Reproduced from Breednet

The first race on day one of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday went the way of the Victorians as Hugh Bowman guided the Starcraft gelding Property to the easiest of wins in the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m).

Given plenty of time to settle, Property only had two behind him coming around the home turn.

The bay gelding was travelling so well, Bowman had little trouble beating the eventual second Condor Heroes to a run between horses.

From then on it was a matter of how far as the Robert Smerdon-trained 2yo streaked clear to win by three and a quarter lengths from Sun Stud owned Condor Heroes (Not A Single Doubt) .

Second behind subsequent Blue Diamond Stakes winner Catchy (Fastnet Rock) over 1100 metres at Caulfield when making his career debut on January 7, Property broke his maiden in style in the Listed Blue Diamond Preview (C&G) (1000m) at Caulfield on January 26.

He then defeated the high-class Pariah (Redoute’s Choice) in the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) (1100m) at Caulfield before finishing an even fifth in the Group I Blue Diamond Stakes, less than three lengths from the winner Catchy.

“As has been documented, he had some x-ray issues that stopped him from going to Hong Kong so we just backed off him at the stables at Caulfield and kept him there on the water walker and jogging on the treadmill,” Smerdon said.

“He’s got a three-year-old’s brain and build so we’re just relying on that to keep training and racing him and here we are.

“It’s probably a big ask for a two-year-old to do what he’s done but its testament to the horse’s constitution, naturally his ability but also his constitution, to handle it.”

Bowman believed the son of Starcraft has the scope to go to the highest level.

“He had excellent form, two wins and beaten in the Blue Diamond, which is outstanding. He ran an incredible race in the Blue Diamond,” Bowman said.

A $130,000 purchase from the Amarina Farm draft the 2016 Classic Yearling sale, Property is the third foal of the unraced Anabaa (USA) mare Opalize whose dam Opal Fire is a sister to Group I Futurity Stakes and Group I CF Orr Stakes winner Desert Sky (Hurricane Sky).

Property is one of 17 stakes-winners for Stracraft who started his career at Arrowfield Stud before transferring to Rosemont Stud in Victoria in 2014. Rosemont this week announced they have now outright purchased the stallion son of Soviet Star.

It is fairly unlikely a horse bred at Buchan in East Gippsland has ever won a $400,000 race at Royal Randwick.

But that’s just what happened on Saturday when Free Standing, a four-year-old son of Swettenham Stud shuttle sire Equiano, saluted in the $400,000 Country Championships Final on Day 1 of The Championships.

Trained out of Coffs Harbour by Cathleen Rode, Free Standing has put many miles on the clock since he was foaled down at Tas and Julie Rielley’s Basinghall Farm in Nagambie.

But where does Buchan fit in?

That’s where Shea Reynolds, a trainer, mum, small business operator and breeder, comes into the story.

Shea has always been around horses having been an endurance rider, a mountain rider and now a thoroughbred trainer.

Shea trained Free Standing’s dam Motown Melody (Commands) after buying her from the Mike Moroney stable. When the mare retired, she joined the small four-member broodmare band at Shea and husband Reece’s 500 acre property.

The mare visited Swetteham sire Bianconi in her first year producing a filly and then returned to the Northwood Road stallion barn in 2012.

“I liked Equiano and sent Motown Melody to him,” Shea said.

The colt from that mating was born in September 2012 at Basinghall and spent his formative years growing up on the hills of Buchan.

While he had been broken in, the opportunity to sell or race the Equiano colt though was restricted when vets found his windpipe had collapsed.

This unfortunate discovery came at the same time that Shea suffered a serious riding putting her out of action for six months.

Buchan breeder-trainer Shea Reynolds riding trackwork

Buchan breeder-trainer Shea Reynolds riding trackwork

So it was off to the Inglis August Thoroughbred Sale in 2014 where he was snapped up for $2,500 and floated to northern New South Wales where he would eventually be trained to win at Royal Randwick over the weekend.

“I’m very happy he has gone on to such success,” Shea said.

“I didn’t at all think he would go on to do that…particularly as vets gave him no future due to a windpipe collapse.”

Free Standing’s trainer Cathleen Rode has her stables adjacent to those of Joe Janiack, the trainer of multiple Group 1 winning Takeover Target.

