Star Witness wins Ascot Vale G1

Starcraft ‘s 3YO son Star Witness (Leone Chiara by Lion Hunter) lit up an overcast Derby Day at Flemington yesterday with a dazzling sprint down the famous straight 1200-metre course to win the $500,000 Coolmore Stud-sponsored VRC Ascot Vale S. G1.

The handsome colt settled easily behind the early leader Solar Charged and took control 300 metres from home, then quickly put three lengths on the field with challenges coming from Buffering, Curtana and Arrowfield part-owned Shrapnel (by Charge Forward ).

Pictured above: Star Witness wins the VRC Ascot Vale S. G1, with Shrapnel carrying Arrowfield’s yellow and black colours.

Their best efforts could not catch Star Witness, who won by two lengths from Curtana, with Shrapnel running on well for third, three-quarters of a length away. Star Witness’ time was 1.09.97, the last 600 metres in 34.57, on a track retrospectively rated Dead4.

He is the third Arrowfield-sired winner of the Ascot Vale Stakes in the past four years, after Weekend Hussler (by Hussonet ) in 2007, and Headway (by Charge Forward) last year.

Last season’s co-Champion 2YO Colt with a rating of 112 on the ANZ Classifications, Star Witness has now won four of his seven starts, including the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1 & VRC Talindert S. LR at two, giving his owners a return of $1,020,700 on the $150,000 trainer Danny O’Brien paid for him at the 2009 Magic Millions Premier Sale.

O’Brien confirmed after the race that Star Witness would proceed to next Saturday’s VRC Patinack Farm Classic 1200m G1 where he will meet the outstanding sprinters 5YO Hay List and 4YO Black Caviar. Given the colt’s liking for the staight course, a 2011 Royal Ascot campaign is a distinct possibility.

Star Witness is the work of renowned Queensland breeder Ken Turner who operates under the Almavale Bloodstock banner, and also bred his dam, G3 winner Leone Chiara and her siblings, the 2005 Ascot Vale Stakes winner Ferocity & multiple Group winner Chinchilla Rose, all by Lion Hunter from the Last Tycoon mare Chiara.

Star Witness was not the only impressive winner by Starcraft yesterday. 3YO filly Simply Brilliant (Starcraft-She’s a Pretender by Danehill) defeated older horses by 5.5 lengths over 1600 metres at Awapuni in New Zealand, only ten days after breaking her maiden at Te Aroha.

Like her stakes-winning stablemate We Can Say it Now, she is prepared by Victoria Derby-winning trainers Murray & Bjorn Baker and owned by her breeders Paul and Lyndall Makin, who raced Starcraft to Group One success in four countries. The two fillies now travel to Christchurch where Simply Brilliant will tackle the CJC NZ 1000 Guineas G1 on 13 November, and We Can Say it Now will line up in the 2000 Guineas G1. A third New Zealand-based Starcraft filly, stakeswinner Singapore Sling, is also Guineas-bound.

Starcraft is the sire of three stakeswinners from his first Australian crop, as well as stakes-placed performers Mr Spock, Ace Acosta and 2YO filly Hallowell Belle. He is now third on the Australian 2nd Season Sires’ list.

Record-setting new stakeswinner for Starcraft

Strapping 3YO filly We Can Say it Now today became the third Australasian stakeswinner by Arrowfield’s exciting 2nd season sire Starcraft with a record-setting victory in the Waikato RC James & Annie Sarten Memorial S. 1400m LR at Te Rapa, Hamilton. On a good track she produced a strong finish from midfield, winning in race record time of 1.21.54 by 1.75 lengths from Charma with the same distance back to Blinding in third place.

In its five-year history as a Listed Stakes event, the race has been an excellent guide to future Group One form. Last year’s winner Katie Lee went on to complete the CJC New Zealand 1000 & 2000 Guineas G1 double; the 2007 winner Lovetrista ran third in the 1000 Guineas, while the runner-up Keepa Cruisin subsequently won the Levin Classic G1; and the 2006 winner Imananabaa won the ARC Railway H. G1 at four.

We Can Say it Now (ex We Can’t Say That by Generous) has now won two of her four starts for her trainers Murray & Bjorn Baker and owner-breeders, Paul & Lyndall Makin’s Paulyn Investments Pty Ltd. The Makins also raced Starcraft, Australia’s Champion 3YO of 2004 and a five-time Group One winner in four countries. We Can Say it Now is inbred 3 x 3 to the fine New Zealand sire Pompeii Court, through her second dam Courtalista, and Starcraft’s dam Flying Floozie.

Starcraft is also the sire of last season’s Australian co-Champion 2YO colt Star Witness (MRC Blue Diamond S. G1, VRC Talindert S. LR, 3rd MRC Vain S. LR), Singapore Sling (ARC Soliloquy S. LR) and three other stakes performers, Ace Acosta, Hallowell Belle and Mr Spock, among 13 winners and 41 runners from his first two Australian crops.

Starcraft stands at Arrowfield this season at a fee of $38,500 (inc. GST).

