Dubai – where Vision becomes Reality

It had been ten years since we had last attended the Dubai World Cup meeting, in 2001, when Captain Steve took out the feature race.

However, the 2011 renewal, which I attended as a guest of Falcon, impressed as much for what we saw off track as for what we saw at Meydan, and that is not easy to do because Meydan is almost beyond comprehension in scale and quality. As always, the organisation of the event was super-efficient, and the hospitality most generous.

We had read a lot about Dubai’s new racetrack, but nothing could have prepared us for what we saw at Meydan. It is built to serve Dubai’s racing needs far into the future, with every conceivable detail in place to make life easy for horses and humans. The tracks are magnificent, one turf and one artificial, and all of it is so close to the hotels and CBD of Dubai.

The raceday itself was a celebration of equine excellence with $US26 million of prize money for distribution over eight races. Arrowfield was fortunate enough to have its part-owned four-year-old gelding Better Be The One (pictured at trackwork in Dubai before the race) invited to compete in the $US1 million Al Quoz Sprint G2 over 1000 metres. He performed creditably, finishing third, beaten two heads by international Group 1 sprinters J J The Jet Plane and Australian-bred War Artist at level weights. The result again highlighted the fact that Australian horses are at the top of the world in the sprint division.

Immediately after the race came the approach from Ascot, inviting Better Be The One to contest the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes in June – not a bad consolation prize for the colt who was purchased as a stallion prospect, then had to be gelded to show his best. The Dubai World Cup itself was run at a very slow pace this year and threw up an unexpected, but popular Japanese quinella.

The development that has taken place in Dubai in the last decade defies belief. This small coastal city has been converted into a thriving 21st century metropolis. The far-sighted approach of its leaders to give the emirate world-class air and sea ports with all supporting infrastructure has driven Dubai to a prime position as a logistics and transport hub for the region. It goes on from there: tourism, financial services, etc – all of world-class standard. It is difficult to comprehend that it is all built on desert and on land reclaimed from the sea.

In 2007 Dubai, with its aggressive capital development programme fuelling private investment, especially in real estate, was well and truly in the grip of the pre-GFC world boom. Not surprisingly, the world downturn had a serious impact on Dubai’s balance sheet and on its borrowings. Dubai has survived this turmoil.

At the end of my four-day stay I could not help but think that we Australians should make a conscious effort to set horses for the Dubai World Cup meeting, given the prizemoney, the international prestige and the sheer fun of it all.

Arrowfield-owned sprinter 3rd in Al Quoz Sprint

Arrowfield part-owned Better be The One joined War Artist to open the Australasian attack on the Dubai World Cup racecard this evening, and made up a thrilling finish with favourite J J The Jet Plane.

Pictured: Better Be The One after trackwork at Meydan, Dubai earlier this week. (PHOTO: Katrina Partridge)

Six-time Group 1 winner J J The Jet Plane overcame a troubled run to land the $US1 million Al Quoz Sprint 1000m G2, and found clear running only just in time to snatch victory by a head from War Artist, with a head back to Better Be The One.

Better Be The One (More Than Ready-Common Smytzer by Snippets) was purchased from the Makybe draft for $485,000 by Blue Sky Thoroughbreds at the 2008 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale and raced in Australia as Common Interest. His five wins in Victoria included a Listed Race defeat of subsequent champion international sprinter Starspangledbanner.

Transferred to Michael Freedman’s Singapore stable in 2010, Better Be The One has won three of his four starts and more than $S180,000 there since December.

Response charges home for 2nd Group 1

Charge Forward ‘s brilliant daughter Response made sure of her stamp on the season when she powered home in today’s $350,000 SAJC Robert Sangster S. 1200m G1.

It was her second Group 1 win after she took out the MRC Sir Rupert Clarke S. 1400m G1 in September.

Pictured: Charge Forward’s high-class dual Group 1-winning daughter Response. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

The 4YO mare has given her owners Barry & Midge Griffiths a dream ride since her successful debut at Ballarat in February 2010, compiling a record that now reads 4 wins, 5 placings and more than $760,000 from just 13 starts. She also completed a dream day at Morphettville for the Griffiths, whose familiar blue and yellow-checked colours were earlier carried to victory by their filly Booklet in the SAJC Adelaide Guineas LR.

