Melbourne breeder Todd Lichti landed his most important race when Villa Verde swamped a top-class field of sprinters in the G2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on Saturday.

Villa Verde (3f Not A Single Doubt — Young and Free by Kenmare) is from the first group of yearlings that Todd offered at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale. She made $95,000 to the bid of trainer Shaun Dwyer at Oaklands Junction in 2012.

The grey filly (pictured ranging up to the leaders at Randwick) was a Listed winner at Caulfield and Flemington as a spring two year-old for owners Mike Buys and Rob Willis before Dwyer recommended she would be better suited in Sydney with Anthony Cummings.

“Shaun had given her a great grounding and she’s been working so well,” Cummings said. “We came here expecting to win.”

Lichti paid $10,500 for Young and Free at the Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale in June 2010. “She was 16 at the time but in foal to Not A Single Doubt and I thought he was a young sire on the up,” Lichti recalled. “She was a well put together mare and good value at the money.”

Young and Free has a 2yo colt named Free On Saturday (Any Given Saturday) and she foaled a filly by Dylan Thomas in October.

Soosa Rama defied a leader bias to maintain her unbeaten record in the 1 Print Hcp (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday evening.

The promising daughter of Bel Esprit stormed home from last at the half-mile for her third win in a row. With Damien Oliver aboard, she ran down front-runner Chloe In Paris by three-quarters of a length.

“We wanted her closer to the speed but things didn’t go according to plan,” trainer Colin Little explained. “That’s why you book a jockey like D Oliver.

“She hasn’t done anything wrong yet and it was a good effort tonight. I will see how she pulls up but we might give her a rest now.”

Soosa Rama (3f Bel Esprit — Make My Dane by Danehill) started her career with victories at Cranbourne and Moonee Valley in January. She is from a two-time winning Moonee Valley mare who is a three-quarter-sister to Danehill stakes winner Springsteen.

Phoenix Broodmare Farm sold her as a foal for $40,000 at the 2011 Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale. Phoenix owner Damian Gleeson topped Sessions I and II at the Inglis Melbourne Premier yearling sale earlier this month.

Soosa Rama (pictured) impressed Oliver with her finishing burst. “She’s going to win better races,” he declared. “She didn’t show much speed from the gate but felt comfortable in running. They weren’t coming from behind tonight so it was a good effort.”

Eliza Park International sire Bel Esprit is second on the Victorian premiership with earnings of $3.44 million. Darley resident Reset heads the 2013-14 table with earnings of $3.77 million.

Class filly Eloping turned the UAM Pty/Ltd VOBIS Gold Rush into a procession at Bendigo on Saturday.

Starting a $2.70 second-favourite, she exploded to a six length victory while clocking a quick 56.70s for 1000 metres. The Choisir filly (pictured at the presentation) had won on debut at Bendigo in December and followed up with a Listed victory in the Blue Diamond Preview at Caulfield over the Australia Day long weekend.

Eloping (2f Choisir — Runaway Jesse by Rory’s Jester) streeted the minor placegetters Jarklin (King Of Prussia) and Lady Trickster (All American). Lindsay Park colt Wilderness, a half-brother to Starspangledbanner who cost $2.40 million as a yearling, started favourite but faded in the straight to finish a well-beaten fourth.

The VOBIS Gold Rush was worth $150,000 in prizemoney, plus an extra $23,000 in Super VOBIS bonuses for the winner’s syndicate of 10 women. She was bred by Michael Christian at Saconi Thoroughbreds in Whittlesea and sold for $120,000 at the 2013 Gold Coast Magic Millions.

Trainer Peter Morgan and Craig Widdison always had the Gold Rush in mind for Eloping. “We targeted this one because she had done so well since the Blue Diamond,” Widdison said. “And what about the money? It’s just incredible.”

Runaway Jesse has a Starspangledbanner yearling filly that made $170,000 at the Gold Coast Magic Millions in January. The mare was covered by Sepoy last year.

The next VOBIS Gold event is the $180,000 VOBIS Gold Ingot at Flemington on April 5.

Written Tycoon sired It is Written and Written Up to a quick-fire Listed double on the weekend.

IT IS WRITTEN sent his earnings spiralling toward $500,000 with a strong finish in the LR Abell Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday.

He sat off the speed in the feature sprint before coming with a perfectly timed run under Matty Allen to win narrowly from Le Bonsir (Choisir) and Solsay (Mosayter).

It was his second black-type win after the LR Testa Rossa Stakes at Caulfield in September.

It is Written (5g Written Tycoon — Winning Team by Danehill Dancer) has a liking for the Moonee Valley circuit having won or placed in 9 of his 12 runs on the Strathayr. “He’s been a terrific horse and he loves this place,” trainer Robbie Griffiths said. “He’s been up a while and been racing well without a lot of luck.”

