Zero Chance in Australian Cup

Talented galloper Extra Zero could back up in next weekend’s Group 1 Australian Cup after returning to form in today’s Group 2 The Yalumba 161 Autumn Classic at Caulfield.

The David Hayes-trained colt, runner up in the G1 Victoria Derby at his last run of a consistent spring, was having his third run of the Autumn in today’s 1800m race for three-year-olds.

Settling well back in a muddling run race and one of changes in the lead, jockey Glen Boss was content to sit wide and out of trouble before circling out wider before the bend.

Straightening not far from the lead, Extra Zero, although running around, ran on strongly to score over Absolute Faith (Not A Single Doubt), who was locked away on the inside for much of the race but got home well late when finally clear.

It was the second win on end in the race for Hayes, who took last year’s version with Stokehouse, but he is confident Extra Zero can continue to improve over slightly longer.

“He was back last but when he made his run at the 800m mark I was very confident he had them covered,” Hayes said. “He was cruising.

“I think he’s a really good 2000m horse. We’ll see how he pulls up. The Rosehill Guineas down the road will be a lovely race but we’ll consider the Australian Cup if he pulls up well.

“I do think he’s a very good Flemington horse and I think the three-year-olds get in pretty well. And I think the Guineas might be the hardest race to win this year.”

POST SCRIPT 2 MARCH 2010: Extra Zero Confirmed For Australian Cu

Saturday’s G2 Autumn Classic winner Extra Zero (Danzero) is an intended runner for this Saturday’s Australian Cup. Trainer David Hayes won the Australian Cup last season with G1 star NICONERO, also a son of Danzero.

Source: Racing & Sport

Chance Bye A Real Slipper Chance

The fairytale continued for Golden Slipper-bound Chance Bye (Snitzel) who forced her way into the field for the world’s richest race for two-year-olds with victory in the Silver Slipper.

Although unbeaten in two starts coming into Saturday’s Group Two feature, her $300,000-plus prizemoney from races restricted to Inglis sales graduates did not count towards a berth in the $3.5 million Golden Slipper on April 3.

But the $15,000 yearling buy made sure of a start when she led all the way in her toughest test yet to run the field off its feet and shoot to the top of Golden Slipper betting.

“She’ll go straight to the Slipper now without another run,” trainer Michael Tubman said.

“We’re in the race, we don’t have to run again.

“She will go home and spend a week in the paddock and then we will just get her ready for the race.”

Kathy O’Hara bounced the $1.75 favourite out of the gates with debutante Military Blonde going with her early.

Although she took a couple of false steps around the turn, Chance Bye quickly gained further momentum when she straightened up and raced clear.

Ambers Waltz gave chase but peaked on her run and finished 1-1/2 lengths astern with Zutara running on late for third another three-quarters of a length away.

“She’s still a bit soft,” O’Hara said.

“She only had one hard gallop between runs.

“But she still had her ears pricked and was doing her own thing in front.

“Nothing worries her, she’s very, very fast and then she loafs in front.

“There’s still plenty of improvement in her.”

That’s an ominous warning for those who finished behind Chance Bye who was elevated to $6 with TAB Sportsbet for the Golden Slipper (1200m) on Easter Saturday.

Gai Waterhouse, trainer of one of the other runners in the field – Zurata – was full of praise for the winner.

“The winner is wonderful.

“She just goes to the front and says `see you later alligator’.”

Before her last start in the Inglis Classic, Tubman was forced to swallow a couple of valium.

He admitted he still harboured a lot of nerves but was getting better.

“I was pretty nervous but it’s just a case of not believing what I’m seeing,” he said.

“She’s just getting better all the time.”

Source: Racing & Sport

Charge Forward fires with Shrapnel

High priced colt SHRAPNEL justified the high opinion of his trainer Mark Kavanagh by winning the G3 Breeders Stakes at Morphettville on Saturday.

