Above: Master Montaro makes a winning Hong Kong debut at Sha Tin (Image: HKJC)
Australian export Master Montaro – an outstanding son of Swettenham Stud stallion Toronado – didn’t fall victim to the low winning statistics of horses making their debut in Hong Kong.
After winning on debut for Cranbourne trainer Richard Laming, the gelding was sold to Hong Kong interests for around $1.8 million and transferred to David Hayes who was Sha Tin bound for the second time.
After being sold after his maiden win for Laming at Pakenham, Hayes had to give the now four-year-old another run and hopefully a win to meet the Hong Kong Jockey Club criteria – and he bolted in at Geelong over 1140m in a benchmark 70 race.
At Sha Tin’s international meeting last Sunday, Master Montaro made his debut in a class three race over 1200m and scored impressively, even though the race caller noted the horse was six lengths off the leader and being hard ridden in the straight.
Now with three wins from three starts, Master Montaro showed why colts and geldings by Toronado are being eagerly sought after by wealthy Hong Kong owners.
He picked up $AUD160,000 for his victory on Sunday.
Master Montaro was bred by Swettenham Stud principal Adam Sangster out of his mare, Circus Polka (Stravinsky x Tropical Affair).
Sangster sold Master Montaro for $80,000 to New Zealand’s Woburn Farm at the 2018 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale. Woburn Farm then later that year sold the horse to Laming Racing for $300,000 at the ready to run two-year-old sale in New Zealand.
“He was very impressive at Sha Tin,” Sangster said.
“We couldn’t be more excited for Toronado to have his second winner in Hong Kong and it’s obviously one we have bred and is trained by one of my best mates, David Hayes.
“It was a great result.”
Toronado’s first winner in Hong Kong was Prince of Sussex which now races as Lucky Express and is trained by John Size. The gelding was sold after winning the inaugural $1 million MRC The Showdown.
Sangster said Circus Polka throws a great type.
“We have the full brother to Master Montaro going to the Easter sale,” he said.
“It is a very nice type. Toronado and Circus Polka are two very nice horses and she throws an absolute ripper.”
Circus Polka has produced a full sister to Master Montaro, an unraced two-year-old named Charm and Disarm which is trained by Lindsey Smith and has been leased by Swettenham Stud to Chris Wells who owned multiple Group winner Scales of Justice.
And the broodmare has a three-year-old named Wise Counsel, also by Toronado, which is trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace. The colt has raced four times and broke his maiden status at Caulfield in September when he won over 1600m.
Swettenham Stud remained in the ownership of Wise Counsel after selling him for $250,000.
Circus Polka, which was given this season off after having a late foal, a colt by Highland Reel. She will go back to Toronado next year.
Toronado now has eight of his progeny in Hong Kong and four have raced and two have won.
Sangster said they continued to be in demand.
“They all want one of them up there and it’s similar to Starcraft and Written Tycoon,” he said.
“They have always been really nice Hong Kong horses.
“We get calls every week with people asking if we have got any Toronado colts or geldings for sale for Hong Kong.”
Sangster said Hayes son, JD Hayes, was at Swettenham Stud last week and keen to have a look at Master Montero’s full brother.
David Hayes said going into Sunday’s races that Master Montaro, which was ridden by expatriate Australian Zac Purton, had settled in well in Hong Kong and expected him to perform well.
Jockey Michael Walker, who rode Master Montaro in both of his Australian victories, said he was one of the best horses he has ridden.
He described the gelding as “an absolute machine.”
And on the local front, another son of Toronado – Beltoro – made it two wins from two starts when he graduated from a 1300m maiden win at Bendigo to claim the Lexus Legends Plate (1410m) for dual Melbourne Cup winning trainer Robert Hickmott.