Ironically, Free Standing’s sire Equiano beat Takeover Target at Royal Ascot.

“I bought him because he was by Equiano,” said Rode’s partner Steven Thompson.

“Our stable complex is next to Joe Janiak and I yelled out one day, ‘I bought an Equiano, the horse that beat Takeover Target (in the Kings Stand at Royal Ascot in 2008).”

The gelding has now pocketed $427,875 in his twenty starts up and down the racecourse of costal New South Wales.

It certainly is some journey he has made since leaving Buchan and making his way to Coffs Harbour and Randwick via Nagambie and Oaklands Junction.

In 2017, the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards will again recognise those whose efforts go largely unnoticed and whose work is as vital as any other to the success and survival of the racing and breeding industries.

The Awards conducted by Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia will again honour workers in the stud and stable categories of Leadership, Dedication to Racing, Dedication to Breeding, Horsemanship and Thoroughbred Care and Welfare, plus a further category of Administration and Ancillary Services.

An overall Thoroughbred Excellence winner is chosen from the five stud and stable section winners.

Since their inception in Australia in 2015, the Awards have acknowledged outstanding talent, contribution and dedication, not only among the winners, but all who entered.

For one-time stable foreman, Mark Newnham, the inaugural Excellence Award winner in 2015, the GSSSA helped provide both the confidence and the means to set up a racing stable that produced a G1 Golden Slipper runner in its first full year of operation.

“When you’re starting out you need plenty of help, financial and otherwise, and that’s what the Awards gave me,” Newnham said.

“But most of all it’s the recognition. So many of the entrants are people who start work before dawn and do some of the toughest jobs in the business.

“And they do it more for the love of racing and of the horses than for anything else.”

The 2016 Thoroughbred Excellence Award winner Jenny Watson, the foaling supervisor at Armidale Stud in Tasmania, echoed those sentiments.

“There are so many good people out there who deserve recognition, I’m just thrilled to be one of them,” she said.

“I find it amazing to be recognised for doing something I love and I can’t thank TBA, Racing Australia and Godolphin enough for acknowledging all the people who keep the industry going.”

Each GSSSA winner receives $10,000 with $1000 going to the runners-up and $3000 to be shared among each winner’s work colleagues.

The Thoroughbred Excellence Award carries an additional $5000 prize.

For more information visit the GSSA website at

Nominations are now open and close on Sunday April 16, 2017.

A unique offer has been announced for the sire of super impressive Kindergarten Stakes winner Property.

Following the purchase of Starcraft (who stood previously under the ownership of Arrowfield), Rosemont Stud is offering breeders the chance to breed to the stallion for free …. with a catch.

Mare owners who book swiftly get the chance to “toss the boss” and nominate whether they would prefer to breed a colt or a filly.

“Basically we are saying you will only pay for what you want. If you nominate you want a colt and get a colt you will pay the service fee. But if you get a filly, you don’t pay a cent. The same rules apply vice versa too,” said Rosemont’s Anthony Mithen.

The service fee has been announced at $8800 but there is a 50% chance that no fee will need to be paid.

“I thought it would be a great way to celebrate his Victorian ownership. We all only want to pay for what we want, rather than what you get,” Mithen said.

“We will offer limited nominations under this arrangement on a first in best dressed basis. We have gone to those that have supported Starcraft in the past couple of years to give them first opportunity and it has been incredibly well received.

“We are now offering a limited number of nominations under the same deal before breeders will be asked to pay the fee of $8800 regardless of whether they get a colt or filly.

“So I would urge anyone thinking about using the ever-green father of Star Witness, Property and the dozens of other top-liners to contact us immediately,” Mithen said.

Starcraft has had a major renaissance of late with spectacular sales results both in Australia and Hong Kong highlighted by a $1.5 million sale at the Hong Kong international sale last year and another $750,000 sale this year.

In Australia his yearlings have sold up to $200,000 this sales season from very few offered and he recently averaged over $90,000 at the Melbourne Premier main session sale.

Barely a weekend goes by without the son of Soviet Star getting a winner in Hong Kong with Jing Jing Win, House Of Fun, Blizzard and Eroico emerging as stars of the Asian powerhouse.

For more information call Rosemont on (03) 5220 6501 or Dom Rhoden on 0400 680 865.