liked the way she took the preparation.  We saw her about a month ago and she came here and took it all in her stride.  That’s what you look because the pressure goes on now.”

Dorrington also sold fillies by Written Tycoon ($600,000) and Fastnet Rock ($350,000) at the record-breaking Easter Sale.  They will both be trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent jnr.

The Written Tycoon is a half-sister to Mizzy (Zoustar) who won to Group 2 level at Rosehill in the 2019 Golden Pendant and Sheraco Stakes.  She finished second in the G1 Coolmore Classic last month and has been entered for the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale in May

The Fastnet Rock filly is from G2 Toy Show Hcp winner My Sabeel (Savabeel) and the mare foaled another Fastnet Rock (colt) in September before being bred back to Trapeze Artist.


Dorrington’s other high-priced graduate at Riverside Stables was the colt by Siyouni (Fr) from Totally Mystic (Invincible Spirit) purchased by China Horse Club for $550,000.  He’s the first foal out of an unraced three-quarter sister to Champion English Sprinter Moonlight Cloud.

Siyouni was a 2yo Group 1 winner of the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp and he claimed a hat-trick of French 2yo titles prior to the General championship in 2020.

Dorrington’s colt was bred to southern-hemisphere time at Haras de Bonneval in Normandy when Siyouni stood for €75,000 (AUD119,225).   His service fee has since doubled to €140,000 (AUD217,870) this year.

Air Defence wins the VOBIS Gold Reef and is now headed to the VOBIS Sires Guineas.JPG

With a horse costing a modest $4000, veteran Bendigo trainer Shane Fliedner can hardly wait to tackle the more fancied runners in the $500,000 VOBIS Sires Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on April 17.

The race, for three-year-olds, is restricted to the progeny of category A VOBIS qualified horses, which means they are sired by Victorian sires.

Fliedner’s Air Defence was sired by Stryker (Fastnet Rock x Laetitia) when he stood at Three Bridges Thoroughbreds at Eddington. The stallion was then sold and stood three seasons in New South Wales, serving a modest book of mares each year.

Stryker was purchased earlier this year by Victoria’s Platinum Thoroughbreds where he will stand alongside Scorpz (Charm Spirit x Forbetterforworse) at Hilldene, near Seymour.

You could say that Fliedner had some inside information when he purchased the then colt from Merton Creek Thoroughbreds’ draft at the VOBIS Gold Yearling Sale.

The previous year Fliedner had paid $14,000 for a colt, which now races as Travail, out of Air Defence’s dam Jomar Star. The colt was by the more commercial Reward For Effort and was also offered by Merton Creek Thoroughbreds for breeder, Dr Dawn Giltinan.

Fliedner said Air Defence made his own luck at Moonee Valley when he won the $200,000 VOBIS Gold Reef (1600m) and then ran third in the listed Bendigo Guineas (1400m) in his last race.

“People didn’t think much of it at Moonee Valley after he was coming off a benchmark 64 race (1300m) at Bendigo,” Fliedner said.

“And then after Moonee Valley he didn’t do too bad a job in the Guineas at Bendigo.

“We rode him at little bit quieter at Bendigo as we wanted to have a look at him with some different options. He will be ridden just the same and will be in the first couple and that’s the way he likes to race.

“The 1400m was a bit sharp for him the other day and he whacked away all right but probably going to Caulfield and a soft track will more than likely help him.

“But any way you have to deal with what you get.”

Fliedner said the Sires Guineas was a great race and described it as a bonus for horses like Air Defence to get a crack at some big prize money.

And he said that when Air Defence’s older half-brother Tavail ran second at his third start, he followed up by taking more interest in another colt, which became Air Defence, out of Jomar Star at the sales.

“When he (Travail) ran second in that maiden at Bendigo I thought I’d follow it up as I thought that horse can gallop,” he said.

“He unfortunately had a hairline fracture in a hip and he is sitting in the paddock these days having six months off. But he has won a race at Wangaratta.

“But you always like to think you can get a cheap horse that can win you a few races and Air Defence has gone beyond our expectations.”

Fliedner said he bought the horse on type and said there was nothing wrong with him but what also sealed the deal was that he knew his half-brother had ability.