Bred by Freer Pty Ltd and Andrew & Lasca Bowcock from the Group 1-placed winner Live It Up, Response was purchased by Barry Griffths for $50,000 from the Alanbridge Stud draft in Session 2 of the 2008 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. She is easily the best of her dam’s seven raced progeny to date, but her half-sister has produced G2 winner Returntosender, and her fourth dam Loyalty was a three-quarter sister to champion Wenona Girl.

From fewer than 70 foals in each of his first three crops, Charge Forward has left five stakeswinners: Response and Group 1 winner Headway from his first crop; G2 winner Shrapnel and dual Group 3 winner Solar Charged from his second crop; and Karaka Million winner Fort Lincoln from his 2008 crop. Shrapnel (3rd, 2010 VRC Ascot Vale S. G1) and Fort Lincoln (2nd, 2011 ARC Diamond S. G1) have also performed at Group 1 level.

A son of Red Ransom and completely free of Northern Dancer, Charge Forward is proving an effective foil for mares by Danehill-line stallions, among them the dams of Headway and Fort Lincoln (both from Flying Spur mares) and Solar Charged, from Danehill’s daughter Soul Singer.

There are seven yearlings by Charge Forward in the 2011 Easter Sale catalogue, four of them in the Arrowfield draft.

Snitzel's Salade makes Golden Slipper mix

Golden Slipper betting required rapid re-calculation after the outstanding debut of Snitzel’s latest 2YO star, Salade at Rosehill today.

The strapping chestnut colt bounded away with the $175,000 ATC Pago Pago S. 1200m G2 by 2.5 lengths and his Slipper price was promptly cut from $100 to $13.

Pictured: Salade bounds into the Golden Slipper with a vibrant win at Rosehill today. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

Salade is the third individual stakeswinner by Snitzel , after G2 Chance Bye and SW Zelsnitz, and his sixth Australian 2YO winner this season. Four of those juveniles have earned black type: Salade, Group-placed Hot Snitzel, stakes-placed Hollyweird, and Schiffer, runner-up to Karuta Queen in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (R) LR. Hot Snitzel and two-time winner Saramenha are also possible Slipper starters.

Bred by Mr P.W. Adams, Salade is from Group-placed 2YO winner Just as Beautiful (by Beautiful Crown) and was purchased from the Widden Stud draft for $65,000 by his owner Mathew Sandblom at the 2010 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. The colt’s first-up appearance in the last of the qualifying races raised a few eyebrows, but his master trainer Bart Cummings knew exactly what he was doing, as he explained to Racing & Sports.

“He had to win this race to get into the Slipper and you don’t want to wear them out beforehand.

“There is only one race that counts and if he was good enough he was going to get in.”

With prizemoney of $1,426,708, Snitzel holds second position on the Australian 2nd Season Sires’ list, bracketed by another Group One-winning son of Redoute’s Choice in Stratum, and Flying Spur ‘s son Jetspur.

Snitzel has five yearlings in the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, among them two fillies and a colt in the Arrowfield draft.

Sapelli makes 81 SW for Flying Spur

No sooner has Flying Spur’s affinity with mares by Sir Tristram’s sons & grandsons been highlighted, than Sapelli steps up with further proof of its power in tonight’s $HK2.3 million HKJC Premier Plate 1800m HK-3.

The 5YO gelding, from Zabeel’s daughter Ishkala, loitered under his lightweight of 51 kg at the back of the field until just before the turn, when jockey Eddy Lai drove him forward and wide, as favourite Mighty High sprinted to the lead. The pair put up a spirited fight until the post, where Sapelli’s short head advantage made him Flying Spur’s 81st stakeswinner.

Stakes-placed 2YO winner Ishkala was purchased in foal to Flying Spur for $95,000 by breeder Highview Stud at the 2005 Magic Millions Winter Broodmare Sale. Sapelli won a New Zealand trial as a 2YO in May 2008 and was then sold to Hong Kong where he is trained by John Size for Mr & Mrs Albert Chan Koon Sang.

Sapelli has now won seven and placed in nine of his 33 starts, and earned more than $A1.1 million prizemoney. He’s the leading earner in Hong Kong this season for Flying Spur, who has been a top 10 sire there since 2005.

