By Patrick Bartley. Reproduced from The Age, 13 August 2017
He’s probably the most sought after young horse in the southern hemisphere.
Royal Symphony, unbeaten in three race appearances, is bringing in offers of more than $3 million from bloodstock agents around the globe.
Outside of Winx, Royal Symphony is set to be the next drawcard of the spring carnival when he commences his pathway to the rich $2 million Caulfield Guineas in early October at Flemington.
Which makes his breeder, Joe Vella, wince every time the purchase fee of just $40,000 is mentioned, saying: “Do you have to put salt on the wounds? It’s just like having a winning tatts ticket and tearing it up”.
But Vella is hoping for a second chance of sorts – not with Royal Symphony, but a potential, unborn brother or sister via Naturalist, Royal Symphony’s 25-year-old mother.
Vella, who owns Wingrove Park at Macedon, always had a soft spot for Naturalist, who produced Royal Symphony as her 16th foal at the age of 22.
“She’s been a remarkable broodmare, just so fertile. Every mating was very quick and she was an exceptional mother.
“She gave everything to her foals. Her milk was brilliantly pure, even to the point of her own malnutrition. She would give so much to her offspring that she’d start to lose condition herself,” Vella said.
He has called in some of the best veterinary experts from around the globe to see if she’s capable of conceiving again.
“With such remarkable fertility on her side and a clean bill of health, as well as having three rugs on her every night we’ll just see how we go. If we get the all clear we’ll mate her with Doomsday and hopefully a brother or sister to Royal Symphony will be produced,” he said.
Vella proudly upholds the success of his boutique stud farm, which has a 93 per cent win rate – a strike rate more than comparable with some of the most powerful farms in Australasia.
“It’s funny, when Royal Symphony was a foal running alongside his mother, he was always biting and pushing other colts out of the way. He had a real personality. Ok I sold him for $40,000, it does hurt.
“But then again I sold a horse called Fair Trade to Hong Kong for $1.2 million and hours after the cheque had cleared the horse was involved in a serious accident at the swimming pool at Sha Tin which meant we never saw the best of him.
“That’s the sort of luck it is. That’s what keeps us pushing on, the hope of that next best horse. We’ve been lucky here, we’ve had success and success drives us on,” he said.
If Naturalist returns to the breeding barn this spring and successfully produces a foal by Doomsday, it’s safe to say it won’t leave Wingrove for $40,000.
In fact, as Royal Symphony’s career blossoms, one suspects Joe Vella may keep it all for himself.