The Hodgson family’s Riva Ridge Stud sold him for $45,000 at the 2012 Adelaide Magic Millions and his sister was purchased by Victorian trainer Shea Eden for $65,000 at last week’s Adelaide Sale.

WRITTEN UP (pictured) won the LR Bendigo Guineas (1600m) on Saturday at his first start back at the track since breaking his maiden there last May.

Trainer George Osborne was confident after heavy rain swept the course earlier in the day. “The wet track was always going to help,” he admitted. “He wasn’t really wound up last time so we were pretty sure he would run a big race.”

Written Up (3g Written Tycoon — Octangle by Octagonal) swept to the lead when the field balanced for the run home and refused to surrender when challenged by Gracious Prospect (Tale Of The Cat) and Mahican (More Than Ready).

Osborne races the gelding with breeders Chris Morey and Terry Hurford. Fellow part-owner Fred Hyslop joined the line-up after winning a raffle last year. Osborrne had offered a part of his share during a membership drive by the Kyneton Racing Club.

Written Up is a younger half-brother to Raktangle (Rakti) who won at Kyneton for the same partnership before transferring to Hong Kong. Now named Win Chance, he is in training with Dennis Yip.

Written Tycoon (Iglesia) stands at Woodside Park and the winning duo join Howmuchdoyouloveme, Trump and Grand Tycoon on his black-type roll-call.

Roy Higgins was a legend of Australian racing. That’s not for debate. But the former jockey was an even better man. That was the theme of Higgins’ funeral, which was today held at Flemington.

Australian racing royalty was on hand to remember Roy Henry Higgins, who last Sunday lost a battle with illness at the Cabrini Hospital. He was 75.

“In the end, Roy put more into racing than he ever took out,” Legendary writer Les Carlyon said. “Right to the end, part of him was still the battling kid from the bush who thought he owed racing for all the fame it had brought him.

“The truth, I’d suggest, was the other way around; racing owed him.

“But Roy wasn’t just a great jockey and fine ambassador for racing, that’s only half the story. He was a great human being and that might be the biggest story because it’s harder to be a great human being.”

Damien Oliver, who this season joined Higgins in the select club of Australian jockeys to have ridden 100 Group 1 winners, remembered a jockey whose record was daunting but his disposition anything but.

“Roy was incredibly generous with his advice and his support and that’s something that I’ll never forget,” Oliver said.

“At the time, I didn’t know why Roy was so good to me but it wasn’t long after that I realised that was the same manner he used to everyone. He always had time and was always willing to go out of his way to have a chat and give people plenty of advice.

“Roy had been there and done everything possible as a jockey and I think he knew that I was determined as he had been to achieve his success and that’s what brought us close.

“It’s a very sad time but also a career and a life we should be celebrating because on behalf of all Australian jockeys, Roy’s been an inspiration, an icon and a legend. His legacy will live on forever.”

Higgins and Oliver also in the club that have ridden the Big 4 in Australian racing — the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Golden Slipper.

Higgins, who was born in Koondrook in 1938 and started his race riding career at Deniliquin in 1953, did not take long to gravitate towards Melbourne where in 1978 he equalled Billy Duncan’s record of 11 Melbourne Jockeys’ Premierships.

In 2001 he was one of the five jockey inducted among the inaugural intake into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

But before that, he was a devoted family man, a father to Martine and Nicole. The latter recounted stories of a treasured childhood.

She remembered the day Higgins accompanied them to Pony Club, for a story arranged by The Sun newspaper regarding what Higgins did away from the racetrack, only for her to appear on the front page under the headline “Higgins Takes A Fall” after falling off.

Plus the time the girls accompanied their father to trackwork and engaged in some unscheduled trackwork aboard star stayer Ming Dynasty.

Or the role she played in the famous call of the two-horse Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1970. The race was just a week after Nicole was born and Bert Bryant incorporated into his details of a bet Higgins and Pat Hyland on what would be the sex of the baby, which Hyland won.

But it wasn’t only family that Roy touched.

Legendary broadcaster Bruce McAvaney recalled the first time he met Higgins, at a sportsman’s night in Adelaide, where Higgins and Bill Collins were the guests of honour, but how special he was made to feel.

“My lasting memory of Roy that night is his accessibility, his ability to make you feel a little bit special,” McAvaney said.

“Roy’s greatest gift and his legacy is that he’ll be remembered more as the man than the legend. This was one champion we truly loved.”

The service was conducted in the Flemington mounting yard, where Higgins returned victorious after the 1965 and 1967 Melbourne Cups, aboard Light Fingers and Red Handed respectively, before the hearse took him on one final lap of the Flemington track.

Roy Higgins: 5 June 1938 — 8 March 2014

Mornington trainer Jason Warren was a winner on both counts with Pop Hero at Geelong on Thursday.

