Businessman Gerry Ryan, who raced 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain in partnership with Kevin and Colleen Bamford, is again chasing glory in Australia’s biggest race with a son of the stallion that gave him his first Cup victory.
Ryan, well known for his ownership of Jayco Caravans, parts owns five-year-old Americain gelding Tooradin which was bred and sold by Balius Farm at Darnum in Gippsland.
Tooradin was purchased as a weanling at the Great Southern Sale of 2017 for $65,000, which was more than double what Balius Farm’s owners Jacqui Sushames and her husband Tom Dieu expected.
Ryan purchased the weanling with a group of Victorian entrepreneurs – Adam Campbell, Brett Murry, Wal Pisciotta and brothers Ray and Ron Weinzierl – who spent millions of dollars turning Gumbuya Park at Tynong North into Gumbuya World.
The amusement park has developed into a major tourist location and isn’t far from Tooradin’s birthplace at Darnum.
Now with six wins from 15 starts, the gelding’s last two wins have been at 2400m at Caulfield and over 2500m at Flemington last Saturday to give Caulfield co-trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace confidence that the gelding can win a decent staying race in the spring.
Tooradin holds nominations for the $755,000 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 2, the $5.150 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 16 and the $7.630 million Melbourne Cup on November 2.
After originally standing at Swettenham Stud, Americain now resides as Colleen and Kevin Bamford’s Daisy Hill Thoroughbred Farm, where he served eight mares last year and ten the season before.
With prize money of $358,650, Tooradin is quickly closing in on Americain’s biggest price earner and his only stakes winner, Eperdument, which won the Group 3 SAJC Lord Reims Stakes and has $382,870 in prizemoney from 49 starts.
Tooradin’s dam Socialize (Iffraaj x High Tea) has had an interesting journey in racing, having been bred by Merrivale Farm’s Jen Fowler at Gooram.
Jen bought High Chaparral mare High Tea (NZ) in New Zealand and put her to Iffraaj, where the resultant foal (Socialize NZ) was sold as a yearling in New Zealand where she was bought by Western Australian bloodstock agent John Chalmers for $10,000.
Socialize was transported to Australia and had one start at Bunbury, where she beat home four runners in a 15 horse three-year-old maiden. She was then bought by Balius for $8,000 at the Inglis March Thoroughbred Sale.
Socialize had seven starts for Pakenham trainer Cameron Templeton and ran third first-up and soon ran another third before breaking her maiden status at Moe over 2050m. The mare was retired after another three starts and produced Tooradin as her first foal.
And Jen said that while High Tea remained in New Zealand, she also had foals by Jimmy Choux and Stravinsky. Brought back to Australia by Jen, she has had another five foals.
“She has just actually had a magnificent Alabama Express colt,” Jen said. “She is a pretty fabulous mare.”
Jacqui Sushames said it was exciting to see the horse they’d bred from a mare they raced win at Flemington.
She said they have a breeding right to Americain and believed with Socialize (NZ) being from an older, tough New Zealand staying family that the mating would suit their plan to breed a stayer.
“To us, it was a fairly obvious choice as the dye hadn’t been cast on him (Americain),” Jacqui said.
“To be honest, when we sold the colt, they had just gone off him as a whole.
“But we wanted to breed a stayer, and that’s what we were aiming to do and it kind of looks like we have somewhat achieved that, which is awesome.”
Socialize was covered by another staying stallion last week, Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy x Stage Magic).
“She is a pretty small mare, but gee, she throws me a good horse every year,” Jacqui said.
“Honestly, she doesn’t fail, which is amazing.”
And Jacqui admits the $65,000 paid by the Ryan team for a weanling by Americain that year was an extremely good price and was significantly more than what they were hoping to get because of the staying pedigree.
“He was always a lovely type and very correct, and when we went to the sales, we thought it would be nice if we could get $25,000 for that colt, even though he was very nice,” she said.
“But their team saw something in him, and it’s just lovely when you horse rewards someone who has put their support behind the farm. It’s a good result for everyone.
“It was a huge result for us because we were just putting our toe in the water to breed more commercial horses and with a pedigree being by Americain and out of a mare that had won over 2000m at Moe, you are sort of thinking that most people won’t be thinking it’s the hottest thing in the sale.
