Snowden Racing’s stables at Randwick are packed full with expensive bluebloods and race track superstars such as Blue Diamond winner Pride of Dubai and recent Magic Millions winner Capitalist.

But it was a Canterbury mid week winner for the Snowdens that may have pricked the ears of a breeder or three in Victoria.

Three-year-old Victorian bred gelding Suspense lined up for his second start in the TAB More Than Just Winning Handicap (1100m) at Canterbury on January 13 and duly won, keeping his unbeaten record intact.

He is out of the former Darley mare Intrigues, making him a half-brother to Godolphin’s former Group 1 winning sprinter Mental. Intrigues is out of Group 1 AJC Sires Produce Stakes winner Shaybisc who is the dam of Group winners Sashed, Bradshaw and Asarka. Suspense is also closely related to triple Group 1 winner Freemason.

And that’s where the story becomes quite interesting from a Victorian perspective.

Mental, 2012 Group 1 VRC Patinack Classic winner

Mental, 2012 Group 1 VRC Patinack Classic winner  / credit: Sky Racing

After producing Mental in 2008, Intrigues failed to conceive that breeding season. Having not produced a winner of any note amongst her first few foals (Mental didn’t debut until 2011), she was sold by Darley at the Magic Millions Broodmare Sale in 2009. She was purchased for just $12,000 by Salamander Park (Merton) breeder Philip Anderson.

After failing to conceive in 2009 or 2010, she finally had breeding success in 2011 when she was covered by Salamander Park’s resident stallion Keano (by Pins). Keano had entered the stallion ranks that year following a moderately successful career on the track being stakes placed and winning $380,000 in prizemoney.

Sire Keano at TBV's First Season Sires parade at Caulfield in 2011

Sire Keano at TBV’s First Season Sires parade at Caulfield in 2011

He covered a total of 54 mares over three seasons at Merton before being exported to New Zealand where he now stands. With two crops of racing age, Keano has had two winners (Suspense as well as Singapore winner Nova Eagle) from just six runners.

Suspense as a yearling before 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale

Suspense as a yearling before 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale


The pedigree page for Suspense when he was sold as a yearling at 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale / Credit: Inglis

Fast forward to Session Two of the 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale where Salamander Park sold Intrigues’ Keano colt to the new operation of Snowden Racing for $28,000. It was a relatively low price for a sibling to a Group 1 winner – likely a reflection of the uncertainty about the un-proven sire.

“As a yearling he was backward and immature but had good confirmation – although it was the pedigree which really attracted me,” Peter Snowden said following Suspense’s latest win at Canterbury.

Of course, Peter Snowden was the head trainer at Darley when Mental won the 2012 Group 1 Emirates Stakes so he was familiar with the family when he made the purchase at Oaklands Junction.

“He is still a bit raw, but worked well home and it was a nice win in the end,” Snowden said.

“He’ll furnish into a good sprinter but we probably won’t see the best of him until he’s four or five.”

The story doesn’t end there though for Victoria.

The dam Intrigues remains active and in the State.

A couple of years ago, the Melbourne-based Anderson decided he needed to devote more time to his young family so significantly sold down his breeding stock and put his Merton property on the market.

So, in 2014, Intrigues went through the Inglis auction ring once more and was sold for a mere $3,500 to Euroa trainer and breeder Pete Smith.

He put the well bred mare to his own stallion Masterprint (by Rubiton), a sire with a prosthetic leg. Unfortunately 2014 was his last breeding season, succumbing to his leg issues on Christmas Eve 2014.

Pete says it took just the one cover to get Intrigues pregnant, a minor miracle considering she had conceived just once in the previous five years. The Masterprint-Intrigues filly was born in October last year.

“She is a beautiful filly foal, a big strong filly,” Pete reports.

And Pete won’t be selling her considering her pedigree page together with the recent success of Suspense in Sydney.

“She is the best bred of the Masterprints by a long way.”

The dam was given a year off from visiting a stallion in 2015. Smith will monitor the health of the now 19-year-old mare before he determines whether or not to mate her in future seasons.

The story of Suspense, his mum Intrigues, his dad Keano, his older half brother Mental, his younger half sister and her father is certainly one of, well, intrigue!

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