Top runs by Star Witness & Elzaam in Golden Jubilee

Arrowfield sires played a strong hand in the finish of yesterday’s six-furlong Royal Ascot Golden Jubilee S. G1, with Star Witness and Elzaam both finishing bravely for 3rd and 4th in the feature sprint of a magnificent week’s racing.

Star Witness ( Starcraft -Leone Chiara by Lion Hunter), who finished second to Prohibit in the King’s Stand S. G1 on Tuesday, went for home two furlongs out, but the final rise and the wet track took their toll, and allowed Society Rock and Monsieur Chevalier swamped him in the final stages.

Pictured: Star Witness after his VRC Ascot Vale S. G1 victory in October 2010. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Elzaam was not favoured by the track conditions either, but made a rousing charge to finish only a head behind Star Witness. His trainer Roger Varian said afterwards, “I am really thrilled with how he ran. I thought in the last two furlongs he made up more ground than anything and it shows he can do it at this level.”

Star Witness was bred by Alma Vale Bloodstock, Queensland and purchased for $150,000 by Danny O’Brien at the 2009 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale.

Starcraft himself was the World Champion Older Turf Miler of 2005; achieved a Timeform rating of 128 at 5; and won five Group 1 races in four countries: Australia, New Zealand, France & England.

He is the leading Australasian 2nd Season Sire of Stakeswinners this season, with 7 individual stakeswinners, including dual G1 winners Star Witness & We Can Say It Now, and Australian Group winners Do You Think & Crafty Irna.

Elzaam ( Redoute’s Choice -Mambo In Freeport (USA) by Kingmambo) was bred in Australia to northern time by Kia Ora Stud, NSW, and sold at the 2009 Arqana August Sale in to Shadwell France for ?280,000. The colt was sent by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum to the Michael Jarvis stable and made his first raceday appearance in May 2010 at York where won impressively over six furlongs.

Elzaam then ran a very close second in the 2010 Royal Ascot Coventry S. G2 – beaten by Strong Suit, who also won this year’s Royal Ascot Jersey Stakes G3. Elzaam became Redoute’s Choice’s first stakeswinner in England when he won the Newbury Carnarvon S. LR on 13 May this year.

Elzaam is among 17 stakeswinners by Redoute’s Choice worldwide in 2010/11, a list headed by classic winners Absolutely (ATC Australian Oaks G1) & King’s Rose (CJC NZ 1000 Guineas G1).

Sons of Arrowfield stallions lead Royal Ascot challenge

The Australian-bred challenge for a fourth Golden Jubilee Stakes G1 victory at Royal Ascot now lies with the sons of Arrowfield stallions Redoute’s Choice and Starcraft .

Pictured: Champion sire Redoute’s Choice, photographed at Arrowfield by Bronwen Healy, April 2011.

After powering home for an eye-catching second in Tuesday’s King’s Stand S. G1, Star Witness (Starcraft-Leone Chiara by Lion Hunter) is vying for favouritism in the Golden Jubilee, which has previously been won by Australian-breds Choisir (twice), and Starspangledbanner in 2010. Star Witness is already a dual Group 1 winner, in the MRC Blue Diamond Stakes at two, and last spring’s VRC Ascot Vale Stakes. He and the splendid New Zealand-trained filly We Can Say It Now are both dual Group 1 winners for Starcraft, the sire of 7 individual stakeswinners this season – more than any other Australasian 2nd Season sire.

Star Witness will be joined in the Golden Jubilee field by Sheikh Hamdan‘s exciting colt Elzaam (Redoute’s Choice-Mambo In Freeport by Kingmambo), who was bred in Australia to northern time by Kia Ora Stud. He was then sent to the 2009 Arqana August Sale where Shadwell France purchased him for ?280,000.

Trained initially by Michael Jarvis, Elzaam made his first raceday appearance in May 2010 at York where won impressively over six furlongs. He then ran a very close second in the 2010 Royal Ascot Coventry S. G2 – beaten by Strong Suit who won Wednesday’s Royal Ascot Jersey Stakes G3.

Now trained by Roger Varian, Elzaam became Redoute’s Choice’s first stakeswinner in England when he won the Newbury Carnarvon S. LR on 13 May this year. Sheikh Hamdan’s Tazahum became English stakeswinner No. 2 for Redoute’s Choice with a victory at Sandown 13 days later, and finished a respectable fifth in the Tercentenary S. G3 on the third day of the Royal Ascot meeting.