Shrapnel, by Charge Forward from Fragmentation, cost $450,000 at the 2009 Inglis Easter Sale in Sydney where he was purchased by Blue Sky Thoroughbreds.

The Highgrove Stud bred colt, who is a half relation to multiple G1 placed Wanted, was previously stakes placed on debut.

Fragmentation has a perfect stud record as Shrapnel and Wanted are her only two foals to race and both are stakeswinners,

Shrapnel is his sire Charge Forward’s second stakeswinner, joining G1 Ascot Vale Stakes winner HEADWAY.

Charge Forward is now among the leading Australian second-season sires with earnings of more than $750,000.

Montana Flyer makes it a stakes double for Flying Spur

Gai Waterhouse came back to the limelight with the win of MONTANA FLYER (ex Montana Downs, by Bluebird (USA)) in the G3 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill this afternoon.

The Flying Spur mare was fired out of the gates by Blake Shinn but had Bejewelled for company over the entire trip. At one stage they were four lengths in front of the third horse in running.

On a day of on-pacers so far, they looked to have cut each other up and Montana Flyer appeared to be weakening when fourth at the 100m mark but she fought back to score.

The win gave Waterhouse a great fillip.

“Absolutely fantastic,” was her first reaction. “She came back with such a vengeance.”

“I was so delighted to see Blake just be able to pick her up.”

Jockey Shinn, who hasn’t had the best of luck recently, lifted her late.

“Full credit to Gai. You just really can’t write her horses off.”

“Three of four times I thought I was going to get beat.”

Montana Flyer highlighted a stakes double for her sire Flying Spur on Saturday, MOTSPUR’s (ex Crusading Lil (USA), by Crusader Sword) win in the Falvelon Quality LR at Eagle Farm giving his sire his 73rd individual stakeswinner.

HK Star for Not a Single Doubt

Highly promising Not a Single Doubt three year-old Tai Sing Yeh took his record to four wins from five starts when scoring a dominant win at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.

The Manfred Man trained gelding strode clear of his rivals for Brett Prebble to win the Class Three event over 1200 metres by two lengths under the steadier of 59.5 kg.

A debut winner at Happy Valley on November 25, Tai Sing Yeh has been beaten only once since and finished second in the CSL Happy Valley Million Challenge for horses campaigning exclusively at Happy Valley.

Most racegoers believe he will be the star to emerge from the series despite going down narrowly on points to Loyal Army who finished fourth to him on Wednesday night.

“The high speed probably helped but he relaxes beautifully and Douglas Whyte has done a great job educating him. He has the right mental approach and that’s going to take him a long way,” Brett Prebble told the South China Morning Post.

“When Holey Dollar kicked, I thought we might have been in trouble tonight but I opened him right up and his class prevailed and it was fairly soft in the last 100m. I think he’ll be even better suited at Sha Tin, though he’s done all his racing here so far and he’ll get over further than 1,200m.”

Tai Sing Yeh, was purchased by his trainer Manfred Man for $125,000 at the Gold Coast and is one of two winners from the stakes performed Ashkalani (IRE) mare Precious Lass.

He is the first winner in Hong Kong for his young Arrowfield Stud based sire Not a Single Doubt and was a successful Yearling Sale pin hook for Hilton Thoroughbreds who purchased him from the draft of Oaklands Stud for $17,000 at the Gold Coast Magic Millions in 2008.

Not a Single Doubt has nine youngsters entered for the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale starting next Monday.

Source: Tara Madgwick, Breedne

Arrowfield graduates continue successful run

Arrowfield’s reputation for producing top line horses continues with a number of the farm’s sales graduates performing at the highest levels in recent weeks.

