Breeders Joe and Daria Vella of Romsey’s Wingrove Park may not be in the headlines everyday, but that may change as the promising colt Royal Symphony certainly made a big impression with his last to first run in the opener over 1200m at Flemington on Saturday.
The “bossy” foal, as his breeder described him, certainly got his way in this very impressive win
The Tony McEvoy trained son of Domesday ran blistering final sectionals rounding the field and sprinting clear with an outstanding four length-win. Receiving a big pat from jockey Dwayne Dunn over the line, he was full of praise for what he describes as a “serious racehorse”.
“In his last two wins, he was trailing dead last, so Dwayne needed to give him a good wake up at the 600m. When he got him to change legs, he just dropped into overdrive and left them for dead,” Joe Vella said
Wingrove Park is a boutique breeding operation based in Kerrie, in the Macedon Ranges. Located on Mt Eliza Road, they share the address with large international breeding operations Spendthrift Australia and Sun Stud on either side.
Wingrove Park certainly punches well above their weight, with the number of racehorses to winners they have bred sitting at an extraordinary 92%.
Vella, a student of thoroughbred pedigrees, believes this success rate is achieved is by line-breeding when choosing the best match for his mares.
“Domesday was the perfect stallion as it gave Royal Symphony, The Minstrel and Nearctic on both sides of his pedigree. We place emphasis on the broodmare, rather than the stallion, and having over 90% winners from my homebreds, I must be on the right track.”
The retired mare, Naturalist, is now enjoying her time in the paddock. She is a three-quarter sister-in-blood to multiple Group 1 winner Naturalism and Queensland Oaks winner Crystal Palace. Born in 1997, she has produced 15 named foals, including the very cleverly named Gonski x Naturalist filly Nudey Run.
With considerable depth in Royal Symphony’s pedigree to suggest the sky is the limit, it seems Naturalist has left the best till last.
“She has produced many very good winners for us, including the black type Hoodlum, a runner-up in the Bendigo Cup, but nothing with the talent we see in Royal Symphony. He is a class well above,” Vella said.
Vella is adamant that the small breeders shouldn’t be underestimated.
“The buyers need to understand that although a horse is not coming from a major breeding barn, don’t discount the boutique breeders, don’t discount what they have to offer, especially when this breeder (Wingrove Park) has a reputation of breeding quality racehorses.”
“The larger breeders, the commercial farms, get the limelight, a small breeder like us is well below the radar.
“We can produce horses just as well as the big farms, sometimes better and it makes it tough when small farms struggle to get horses into the sales, no matter how good they are on type. They rejected Royal Symphony.”
Royal Symphony has been known to throw a few punches himself, being a politely described as a “handful”.
Joe explained that as a young foal, Royal Symphony would take what was his and then more, being pushy and aggressive to other horses.
“Especially at feeding, he would turn his hindquarters and threaten the other youngsters until they surrendered their feed, so I ended up putting him in a paddock on his own,” Vella said.
“He was a colt you would never take your eye off him. Ray Matthews did a great job breaking him in. You had to stand your ground and only then he would he give in,”
“He dropped a few jockeys on the track, and he was slow to pick things up, but once he got the hang of things he excelled, it was just second nature.”
Royal Symphony was purchased privately through Dunn, when Joe suggested he had something special and is now owned and raced by a large syndicate, including Dunn’s wife, Amanda.
“Dwayne came out to the farm, we popped him on the lounge and gave the colt a spin in the indoor arena. Being impressed with how he moved, he took him then and there.”
Royal Symphony’s breeding suggests he will grow into a lovely three-year-old. His future targets include the upcoming Listed Taj Rossi back at Flemington, the Group 2 Sandown Guineas, and perhaps the Group 1 Australian Guineas in the Autumn.