Pop Hero (pictured) scooped the prizemoney pool — Warren prepares the son of Swettenham Stud sire Kaphero for his wife Yasmin. “He was disappointing last time but stripped much fitter second-up,” Warren said. “He got the job done and Yassie is very happy.”

The Warrens have been on a roll with 7 winners in the last fortnight and stable star Bel Sprinter wwas beaten little more than a length in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

Pop Hero (3g Kaphero — Serendipity by Rory’s Jester) started a short-priced favourite at the Geelong meeting that was transferred from Werribee. He did some work to lead and then sprinted away when Craig Newitt hit the accelerator in the straight.

Swettenham sold him as a foal for $31,000 at the 2011 Inglis Great Southern Sale and he reappeared at the 2012 Gold Coast Magic Millions making $60,000. Bred by Avenel based Eileen Plant, he’s a younger half-brother to three winners by Swettenham stallions.

Their dam Serendipity has 2yo and yearling fillies by Kaphero and the mare foaled another filly by Swettenham sire Host in October.

Host (Chi) completed a Swettenham double at Geelong with Mighty Like in the TAB Hcp (1430m).

Mighty Like (4g Host — Mighty Fine by Keltrice) is trained by Mick Price for owner-breeder Julie Nicholson. She also raced the dam with Price to wins at Sandown (2), Moonee Valley and Caulfield.

Christie Woodard’s long-standing contribution to the thoroughbred racing industry was recognised on Thursday when she was honoured with the 2014 Wakeful Club Lady of Racing Award.

Each year since 1993, the award has been presented to a woman in Victoria who has shown outstanding passion and commitment to the industry in her chosen field.

Christie was nominated by Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria and the award acknowledged her success as a breeder at Yallambee Stud in Romsey as well as her contribution to the ongoing development of the industry through education and new technology.

Racing Victoria Chairman Rob Roulston presented the award at a special ceremony at Myer Mural Hall which was attended by more than 350 people including finalists Maree Ryan and Gaye Gauci-Marchant.

Racing Victoria recently announced that female participation rates in the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry are at an all-time high and RV has made further growth a key objective in its recently released three-year strategic plan, Racing For The Future.

“I feel incredibly humble to be the recipient of this award — especially up against two other women who are very deserving,” Christie said. “Racing and breeding has to be one of the most rewarding industries — where a single love for the equine allows a unique mix of business and pleasure.

“In this day and age there are so many opportunities for women to excel in the thoroughbred industry — in both racing and breeding — and it’s fantastic that there are more and more opportunities and avenues which can be followed.

“My experience in the industry has been that if you are committed, focused and enjoy what you do, you can achieve anything.”

After growing up on a farm in the western districts at Ararat, Christie originally tried to convince a pair of thoroughbred tragics — her husband Rick and brother-in-law Peter – that cattle and sheep were the way to go. Fortunately for the thoroughbred industry, that was one of the few arguments she’s lost!

With Christie at the helm, the Yallambee Stud yearling team has won numerous awards including the prestigious ‘Best Presented Draft’ at the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale. Christie has sourced highly successful bloodstock on behalf of clients as well as enjoying considerable success in her own right on the track and in the breeding barn.

But it’s often her work behind the scenes that makes Christie Woodard such an industry trail blazer.

She was one of the first – if not the first – to write and develop farm administration and procedural software. She maintains Yallambee Stud’s website and provides clients with a photo and summary of their newborn foals, and has written widely circulated articles and features on areas as comprehensive as the “Causes of Infertility and Sub Fertility in Mares” to light hearted pieces about “Turning the Girls On: Teasing and the Teaser”.

She has also written countless educational articles, handbooks and documents covering the breeding and rearing of the thoroughbred, many of which are widely used by equine colleges throughout Australia.

Her knowledge of veterinary procedures is legendary and she designed and created strapless foal rugs capable of holding IV lines for short or longer periods of fluid therapy, allowing the foal to continue nursing from its mother. These are now widely used throughout Australia, saving many a foal’s life and improving the quality of care required.

And through it all, she has managed to raise two colts of her own. Christie Woodard is truly one of the industry’s unsung heroes.

Eliza Park International stallions Magnus and Shinzig topped two of the three sessions at the Adelaide Magic Millions yearling sale this week.

Magnus (pictured) sired the filly from Coniston Gem (Greig) that highlighted Day 1 when selling for $115,000 to Mornington trainer Mark Riley. Her dam was a Group 3 winner at Flemington and Caulfield.

Another Magnus filly, the sister to recent Moonee Valley Group 2 runner-up Miss Promiscuity, sold for second top price of $110,000 on Day 1. She is the fourth foal of the Melbourne winning Distant Music mare Zipstream and was purchased by the Victorian partnership of Bluegrass Bloodstock and trainer Wez Hunter.