Elzaam Group-placed in England

Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum‘s talented 2YO colt Elzaam ( Redoute’s Choice -Mambo in Freeport by Kingmambo) has run third in the seven-furlong Horris Hill S. G3 at Newbury on Saturday afternoon (UK time), beaten a nose and neck by Klammer and Dux Scholar.

That performance takes Elzaam’s four-start record to one win, and three placings in Group company, notably a very close second to Strong Suit in the Royal Ascot Coventry S. G2 in June.

Elzaam, a member of Redoute’s Choice’s first crop conceived in Australia to northern time, was bred by Kia Ora Stud and sold for 280,000 Euros at Deauville.

Third new 3YO SW this week for Redoute's Choice

Redoute’s Choice posted his 67th individual stakeswinner & completed a trio of new 3YO stakeswinners for the week, after Kittens & Milestone, when his son Rekindled Interest (ex Rekindled Affair by Rainbow Quest) scored a decisive 2.5 length victory in today’s MVRC AAMI Moonee Valley Vase 2040m G2.

Pictured right: Rekindled Interest winning today at Moonee Valley from Lion Tamer & Hollowlea.

A debut winner at two, the 3YO gelding’s storming finishes attracted plenty of interest in his first four starts this season, without achieving either victory or black type. Today he enjoyed a clear midfield passage before moving up to the leader Lion Tamer and quickly claiming the race, which in recent years has proved a reliable guide to the Victoria Derby. Rekindled Interest is now favourite for next Saturday’s Flemington classic and all going will take his place there for his owner and breeder Jonathan Munz and trainer Jim Conlan.

Rekindled Interest is the fifth stakeswinner this season by champion sire Redoute’s Choice after G3 Drumbeats and stakeswinning 3YOs Kittens, Milestone & King’s Rose (in NZ). Drumbeats boosted his record again today with a good third in the MVRC Crystal Mile G2. After today’s racing, Redoute’s Choice is fourth on the Australian Sires’ list with $1,803,473, and heads the 3YO Sires’ table by earnings ($941,476) as well as winners (20).

Milestone No. 66 for Redoute's Choice

Only three days after achieving his 65th stakeswinner, Redoute’s Choice has added No. 66 to his record, Milestone (ex Cannyanna by Canny Lad), who scored in today’s $100,000 Geelong RC Keith Sutton Memorial Classic 2206m LR.

The 3YO colt is Redoute’s Choice’s fourth stakeswinner this season, and the second of them bred by Gerry Harvey, whose home-bred 3YO filly Kittens (Redoute’s Choice-St Katherine by Barathea) won the SAJC Hill Smith S. LR on 9 October.

Milestone was purchased for $600,000 by Darley Australia at the 2009 Magic Millions Premier Sale, has now won two of his seven starts from the Lee Freedman stable, and the Victoria Derby G1 on 30 October remains a tempting possibility for him. His very good stakes-winning dam Cannyanna foaled a second Redoute’s Choice colt on 4 October, thus repeating the 3 x 2 in-breeding to Canny Lad which is a feature of Milestone’s pedigree.

Milestone was one of three winners today from the 2007 crop of Arrowfield’s champion sire. Earlier on the Geelong card the Freedman-trained Kookaburras (ex Oceanfast by Monde Bleu) cruised home for a 3-length maiden victory, and at Te Aroha, New Zealand a third colt, Rasteau (ex La Sizeranne by Stravinsky) prevailed in a 1400-metre maiden.

They have boosted Redoute’s Choice’s tally of 3YO winners this season to 21 – eighteen in Australia where he heads the Sires’ list by 3YO winners, and three in New Zealand.

Danzero's 36th SW no longer Hidden

Hidden Wonder exemplifies the pleasure that a generous performer can give her owners, and today she added a richly deserved stakes win to her record when she took out the $100,000 Gosford RC Belle of the Turf S. 1600m LR.

Her victory gave Arrowfield’s marvellously consistent & versatile sire Danzero his 36th stakeswinner, a tally that includes seven Group One winners, headed by champion 2YO Dance Hero, classic 3YO Fairway and weight-for-age performer Niconero.

As reported by Greg Irvine, Hidden Wonder’s jockey Jay Ford said after the race, “She’s a really honest mare and she’s really going well. She ran a super race [for 4th] the other day in the Epsom and she franked that today.”

Trainer Kris Lees, who has prepared Hidden Wonder since her move from Victoria almost 12 months ago, is now considering a trip back to Melbourne with her for a race at the end of the spring carnival.

The 6YO mare was bred by the Arrowleave Joint Venture and sold by Bellerive Stud at the 2006 Magic Millions Premier Sale by Joe O’Neill of Prime Thoroughbreds. From nine wins and 13 placings she’s now earned $546,272 – as Joe says on his website, “Not bad for a $50,000 purchase.” Prime Thoroughbreds are also enjoying a splendid season, with 14 wins already on the board.

In 46 starts since her December 2006 debut at Seymour, Hidden Wonder has built a reputation as one of the most versatile mares in Australia. She has won early and late in her campaigns, on every track surface from good to heavy and at distances from 1100 to 1800 metres.

Her dam Princess Shorna (by Last Tycoon) is a stakes-placed, winning half-sister to G1 Kenwood Melody, and dam of five winners in all, with a 2YO filly and a yearling colt by Not a Single Doubt .