He said the beauty of having a VOBIS Gold qualified horse was that there are plenty of races to win around the country and they’re lucky to have one good enough to compete in town in a race worth $250,000 to the winner.

“We have lobbed into the right race at the right time,” he said.

“It is a good initiative.”

Air Defence, which Fliedner races with several stable clients, has had seven starts for two wins, one second and two thirds for $172,385 in prize money.

Fliedner said while he knew Stryker was a good tough racehorse, he relies more on the dam than the stallion when he looks at breeding.

“I always go on the dam,” he said.

“No dam, no horse.

“Stryker has thrown some good horses. They are tough.

“When Air Defence won his maiden at Kilmore he beat a horse (Grinzinger Lord) that then ran third at his next start in a listed race in Melbourne.

“I thought then that it’s not too bad and we might pick up few races.

“He is a good worker and you just have to translate that to the races which with some horses can be the difficult.”

Fliedner, who has been training for more than 20 years, has 12 horses in work.

Merton Creek Thoroughbreds’ Sunny Mitchell said the owner of Jomar Star, Dawn Giltinan, really liked the pedigree cross with Stryker.

“She  was very particular about going to that stallion and even though he wasn’t in vogue, she really liked the pedigree cross and she is actually thrilled that Air Defence is going so well because it sort of backs up her judgement,” Sunny said.

“And her stallion selection was correct.

“But when the colt was sold the stallion wasn’t in vogue but Dawn purpose bred him because she just liked the pedigree cross. It just reinforces that if you do the right analysis you will probably come out with a really good horse.

“It mightn’t sell that well, but it might be a really good horse.

“And it’s really lovely for Dawn to follow him and to have that success with the progeny of one of the mares and then to be able to follow what he is doing.

“And it was really good for Shane because he’d bought the Jomar Star colt the year before and he was really pleased with that horse and that’s why he came to look at the next progeny out of that mare at the next sale.”

Sunny said that Fliedner finished up by buying two yearlings from the Merton Creek draft that year.

“His comment to me was how the heck did I manage to get that horse for that price, I can’t believe it when I would have gone up to $20,000,” Sunny said.

“And that’s when I said to him if you’ve to some change, come and have a look at this colt (Magnus x Sequel) which he finished up by buying as well which was great for our draft.

“He was very excited at the fact that he didn’t have to pay too much for the Stryker because he expected to. The colt was always a good type and he expected to pay a lot more. But if the stallion isn’t in vogue, they just don’t look at them.”

Sunny, who owns and operates Merton Creek Thoroughbreds with her husband Neil, said it was fabulous for both Fliedner and Dawn who has a full band of broodmares.

Dawn placed her broodmares just 12 months after the Mitchells purchased their Merton farm more than a decade ago.

“She has been with us the whole time and has been a very passionate breeder and does a lot of research on her stallions and VOBIS Gold is everything,” Sunny said.

“She is a very big believer in the VOBIS scheme and Victorian racing in general. And she is one of those super clients who everyone would like to have and we just very fortunate to have her.”

A retired doctor, Dawn has just celebrated her 77th birthday.

Dawn buys and sells her broodmares and races a lot of horses and usually keeps a small percentage in the horses that are sold but she missed out on retaining a share in Air Defence.

She rang Fliedner to retain her usual 10 per cent but unfortunately he had already put a group of clients together and there were no shares left.

“She has bred and raced horses all her life and absolutely loves it,” Sunny said.

“And she would probably breed a dozen a year.”

And the new owners of the Group 3 winning Stryker, Rene Hoefchen and Sarah Pfeiffer, are also hoping that a solid performance by Air Defence in the Sires Guineas will provide the stallion with some renewed interest.

“We bought him two or three months ago and he’ll stand here alongside Scorpz at Platinum Thoroughbreds,” Hoefchen said.

“It was Scorpz’s first season last year and we were looking for a second stallion that would complement Scorpz and they complement each other really well.”

Hoefchen said that so far there had been a lot of interest in Stryker from previous supporters of the stallion who were happy he was back in Victoria.

“I think he has still got a lot to offer,” he said.

Stryker sired the Victorian bred Rangipo which won the 2016 Group 1 New Zealand Derby, plus another three Group 2 races.