Both Magnus fillies were presented by Eliza Park International, acting as agent for Robert Crabtree’s Dorrington Farm.

On Day 3, it was the turn of Shinzig to top proceedings with a $45,000 colt purchased by Singapore trainer Patrick Shaw. He is a half-brother to Super Kenny who has won five races at Kranji for Shaw and owners Mark & Emily Yong.

Super Kenny is by Swettenham Stud sire Host (Chi). He was a $30,000 buy at the 2011 Gold Coast Magic Millions and has earned the equivalent of AUD 239,670.

Duble Barrel Daisy scored a special win for trainer Darren Weir at Moonee Valley on Monday.

The Super VOBIS qualified filly broke her maiden by five lengths at Donald last month but only had a nose to spare in the Essendon Hyundai Hcp (1000m). “It was a head-bobber and I wasn’t sure whether we had won,” Weir said. “It was a good effort and she’s heading in the right direction.”

Duble Barrel Daisy (3f Dubleo – African Lily by Johannesburg) is a homebred for Angela Taylor-Moy who is an integral part of Weir’s Forest Lodge stable at Ballarat. “It’s a great result for ‘Ang’ and her parents who race this filly. She has been working for me since the early days at Stawell.”

Weir also recalled his formative years after welcoming winning jockey Harry Coffee back to scale. “I learned the ropes from Harry’s uncle Jack Coffey as a young bloke. Later on, his father Austy taught me to be a farrier.”

Duble Barrel Daisy is the first foal of former Coolmore Stud mare African Lily who died in October 2012. Her second dam Hint Of Glory is a half-sister to G1 VRC Emirates Stakes winner Sky Cuddle.

Taylor-Moy has an unnamed two year-old half-brother to Duble Barrel Daisy by Decanter. He is a Chilean bred son of Hussonet who stands at Kedarona Stud south of Pakenham.

Emirates Park sire Artie Schiller continues to be a hit in the auction ring with a colt bringing $575,000 at this week’s Ocala 2YO Sale in Florida.

The March 29 born bay was consigned by Halcyon Hammock Farm (as agent) and made the Top 10 leader-board to the bid of Conquest Stables. He had breezed a furlong in 10 seconds flat prior to the auction on Tuesday.

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Artie Schiller

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Artie Schiller (pictured) got him from of the unraced Lord Avie mare Sister Baby, he is a brother to Hammers Terror, a Listed winner of the Mystic Lake Derby and Brooks Fields Stakes at Canterbury racecourse in Minnesota.

Conquest Stables purchased an Artie Schiller filly at the 2013 Ocala 2YO March Sale for $240,000 and, racing as My Conquestadory, she landed the G1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland last October.

There were 18 Artie Schillers offered at the Melbourne Premier Sale earlier this month and they sold to $150,000. Trainer Clinton McDonald took his top-priced yearling home to Caulfield. Offered by Burnewang North Pastoral, he is a half-brother to city winners by Testa Rossa, Anabaa, Henny Hughes and Catbird.

Artie Schiller (El Prado) shuttles from WinStar Farm in Kentucky to Emirates Park’s Victorian facility at Diggers Rest.

Dour stayer Outback Joe rekindled memories of champion mare Let’s Elope in the G2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) on Monday.

Outback Joe (6g Elvstroem — Let’s Elope by Nassipour) looked beaten when Perth Cup winner Black Tycoon ranged up at the furlong but he had enough in reserve to prevail by a short neck.

“It was a very brave win,’’ in-form apprentice Chad Schofield said. “They were going very quickly and I was happy sitting off the pace. I wound him up around the turn and he just outstayed them.”

Outback Joe was set for the two-mile test after winning the LR Bagot Hcp (2800m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day. A homebred for Dennis and Margaret Marks, he is by Blue Gum Farm stallion Elvstroem and is the fifth stakes performer for former Australian Horse of the Year Let’s Elope.

Now a spritely 26, she is in retirement at Lauriston Park in Euroa.

“I have always wanted to get him to 3200 metres and he didn’t let us down,” trainer Nigel Blackiston said. “He’s qualified for the Melbourne Cup so we will have a crack. Dennis won it with Let’s Elope and this bloke is still maturing.”

Blackiston was foreman for Bart Cummings when Let’s Elope cut a swathe through Australia’s staying ranks in 1991-92 winning the Turnbull Stakes, Caulfield Cup, Mackinnon Stakes, Melbourne Cup, C F Orr Stakes, St George Stakes and Australian Cup.

Transferred to the United States, she won the G1 Beverley D. Stakes at Arlington but was relegated for causing interference to home-town heroine Flawlessly.

