As Sirius Suspect closes in on the magical $1m mark in prize money, the rising eight-year-old continues to be a great money-spinner for the owners who bred the gelding in conjunction with Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s Darren Dance.
After winning his first black-type race with victory in the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day 2021, Sirius Suspect went 13 starts before adding another win to his 38-start career.
But he did it in style, winning last Saturday’s Listed Santa Ana Lane Sprint Series Final (1200m) at Flemington by a length.
As Dance points out, the Saab Hasan-trained gelding has been thereabouts in recent runs and was entitled to the $4 equal favouritism going into the $160,000 race.
“He has been racing well without a lot of luck and has been consistent this preparation,” Dance said.
“He deserved to win one.
“It’s remarkable for a rising eight-year-old to be as sound as he is and as genuine as he is and he is just a lovely animal to have and he thrives on work and thrives on racing.”
Dance said that since going to Hasan’s farm at Tabilk, between Seymour and Nagambie, Sirius Suspect had appreciated the change of lifestyle from being boxed at Flemington to being trained out of a paddock.
He believes it has been the making of the horse because it was always a struggle to keep weight on at Flemington.
“It was just a struggle to get four or five runs into him,” Dance said.
“But being trained on the farm out of a paddock, the horse seems to just thrive and he is just racing so well and even his run in the (Golden)Topaz (he finished third in the Swan Hill race before the Flemington win) was good.
“He has been thereabouts and ran third in that race at Sale on Good Friday and then he backed-up a week later at Caulfield and probably didn’t back-up.
“And he has sort of been all around it and it’s just good for the horse to win one. It’s good for the owners and everyone just loves the horse and we have raced him for five years and he is going as good as ever.”
Dance said they would probably give the horse a break of a couple of weeks and then map out a program that would look at some spring races.
He said Sirius Suspect was a Listed level horse and maybe a Group 3 performer at best.
But the horse likes Flemington where Dance says there are a lot of 1200m races during the spring where his targets will be mapped out in conjunction with Hasan and respected form analyst Peter Ellis.
Dance became involved with Sirius Suspects’ dam Sirius Miss (Galileo x Miss Peridot) through some of his clients who raced the mare which was retired because of foot problems.
They asked Dance after her retirement if he would be interested in getting involved with them and breeding a foal out of her to race.
Sirius Miss was trained at Caulfield by Colin Little and she raced nine times for a win and a second.
Little always said the mare had plenty of ability but was never sound enough to show it on the track consistently.
Dance, who as well as operating his syndication company Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, also breeds from his stud and agistment property, Manningtree Park at Beremboke.
He said it was an easy fix when he was approached to become involved in breeding from the mare and says among the long list of Sirius Suspects’ owners; about half of them are involved in the breeding part of it.
Sirius Miss has been a good producer. Her first foal in the Dance and partners venture produced You Can’t Be (Nadeem) that won eight races.
Sirius Witness (Star Witness) won five races, then came Sirius Suspect (Wanted), followed by two-time winner Sirius Deal (Dundeel) and Let’s Get Sirius (Dundeel) which was retired after five unplaced runs.
The last foal out of Sirius Miss is an unraced two-year-old filly, Sirius Statement (Press Statement) which was also bred by Dance and his partners. Also trained by Hasan, the filly trialled at Cranbourne on Monday.
“She is the last one out of the mare,” Dance said.
“Unfortunately we lost her when she was in foal to Toronado.
“She went to Dundeel twice and they were no good and here she is with a Wanted (Fastnet Rock x Fragmentation, winning nearly $750,000. Who would have thought?
“The cross just works with Fastnet Rock and that’s why we went to Press Statement to get Sirius Statement.”
Dance said that with Sirius Statement being a half to a Stakes winner, the owners would be keen to expand the family and breed from her once her racing days are over if she can win in town.
He said it was planned to give the filly a soft trial at Cranbourne.
“It’s hard to get a trial anywhere because the tracks are so soft,” Dance said.