“Staying pedigree on a staying pedigree just doesn’t tend to sell here,’’
Jacqui said she could understand why people want their up and running two-year-olds when compared to Tooradin, who is finally getting the runs on the board as a five-year-old.
She said a lot of time, effort and patience had gone into getting Tooradin into the position he’s in today, and it’s a credit to his owners and trainers.
And she believes that on pedigree, Tooradin will probably be a better horse in 12 months as on his breeding, he should be at his best as a six or seven-year-old.
Socialize’s next foal after Tooradin was a colt by No Nay Never (USA), which is now a four-year-old gelding named Gluck Runner, which was trialled last week but is yet to race in Hong Kong. It was sold for $90,000 at Melbourne Premier’s 2019 yearling sale.
The third foal, named Goodifwecould, is an unraced three-year-old gelding by Cable Bay which is trained by Allan and Jason Williams at Cranbourne. It is owned by prominent Hong Kong-based Price Bloodstock. The gelding sold for $80,000 at last year’s Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
Caulfield trainer John Moloney paid $160,000 for Socialize’s fourth foal, a filly by Vancouver, at this year’s Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, but Balius has retained 50 per cent.
Being the first filly out Socialize, Jacqui said they were keen to retain a significant share of her with the possibility of eventually breeding from her if she could emulate Tooradin’s racetrack feats.
And Socialize’s Brazen Beau colt will go through Melbourne Premier next year.
Jacqui said they’d discussed sending Socialize back to Americain even though he wasn’t high in the popularity stakes.
“If a horse can run, that’s what it is about, and it’s not about popularity,” she said.
“I am not going to be too harsh about the stallion, especially with the way Tooradin was able to tough it out on Saturday.”
Tooradin was in the first draft of weanlings offered by Balius, and they were prepped by Springmount.
Daisy Hill Thoroughbred’s Colleen Bamford said they were only getting a trickle of broodmares to Americain (Dynaformer x America), and in the two seasons that they’ve stood him, he had ten coverings last season and eight the previous year.
“The breeders tend to want the sprinting stallions these days,” she said.
“There were some breeding rights sold in him in the early days, so we get a few of them, and we get a few outsiders.
“His strike rate isn’t too bad, and they all take a little bit of time. Unfortunately, in this day and age, people aren’t willing to wait.
“He looks magnificent and is in great nick, and it’s a shame we haven’t got a few more mares booked to him.”
Colleen said that as Americain is no longer a dual hemisphere horse, he has settled right down.
“He is a lovely horse, and he got a chance early, but I think a lot of his horses were pushed too hard too early because the incentives are there for two-year-olds,” she said.
Colleen and her husband are currently racing a four-year-old by Americain, out of Sunnyvale, which they bred, named Silicon Valley. The gelding has had seven starts for two wins – one over 2000m and the other at 2150m.
“We have given him time, and Dave Eustace loves him,” Colleen said.
“But he is a huge horse. He is back at work and is out of my favourite mare, and I just kept him for myself, and it’s a bit of fun, and Dave wants to jump him, and he is already qualified. I said not yet.”
The Maher and Eustace training team also have other American progeny in their stables, including gelding Chaska and fillies Forliah and Michante, which are all talented and out of the mare Sioux Seas Angel.
And Daisy Hill Thoroughbred’s stud manager Shane Freeman is hoping that Americain can get back to serving around 50 mares this season.
“We have a lot of enquiries this year because he is constantly getting winners,” he said.
“Tooradin might be the big one I’ve been waiting for.
“Americain has got a great strike rate, and you can’t go wrong there.”
Freeman said Americain’s fee for this season, his third at Daisy Hill, is $4400.
Asked about the possibility of a Cup run, Ciaron Maher said: “You never know. Now we’ll look at raising the bar, and whether it is a Bart Cummings or something like that, we’ll see if we can sneak into a Cup.
“All races are on the table from him. He generally likes his runs spaced a little. He did back up after two weeks this time, but his demeanour was a bit more casual, so I think he does enjoy that extra week.”
Winning jockey Damian Lane was asked whether Tooradin had Group staying potential.
“He’s got all the qualities,” Lane said in his postrace interview.
“The Maher-Eustace stable is so good at it, and he’s got the right attitude. He’s relaxed and quickens up when you need him.”