Tazahum and Elzaam have taken Redoute’s Choice’s worldwide tally of 2010/11 stakeswinners to 17, headed by Group 1-winning classic fillies Absolutely and King’s Rose.

Australian-bred horses have built a remarkable record at Royal Ascot, winning or filling a place at the carnival in each of the past six years. Arrowfield’s home-bred mare Alverta (by Flying Spur ) was among the Australian contingent last year, and remained in England to run a magnificent third in the Newmarket July Cup G1.

The 2011 Golden Jubilee Stakes will be televised in Australia on both Sky Channel and TVN, with the race scheduled to be run on Sunday morning at 12.45am (EST).

Star Witness 2nd at Royal Ascot

Australia’s outstanding 3YO sprinting colt Star Witness has just missed victory in the five-furlong King’s Stand S. G1 on the opening day of Royal Ascot.

The handsome son of European, Australian & New Zealand Group 1 winner Starcraft paraded in great order and was widely tipped to win the race, but a sluggish start left him out of touch with the strong early pace set first by the “Budapest Bullet” Overdose, and then the Hong Kong runner Sweet Sanette.

Star Witness steadily worked his way into contention and produced a powerful burst over the final stages to secure second placing, but was a half-length short of 6YO gelding Prohibit on the line, with Sweet Sanette another half-length back in third.

Dual Group 1 winner Star Witness has spear-headed a marvellous Australasian season for Starcraft, sire of seven stakeswinners from two crops in 2010/11. They include 3YO filly We Can Say It Now who won twice at Group 1 level in New Zealand before her retirement in the autumn, and Group winners Crafty Irna, Do You Think & Starcheeka.

Starcraft stands the 2011 season at a fee of $44,000 inc. GST.

Back to the Future for Autumn

I was among those who supported the proposal to re-frame the Sydney Autumn Carnival with fixed dates and uncouple it from the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I am putting my hand up now: I do not think it is working.

It is time to go back to the future, reclaim the Easter dates and restore the historical sequence of race-meetings on Easter Saturday, Easter Monday, Wednesday and the closing Saturday.

Attracting and holding public interest in the Autumn Carnival over several weeks is proving too difficult, and the Easter Sale has lost the festive atmosphere that created a sense of excitement about the sport of racing horses and the business of buying them.

Pictured: The crowd on the opening day of Royal Ascot 2010. (PHOTO: Alice Messara)

Over the past 12 months I have attended three of the world’s major racing events, all of which feature compressed programmes of high-quality racing. All of them also provide high-quality spectator facilities, which as we know, are in the offing at Randwick.

First-up was Royal Ascot in June, the most valuable race meeting in Europe, and one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events, held over five consecutive days at the course founded by Queen Anne in 1711.

It is also Britain’s most popular race meeting. In 2010 total attendance was up 2% at 284,196 and the Tote’s on-course turnover posted a 7% increase. The appeal of Royal Ascot for me lies in its unwavering focus on the horses and the racing with everything else – even the pageantry, fashion, amicable socialising and splendid food and drink – secondary to what happens on the track.

Next came the centrepiece of the Melbourne Spring Carnival, those four marvellous days of racing during Cup Week at Flemington. Like Royal Ascot, it is a destination meeting – an event that attracts advance bookings and visitors from across the country and around the world. Derby Day and the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup were affected by indifferent weather, yet attendance across the four days still exceeded 350,000.

Then in March I attended the 16th Dubai World Cup meeting which presents on a single evening seven thoroughbred races worth a total of $US26 million. The attendance there was 80,000.

There was a multitude of high-quality events surrounding the raceday with a large contingent of overseas visitors in attendance.

The horses and the racing provided enthralling entertainment, and the new track at Meydan is breath-taking. 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 close to the hotels and CBD of Dubai.

The common theme here is that the signature meetings in those three countries concentrate prestigious racing and supporting events into a brief span of time. This helps to make a racing carnival a destination for local and international spectators. It becomes a ‘must’ to attend because the trip is made worthwhile by the rich feast of entertainment and competition over a relatively short period of time.