Let’s Elope was retired to stud in 1995 and started with French stakes performers Yes I Will (Danzig) and Over The Moon (Storm Cat) before returning to Australia carrying G2 MVRC AAMI Vase winner Ustinov (Seeking The Gold). He currently stands at Moorookyle Park in Victoria.

Let’s Elope foaled Caught Courting (Danehill) a year after Ustinov and he won four races in Sydney and was stakes placed in Perth. He is based at Greenvale Park in Queensland.

Marks pensioned Let’s Elope after foaling Outback Joe’s younger sister Karata (Elvstroem) in 2008. She is also trained by Blackiston and has won a Seymour maiden in 16 starts to date.

By any reckoning, Yallambee Stud’s returns were very rewarding at this week’s Inglis Melbourne Premier yearling sale.

The Woodard family — Peter, Rick and Christie — arrived from Romsey with 21 yearlings and 19 changed hands for a second-best aggregate of $2.25 million. Eliza Park raised more money but the Kerrie nursery had to find new homes for 33 head to reach turnover of $2.91 million.

Yallambee’s average of $118,684 was by far the best of the big guns at Oaklands. Only those studs with 6 sales or less finished in front of the Woodards’ on the vendors’ list.

“It’s been our best ever sale,” Peter Woodard claimed. “The pre-sale inspections were positive but you can never be too confident.

“Inglis did a fantastic marketing job and trainers will keep coming back while they keep banking those VOBIS cheques.”

Yallambee graduates will go into local stables like Peter Moody, Mick Price, Peter Morgan, John Moloney, Clinton McDonald, Pat Carey and Shea Eden.

“Our yearlings are also heading to Gai Waterhouse, David Payne and Bjorn Baker in Sydney,” Woodard said. “And we also had the visiting South Africans among the under-bidders.

“Rick and Christie prepped the yearlings to perfection and Christie’s updates and photos on Facebook and our website was a huge help for all the interstate and international buyers. One of the South African guys told me he bid on a few of ours after logging on during the flight over.”
Topping their draft at $240,000 was the Choisir half-brother to Adelaide G3 winner Moment in Time (Lot 217) and the Magnus half-sister to Melbourne G2 winner Upbeat (Lot 554).

Yallambee’s Melbourne Premier I figures have kept well ahead of the overall average improving from $77,429 (2011), $97,125 (2012), $100,750 (2013) and $118,684 this year.

Next on the circuit for Yallambee is the Melbourne VOBIS Gold Sale on April 27 & 28 comprising yearlings by Magnus (4), God’s Own (2) and Street Boss (1).

One-time Independent Stallions shuttler U S Ranger opened his southern hemisphere account in Adelaide on Saturday.

Get The Nod (2g U S Ranger — Silent Cash by Secret Savings) raced on the pace first-up in the Holdfast Insurance Hcp (1000m) at Morphettville and scored by three-quarters of a length from Frank Heavens (Big Brown). The Lloyd Kennewell trained youngster was an $18,000 buy at the 2013 Inglis Classic yearling sale.

“I was very impressed,” Kennewell said. “He’s a promising young horse of the future!”

Independent Stallions owner Mike Becker stood U S Ranger (USA) at short notice when Artie Schiller was a late withdrawal from the southern shuttle in 2010. Both stallions were based at WinStar Farm in Kentucky.

U S Ranger was one of the last sons of legendary sire Danzig to retire to stud and there were 34 foals from that sole Victorian crop. He was unbeaten at two in the French provinces and resumed as a three year-old to win the G3 Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte before finishing second in the G3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A free-wheeling front-runner, he developed into a high-class sprinter at four with Group 1 placings in the July Cup at Newmarket and Prix de la Foret at Longchamp. His dam My Annette (Roberto) is a three-quarter sister to Dynaformer.

The Australian opener came a week after U S Ranger’s three year-old colt Solitary Ranger won the LR John Battaglia Memorial (1700m) at Turfway Park in Kentucky. He had posted an initial black-type victory in last year’s G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity.

Trainer Wayne Catalano said Solitary Ranger will possibily run in the G3 Spiral Stakes back at Turfway Park on March 22. It’s a designated points race for the Kentucky Derby.

Clifton Red was a fitting winner of the Group 3 TBV Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.

Her breeder and managing part-owner Bill Cockram is a son of former TBV committeeman Ted Cockram who pioneered Super VOBIS back in 1987.

Clifton Red (2f Sebring — Pretty Penny by Encosta De Lago) is trained by David Hayes and is the latest stakes winner for the Cockram family and Lindsay Park. “It was a big ask to win down the straight-six at her very first start,” Bill Cockram said. “We are looking forward to the future — she will make a nice three-year-old.

“Winning the TBV Stakes is a real thrill. Dad is really happy and is watching from home.”

Ted Cockram bred champion racehorse and sire Century and he was a Moonee Valley committeeman for over a decade. Bill has always been active within the industry and he was voted on to the Geelong committee earlier this season.

