At the Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria annual awards last week, Makybe Racing and Breeding’s Tony Santic was called up to receive the award for ‘Best International Victorian bred horse”, courtesy of the 2017 Hong Kong Sprint winner, Mr Stunning.
However, there was another international prize on the horizon, when the Victorian bred Mr Stunning produced an absolute blinder to win by three quarters to defend his title.
The son of Exceed and Excel again fended off the late challenge of D B Pin to take out the 2018 Hong Kong Sprint and became the fourth horse to win multiple sprints, placing his name alongside Hong Kong superstars, Sacred Kingdom (’09 & ’07), Silent Witness (’04 & ’03) and Falvelon (’01 & ’00).
It’s been a star-studded career for Mr Stunning who was bred by Makybe’s Tony Santic and is the fifth winner from the Dayur mare With Fervour (USA), a half-sister to five-time Group One winner With Anticipation from Kentucky and Hollywood Oaks winner Fran’s Valentine.
Mr Stunning was a $250,000 purchase by Magus Equine out of the Lyndhurst Farm draft at the 2014 NZB Premier Yearling Sale after Lyndhurst had pin-hooked the weanling for $110,000 out of the Makybe draft at the 2013 Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale.
Makybe’s manager, Joe Murray, remembers Mr Stunning as a foal and while perhaps not exactly stunning early on, a lovely type regardless.
“He (Mr Stunning) was foaled down at Yallambee Stud and was a bit light boned, but very correct,” Murray recalls. “He wasn’t forward enough for the Magic Millions and wouldn’t have got into Easter, so it was decided to sell him a weanling. Tony (Santic) wasn’t going to give him away though and set a reserve of $90,000.
“The mare (With Fervour) didn’t get back in foal and we were downsizing at the time, so the decision was made to sell her (With Fervour sold for $6,000 at 2013 Inglis Broodmare Sale).
“It was a fantastic result on Sunday though and good luck to the owners: he really has turned into something special.”
An instant success in Hong Kong, winning three of his first four starts, Mr Stunning was named Champion Griffin in 2015-16. He since won the two Group 1’s, three Group 2’s and thrice been Group 1 placed. Overall, Mr Stunning has won 11 of 22 starts with eight further placings and nearly $HK46 million (approx. $A8.2 million).
Mr Stunning’s win was also memorable for new trainer, Frankie Lor, and Mauritius born jockey Karis Teetan, both notching up their first Group 1 victories.
“I’m very happy, it took me a long time to get a trainers’ licence, so I need to try my best to keep going and train more Group 1 winners,” Lor enthused. “I think John (who placed second and third) might also be happy because I worked for him and he was a great boss.”
And not forgetting the farm’s famous namesake, Makybe Diva, she has an unraced two-year-old filly by Brazen Beau and produced a Written Tycoon filly in September.
“The filly is an absolute standout,” Murray adds. “Could not be happier: she has all the Written Tycoon markings, right down to the white socks and we’re all pretty excited.”