I believe that the current Sydney Autumn Carnival has forfeited its status as a destination meeting. It is time now to cut our losses and admit that we made a mistake. This may well require us to re-cast many of the Carnival races to create an irresistible menu of Group racing and related entertainment, while maintaining the integrity of the Pattern.

Held during the week between Easter Monday and the second Saturday, the Easter Sale could once again include evening sessions that can be attended by people from the city at the end of their working day. I believe this may be the only way for the Sale to re-capture and build on the buzz of days gone by.

And why is this important? Because the combination of the Easter holiday atmosphere and a week-long racing carnival, coupled with a premier yearling sale near the centre of Sydney, fuels the aspiration that drives our sport, through ownership, betting and attendance.

This Messara View was first published as a View from the Top column in Bluebloods , June 2011.

Flying Spur special at every remove

Saturday’s racing at Eagle Farm produced two significant results for Flying Spur , as a broodmare sire, and sire of sires.

The champion sire son of Danehill has been building a strong record as a damsire for some time now, and BRC Brisbane Cup G2 winner Tullamore is his 21st stakeswinner in that role. The Gai Waterhouse-trained son of Savabeel and Trocair is yet another example of the well-established affinity between Sir Tristram and Danehill, now working through their sons and daughters.

Pictured: Tullamore, Flying Spur’s latest stakeswinner as a broodmare sire, wins Saturday’s Brisbane Cup G2. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

Tullamore’s victory elevates Flying Spur to 5th position on the 2010/11 Australian Broodmare Sires’ table, with earnings of just over $5 million, and he remains the youngest active sire among the top ten on that list. This season’s seven stakeswinners from Flying Spur mares include a pair of leading 2YO colts, Delago Deluxe (by Encosta de Lago) in South Africa, and Charge Forward ‘s son Fort Lincoln (ARC Karaka Million (R) LR)

Earlier on the Eagle Farm card, 2YO filly Belle d’Amour gave Flying Spur’s son Jetspur his first stakeswinner when she won the BRC Lancaster S. 1200m LR. Interestingly, she is also a result of Danehill working with Sir Tristram, this time via a daughter of Military Plume.

Highly desirable in the second remove of pedigrees, Flying Spur continues to be highly effective as a sire, with nine stakeswinners worldwide in 2010/11, and Australian earnings of $4.6 million. He is rapidly closing on a century of winners in Australia for the season.

Flying Spur will stand the 2011 season at a fee of $49,500 inc. GST.

First Group 1 performer for Snitzel

The last foal of Arrowfield mare Flames of Paris has given young Arrowfield sire Snitzel his first Group 1 performer, Hot Snitzel, second in today’s $500,000 BRC T.J. Smith S. 1600m G1.

Pictured: Hot Snitzel at Randwick in December 2010. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

And what a brave effort it was. Hot Snitzel worked hard to make the lead, withstood substantial pressure during the run and kicked strongly after the turn to make what looked like a winning break. Only Benfica, who camped off the pace, was able to make ground on him and finally prevailed by 1.3 lengths, with Playtime more than four lengths away in third position.

Hot Snitzel’s performance took his record to three wins and four placings from nine starts, and prizemoney of $454,400 – a handsome return on the $60,000 that Triple Crown Syndications paid for him at the 2010 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, where he was offered by Bellerive Stud.

A Group-1 winning son of Redoute’s Choice , Snitzel is the sire of ten stakes performers from his first two Australian crops, including G2 winners Salade and Chance Bye, and stakeswinner Zelsnitz, as well Hot Snitzel, who won last weekend’s BRC Sires’ Produce S. G2.

Snitzel is second only to another son of Redoute’s Choice, Stratum, on the 2010/11 Australian 2nd Season Sires’ list. Snitzel is available to breeders in 2011 at a fee of $27,500 inc. GST.

No doubts about Squamosa in racetrack return

The return of Not A Single Doubt ‘s Arrowfield-bred-and-sold son Squamosa has been awaited ever since his first campaign last year, which culminated in a Group 3 win, and a close second in the STC Golden Rose S. G1.

Pictured: Squamosa scores his his second black type win at Randwick today. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

Today, the 3YO colt made the wait worthwhile – and completed a Sydney treble for Arrowfield stallions – with a blazing 4.75 length win in the $100,000 ATC June S. 1100m LR. Sent straight to the front by jockey Jim Cassidy, Squamosa quickly had his opponents under pressure and romped home in a time of 1.05.59.