King's Rose makes 65 SW for Redoute's Choice

When 3YO filly King’s Rose looped the field in today’s Ashburton RC John Grigg S. 1400m LR to win by two lengths with her ears pricked, she did more than increase her status and value. She also became the 65th stakeswinner for Arrowfield’s champion sire Redoute’s Choice .

From the Nureyev mare Nureyev’s Girl, King’s Rose was bred in New Zealand by High Fashion Ltd & Co. and is trained by Te Akau’s New Zealand trainer Jason Bridgman for Hong Kong-based owner Dr Gene Tsoi. The filly was an easy debut winner at Taupo almost exactly a year ago when trained by Mark Walker, who subsequently lined her up in both of New Zealand’s Group 1 juvenile races, and the Matamata Breeders’ S. G2. The results, in the country’s best 2YO company, were two fifths and a seventh placing, followed by a spell before resuming with a second placing at Motukarara, Canterbury last month.

With more experienced stakeswinners Upsala and Princess Emmy in her wake today, King’s Rose is a bright chance for the $NZ300,000 CJC New Zealand One Thousand Guineas G1 on 13 November.

Nureyev’s Girl was a stakes-placed winner in Adelaide, and is a half-sister to Sydney stakeswinner Roanoke (by Danehill), from the family of European Group winners Soneva and Wixim.

King’s Rose is the second 3YO winner by Redoute’s Choice in New Zealand this season, after the colt Zardetto (ex Champagne by Zabeel), who won his first start at Taupo on 6 October.

Four 3YO winners in 10 days by Snitzel

Tigress Lily (ex Empress Lily by Zabeel) became the fourth 3YO by 2nd season sire Snitzel to win in the past 10 days when she scored a sharp debut win over 1200 metres at Gosford today.

A grand-daughter of 1998 New Zealand Horse of the Year Tycoon Lil, she was bred by Arrowfield and Jungle Pocket Pty Ltd and sold to Chris Richards for $400,000 at the 2009 Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

Switmoa (ex Ripe Plum by Spectrum) won at Canberra on Friday at her second start, earning about two-thirds of the $15,000 Proven Thoroughbreds gave for her at the 2009 Classic Yearling Sale. Last Sunday Snitzel’s daughter Zelsnitz (ex Eishin Maysville by Jade Hunter) also won her second start, this time at Kilmore.

Completing Snitzel’s winning quartet was 3YO gelding Third Man (ex Missing Sheets by Western Symphony), a winner at Gosford on 7 October. He was a $75,000 Classic Yearling Sale purchase by trainer Rick Worthington.

Snitzel, Australia’s second leading 1st Season Sire in 2009/10, is currently serving his fifth book of mares at a 2010 fee of $27,500 (inc. GST).

Sixth stakes performer for Starcraft

Blessed with head-turning good looks, 3YO Ace Acosta ( Starcaft -Hill of Peace by Danehill) has plenty of talent too, and showed it today at Caulfield where he added black type to his record with a solid third in the MRC Gothic S. 1400m LR.

It was Ace Acosta’s first appearance in stakes company after two wins at Geelong and Sandown last month and he becomes the sixth Australasian stakes performer for Arrowfield’s 2nd season sire Starcraft. Hot favourite Skilled and Ace Acosta set the pace and led into the straight, but were left to dispute the minor placings when Mr Chard, already twice stakes-placed at Flemington, ran them down to prevail by 1.5 lengths, with only a nose separating Skilled from Ace Acosta.

Ace Acosta was bred by jockey Scott Seamer and was sold for $120,000 by Robyn Wise as a 2009 Magic Millions yearling to Michael Freedman, whose brother Lee trains the gelding for A Quek, Miss C Chen, J O’Neill, Mrs A Freedman, M Dominello, A Kirkwood-Scott, Carty Racing Syndicate & R Starkins.

Starcraft has been represented by four stakes performers this season: Singapore Sling (1st, ARC Soliloquy S. LR), Star Witness (3rd, MRC Vain S. LR) & Hallowell Belle (2nd, AJC Gimcrack S. LR), as well as Ace Acosta.

Redoute's Choice mare impresses at Caulfield

A rocky start, an unsuitable track, and a lack of racing experience weren’t enough to stop a courageous Varenna Miss prevailing in a tight battle for the last prize on the Caulfield Cup card today.

Pictured: Varenna Miss drives between Flying Tessie & Netra (obscured) to win at Caulfield today.

The imposing 4YO daughter of Redoute’s Choice and Group 3 winner Mica’s Pride (by Bite the Bullet) was having only her third start in the $70,000 MRC Carlton Draught Plate (1100m) for Sydney owner-breeder Glenn Fraser & his family. Mr Fraser bought Varenna Miss as a 2YO from the draft of her breeder Twin Palms Stud for $80,000 from the 2009 Australian Breeding Stock Sale and, aided by trainer Tony Noonan, has exercised considerable patience with her.

They were well rewarded today as the big mare pinned her ears back in the final drive to the line and booked herself a probable start during Cup Week at Flemington.