Widden Victoria’s young stallion Thronum (Snitzel x Helena’s Secret) produced his first winner when the Jerome Hunter-trained Thron Bone scored impressively at Caulfield on Saturday.
Out of Thronum’s first crop, it was the third race start for the two-year-old gelding which was a $200,000 purchase for Graeme Gathercole who owns Rich River Meat Exports Pty Ltd and Graebar Park.
Hunter, based at Mornington, is long-time breeder Gathercole’s private trainer.
Thron Bone made his debut in January when he finished fourth in the Listed Blue Diamond Preview for colts and geldings (1000m) and was then sent for a spell before resuming with a third at Sandown, also over 1000m, on June 11.
Hunter admitted he was surprised that the gelding started at odds of $21 when he scored his win against a good field of youngsters in heat seven of the 2022 Next Generation Sprinter series which carried a VOBIS nominator’s bonus of $7,000 and an owner’s bonus of $23,000.
The trainer is now weighing up whether to back-up Thron Bone in Saturday’s final of the series at Flemington, over 1200m, which also carries VOBIS bonuses and the first prize of $82,500.
A victory would shoot Thron Bone past his purchase price at just his fourth start.
Hunter said he wasn’t surprised by the victory.
“It’s funny because he has shown ability and first up at Sandown he ran an enormous race and got too far back and ran the fastest 400m of the day,” he said.
“So I was going into that race on Saturday fairly confident because I knew we had the favourite to beat (Ghaanati ran second at $1.80) but what he has been showing, I knew he’d be competitive.
“I just couldn’t believe his odds because if you look at his run at Sandown and while I didn’t expect him to be favourite, I thought he’d be the second or third pick.”
Hunter said he knew Thronum as a racehorse and went to the 2021 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale with the colt picked out in his catalogue.
He said he rated the yearling as a lovely type when he paraded.
“And the price tag showed that,” he said.
“It was more on looks, as the stallion’s service fee wasn’t the most expensive.”
Hunter said he was surprised to learn that Thron Bone was Thronum’s first winner.
He has two horses by Thronum. The other is a filly – Bel Thronum – bred by Gathercole out of his mare Bel Price (Esprit x Kel Price) which was a city-winning mare also trained by Hunter.
Gathercole also bred the granddam Kel Price (Keltrice x High Price) which won three races for him. High Price (At Talaq x Reguri) also won four races for Gathercole.
Hunter said both Thron Bone and Bel Thronum were his first two-year-old runners of the season.
“I got them both up and running as two-year-olds and I was very surprised, but both of them have shown ability,” he said.
“Unfortunately the filly ran on a heavy 10 at Geelong but ran an enormous race to finish third.
“Both of them have shown capabilities of winning races. They are both very sound, strong horses.”
Hunter said Bel Thronum’s dam Bel Price was a handy sprinter.
While Gathercole likes to breed from his band of broodmares, Hunter said they breed more than what they buy.
“But we always go to the sales and might pick up two or three a year but the majority are homebreds,” he said.
“Like I said, he (Thorn Bone) was a lovely type and he was our pick in the catalogue and saying that, I didn’t expect him to go for the price he did.
“We might get our money back when a hell of a lot don’t.
“The average for the sale was about $180,000 so he wasn’t overly expensive.”
The gelding is out of the four-time winner Thorsborne (Hinchinbrook), a sister to Group 2 winner Diamond Tathagata, the dam of dual Listed winner Ancestry (The Brothers War) which has won nine races and $539 490.
Thorsborne’s 2020 colt by Palentino was a $5,000 buy for Hyam Racing and Cameron Cooke Bloodstock at the Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale earlier this year.
And her 2021 filly by Fiorente was bought by Gathercole for $8000 at the Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale earlier in June.
It was no option for Hunter not to have Thron Bone gelded as he was getting too heavy.
“We were probably lucky when we gelded him when we did and he isn’t the tallest horse but was getting very chunky,” Hunter said.
“We’ll see how he pulls up and whether we go to the final (on Saturday), it’s no big deal if we don’t and we’ll pick races for him and we’ll see how he goes and there’s always a two-year-old race floating around.
“Whether he is up to black-type standard, we don’t know but I’m sure if he wins easy at his next start, we might start looking at the early three-year-old spring races.”
Hunter said they had already booked in a couple of their mares to Thronum this season based on the two they’ve raced.
Thronum was a $300,000 purchase at the 2015 Australian Easter Yearling Sale offered by Sun Bloodstock.
The colt went on to win the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) and finished second in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m).
He was retired from the track in May of 2018 with five wins and two seconds and two thirds from 14 starts.
Widden inherited Thronum when they took over Sun Stud in Victoria last year.
In Thronum’s first season at stud in 2018, he served 122 mares, at a service fee of $17,600, but struggled with his fertility which was just under 50 per cent.
While his fertility has increased, his numbers have dropped along with his service fee which for the third season in a row is $7,700.
Widden Victoria’s Adam Henry said that will limited numbers to race from a first crop that produced 50 live foals, Thron Bone’s win will give the stallion a boost.
“It was a good win and he put the writing on the wall when it ran fourth in a Stakes race at its first start,” Henry said.
“I think he has got Stakes class.”
Henry said that Thronum is from the family of Street Cry and Shamardal and ticks a lot of boxes on pedigree and performance.
“He has done a pretty good job and I think he has only had half a dozen runners for one winner and three placegetters,” he said.
“I am hearing good things from trainers and they like the ones they have.”
The fertility problems Thronum experienced in his first season were perhaps the result of not immediately handling the transition from the track to the breeding barn, according to Henry.
“But he was much better second season,” he said.
“He is doing the job and while he is not the most fertile stallion on the roster, he is still getting them into foal.”
And while Henry said Thronum’s first season fertility problems didn’t help, it wasn’t a “death sentence” by any means and the stallion was adequate in the breeding barn.
Henry said Thronum was an affordable horse for breeders and his progeny had sold for $50,000 to $60,000 in the yearling market again this season.
He said the stallion was a good breed to race option as well.
“He is a son of Snitzel with a good female line,” Henry said.
“He was a good racehorse that good better. He won two at two and won the first Stakes race for three-year-olds in Sydney in early August and won his Group 2 as an older horse and was Group 1 placed as well.”
Henry said people tend to sit on the fence until they see a new stallion’s progeny run and Thronum had shown enough for people to take a punt on him now.
And Hunter and Gathercole had great success with Barb Raider (Rebel Raider x Graebarb) which had a fantastic campaign that ended with a second, beaten a length, in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks at the start of June
Another homebred for Gathercole, the three-year-old filly was also second in the Group 1 Australasian Oaks, beaten a head, but did win two Group 2s and a Group 3 this campaign.
“It was sensational and we had a great campaign and she had seven starts and only once finished worse than second and that’s when she hit a heavy 10 which she didn’t like,” Hunter said.
“It’s just a pity we didn’t get the Group 1 but there are plenty of Group 1s around as she gets older.
“She is in the paddock up in Queensland and she’ll have a light spring and we’ll aim her for the autumn again and there are a lot of mare’s races.
“We are not fussed with what happens over the spring and we might run in one or two but we’ll aim for the autumn.”
Hunter said the Queensland conditions had been perfect for Barb Raider as she takes a break from an extremely lucrative campaign.
He said he wasn’t in any rush to bring her back to Melbourne’s harsh winter weather.
The mare has raced 13 times for five wins, four seconds and two-thirds. She has banked $899,175.