There were plenty of layers to Token Spirit’s victory in the GH Mumm Mahogany Challenge Final (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Not only did the victory leave Jamie Kah just one short of becoming the first jockey to ride 100 city winners in a season, Token Spirit was bred by Rick Jamieson’s Gilgai Farm.
Token Spirit was sold to Cranbourne trainer Robbie Griffiths for $300,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale of 2019. Jamieson retained a share in the horse.
Now just $43,000 short of his purchase price, the gelding is by Wandjina (Snitzel x La Bamba), which has relocated to Neville Murdoch’s Larneuk Stud at Gooram.
The gelding is out of Jamieson’s Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) winning mare Miss Keepsake (Keeper x Jacinto).
Gilgai Farm’s Kelly Skillicorn said Jamieson paid $400,000 for Miss Keepsake at the 2012 Magic Millions Broodmare Select Sale and thinks that on recent sale results, she’d demand around $1.4 million.
Miss Keepsake had one more run after being purchased as a broodmare, but was unplaced in the Group 1 Tatts’ Tiara (1400m) and then sent off to stud by Jamieson, but the mare’s first foal, by Onemorenomore died after birth.
The mare then had another colt by Onemorenomore which raced as Thalitleozibatler and was later transferred to Willie Mullins in Ireland as a jumping prospect by Cranbourne trainer Mick Kent.
The mare then produced a filly, Collectable (Sebring), which was purchased by Griffiths who trained her to two wins and five seconds and thirds. She was sold at this year’s national broodmare sale.
She was not served in 2015 and slipped to All Too Hard and missed to Cable Bay (IRE) before producing a So You Think colt and is again in foal to the stallion.
Skillicorn said the So You Think colt, which will be offered at next year’s Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, is a magnificent type.
“Whatever Token Spirit does, this colt will do twice as much,” Skillicorn confidently predicted.
“He is a big strong thing, while Token Spirit is little.”
“Token Spirit is a beautiful mover, but this one has got an action like Jameka (Gilgai bred three-time Group 1 winner, including the Caulfield Cup).”
Skillicorn said Jamieson had already told prominent owner Rupert Legh that there was no point going to Europe to buy a good stayer when they already had one waiting in the paddock.
“It will go to Melbourne Premier where we have decided to sell everything now,” he said.
“This one is a machine. We are trying to entice Rupert because the last one he bought off us was Masked Crusader (Group 1 winning son of Toronado out of Jamieson’s mare, She’s Got Gears).”
Skillicorn said that jockey Jamie Kah certainly appears to have got the best of out of Token Spirit in the past two races when the horse has scored runaway victories.
Griffiths, who part-owns the three-year-old gelding and now trains in partnership with Mathew de Kock, said Token Spirit was a nice young stayer that was progressing in the right direction.
He said he liked Token Spirit as a yearling and described him as well balanced with a super pedigree.
“We had the half-sister Collectable (Sebring) that had run fourth in the Ethereal Stakes behind Verry Elleegant and she was shaping up the right way, so we liked the way she was coming along and it’s a family of Gurner’s Lane and some really good New Zealand stayers,” Griffiths said.
“And we like the way Rick Jamieson breeds and he is arguably the best breeder in Australia, pound for pound.
“So when you buy one from him, you have faith that he has got the genetic cross correct and Wandjina was at the time an exciting young stallion being a Guineas winner.
“So we thought he would be a nice horse to buy and thought he had the scope to be a stayer as well and he has turned out like that.”
Griffiths said Wandjina had such a strong pedigree, and people with sons of Snitzel try to make him sprint, but he points out that if you look as his progeny and those with a bit of stamina like Token Spirit, breeders and buyers would be pleasantly surprised.
He said the problem with a lot of stallions is that they go to stud so quickly that their boundaries are never fully explored.
Griffiths has heard the reports of Token Spirit’s half-brother by So You Think and said he might have to “save some pennies.”
“I said to Rick the other day that I’ll buy him out of the paddock, and he said ‘don’t be like that,” Griffiths said.
While the connections were obviously happy with the ease of Token Spirit’s second consecutive win, studmaster Murdoch was also delighted with the victory which again draws more attention to his newest stallion
“He won like a superstar,” Murdoch said.
“And Wandjina is going really well and I am happy with him.”
Murdoch said there had been a few inquiries about the stallions, but it was still a quiet time for studs unless breeders were looking at the top end of the market.
He said the Group 1 winning Wandjina was a wonderful horse and had settled in well at his stud and could soon see why he was sold for $1 million as a yearling when he was purchased from Arrowfield Stud by James Harron Bloodstock.
The timing couldn’t have been better when Wandjina son Tiger Roar won the Group 3 Singapore 3YO Sprint at Kranji last week.
“It all helps when they win,” Murdoch said.
“And that Wandabaa (seven wins) goes well in Sydney.
“We hope that we have got a bit to look forward to and he is going along nicely and we just need another couple of good winners from him.
“We can’t complain about what he is doing the moment.”
After first standing at $33,000 in 2015, Wandjina’s fee went to $22,000 and was $11,000 last year at Newgate Stud. The stallion will stand for $8800 at Larneuk.
His oldest are four-year-olds and one from that crop, Express Pass, is a last start Flemington winner in June over 1000m.
Murdoch said it was interesting to see that Wandjina was getting both sprinters and stayers, similar to Shamus Award.
“He has got a fair bit going for him,” he said.
“We will just keep poking along and hope we get a good year from him.
“I think he is very affordable service fee for what he has done. And from memory he has got eight stakes-placed horses and now with that one the other day in Singapore, he has got two stakes winners.”
Wandjina produced his first stakes winner last year when Mamaragan (Forbidden) won the Group 2 ATC Skyline Stakes (1200m).
While Wandjina has joined the Larneuk stallion roster with another newcomer Lope De Vega son, Endless Drama, which will stand alongside Cluster and Wolf Cry, there is one missing stallion with O’Lonhro been relocated to Wagga Wagga.
O’Lonhro (Lonhro x Mamzelle Pedrille) will stand at Murdoch’s good friend, Noel Penfold’s Murray Cod Thoroughbred farm.
“We are good mates and have raced a lot of horses together,” Murdoch said.
The stallion stood his first season at stud at Larneuk in 2010 when he served 75 mares. He served 26 last year.
Murdoch said O’Lonhro was a good bread and butter stallion who would suit breeders around the Wagga area who wanted to breed a horse to race.