On Saturday it was the Arrowfield bred Redoute’s Choice duo of SHAAHEQ (ex Damaschino,) and BENETEAU (ex Slice of Paradise) who finished second and third respectively in Victoria’s richest 2YO race – the $1m MRC G1 Arrowfield Stud Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m). This followed Beneteau’s impressive win a fortnight earlier in the G3 Arrowfield Stud Blue Diamond Prelude (in class record time), and Shaaheq’s treble of second placings in the Listed MRC Arrowfield Stud Blue Diamond Preview, Listed MRC Merson Cooper Stakes and Listed AGL Energy Stakes.

The success of these juveniles came swiftly on the heels of the win of another Arrowfield product: 4YO gelding HUXSSEN (Hussonet ex Musical Tones) taking out last Wednesday’s Listed Mornington RC Hareeba Stakes.

Four days earlier it was SWEEPSTAKING (Not A Single Doubt ex Tennessee Sunrise) who finished third in the G2 AJC Light Fingers Stakes, just a fortnight after another Not A Single Doubt 3YO – ABSOLUTE FAITH (Not a Single Doubt ext Tender Saint (USA)) added a third in the G3 VRC The Vanity.

Their results cap off a great start to the year by Arrowfield bred progeny: 3YO Melbourne Premier graduate EXCUSE MY FRENCH (French Deputy ex Trois Couleurs) being the first black type performer for 2010 when he secured January’s Listed Hobart Guineas (2100m) and Listed Tasmanian Guineas (1600m) before finishing 4th in the G3 Tasmanian Derby.

These horses add their names to a burgeoning list who have earned black type this season and who were bred, raised and sold by Arrowfield or Bellerive Studs: G2 AJC Breeders Classic winner ALVERTA (Flying Spur ex Grilse (USA)), G2 AJC Premiere Stakes winner MENTALITY (Flying Spur ex Synaesthesia (USA)), HKJC G3 winner INSPIRATION (Flying Spur ex La Bamba), and the stakes placed quintet of MISS DARCEY (Hussonet ex Miss Bussell), BAWAARDI (Redoute’s Choice ex Stella Artois), COME HITHER (Redoute’s Choice ex Hanky Panky), RED HOT CHOICE (Redoute’s Choice ex Red Hot Mama) and STARTSMEUP (Danzero ex Bluevien).

Of course, Golden Slipper winners of recent times MISS FINLAND, FORENSICS, BELLE DU JOUR, CATBIRD, FLYING SPUR and DANZERO were also all raised and sold by Arrowfield.

It has not just been the Arrowfield graduates on a roll. The Arrowfield first season sire duo of SNITZEL and STARCRAFT have gone head to head on this season’s Freshman Sires Table. Starcraft edged ahead of Snitzel with the win on Saturday of STAR WITNESS in the G1 Arrowfield Blue Diamond Stakes both having winners of in excess of $700,000 for the season thus far. Not to be outdone, Redoute’s Choice is currently Champion General Sire 2009/2010 by number of individual stakeswinners (9).

This year’s Melbourne Premier Drafts for Arrowfield and Bellerive Studs will be available for inspection at the Oaklands Complex in Melbourne from Wednesday 24 February. In 2006 Arrowfield sold WEEKEND HUSSLER at this same sale for just $80,000. He is now the winner of 7 Group 1 races of over $3 million in prizemoney. This year’s drafts include 3 yearlings by Starcraft – the same stallion responsible for Saturday’s G1 Blue Diamond winner STAR WITNESS, and 9 yearlings by Snitzel, sire of the brilliant CHANCE BYE and INTERTIDAL.

Starcraft's Star On The Rise

There were a few raised eyebrows when John Messara announced Arrowfield would stand the Soviet Star (USA) stallion Starcraft (NZ) in 2006.

Not that the imposing chestnut was not worthy of commanding a place at a leading farm, he was after all a world class thoroughbred, it was more he seemed an unusual fit at a stud that put a premium on 2yo speed.

His barn-mates included Blue Diamond hero Redoute’s Choice, Golden Slipper winners Flying Spur and Danzero, multiple stakes-winning 2yo Not A Single Doubt, Galaxy Stakes (G1) winner and Golden Slipper runner-up Charge Forward and Oakleigh Plate (G1) and multiple stakes winning 2yo Snitzel.

