Set to stand his third season at Mike and Brodie Becker’s Stockwell Thoroughbreds at Diggers Rest, stallion Al Maher gave a little reminder of his worth to breeders when handy mare Chassis won at Flemington on Saturday.
The Victorian bred mare was a $40,000 purchase from the Supreme Thoroughbreds draft at the 2018 Melbourne VOBIS Gold Yearling Sale for Cranbourne trainer John Price.
Supreme Thoroughbreds took the filly home when she was passed in on a $50,000 reserve as the 2017 Great Southern Weanling sale and then sold her as a yearling.
Price, who is manager of a syndicate made up of around eight Western Australians and a couple of Victorians, has a clear path mapped out for the rising five-year-old who is out of Poco Gusto (Hussonet x Kachina), a winner of three country races for Caulfield trainer Colin Little.
Price plans to chase some black type for the mare and when her racing career is over will offer her for sale in foal to an as yet decided stallion.
And it’s a plan that Mike Becker fully supports as he continues to see the facts and figures that confirms Al Maher – the Group 1 winning son of Danehill – as a sire of broodmares.
Price said that as a future broodmare, Chassis was perfectly suited.
“She is a beautiful, big correct mare and has got a good hip and rein on her,” he said.
“Her win was very good and we’ll find another one for her down the track somewhere.”
With four wins from just 18 starts, Price said the mare had done well to score victories at Caulfield, Sandown and Flemington.
Although she is yet to race at Moonee Valley, Price said it was a good achievement to win at three metropolitan tracks and even better if she could do it on four.
“There was a discussion whether we freshen her up a bit and then save her for that coming mare’s series as it would help her value enormously,’’ Price said.
“The series begins in about four weeks, I think, and starts off at 1200m then 1400m and then a mile and they are all Group 2s and 3s.
“Even a place in them would really enhance her value and get a different category of studs to look at her.”
Price said the mare left her tank pretty empty on the line over 1400m at her latest win at Flemington last Saturday when she won by just under half a length.
“She is a beautiful horse to ride in a race and I just think the 1200m to 1400m and possibly a mile are suitable,” he said.
Price said he didn’t pay a lot for the mare but it was easy to see that she was going to be a lovely, rangey filly that stood over plenty of ground.
“I don’t pay a great deal of money for the type of horses that I buy,” Price said.
“She was a no brainer and like I say she has got broodmare written all over her.
“There is no hurry to go to stud and we were thinking along those lines.”
While there has been a trend among some trainers to breed some of their own stock, Price it wasn’t something they’d do with Chassis which he owns “a fair chunk of” with some long term clients.
He said the plan was to put her through a good broodmare sale and it would be exciting to go the Gold Coast and watch her being sold in a foal to a good stallion.
“We’ll watch our pennies and find out what she crosses well with and go from there,” he said.
“It’s another little challenge and with a lot of people in her, breeding doesn’t suit everyone. It’s so long and drawn out and suddenly something doesn’t go right and there’s two years from getting an earn out of a horse.”
Price said anyone who wants to buy Chassis will instantly like her on looks.
He said that Chassis, which has won more than $330,000 in prizemoney, will get the chance to gain some black type in the coming months.
And Price was more than happy to buy progeny by Al Maher.
“What I love is the longevity in him,” he said.
“He has been around for a long time and is still producing and although he never reached any super star status, he has lasted a long time. He is a well performed sire.”
Chassis was bred by Victorian breeder Dennis Nichol who raced Chassis’ dam, Poco Gusto, which he later sold in foal to Star Witness.
Nichol is a long time breeder who he estimates he has breed between 40 to 50 horses, most of them with New Zealand links.
He also bred and raced Chassis’ half-brother Indernile (Street Boss) which has won four races and was recently sold to Queensland. The gelding finished third on debut in the Blue Diamond preview (1000m).
Nicol said the best horse he raced was the mare Floria (Savabeel x Aia) which won the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) in 2014.
It was an interesting day at Flemington on Saturday for the Becker family when Literati finished a narrow third in the last race.
Literati is by Artie Schiller which stands alongside Al Maher at Stockwell Thoroughbreds.
And by coincidence, Literati’s dam, Beijing Bound (Quest For Fame), is out of Kachina which is also the dam of Chassis’ mother, Poco Gusto.
Literati was beaten a head by a short half head.
“It was a good day for the family with the half –sister winning and our Artie Schiller finishing third,” Mike Becker said.
“Rod Fitzroy owned a lot of that family back in the day.
“And we got Beijing Bound off Rod.”
Becker said it would have been even more special if Literati had won at Flemington as the race was named after Ken Cox who was the legendary business man who developed Stockwell Stud.
“He was Stockwell Stud with George Smith as the manager all those years ago when Showdown was there. Ken Cox went to England with Tommy Smith and they bought Showdown.
“To be honest I am surprised that here isn’t a stakes race named after Ken Cox. He was a prolific breeder.”
Becker said Artie Schiller and Al Maher were similar stallions in that they could always find a good horse.
“And they just keep punching above their weight really.
“Al Maher is a magnificent looking horse and no wonder he can throw a good type and his stats have been very good. He runs a high stakes per cent to runners which puts him in elite company and not many can do it.
“And he has done it consistently right through his life.”
Becker said another thing about Al Maher was how quickly he was becoming recognised as a sire of broodmares.
“He has really made a great start as a broodmare sire as well and he is a bit of an all-rounder, the boy,” Becker said.
Becker said they had been keen to get Al Maher to Victoria as they saw him as an ideal VOBIS level horse for the state and he was getting a bit lost in the Hunter Valley.
Now a rising 20-year-old, Becker said it wasn’t easy for the stallion who doesn’t get big numbers of mares.
“The sexiness of stallions goes off very quickly, the same as Artie Schiller and suddenly it’s harder to get into the better sales with the progeny,” he said.
“But the two of them keep batting away and keep finding a good horse. Artie had a city winner on Saturday at Adelaide (Hilumiere) and they just do it week in and week out.
“And I wish ours had have won on Saturday. He led everywhere but the last stride but he is a good honest horse who has cost nothing.”
Becker said that by any standard, both Artie Schiller and Al Maher were extremely successful stallions.
“But the sexiness just goes back into the unproven first year horses and that’s where the market is at, sadly, but that’s reality and we can’t change it and it is what it is,” he said.
“But for owner breeders, they are just two magnificent horses that aren’t going to cost you an arm and a leg.”