Sapelli is the best of eight winners from Ishkala, a daughter of Western Music (VRC Maribyrnong Trial S. LR), and the 12th stakeswinner by Flying Spur from mares by sons and grandsons of Sir Tristram.

Flying Spur , Australia’s champion sire of 2007, has 31 lots in the 2011 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, including five fillies and a colt in the Arrowfield draft .

Starcraft pair impress in Sydney & NZ

March is proving fruitful for leading second season sire Starcraft , with seven winners in the past 18 days, most recently at Canterbury last night and in New Zealand this afternoon.

Pictured: 2YO colt Do You Think wins first-up in city company at Canterbury on Friday evening.

(PHOTO: Sportpix)

2YO colt Do You Think (ex Chickens by Danehill) put up a storming run to win on debut over 1100 metres at Canterbury on Friday evening. Bred by David Moore of Soliloquy Lodge, New Zealand, he was purchased for $NZ360,000 by DGR Thoroughbred Services from the Haunui Farm draft at the 2009 New Zealand Premier Sale. Do You Think is raced by Dato Tan Chin Nam & Tunku Ahmad from the Bart Cummings stable.

Today 3YO gelding Starcheeka (ex Born a Star by Canny Lad) was equally impressive when leading from start to finish over 1600 metres at Trentham to post his third win in 9 starts for owners Peter Walker & Anthony Timpson. Starcheeka was bred by Silvertaire Thoroughbred Racing Pty Ltd.

As it happens, both of these latest two winners are from mares sold in the Starcraft Promotion Draft at the 2007 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale. Born a Star, from the family of champion filly Triscay and multiple Group 1 winner Defier, made $305,000. Chickens, a stakes-winning relative of Oaks winners Faint Perfume and Danendri, was sold for $510,000.

Starcraft is third on the 2010/11 combined Australian & New Zealand 2nd Season Sires’ list with $1.3 million and four stakeswinners headed by the dual Group 1 winners Star Witness and recently retired filly We Can Say It Now.

Shrapnel explodes at Morphettville

3YO Charge Forward colt Shrapnel confirmed his class with an all-the-way win in today’s $200,000 SAJC Yallambee Classic 1200m G2.

Pictured: Shrapnel’s second win, at Moonee Valley in September 2010.
(PHOTO: Sportpix)

Jockey Michael Rodd drove him forward from a wide gate and Shrapnel took a comfortable lead into the turn, then kicked clear to score by 1.5 lengths from Happy Trails, with another 3.8 lengths back to General Truce.

Shrapnel is trained by Mark Kavanagh for Arrowfield Pastoral Pty Ltd, Blue Sky Thoroughbreds Stallion Fund No. 2, David Paradice and the colt’s breeders Ron & Deb Gilbert. He has now won 3 of his seven starts, including the SAJC Breeders’ S. G3 as a 2YO, and is Charge Forward’s fourth stakeswinner this season, following 4YO Response (MRC Sir Rupert Clarke S. G1), 3YO Solar Charged (MRC Thoroughbred Club S. G3) and 2YO Fort Lincoln, winner of the ARC Karaka Million (R) LR.

A half-brother to Group 1 winner Wanted, from the stakes-winning Snippets mare Fragmentation, Shrapnel added Group 1 form to his own record last October, with a fighting third in Star Witness’ VRC Ascot Vale S. G1.

Seven yearlings from Charge Forward’s fourth crop will be offered at the 2011 Australian Easter Yearling Sale, including three colts and a filly in the Arrowfield draft.

Charge Forward’s 22 yearlings sold so far this sales season have averaged $106,205, with a top price of $325,000 paid by Peter Devitt at the Magic Millions Sale for Arrowfield’s colt from Portrayal.

Triple stakes success for Redoute's Choice sons

Three sons of Redoute’s Choice were represented in the stakeswinner’s circle today, as the aptly named Triple Asset, Running Tall and No Choice proved victorious in Sydney and New Zealand.

Blue Diamond winner Nadeem struck first when his Tasmanian-owned daughter Triple Asset (ex Caralowe by Hennessy) posted her third win from six starts in the $150,000 VRC TBV Thoroughbred Breeders’ S. G3. With three winners from five starters and prizemoney of almost $250,000, Nadeem is now in second spot on the Australian 1st Season Sires’ list.

