El Patroness wins the Australian Oaks (Steve Hart)

For a trainer who has already achieved a string of Group 1 successes, the victory of El Patroness in the $1m Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday was another special achievement for Danny O’Brien.
The Melbourne Cup-winning trainer not only bred the three-year-old filly in partnership with prolific owner Jonathan Rosham but also trained the sire Shamus Award and the dam Sure You Can (O’Reilly x Not Sure).
“Obviously, Shamus Award was one of the best horses to come through our stables and was a Cox Plate winner, and we are all proud of how well he is doing at stud now,’’ O’Brien said.
“I bought the mother as a yearling, and she was by O’Reilly, and El Patroness was her first foal, and she looks like she has got a big future as a broodmare.
“It’s nice when it pays off generation after generation.”
Sure You Can, who O’Brien bought for $100,000 at the 2012 Karaka Yearling Sales, won three races, including two over 2000m at Flemington for the trainer and Rosham.
Asked whether he always believed Shamus Award would make it as a stallion, O’Brien said: “He did win a Cox Plate and an Australian Guineas and colts that do that, and he obviously did it as a three-year-old, you have got to think that they are really a good chance of doing it.
“He is by Snitzel and is a beautiful looking horse.
“It’s probably taken everyone a while to work out that you have to be a little bit patient and treat them as that style of horse.
“Everyone is being rewarded with how good they end up being if you are a bit patient with them.”
O’Brien agreed that it had been good for Anthony Mithen’s Rosemont Stud to secure the services of Shamus Award from New South Wales.
He said the Victorian breeding industry over the past decade had just gotten stronger and stronger.
“To have him and Written Tycoon, they are two horses that are going to finish in the top five of the stallion’s premiership this year,” O’Brien said.
“We have got some really good stallions down here, and Shamus is certainly leading the way.”
As Shamus Award’s trainer, O’Brien has two breeding rights annually to the stallion and has bred two mares to him every year.
“I have two or three foals on the ground to him this spring,” he said.
“We were always supporting him even when he was unfashionable, and we are definitely not going to stop now that he has made it commercially.
“With those middle-distance horses, until they have probably got five or six-year-olds racing, you don’t get mares to show themselves. Even Zabeel was on the nose as a stallion early doors, and look what he ended up being.
“It just takes a few years to get their stock out there are the right distances and right ages to show the market what they can do.”
O’Brien and the Rosham-led Balmerino Racing have bred a Star Witness filly out of Sure You Can, as well as a full sister to El Patroness and a colt by Puissance De Lune. The mare is back in foal to Shamus Award.
He said the Star Witness filly had a few issues and wouldn’t race but has been retained as a broodmare.
“The full yearling sister is just getting broken in now, and she is a beautiful filly,” O’Brien said.
“She is the equal of El Patroness and is a really good style of a Shamus Award filly.
“The mare has a lovely Puissance De Lune colt on her this year, and obviously, Puissance De Lune is another Victorian stallion that is really starting to hit his straps.
“Hopefully, we can get a little bit excited with some of her progeny that is going to come through over the next couple of seasons.”
O’Brien said he owns Sure You Can in partnership with Rosham, and the pair have had a lot of success, including with Group 1 VRC Oaks (2500m) winner Miami Bound which also won Group 2 races, the Wakeful Stakes (2000m) and the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).
Rosham has never had a shortage of nice horses, including a share in Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant which has won 11 Group 1s.
With O’Brien and Rosham both being Hawthorn supporters, there is a distinct Hawk flavour of owners in El Patroness, including premiership players Jack Gunston, Liam Shiels and Luke Bruest.
Former Hawks Jarryd Roughead, also a premiership hero, and Jonathon Ceglar have a slice in the ownership of El Patroness, which is just $74,800 short of $1m in prizemoney.
“Jack Gunston was very keen to get involved, and he obviously bought some of those other boys in as well, and they are all very excited as you would be,” he said.
O’Brien said they’d like to give El Patroness another chance of winning an Oaks before the season ends and are looking at either the South Australian or Queensland Oaks.
He said the filly, which has had nine starts for two wins, one second and four thirds, hadn’t been through a long autumn and was in good shape.
“We are keeping those options open for her,” O’Brien said.