Turffontein finds his niche in the market
Blue Gum Farm’s Phil Campbell has no illusions of where Turffontein stands in the pecking order of stallions.
The stallion’s advertised service fee is $8,800 and Campbell has no hesitation in describing the 15 year-old son of Johannesburg as a “bread and butter’’ stallion who continually produces winners throughout Australia and beyond.
Turffontein produced the first winner on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington on Saturday when the Victorian bred and Tasmanian trained and owned gelding Mandela Effect won the opening race
“It was good to see that horse win but he still hasn’t won his stakes race but hopefully that is not that too far away for him,” Campbell said of Mandela Effect.
Blue Gum Farm purchased Turffontein when he retired from the racetrack following his final race up the Flemington straight in the Newmarket Handicap in 2010 after coming off his Group 1 victory in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley.
“We basically bought the horse when he retired off the racetrack and some of the original owners stayed in him and we sold shares to other breeders and that basically came to pass on how he came to stand here,’’ Campbell said.
Asked whether he’d been pleased with the stallion, Campbell paused and replied:
“He was a tough enough horse to get interest in him in the early days but he had a wonderful run there where he had Fontein Ruby, Fontiton and Lyuba and then on the back of them came Widgee Turf.”
“He has had to do it the hard way, but I think he has done a very serviceable job. I guess he fits the bracket of a bread and butter type of stallion and that’s what people like to call them. I mean it’s not easy for a horse like that when there are new, sexy horses being brought into the system every year by the big farms.’’
Campbell says horses like Turffontein can get a little bit lost in the system.
But he says Mandela Effect, trained by Scott Brunton at Seven Mile Beach and the Paddy Payne trained Widgee Turf are keeping Turffontein in the spotlight. Widgee Turf has won $1.2 million in prizemoney, but unfortunately was scratched from the Group 3 Chatham Stakes (1400m) at Flemington where he was one of the top fancies.
“They are flying the flag for him at the moment and he has always got some horse winning somewhere and he has been very consistent,’’ Campbell said.
“And he has shown that he can get one at a good level.
“He hasn’t had a Group 1 winner yet but he has gone very close, mostly with Widgee Turf who has been a wonderful horse. Some of Turffontein’s horses have been very cheap purchases and I’m sure Widgee Turf was a cheap one, Lyuba was a cheap one. Fontein Ruby was only a $50,000 yearling and she won over one million bucks.”
“He has had two individual millionaires so far and I think between them they didn’t cost $55,000. It’s terrific and it’s all about margins and returns. He has had some horses earning pretty good prizemoney against purchase prices, that’s for sure.”
Mandela Effect was bred by Tasmanian horsewoman Mandy Gunn who is a good client of Blue Gum Farm.
Campbell said Mandy has got a nice little broodmare band and sends a lot of her mares to Blue Gum each year to be breed to the farm’s stallions, while Blue Gum also walks mares out for her to other Victorian stallions.
“Mandy bred Mandela Effect and I understand he was offered at the Tasmanian yearling sales and I think he was an $18,000 yearling and he has won now, $350,000. He seems to be a nice sound horse and I can’t see why he won’t continue to race on and continue to accumulate money.’’
Mandy also had stakes success earlier this year when she and her group of owners won the Launceston Guineas with her mare Glass Warrior which was bred at Blue Gum Farm. The mare, by Blue Gum Farm stallion Glass Harmonium and out of Hissy Miss, also ran second to former Darley colt, Amazing Beats which now races in Hong Kong, in the Tasmanian Derby (2200m) Derby in February.
Mandela Effect’s dam Morell has a full sister yearling to Mandela Effect that Campbell believes it is being retained by Mandy. Morell recently had a Turffontein filly and is booked to go to another Blue Gum’s stallion, Manhattan Rain.
Blue Gum Farm has stood Manhattan Rain for the past three seasons and Campbell‘s mission is to resurrect the stallion’s name.
“We knew it was going to be a little bit tough this year with his foal numbers with the two year-old crop and the three year-old crop currently racing and we were well aware of that when we took the horse on,” Campbell said of Manhattan Rain who produced two Group 1 winners in 2017.”
She Will Reign won the Group 1 Golden Slipper as a two year-old and the Group 1 Moir Stakes at The Valley as a three year-old.
“Manhattan Rain has got some really nice yearlings heading to the sales next year from his biggest numbers wise and quality wise,’’ Campbell said.
“And I would suggest his best book of mares which was on the back of Whisky Baron winning the Group 1 in South Africa and She Will Reign winning the Golden Slipper here.”
“He has got a good book of mares that are just finishing foaling up now and he is covering good mares again this season and his fertility has always been fantastic.”
“When Chris Kemp from our farm went up to collect Manhattan Rain form Arrowfield, the boys up there in the breeding shed said they don’t like to see the fertile ones leave.”
“They gave him a great wrap for his fertility and that’s exactly how we found him too. We realise we have got to sort of resurrect him, but he has got good numbers coming through from quality mares and we are confident he will have some good young horses soon coming again through here.”
Manhattan Rain’s oldest progeny since standing at Blue Gum Farm are yearlings.