“It’s put us behind but there is no hurry and she is rising three but she has had a prep and we know can she can gallop and we’ll just take our time and get her fit and find a race for her later in the year.”
Dance has 40 broodmares on his property and said they’d had a terrific year at the sales.
“It’s not often you take 16 to the yearling sale and sell them all,” he said.
“It’s just been one of those freak years and I doubt it will be the same next year, but it’s just been a great year for selling and we have resisted buying too many.
“The prices were well overs and right through the board. I think we ended up about 30 per cent over the budget for the year and we got 100 per cent clearance.
“I think it was just one of those years where everything sold and there was a big demand and the way the economy is going I don’t think that will be the case next year.
“But I think if you are breeding at the top end, there’s where you need to be and I think that’s unaffected. The middle and the bottom end are going to be pretty tough.”
Dance said breeding horses from nice mares and good stallions always seem to sell well.
Despite the successes of this year, Dance said they had plenty of horses and the time had come to attempt to consolidate to reduce the syndicate numbers as it can get out of hand.
‘’We have got some nice fillies coming through and I think at our peak we were having 500 starters a year,” he said.
“We’d like to pull in back to a couple of hundred and just have some class horses and just let it unfold.
“We have got Sirius Statement, Literary Magnate (Written Tycoon x Family Crest) that was the first filly home against the boys at Flemington in the last race.
“We have Steinem (Frankel x Thai Noon) and Detonator Jack (Jakkalberry x Red Delicious) with Ciaron Maher and we have got a couple of Camelots in work with Ciaron, so we have got a few spread around.”
Dance also has a couple with Phillip Stokes, including Tobaysure (Cable Bay x Black Velveteen) which he believes will play a part in the spring.
“We have plenty in work but I think that as you get older you want to consolidate a bit and make it simple,” he said.
“I still think there are 100 horses on the farm here. There are all sorts out there.
“And we are only four weeks away from foaling.”
Dance still has broodmares overseas.
He has four mares in Ireland, two in foal to Frankel in the UK, including Steinem’s dam, Thai Noon, and one in Japan.
“Most of those will be home by Christmas hopefully with a foal at foot and in foal,” Dance said.
“And we’ll just see how all of that plays out.
“We have mares in foal to Frankel, Camelot and we have got the mare in Japan who is going to one of those sons of Deep Impact. The new trend seems to be Japan and apart from Frankel we probably need to focus more on Japan going forward because I think that’s where the future is.
“We’ll look to be doing more in Japan just given what’s happening here with Maurice and the fact that Japan racing is dominating pretty much the world now with their stallions.
“If we are going to be doing internationals, obviously Frankel is the champion of the minute and we’d got two mares in foal to him, but going forward we’ll closely look at Japan.”
Dance said they normally buy the mares overseas, put them in foal and let them foal down overseas and put them back into foal and bring them to Australia.
He said the cost of moving them around is so expensive but if you can bring a pregnant mare and foal home, there are two offspring to divide the cost by.
Dance said it would be a mixture of retaining some of the progeny from the overseas servings and selling others.
“Thai Noon, the mother Group 3 winning Steinem who is Group 2 placed and we are going to try to win a Group 1 during spring, I know that mare is carrying a filly to Frankel,” he said.
“I would say we’d be retaining it to race and we’ll just see then.
“The other mare that is in foal to Frankel, we only just bought her last year so we’ll see what sort of foal she has and just see how the market is tracking.
“If we think the foal is worth more than we can win, then we’ll sell it but if we get a filly and want to race it and add it to the broodmare band, well we’ll do that too because you can’t buy Frankel mares easily.”
Michelle Payne paid $500,000 for the Dance-bred Serlik – a full brother to the mare Steinem at the 2020 Easter Yearling Sale for star striker Sardar Azmoun – also known as the Iranian Messi.
The colt is unraced but has won his one public trial and since had a successful wind operation.