No prizes for guessing the winning formula there.

So what of Starcraft?

The best he could manage in three starts at two was a second in a maiden over 1350 metres at Ipswich. At his only taste of stakes company at two, Starcraft beat just three of the 14 starters home in the Listed Australia Post Stakes.

The improvement of Starcraft at three was dramatic. Following a first-up fourth in a maiden, the son of Soviet Star reeled off four straight wins including the Group 3 Debonair Stakes before being beaten less than half a length by Reset in the Australian Guineas (G1).

Sent to Sydney, Starcraft earned his first Group 1 in the Chipping Norton Stakes then showed his fighting spirit to land the AJC Derby (G1). It is a sign of the times that this victory in one of the great races of the Australian turf barely rated a mention when the time came to retire him to stud. Behind Starcraft that day was the VRC Derby winner Elvstroem, who has made a most encouraging start to his stud career.

When Starcraft resumed from a spell it was in NZ where he defeated Miss Potential over 1400 metres in the Hawkes Bay Challenge Stakes (G1) then added the Horlicks Challenge Stakes (G2). A week after a Group 1 second in NZ, Starcraft finished third to Mummify and Grand Armee in the Caulfield Stakes (G1) then filled the same spot on what as to be his Australian swansong in the W.S Cox Plate.

Sent to Luca Cumani in England, Starcraft finished third behind the shuttlers Valixir and Rakti in the Queen Anne Stakes before disappointing in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Sent to France, Starcraft broke through in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (G1) then added the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) at Newmarket at the expense of Dubawi. His race career came to a close with a more than respectable seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on the dirt at Belmont.

Starcraft began his stud career at Cheveley Park Stud in what proved to be his only northern hemisphere season. His first starter Don’t Tell Mary was a stakes-winner at two.

At Caulfield on Saturday, Starcraft replaced Snitzel as the leading first crop sire when Star Witness kept his unbeaten record intact and credited his sire with his first Group 1 winner in the $1 million Group 1 Arrowfield Stud Stakes.

That’s great news for the vendors of the 16 yearlings by Starcraft heading to the Inglis Premier Yearling sale beginning on March 1.

Source: Mark Smith, Breedne

Crowd Witness A Rising Star

In one of the more exhilarating Blue Diamond finishes, the Danny O’Brien-trained and Nick Hall-ridden Star Witness (Starcraft) flew from the clouds to claim the $1million Group One Arrowfield Stud Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield this afternoon.

Star Witness was simply breathtaking.

With only a handful of runners behind him, Star Witness spotted the leaders countless number of lengths on the home turn before sprinting down the straight like a scalded cat to grab Shaaheq (Redoute’s Choice) in the shadows of the post.

A flamboyant Hall wildly saluted the healthy crowd in the grandstand while assistant trainer Gerard Tesoriero sprinted from his viewing position to embrace O’Brien who was visibly elated with the win.

Star Witness defeated Shaaheq by a half neck with Beneteau (Redoute’s Choice) beaten a similar margin in third.

“It was very exciting, not much went right and he sort of wobbled on the corner and he was last when they straightened but I’ve got a lot of confidence in this colt and only top class horses can do,” O’Brien said.

“Even when I knew he was so far off I knew what sort of furlong he can run at the finish and fortunately he did it.”

Hall appeared to be floating on air when he addressed the waiting media throng about the performance of the Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale graduate that cost $150,000 last year.

“He came off the bridle and that’s how exactly I wanted him to be,” Hall said.

“I wanted him to float like that and I want him to take those steps like that just to be a professional racehorse.

“I followed Luke Nolen on Willow Creek and Daniel Ganderton on Beneteau, two horses you want to follow into the race.

“I just came off the back of Daniel (Ganderton) and was pretty confident,” Hall said before adding “As long as he was balanced that was the key and when they run it hard, they are going to start to come back to you.”

O’Brien said that Star Witness was a chance of running the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce (1400m) in a fortnight but is more focused on the bigger picture, next season.

“I’m hoping he is not your average two-year-old that wins a Blue Diamond, I hope he’s got more scope for improvement and hopefully we’ve got a real striking colt to race next season,” he said.

“We really don’t aim anything with the two-year-olds.

“We get them in and educate them and obviously his two runs have been excellent and we never ever considered taking him to the Gold Coast (for the Magic Millions).

“We ran him in the Talindert Stakes and he ran so well so we had to run him here today and he’s a colt with a huge future particularly next season.

“He’s well above average.”

Unbeaten from three starts and with over $700,000 in prizemoney to his name, that last comment may prove to be the biggest understatement of 2010.

The finish was a great result for race sponsor Arrowfield Stud whose stallions sired the first 3 past the post.

Source: Carl Di Iorio Virtual Formguid

Charging towards Slipper glory

Golden Slipper contender Solar Charged confirmed she is set to mount a serious claim on the world’s richest two-year-old race by recording a strong win in a Rosehill barrier trial on Friday.

Solar Charged led all the way and was never pressured by jockey Corey Brown when running a tidy 54.50 seconds for the 900 metres.

“She’s very good and very well,” Brown said. “That was an above average trial.”

Solar Charged’s trainer John O’Shea has said his gun filly will resume at Warwick Farm on the Group III Kindergarten Stakes at Warwick Farm on March 6.

Source: Clinton Payne, Racene

Ben can be $1m bargain

IF YOU had $1 million to spend, why would you invest it on one racehorse in the yearling sales lottery?

The answer lies in tomorrow’s G1 Blue Diamond Stakes favourite Beneteau.

The rationale from the average racing follower would be why not buy five horses for $200,000 each, and spread the risk?

Because for every Beneteau there are scores of $1 million-plus youngsters that are racetrack duds. There are simply no guarantees.

But the rewards are massive if you hit the jackpot. Win tomorrow and the $1 million paid for Beneteau is suddenly worth $20-$30 million because of his value as a potential sire, say bloodstock experts.

After all, Beneteau is by three-time Australian champion sire Redoute’s Choice, who will join Danehill as the sire of eight individual Group 1 two-year-old winners if Beneteau wins tomorrow, and out of a sister to 2004 Blue Diamond champion Alinghi.

Samantha Miss, Don Eduardo, Sunday Joy, Shower Of Roses and Viking Ruler are examples of $1 million-plus yearlings who have won Group 1s and gone to stud, at a healthy return for connections.

Arrowfield Stud principal John Messara, Beneteau’s part-owner, yesterday explained why owners invest in $1 million-plus yearlings.

“It’s very hard to find a horse who ticks all the boxes for $200,000. You are always compromising on something,” Messara said.

“In the case of Beneteau we had the right sire, the right female and the physical package, so you pay the price. Also we bred him at Arrowfield, so it gives you confidence.”

Blue Sky Thoroughbreds own 35 per cent of the colt and Messara placed the remaining 65 per cent. He kept 20 per cent, 30 per cent is owned by Sumaya stables from Chile and 15 per cent by David Paradice from Scone.

So what value does Messara put on the colt’s head, should he win tomorrow?

“People keep asking me that, but I don’t know. It’s hard to say, the market is not what we had,” he said

“It’s all a matter of what you stand him for. If he wins the Blue Diamond, it’s a start, then you go to the Golden Slipper. A Blue Diamond win is a qualification but it’s not the be all and end all. You’d like to see him train on.”

The bonus for Messara is that son Paul, 31, is Beneteau’s trainer.

“Someone said the other day there must be a lot of pressure, it must be exciting. I said, `Yes it is. We bred the horse, we are part-owners, we stand the sire and we bred the trainer as well’.”

Source: Tim Habel, Herald Su