Last season’s champion Australian 1st Season Sire Stratum was up next, with Running Tall (ex Fleeting Touch by Touch Gold) victorious in the $300,000 VRC Sires’ Produce S. G2. Stratum maintains his lead on the 2nd Season Sires’ list with almost $2 million prizemoney, ahead of Arrowfield’s Snitzel (also by Redoute’s Choice), whose son Hot Snitzel only just missed stakes-winning status in the ATC Skyline S. G3.

New Zealand-based Coats Choice completed the day when his 3YO daughter No Choice (ex Winkum by Waikiki Star) claimed the Otago RC Breeders’ S. 1400m LR at Wingatui, from The Glitzy One (by Flying Spur ) and Five Coats (by Coats Choice). No Choice is the second stakeswinner from only 35 named foals by Coats Choice, who was stakes-placed at two and stands at Berkley Stud in Canterbury.

Starcraft at Arrowfield supports Earthquake Fundraiser

Arrowfield Stud and the Auckland Racing Club announced today that a 2011 nomination to exciting young sire Starcraft (NZ) will be auctioned at a Gala Dinner on 15 April to raise money for the Racing for Christchurch Appeal Fund, established in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February.

The nomination has been donated by the Starcraft Syndicate ahead of tomorrow’s “Starcraft at Arrowfield” Mr Tiz Trophy LR at Ellerslie.

New Zealand-bred Starcraft won five Group 1 races in four countries and was the world champion older turf miler of 2005. He is now the sire of four stakeswinners from his first Australian crop, including two dual Group 1 winners, We Can Say It Now and Star Witness. Starcraft’s second crop includes the talented 2YO filly Hallowell Belle, runner-up in the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1 on 26 February.

Arrowfield’s owner John Messara says, “The Starcraft Syndicate is very pleased to respond in a practical way to the devastation and distress caused by the Christchurch earthquake.

“As a New Zealand-bred champion owned in Australia, Starcraft exemplifies the strong ties between our two countries. The decision to support the Auckland Racing Club’s fund-raising initiative was very easily made.”

Auckland Racing Club Chief Executive Chris Weaver said, “The Auckland Racing Club is extremely grateful to Arrowfield Stud and the Starcraft Syndicate for their generous offer.

“Starcraft is a horse very close to the heart of many New Zealand racing fans and we will be working very hard to maximise the value of his service fee for the Racing for Christchurch Appeal Fund.”

Starcraft stood the 2010 season at a fee of $A35,000 +GST. His 2011 fee will be announced in early April, shortly before the Gala Dinner.

Spurs for Sirs

Das Machen‘s victory in last Saturday’s SAJC Matrice Stakes 1200m LR at Morphettville brought up not only Flying Spur ‘s 80th individual stakeswinner, but also the 11th stakeswinner the Golden Slipper-winning son of Danehill has produced from mares by sons or grandsons of Sir Tristram. Das Machen is out of the mare Lili Marlene, a daughter of Kaapstad’s son Kaaptive Edition, winner of the 1993 STC The BMW G1.

PHOTO: What I’m really looking for are those Sir Tristram-line gals… Flying Spur photographed in his paddock last spring by Katrina Partridge.

Flying Spur’s Australian-sired progeny boast a very smart 5.9% SW/foals of racing age strike rate. However, when the same criteria are applied to the progeny out of mares by sons or grandsons of Sir Tristram, the strike rate rockets up to 12.4% SW/foals – more than twice his already high black type winner ratio. Three of these 11 stakeswinners are Australian Group 1 winners: Sleek Chassis, Dealer Principal and Juanmo. That’s a very high 3.4% G1 winners/foals.

Kaapstad, along with Marauding, Zabeel and Dr. Grace, are all sons of Sir Tristram whose daughters have left stakeswinners to Flying Spur. Spurcent (granddam by Grosvenor) and Astrodame (3rd dam by Sir Tristram) are other stakeswinners by Flying Spur to feature Sir Tristram in their distaff pedigree.

All of which adds to the interest of Lots 45, 92, 289, 304 & 451 in the 2011 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.