Clifton Red was the first of three runners from her dam Pretty Penny at headquarters on Australian Cup day. I Am Titanium (Flying Spur) was fifth home in the LR MSS Security Stakes and her G2 Sandown Classic winner Sertorius (Galileo) finished third in the G2 Blamey Stakes.

“We have put a lot of time and effort into our breeding and mare selections,” Cockram explained. “We are very proud to have all three starting in black-type events on such a big day.”

Pretty Penny won five races in Melbourne and was beaten a nose in the G3 W W Cockram Stakes at Caulfield in August 2005. Now based at the family’s Shadow Glen Stud at Modewarre, she has a yearling colt by High Chaparral and is back in foal to Sebring.

Hayes indicated Clifton Red is now likely to run in Sydney with the Riesling Stakes at Rosehill next on the agenda. She will come into her own over longer trips in races like the ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes and ATC Champagne Stakes.

“She’s right there among my better two-year-old fillies,” Hayes said. “She’s big and rangy and it was a good effort to win a Group race on debut.”

Macedon Ranges Shire Council will develop a feasibility study into establishing an equine centre capable of hosting world-class equine events, educational experiences and other equine activities in the region.

The Victorian Government will contribute $60,000 to the project, with Macedon Ranges Shire Council providing the balance of the $95,000 project.

The study will take 12 months to complete and will look at a range of options for community and commercial use including indoor and outdoor arenas, stabling, yards, exhibition areas and meeting rooms. It will also consider non-equine uses such as canine and agricultural shows and exhibitions.

Mayor, Cr Roger Jukes said that if the facility goes ahead, it would be a major driver for business development and employment in the region.
“Supporting the equine industry is a key initiative in Council’s Economic Development program Equine Industry Strategy.

“Many local businesses are supported by the equine industry, from veterinary practices to the business servicing horse floats, fixing electric fences or building sheds and sand arenas,” he said.

Cr Jukes said that representatives from the recently formed Macedon Ranges Equine Industry Network (REIN) would be key to development of the study, from both a business and recreational perspective.

“We also know that the equine industry is widely supported by recreational horse owners and members of local riding clubs and associations. As part of the study, we will be consulting with these groups as well as broader equine interest groups and associations,” he said.

The feasibility study is an action in the 2012—17 Equine Strategy, which aims to support the sustainable growth of the equine industry and create local employment opportunities. The equine industry contributes an estimated $140 million each year to the local economy.

To view the equine strategy, visit mrsc.vic.gov.au/business/strategies. For more information about the strategy or to receive information and updates about equine projects, contact Leanne Davey on 5421 9617 or ldavey@mrsc.vic.gov.au

Media Enquiries: Gemma Gamble, Communications and Public Relations Coordinator,
telephone 5422 0310 or 0419 103 346

Greta West studmaster Laurie McCarthy had one eye on Sky Channel while keeping the other on his yearlings at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale on Wednesday.

McCarthy watched Honey Steel’s Gold win at Sandown and then sold the top-priced Reward For Effort and the top-priced Domesday during Session II at Oaklands. Both yearlings were offered through the Little Plains Stud consignment.

Honey Steel’s Gold is by Greta West stallion Keep The Faith and trainer David Hayes will set him for the G1 South Australian Derby in May.

The Reward For Effort – Sea Frolic (Dolphin Street) filly made $48,000 to First Light Racing and will be trained by Mat Ellerton and Simon Zahra. She is a half-sister to 5 winners and 3 of them are by Greta West sires Keep The Faith and King of Prussia.

The Domesday colt from Firhill (Marauding) is a half-brother to five winners topped by Greta West bred mare Two Hills who has won 7 sprints in Melbourne and over $360,000 in prizemoney.

He impressed several prospective buyers and auctioneer Jonathon D’Arcy. “Here’s a big, strong colt,” D’Arcy boomed as the youngster entered the sale ring. “He looks like he could run through a brick wall.”

Trainer Ciaran Maher agreed and went to $40,000 to outbid a visiting trainer from Singapore.

Earlier in the week, Greta West stallion God’s Own burst through the $2 million barrier in prizemoney this season when Angel Warrior came from last to land the Bullarook Park Plate (1000m) at Terang.

Angel Warrior (4m God’s Own — Wingin’ A Prayer by Raise A Stanza) was racing first-up on Monday and won running away by a length for trainer Michael Roebuck. At her only other run, she led but faded at Swan Hill in October.

God’s Own is second among Victorian based sires for the individual winners’ premiership this season. Bel Esprit (103) leads that division ahead of God’s Own (64), Reset (61), Magnus (59), Dash For Cash (55) and Elvstroem (55).

The harder the audience clapped, the higher he stepped. Lofting his exceptionally long legs so high that each step seemed more animated, more look at me, than the one before, he danced with all his heart to a movie soundtrack from Secretariat.

