Erinvale Thoroughbreds may not breed or sell the massive numbers they once did through the ring, but experienced breeder John Kenneally still knows how to produce a winner.
On the weekend, the Erinvale graduates were out in force not just in Victoria but across the continents.
Leading the field was Erinvale’s Inglis Premier Sale graduate Keen Array (Bel Esprit) who claimed victory in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes at Flemington.
This was backed up by a stakes winner in South Africa, a victory in Singapore, another at Riccarton in New Zealand, a little sneaky at Gunbower in Northern Victoria.
“It’s certainly been a good week, it’s great to see them all out there and performing so well, whatever the track, or the country,” Kenneally said.
Keen Array was prepared by Erinvale for the 2014 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, before heading straight to David Hayes to train, where he caught the eye of Mark Pilkington, who gathered some friends together to successfully race him on.
Our Mate Art (Artie Schiller) took out the Group 3 Matchem Stakes at Durbanville in South Africa.
He was bred by Peter Anastasiou’s Grandlodge Thoroughbreds, Ken Biddick, Stephen Anastasiou and David Plush and offered through Erinvale at the 2015 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
Kenneally remembers him as a lovely yearling that received a lot of interest for the buying bench.
“He made $135,000, which I’m told was the highest priced Artie Schiller back then. We still have the dam residing on the farm, bred by Peter Anastasiou and we have just foaled a very nice full brother about nine days ago.”
The Erinvale bred Phidias (Commands) won in Singapore on Friday night. He was one Keneally sold as a weanling.
“He was a really nice foal and was cleverly bought for $65,000 by David O’Callaghan.”
But Kenneally believes the horse to keep the closest eye on is the lightly raced Age of Fire (Fastnet Rock) for trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards. He won the Inglewood Stud Guineas Trial at Riccarton in his second career start on Saturday.
“He could be the best of the lot of them, super impressive at only his second start in a Guineas trial, he’s a Group 1 horse. He was a beautiful yearling, and we sold him for $400,000 to NZ Bloodstock agent, David Ellis,” Kenneally said.
“David has only ever bought two from me, and the other one was the sensational Princess Coup who was NZ Champion 3YO and twice Champion Middle Distance Horse, so if he is half as good he will be brilliant.”
Erinvale is based these days west of Geelong at the old Carawatha property, home for 25 years to multiple Group 1 winning trainer ‘Meggs’ Elkington who trained Birchwood, Bow Mistress, Venus and Mars and Vitalic among others.
“We are based on about 200 acres and have been here now for four years. It’s a lovely horse property, rich in racing history,” Kenneally said.
Erinvale has about sixty mares residing on the farm and, unsurprisingly, they are in peak breeding season with more than 30 foals on the ground and about fifteen still to foal.
“It’s flat out this time of year, breeding mares and walk-ins. I do it all myself, so I have been up since three today taking a mare over to Darley for a 6am cover, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“We are having a really great season, no issues with any of the foals, and although it’s flat out this time of year, I am glad not to be doing the massive numbers I have done in the past.”
“It’s not like the Erinvale of old, where we were looking after 250 mares at Nagambie, and although they were good times, this is much more comfortable, foaling about 50 each season.”
“Our mares come from everywhere, from Queensland and a few mares from Western Australia. Good client Peter Anastasiou has a dozen, and they are all supporting Victorian stallions of the quality of Written Tycoon, Zoustar, Brazen Beau, Street Boss and Cable Bay.”
“While we will still have a draft at Inglis Premier Yearling Sale in March, our focus is now on selling our weanlings. We have found that market to be very strong and it has been rewarding the last two or three years.”
Note: Apart from the weekend’s winners other Erinvale graduates to enjoy high profile success in recent weeks include Darwin Cup winner Royal Request (Bel Esprit) and Group 1 placed Mr Sneaky (High Chapparal). The latter will line up as a favoured runner in this Saturday’s Group 1 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield.