Breeder's gold trail to Royal Ascot

As Gold Trail ( Hussonet (USA) -Trail of Gold by Danewin) prepares for the King’s Stand S. G1 at Royal Ascot tonight his breeder Alan Atkinson is working on his farm near Greenmount, south of Toowoomba in Queensland’s Darling Downs region.

Describing himself as semi-retired, Alan runs cattle on his own 120-acre property, and breeds thoroughbreds in association with his brother Rob and nephew Jim, who manage neighbouring Furlong Stud.

Alan explains, “Rob and Jim set up Furlong Stud about 15 years ago, then I came in and bought a half-share. We each have three mares of our own, and breed in partnership from another eight mares.”

The Atkinsons have deliberately limited their broodmare numbers while steadily increasing their quality, a policy that, according to Alan, has produced an 80% winners-to-runners record over the past four or five years. Gold Trail is the best of those winners, with a seven wins, including this season’s ARC Railway H. G1 and AJC Shorts H. G2, nine placings and almost $600,000 from 26 starts. Most recently, he finished a courageous fourth, after making all the pace, in last month’s Singapore TC Krisflyer International Sprint G1.

Although bred by Alan, Gold Trail (ex Trail of Gold by Danewin) is very much a family achievement, and Rob’s interest in pedigree analysis has played a key role in his story.

Alan says, “Rob and Jim bred Trail of Gold and Rob told me she was the best pedigree he’d ever done, so I bought her for $60,000 at the Magic Millions Premier Sale.”

Trail of Gold won four of her 29 starts including the AJC James H.B. Carr S. LR, and when she went to stud, Rob advised Alan to send her to Hussonet. The result was Gold Trail, sold for $75,000 to John Wallace at the 2006 Magic Millions Premier Sale. However, his preparation didn’t go smoothly.

Alan recalls, “He wasn’t very big, but he was always good-natured and was one of the picks of the draft. Then, six weeks out, he looked sick and began to lose weight, and our vet Max Wilson discovered two holes in his lip where a snake had bitten him.

“Our selling options were limited so we took him to the sale, and he recovered, but he wasn’t blooming. Obviously, the snake venom didn’t do him any harm!”

Trail of Gold’s three subsequent yearlings by Arrowfield sires have returned a further $540,000 in sales receipts to the Atkinsons. Three-year-old filly Prerequisite (by Charge Forward ) has won twice in Sydney and placed fourth in the AJC Light Fingers S. G2, while her two-year-old colt by Charge Forward, sold at the 2009 Australian Easter Sale and named Wild West, is yet to race.

This year Furlong Stud offered Gold Trail’s full sister at Magic Millions Premier and achieved their best-ever yearling price when Vin Cox Bloodstock bid $330,000 for her.

From a family that’s been breeding horses in Australia for around 150 years, Alan Atkinson isn’t fazed at all by the prospect of Gold Trail’s imminent participation in one of the world’s great racing carnivals.

Nevertheless, he does ask about the state of the track (it’s good, which is good news for Gold Trail), and confirms that he will be setting the alarm and getting up to watch the horse from Furlong Stud in the Darling Downs run at Royal Ascot.

Pictured: Gold Trail parading at Royal Ascot, where he finished 10th in the King’s Stand S. G1 after injuring himself as he left the starting gates.

Stakeswinner No. 75 for Flying Spur

Champion sire Flying Spur recorded his 75th stakeswinner when three-year-old gelding Flying Tristram (ex My Southern Bell by Octagonal; bred by Best Western Group Pty Ltd) won the Clairwood Cup Trial 1800m G3 in South Africa on Saturday.

Flying Tristram has now won four of his ten starts from the stable of trainer Charles Laird who purchased him for $280,000 at the 2008 Magic Millions Premier Sale.

His pedigree offers further evidence of how well Flying Spur works with Sir Tristram-line mares, who have produced ten stakeswinners and three stakes-placed horses (11.8%) to him from 110 named foals. They include Group One winners Sleek Chassis, Dealer Principal and Juanmo.

Meanwhile, Flying Spur is enjoying another splendid season in Australia as a sire and broodmare sire. He’s responsible in 2009-10 for 92 Australian winners, among them 7 stakeswinners including G1 Alverta, and has posted very similar statistics on the broodmare sires list (94 winners and 7 SW) where he’s the youngest stallion in the top ten.

He’s also had five Australian winners in the past seven days, including four-year-old mare Das Machen who made it five wins from 12 starts at Moonee valley on Monday.

Flying Spur stands the 2010 season at a fee of $55,000 inc. GST.

18 Group 1 winners for Redoute's Choice

Dariana, the filly who didn’t make it out of the gates in last Saturday’s Queensland Oaks, has romped away with today’s $500,000 Queensland Derby G1 to become the 18th individual Group One winner for her champion sire Redoute’s Choice.

After jumping safely from barrier one, Dariana (ex Beldarian by Last Tycoon) settled midfield as Sir Time Keeper set a strong pace in front. When jockey Michael Rodd found clear air for the filly, she surged forward and quickly put the result beyond doubt, winning by four-and-a-half lengths from the favourite Kutchinsky and the Queensland Oaks winner My Keepsake. The time of 2.26.49 was almost a second faster than the Brisbane Cup run over the same 2400 metres a race earlier.

Dariana was bred by Fairway Thoroughbreds, NSW and sold for $300,000 at the 2008 Australian Easter Yearling Sale to DGR Thoroughbred Services. She is trained by the master, Bart Cummings (recording his 260th Group 1 win) for Bell View Park Stud, Dato Tan Chin Nam & Mr B.S. Tan and gained black type when she won the AJC Frank Packer Plate G3 in April. The Queensland Derby is her third win from nine starts and has taken her prizemoney close to $450,000.

Dariana is the fourth Derby winner by Redoute’s Choice, after Empires Choice (Quensland Derby G1), Redoute’s Dancer (New Zealand Derby G1) and Musir (UAE Derby G2).

Melito oh-so-close in Stradbroke

Outstanding three-year-old filly Melito could hardly have done more at Eagle Farm today to put her sire Redoute’s Choice in serious contention for his second General Australian Sires’ premiership.

Melito (ex Cloister by Marauding; bred by Reavill Farm Thoroughbreds Pty Ltd) went down by a short half-head to Black Piranha, with the Paul Messara-trained Mic Mac a long head third, in a heart-stopping finish to the $1 million BRC Stradbroke H. 1400m G1.

It was the fifth placing in eight Group One starts this season for the classy and resolute filly who deservedly gained the ultimate status when she defeated Hot Danish and Mic Mac in the AJC T.J. Smith S. G1 in April. Melito’s record now reads three wins and 12 placings from 18 starts, and more than $1.4 million prizemoney.

Dariana’s Group One win and Melito’s Group One placing at Eagle Farm today boost Redoute’s Choice’s Australian earnings by $520,000, which does make the race for the Australian Sires’ premiership considerably more interesting. According to Arion Pedigrees, little more than $200,000 now separates Redoute’s Choice and Encosta de Lago at the head of the table.

Make that 14 2yo winners for Redoute's Choice

Redoute’s Choice has taken a clear lead on the Australian Two-Year-Old Sires’ List (by winners) after adding two more debut winners to his season tally today. He now has 14 two-year-old winners (12 on debut) for the season, two more than his son Stratum, and Encosta de Lago.

Altius (ex Circles of Gold by Marscay) won the Swan Hill race named for his champion three-quarter brother Elvstroem, and Savannah’s Choice (ex Kirov Premiere by Sadler’s Wells) charged home to score at Wyong, with Miss Parma (by Snitzel ) in second place.

Savannah’s Choice, from the family of European Group One winners Chief Singer and Anna Pavlova, is a $325,000 Bellerive graduate of the 2009 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, purchased by Mr & Mrs David Fuller, and trained for them by Chris Waller. The Fullers also race three-time Group One winner Metal Bender from the Waller stable.

Tony Vasil prepares Altius for his breeders, Frank & Sally Tagg, Frank & Marie Meduri and Garry & Leone Moffitt who also raced Elvstroem and champion miler Haradasun – all from the remarkable broodmare and high-class racemare Circles of Gold.

Redoute's Choice represented at Royal Ascot

Australian interest in the opening day of Royal Ascot on Tuesday 15 June has naturally centred on the Australian-owned and-trained entries, but Arrowfield will also be paying close attention to two-year-old colt Elzaam in the Coventry Stakes G2.

A son of Redoute’s Choice from Mambo In Freeport (USA) (by Kingmambo), Elzaam was born in Australia to northern hemisphere time, in January 2008. He was bred by Kia Ora Stud, NSW and sold at the 2009 Arqana August Sale to Shadwell France for ?280,000.

Elzaam was sent by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum to trainer Michael Jarvis, and made his first raceday appearance on 13 May at York where won impressively over six furlongs (1200m). In the process, Elzaam became the first member of Redoute’s Choice’s first northern time crop to race, and the first representative of Arrowfield’s champion sire to win in Europe.

The Coventry Stakes, first run in 1890, has attracted 21 entries, 18 of them winners, and will be run at 4.25 pm on Tuesday BST/1.25 am on Wednesday AEST.

The long journey to Royal Ascot

I’m on my way to London aboard this Qantas hotel in the sky they call an A380, with several items on my agenda, including cheering on Alverta (pictured, right) in the Golden Jubilee Stakes G1 at Royal Ascot next week. As I plan my visit to Moss Brothers to hire the top hat and tails for the Royal Enclosure, I muse in wonderment at the progress the Australian thoroughbred industry has made since I was first gripped by the racing bug back in 1979.

In those days, there was little chance of mounting a challenge to the Poms, especially at Ascot’s Royal meeting. After all, Ascot is a prime battleground for the world’s best grass horses, one of the events where Timeform ratings begin to take shape for the cr?me de la cr?me of thoroughbreds. The testing and sweeping turf at Ascot takes no prisoners!

This is the stuff stallions are made of – and yes, it’s the Golden Jubilee Stakes, then known as the Cork and Orrery Stakes, that the great progenitor Danehill won as a three-year-old in 1989. And here we are in 2010 with his Australian-bred, -owned and -trained Group One-winning grand-daughter Alverta ( Flying Spur -Grilse, by Rahy) trying to make history.

Up until the 1980s, Australia was little more than a dumping ground for Northern Hemisphere castoffs and it was really only in 1985 that the great awakening began, when the Federal Budget under Bob Hawke’s leadership placed Australian breeders on a level playing field with New Zealand breeders in terms of bloodstock writedowns.

As a member of the national Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association, I wrote the submission to senior Treasury official David Morgan, in support of the late Colin Hayes’ persistent lobbying of the Prime Minister on this issue. The timing was good because there were several connoisseurs of racing in the Federal Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, senior cabinet ministers John Brown, Michael Duffy (now chair of Racing Victoria) and Lionel Bowen. There were also keen racegoers on the other side of politics, among them Sir James Killen, Andrew Peacock and Wilson Tuckey.

Our efforts to put the industry’s case before government proved highly successful: the tax laws were changed, the breeding industry was made fiscally competitive and the race clubs were given tax free status.

The blossoming of the Australian breeding industry during this period also owes much to the vision and sense of adventure of Robert Sangster, who operated in both hemispheres long before Coolmore and Darley looked south. His pioneering involvement in Australian breeding encouraged all of us to change our focus from the domestic to the international.

The first thing Arrowfield did after that landmark 1985 Budget was to make good our commitment to acquire quality international stallions for Australian duties. The first one we settled on was Kenmare, the Grey Sovereign-line stallion who was the champion sire in France and could get a two-year-old. He was thirteen years old and we persuaded his owner, Baron Guy de Rothschild, to part with him. Our next major purchase was Danehill, who was to become the first truly global breed-shaper; and then came shuttle mania!

While the shuttle horses diversified our pedigrees, and boosted the worldwide recognition of Australian breeding, it was only when they were followed by quality broodmares that our industry gained true international status.

This was followed by some of the world’s most influential breeders setting up in the Hunter Valley, while others teamed up with Australian-owned farms such as our own. These partnerships have given us the modern superstars Miss Finland and Weekend Hussler, and our girl of the moment Alverta. Game on!

Today, the quality of our pedigrees, paternal and maternal, bear no comparison to the colonial bloodlines that prevailed in Australia before the 1980s. Forty-three Australian-bred horses appeared on the 2009 World Thoroughbred Rankings and they included the world’s three highest-rated sprinters, Sacred Kingdom, Scenic Blast and Rocket Man.

Our yearling sale prices reflect all this with robust trade often underpinned by an international buying bench. The ultimate accolade is that our colts and fillies are now being acquired by breeders around the globe; in fact, the reverse shuttle is well-established and visionaries such as Sheikh Mohammed are sending our tough Australian mares to breed in Europe.

As I begin to sip my second VB aboard the A380, I feel proud that Australia has well and truly come of age at Ascot. Alverta is part of a powerful Australian-bred team which includes Rocket Man, Happy Zero (by Danzero ), Starspangledbanner, Nicconi and Gold Trail (by Hussonet ), all of them seeking to emulate previous Australian Royal Ascot stars such as Takeover Target, Choisir, Scenic Blast and Haradasun.

Then there’s Elzaam, a Northern Hemisphere time two-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice and the Kingmambo mare, Mambo In Freeport (USA). Bred and raised by Ananda Krishnan’s Kia Ora Stud at Scone, then sold at Deauville to Shadwell Estate’s Angus Gold, he is now heading to the Coventry Stakes G2 on Ascot Tuesday.

I’m now in full slumber and I dream of an Aussie horse winning the King’s Stand followed by Elzaam in the Coventry, topped off with Alverta in the Golden Jubilee.

This is a dream I could not have had in 1979!

12th 2yo winner for Redoute's Choice this season

Columbus (ex Kapchat by Centaine) became the 12th individual juvenile winner in Australia for Redoute’s Choice this season, and remarkably, the tenth to win first-up when he scored impressively over 1000 metres at Flemington last Saturday.

Bred by Swettenham Stud, and raced by Peter Devitt & Les Gordon, the colt was sold twice at Magic Millions sales, as a weanling for $630,000 in 2008, and $1.2 million in 2009.

Stable foreman Tom Dabernig told Racing and Sports after the race, “He’s got a real stallion’s pedigree and did that easily. He settled well and came home powerfully.

“We’ll probably put him aside now and be back for the spring classics. You’ll see the best of him as a three-year-old.”

Group One winner Kapchat, from the family of Golden Slipper winner Courtza and her champion sire son O’Reilly, has already left G3 winner Kaphero to Arrowfield sire Danzero.

Columbus’ win put his champion sire on top of the Australian Two-Year-Old Sires’ list (by winners) alongside Redoute’s Choice’s sire son Stratum.

The other nine two-year-olds by Redoute’s Choice to win on debut in Australia this season are: Beneteau (G3 winner & G1-placed), Bedhrah, Evidentia, Glenkinchie, Love in Spring, My Amelia, Rekindled Interest, Ringstrasse & Slater.

Shaaheq won the VRC Thoroughbred Breeders’ S. G3 at her fifth start, after four second placings, and Tom’s Choice won his second start.

A useful Snippet on Hussonet

As the analysis of stallion performance data becomes more important (and much easier thanks to online statistics), so newly discovered ‘nicks’ or ‘crosses’ are more often dismissed with, “Yes, but it’s too small a sample!”

In many cases, this is true, but often sufficient sample numbers to confirm the effectiveness of a nick are achieved only when the stallion under scrutiny has passed from this mortal coil.

Today’s little snip of knowledge comes from one of the smallest samples anyone could consider, but its effectiveness is impossible to dismiss. Best of all, the stallion is available to breeders in 2010.

Consider this: in his first 4 years at stud in Australia, Hussonet has covered only three mares by the Australasian Champion 3YO Sprinter Snippets and every one of these mares has produced a stakeswinner to him – a 100% strike rate!

For the record they are the VRC Maribyrnong Plate G3 winner Husson Lightning (ex Snip Snip), the TRC Elwick Stakes LR winner Huiskes (ex Bruschetta) and Girl Hussler (ex Vecchia Signora), winner of last weekend’s BRC Daybreak Lover S. LR.

Why does the cross work so well? It could be for a number of reasons. Hussonet’s closest linebreeding is to Nashua at 3 x 4, while Nashua’s sire Nasrullah occurs at 4 x 4 x 5 in Hussonet but through male lines only.

Snippets returns a sex-balancing female line of Nasrullah, Thicket (who produced Lunchtime’s damsire Hornbeam), while Snippets dam Easy Date is linebred at 5 x 4 to Mahmoud, the three-quarter blood-brother to Mumtaz Begum, dam of Nasrullah.

It could also be the Selene factor at work. Hussonet carries a duplication of Selene’s son Sickle, but is free of Pharamond (Sickle’s full brother) and Hyperion, Selene’s most illustrious son. Snippets carries sex-balanced linebreeding to Hyperion and hails from the sireline descending from Pharamond, to create a perfect match for Hussonet’s Selene factors.

Or it could even be Snippets’ five lines of alternative Hermit-Maid of Masham variants. Snippets carries a line of Arc Light, dam of the Two Thousand Guineas runner-up Sir Archibald. Arc Light is inbred 3 x 2 to the 5/8ths blood-siblings Rainbow and Peter who are immediate tail-female descendants of Maid of Masham. Arc Light is also found in the dams of the following Group 1 winners by Hussonet: Spontaneous, Hush Money, Pecoiquen, Marzuk, Penamacor, Athenea, Perssonet and Weekend Hussler.

Whatever the reason, it’s undeniable that this cross is proving very effective. In fact, if the next 27 Snippets mares bred to Hussonet fail to leave a stakeswinner, the son of Mr. Prospector will still boast a 10% ratio of stakes success for this nick.

Hussonet stands at Arrowfield in 2010 on a foal share basis to approved mares.

75th stakeswinner worldwide for Hussonet

Hussonet posted his 75th stakeswinner worldwide, and his seventh in Australia this season when his three-year-old daughter Girl Hussler (ex Vecchia Signora by former successful Arrowfield sire Snippets) won the BRC Daybreak Lover Plate 1400m LR at Eagle Farm on Saturday in a smart 1.22.43.

It was very nearly a memorable trifecta for the champion sire son of Mr. Prospector as Latin News (ex Email Me by Danehill) finished an unlucky third, beaten for second by Tromso, and Hus Der Lieften (ex Sunday Valentine by Sunday Silence) was fourth.

Bred & co-owned by W. Bugno, Girl Hussler is trained by David Payne who told Thoroughbred News, “She is a very good filly, I think people underestimated her. She should have won her last race carrying 58kg and she had already met Tromso and beat him.

“She will go to the paddock now. She is a young filly and she has done enough.”

Girl Hussler is Hussonet’s second Australian three-year-old stakeswinner in 2009-10, following Latin News’ Gosford Guineas LR win in April. Latin News then enhanced his record considerably with a very fine effort for third behind Albert the Fat and Melito (by Redoute’s Choice ) in the BRC BTC Cup G1 on 15 May.

Three races after Girl Hussler’s victory, Hussonet’s five-year-old son, and Bellerive sales graduate, Ego’s Dare (ex Almond Essence by Seattle Slew; bred by Gainsborough Stud Australia Ltd & Arrowfield Group Ltd) put more black type on his record when he ran third in the QTC Cup G2. He’d previously won the AJC Hall Mark S. LR in April.

Hussonet, Australia’s leading active sire of Group One winners, is available to approved mares for foal shares only in 2010.