And Sea Lord was great that day. Not as a racehorse, he never raced.

But in the hands of top-level dressage rider Silva Martin he was a virtuoso in the dressage ring performing a Freestyle that displayed their talent and connection, while reminding everyone who watched that this was no Warmblood.

This was an ex-racehorse Thoroughbred who became a Grand Prix dressage horse!

Outfitted in the silks and blinkers customarily worn on the track, Martin cantered them into the show ring of the PVDA Ride For Life Dancing Horse Challenge June 25 to the sound of a bugler announcing the start of a race.

Race name: Sea Lord
Sire: Sea Salute
Dam: Graceful Glory
Foal date: 2001

The idea to honor Sea Lord’s heritage came to Martin and the Thoroughbred’s owner Charish Campbell once it was decided that he would be the horse they would bring to the benefit show for the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, Martin says in a recent interview with OffTrackThoroughbreds.com.

“Charish and I were throwing ideas around, and I said, ‘There’s really no question. We’ll have to go as a jockey and racehorse.’ He’s an American Thoroughbred and we should honor that,” she says.

“A good friend of mine sewed my silks and he wore goggles for the first time in his life. The whole idea that he was off the racetrack in Virginia was fantastic. The audience loved it. And the more they clapped the better he went for them.”

Martin and her husband Boyd Martin, a US Eventing Team A-List member, love Thoroughbreds.

“Boyd has always purchased Thoroughbreds off the track and has been a big fan of them. He has tended to prefer them to Warmbloods because they’re so smart and they have a good energy–they never wear out,” she says.

And Sea Lord was evented by both Boyd and Olympian Phillip Dutton before Martin moved him into a dressage career in 2007.

She still remembers what she said the first time she saw Sea Lord. “I met him in July 2007 and Phil Dutton was eventing him and Boyd was also riding him, doing some novice work,” she says. “I used to look at him and think that this was a really nice horse. You could just see it.”

At the time, his jumping skills were not meeting expectations, so she offered to sit on him.

“I remember telling his owner at the time, Shannon Simpson, that he could be something really good. Then he developed into this freak that he is now.”

The pair has quickly climbed levels, and is now at Grand Prix. Most recently, Sea Lord won Reserve Champion in the last Regionals at Prix St. George and has achieved many other successes, including wins at multiple Prix St. George shows.

In a Dressage Daily.com article, he is described as a “well developed Grand Prix” horse who has achieved one tempi changes and piaffe-passage. The article notes: “He is a dream to ride, very soft, forward thinking, and loves to please.”

His personality and his ability were deciding factors guiding Martin’s decision to take him to the show.

“Sea Lord loves to make a grand entrance and he thrives in the big atmosphere at a dressage show, with all the lights, music and people,” Martin says. “A lot of horses can get scared in an atmosphere like that. But this horse is way less hot than some of my Warmbloods, and when he’s in the ring, all he does is try for you.”

And he has made a big impression on many of the people in his circle.

Shannon Stimson, his first owner, recalls how impressed she was with the horse nicknamed Big Bird because of his resemblance to the Sesame Street character.

“He was so gangly and his neck and legs were so unusually long at 17.1 hands that he was called Big Bird by the stable guys caring for him,” Stimson says. Skinny and out of shape, he had a “huge suspension” and his trot “was like velvet,” she adds.

She purchased the horse and put him in a program with Phillip Dutton. But, as the horse advanced it became clear that he was not as careful over rails as they would have liked, and that upper-level jumping was probably not in the cards for him.

But Martin saw something special in him, and grabbed the opportunity to teach the large, constitutionally uphill mount to perform dressage.

Stimson recalls how well they fit each other when Martin finally gave him a try.

“From the first moment Silva sat on him and I watched them work together, it was clear that dressage was what he was born to do,” Stimson says. “Silva’s personality matches Birdy’s perfectly, and he will do anything for her.”

He was always a big mover with a bold personality, she adds.

“His personality was always exceptionally sweet and laid back, not that he didn’t have his opinions,” Stimson recalls. “He has huge self-confidence, and there is absolute no ‘No!’ in him. I take this to be basic to his Thoroughbred temperament and excellent blood lines.”

Among the greats in his family tree are Native Dancer, Nashua, and Seattle Slew.

Although Sea Lord is “still learning collection,” he’s young yet, and full of promise, Martin says.

His owner has watched the video of his debut Freestyle over and over again.

“The performance is a tribute to the American Thoroughbred,” Campbell says. “Watching this in person has been the highlight of my career.”

And for one more ex-racehorse performing at the highest echelons, the performance in honor of great Thoroughbred athletes helped underscore what so many top riders know: Thoroughbreds can do anything.

