Locally bred Maserartie Bay picked up his second city win in three starts and his third win in four starts when the son of Stockwell Thoroughbreds stallion Artie Schiller (USA) won the fourth heat of the Banjo Paterson Series Handicap (2520m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The five-year-old gelding has good options in the coming weeks, including the $150,000 series final over 2600m at Flemington on July 2 and the $175,000 Flemington Cup 1849 (2800m) on July 16.
After winning the Yarra Valley Cup (1950m) in March and then backing it up with a next start victory at Caulfield (2400m), Maserartie Bay struggled on a heavy track in the Listed Warrnambool Cup (2350m) before bouncing back at Flemington for his eighth win from 23 starts for $430,750 in prizemoney.
Trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, the stable was represented at Flemington by their Ballarat stable’s assistant trainer Jack Turnbull who said the horse had to show he’d recovered from a tough Warrnambool Cup run.
“It was far too soft at Warrnambool, and it took him a while to get over that run. Thankfully the connections have been patient and this race looked ideal for him,” Turnbull said in his postrace interview, Turnbull suggested Maserartie Bay could be targeted at the Flemington Cup.
“He can have a nice breather from now and until then. Hopefully, he can go into that race in as good a form as he was today,” he said after the Flemington win.
Maserartie Bay was bred by Rushton Park’s Kayley and David Johnson who bought the broodmare Navica (Snowland x High Heels) for $30,000 at the 2016 Australian Broodmare and Weanling Sale. The maiden winning mare, sold by Gooree Stud, was in foal to Artie Schiller with what was to become Maserartie Bay.
David Johnson said they were disappointed when they only got $60,000 for him as a yearling at Melbourne Premier in 2018.
“He was a lovely colt, an absolute ripper,” he said.
“And Ciaron (Maher) had seen him up at the farm and when he saw him at the sales he said he bid on him because he thought he was pretty cheap.
“He has been an absolute ripper and is from that really good family. His mum is a half-sister to Desert War (Desert King) and Laser Hawk (Artie Schiller) who were both Group 1 winners.
“It’s a proper staying family.”
After Maserartie Bay, Navica wasn’t served in 2016 and then a mating with Sooboog produced a filly that was purchased cheaply by Adelaide trainer John Hickmott.
The mare remained at Rushton Park to foal down to Sooboog and an attempt was made to put her back into foal to Artie Schiller, but it failed twice and the mare didn’t produce a foal in 2019 or 2020.
Navica was sold again and had a filly to Queensland stallion Knight Exemplar (Exceed and Excel x Charmview).
“She was getting a bit of age on her, the old girl,” Johnson said.
“We struggled to get here into foal again.”
Johnson said Artie Schiller (El Prado x Hidden Light) had been a great sire that had been underrated.
“He is certainly getting on in years now but he has done a very good job for a very long time,” he said.
“He can still get a good horse – he doesn’t know how old he is.
“And Maserartie has been a great horse. Dave Eustace introduced us to the group of owners at Flemington one day and it’s great to see a good bunch of people with a nice horse on their hands.
“They are looking at some cup races and some black-type races going forward. I think he would be a really good country cup type of horse.”
Johnson said Maserartie Bay was a big horse and had taken a long time to furnish.
He said the horse was sold at the Inglis Classic sale branded the Blue Riband session which was for yearlings that based on pedigree would be best as three-year-olds and at distances of 1600m and beyond.
“He has certainly lived up to that,” Johnson said.
Stockwell Thoroughbreds Mike Becker said Maserartie Bay had become a good horse after taking a while to mature and develop his right racing patterns.
Becker said the gelding is well-bred, out of a good mare and his breeders Gooree Park Stud had always been a good supporter of Artie Schiller, a former shuttle stallion now permanently based at Stockwell Thoroughbreds at Diggers Rest.
“He has taken a while but they’ve been patient and they’re getting the rewards,” Becker said of Maserartie Bay who shuttled to Australia from America.
Becker said Artie Schiller doesn’t get much support – he served 18 mares last year – and conceded his commercial days have finished.
“It’s through my own fault as much as anything,” he said.
Artie Schiller was second to Written Tycoon as Australia’s leading first-season sire with what Becker described as a limited crop of modest mares.
A top crop of three-year-olds gave Artie Schiller the title of Australia’s leading second season sire in 2012.
“I didn’t bring him back to Australia in his fourth year and it turned out to be a terrible mistake. It was going to be hard to get mares in that fourth year with the competition and a bit was happening,” Becker said.
“No sooner than he didn’t come than he started getting winners everywhere, so he missed a crop and then by the time he came back the following year he’d gone through the roof.
“Emirates had bought 50 per cent of the horse and I lost control of him which was a shame.
“The world goes by.”
Becker said that an injury and remaining in America in 2010 virtually cost the stallion one and a half missed seasons in the breeding barn.
He said Artie Schiller had missed his commercial opportunity but the reality is that his strike rate has never altered and the stallion has a high percentage of runners to winners and black type runners to winners.
Becker said the stallion’s statistics put him in elite company.
“But he just doesn’t have the numbers running now but he has got a few nice ones coming through the system that I have been following and they are shaping up well,” he said.
“He had three runners in Hong Kong on Sunday and all had good chances, so they are better than average horses.”
Becker said the now 17-year-old Navica was a big, powerful mare but not an easy breeder and it wasn’t through lack of trying that she couldn’t produce another Artie Schiller foal.
“Getting her in foal was one thing but keeping her in foal was another,” he said.
Becker said Gooree Park Stud bred Artie Schiller’s first Group 1 winner in Australia – Laser Hawk – and supported the stallion with mares.
While Artie Schiller was now “flat out” getting 30 mares a year, he said they were comfortable with it.
“His fertility is still good, his libido is still good and he is still Artie,” Becker said.
“I’ve worked with a lot of stallions over the years but I have learnt more off Artie Schiller than I have learnt off any stallion.
“He is a different beast in a lot of ways. If he thinks a mare is ready to be covered, he’ll cover it with gusto. He doesn’t care what the vet says when they should be covered, he makes up his mind when they should be covered.”
Becker said Artie Schiller’s sire, El Prado (IRE) was an amazing story and at one stage, along with Scenic (IRE), was the only two-year-old winning son of Sadler’s Wells – and both were Group 1 winners.
He said for whatever reason El Prado didn’t go to stud in the UK but instead was shipped off to California where had limited opportunities but after a few years became the champion sire of America which was an extraordinary rise to the top and became even greater when moved to Kentucky.
“Artie was a son of Sadler’s Wells and at that time Sadler’s Wells in Australia was a dirty word because a lot of his staying sons had been trotted out and they didn’t work,” Becker said.
“Bringing a grandson of Sadler’s Wells, which he was, to Australia was a bit of a risk.
“But Artie himself was such a great racehorse. He was a sprinter miler which I think makes a stallion. He had won 10 times from his 22 starts and he only finished out of the first four once and that was as a three-year-old in the Breeders Mile when he got knocked out of the race but came back the next year and won it.
“He was everyone’s dream of a racehorse, a real beast.
“His first three dams were all very tough Group 1 winning mares.”
Becker said Artie Schiller had been a marvellous old stallion but sadly most of the owner breeders had disappeared from the industry and those were the ones best suited to breeding a horse by him.
He said the stud’s other stallion Al Maher was a similar story to Artie Schiller.
“He is still proving he can get a good horse, gets a lot of winners but commercially, like Artie, their days have passed them and we understand that.”
He said Artie Schiller and Al Maher, both 20-year-olds, were wonderful stallions and a lot of the new kids on the block would never emulate what those two had achieved.