“If you get them on your side,” Martin says, “they’ll do anything for you.”

See original post here: Off-Track Thoroughbreds

An $80,000 average price and improved clearance rate have underlined an outstanding opening day at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

“The average has jumped 10% and the clearance rate is much better than this time last year,” Inglis director Peter Heagney said. “Naturally, we are thrilled for our vendors at how the sale has started.”

Phoenix Broodmare Farm topped Sunday’s trade with a $450,000 Northern Meteor colt from Group 2 winner Conquistar. He was purchased by Sun Kingdom P/L, Gai Waterhouse Racing and James Harron Bloodstock.

That equalled the 2013 sale high and was one of five lots that made $200,000 or more.

The half-brother to Blue Diamond runner up Jabali was the first lot to push through the $200,000 mark at Oaklands on Day 1. Kornong Stud’s strapping colt by Denman from Balalaika was finally secured for Tan Sri Vincent Tan of Malaysia with a bid of $320,000. He will be trained by Mick Price at Caulfield.

Queensland trainer Dan Bougoure then went to $300,000 to buy Grange Thoroughbred’s colt by Fastnet Rock from Group 3 winner Bhandara.
Day 1 trade for the 106 lots that changed hands reached $8.56 million. The average was $80,778 and the clearance rate rose 5 points to 79%.

Yallambee Stud finished Day 1 as the leading vendor (3 or more sold) selling five yearlings for $480,000.

Victorian vendors dominated the leader-board of the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale on Sunday. New Zealand based Ascot Farm was the only visiting seller to make the Top 10 on Day 1 at Oaklands Junction.

  • $450,000 Phoenix Broodmare Farm (Northern Meteor — Conquistar Colt )
  • $400,000 Ascot Farm NZ (Star Witness – Crystal Whip Colt)
  • $320,000 Kornong Stud (Denman — Balalaika Colt)
  • $300,000 Grange Thoroughbreds (Fastnet Rock – Bhandara Colt)
  • $230,000 Erinvale Thoroughbreds (Fastnet Rock – Blonde Humor Colt)
  • $180,000 Millford Thoroughbreds (Not a Single Doubt – Beymatilla Colt)
  • $170,000 Swettenham Stud (Equiano – Circus Polka Colt)
  • $160,000 Eliza Park (Not a Single Doubt – Canadian Legacy Colt)
  • $160,000 Bucklee Farm (Denman – But One Regret Colt)
  • $150,000 Three Bridges (Lonhro – Voltdanze Filly)

The 2014 edition of the Inglis Melbourne Premier yearling sale is just over a month away. The source of world champion Black Caviar, its first lot this year will parade at 12 Noon on Sunday, March 2.

Conceived, born, raised, sold, owned and trained in Victoria, Black Caviar received her most recent accolade last week when officially rated equal-top of the year-end 2013 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings released by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).

“The total number of Australian-bred horses rated 115 or more by IFHA has increased 400% in the last ten years — underlining the tremendous growth in the Australian thoroughbred and its international reputation,” points out Inglis Melbourne Director Peter Heagney.

“Racing both here in Victoria and in many other states of Australia is a tremendous passion.

“Now is a great time to get involved in this exciting sport, with increases in prizemoney, incentive bonus schemes and the limit on the number of individual persons who may be registered as owners of a racehorse from ten to twenty making racehorse ownership more accessible and affordable.”

A total of 775 lots have been catalogued for the Melbourne Premier and 61% are Super VOBIS Qualified, just as Black Caviar was in 2008.

Black Caviar was offered as Lot 520 from the draft of Swettenham Stud (as agent for Gilgai Farm). The daughter of Bel Esprit was snapped up by trainer Peter Moody for $210,000.

With a median price of just $60,000, Melbourne Premier has an enviable record as the sales source of top level sprinters such as Black Caviar, Starspangledbanner, Weekend Hussler, Alinghi, Ortensia, Reward For Effort, Turffontein, Costa Viva, Rostova, Stepitup and Sacred Kingdom.

Inglis Melbourne is also growing an impressive record as a source of outstanding middle distance and staying type horses such as Fawkner, Polanski, Pinker Pinker, Arapaho Miss, Hollow Bullet, Escado and Igugu.

Over a ten year period the stakes winners-to-lots sold from Melbourne Premier has risen 44%.

All of Australasia’s leading sires are represented in the 2014 catalogue with yearlings that were carefully selected from almost 2,000 entries received for the sale.

“An improving genetic pool in Victoria and increased vendor support from other major states has enabled our bloodstock team to be increasingly selective on type and conformation for Melbourne Premier,” Heagney added.

Go to www.inglis.com.au for the online catalogue or download it on the Inglis Sales iPad App

Hard-copy catalogues can be requested from the Melbourne office on 03 9333 1422 or email catalogue@inglis.com.au