Squamosa is trained by Gai Waterhouse for owners Jeremy Tan, Gillian Tan & Grace Wong. Purchased for $140,000 by Star Thoroughbreds from the Arrowfield draft at the 2009 Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sale, Squamosa has now won four of his five starts and more than $430,000.

Since she foaled Squamosa in 2007, his dam Class Success has had two fillies, 2YO Accomplishment (by Flying Spur ) in training with Paul Messara, and a current weanling by Snitzel .

Squamosa is one of four stakeswinners this season for Not A Single Doubt, who is third on the Australian 3rd Season Sires’ list and second on the 2YO Sires’ table. Not A Single Doubt will stand the 2011 season at a fee of $24,750 inc. GST.

Crossbow's aim is true at Randwick

Sydney and Brisbane provided highlights of different kinds for champion sire Redoute’s Choice .

At Randwick his 3YO son Crossbow contributed a handy $42,000 to Redoute’s Choice’s 2010/11 prizemoney with an impressive win in class record time over 1800 metres. From Rainbow Bubbles, a stakes-winning sister to Group 1 winner El Mirada, Crossbow has now won three of his six starts from the Gai Waterhouse stable for his breeder Peter Carrick and partners.

Pictured: Crossbow finishes strongly to win at Randwick today. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

At Eagle Farm, 3YO colt Shootoff gave the young Redoute’s Choice sire Duelled his first Group 1 winner when he prevailed in the $500,000 Queenland Derby over 2400 metres. Duelled is the second son of Redoute’s Choice to sire a Group 1 winner after Stratum, responsible for the 2010 Golden Slipper winner Crystal Lily.

Redoute’s Choice has had a tremendous 2010/11 season with a total of 17 stakeswinners worldwide, 13 of them within Australia where he is currently third on the General Sires’ list with prizemoney of $6.7 million.

Redoute’s Choice’s service fee for 2011 is $137,500 inc. GST.

Startreusse impresses at Randwick

Even as the 2010/11 season enters its final stages, Australasia’s leading 2nd crop sire of stakeswinners Starcraft is maintaining his momentum with regular infusions of fresh talent.

Today at Randwick his 2YO son Startreusse was ridden by New Zealand apprentice Jason Collett to an easy two-length victory over 1200 metres, his second win in two starts from the Chris Waller stable.

Pictured: Startreusse flies home at Randwick today. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

Startreusse was recently purchased by the Ingham family from BC3 Thoroughbreds which secured him for $100,000 from the Princes Farm draft at the 2010 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.

Startreusse is from the first crop of foals bred on their own account by the Khaw family’s Suez Thoroughbreds whose manager Su-Ann Khaw was delighted with his performance, especially as his dam Shantreusse (by Danehill) is in foal to Starcraft. Danehill-line mares have also produced dual G1 winner Star Witness, G3 winner Do You Think, stakeswinner Ain’tnofallenstar and stakes-placed Ace Acosta when sent to Starcraft.

Starcraft has been represented by seven individual stakeswinners this season and stands at a 2011 service fee of $44,000 inc. GST.

Danzero to stand in Victoria

Arrowfield’s marvellous proven sire Danzero will return this coming season to Victoria, where he was trained and where he stood during the early part of his stud career.

Based at Arrowfield for 15 years, the son of Danehill and Confidentially has been purchased by emerging Victorian operation Rosemont Stud . Rosemont principal Anthony Mithen has described the relocation of Danzero as a “win-win” for all parties concerned, especially Victorian breeders.

Pictured: Bronwen Healy’s striking photograph of Danzero in his paddock at Arrowfield.

“It’s a great way for Danzero to finish his stunning stud career. I’m just so glad that John Messara has laid faith in our operation to sell Dan to us and give the Golden Slipper winner the chance to finish his career with a bang. He is an awesome stallion who has produced seven individual Group One winners and I don’t think we’ve seen his last,” Mithen said.

Arrowfield chairman John Messara is equally pleased that Danzero will finish his career in an environment where he will shine.

“He’s a farm favourite and it will provide Victoria with a proven stallion of quality. It would be fair to say he can be missed in the crush of stallions up our way these days, but there is no doubt he is one of the finest stallions we have produced,” Messara said.

“He was bred by us, sold by us, bought back by us and was Danehill’s first Group One winner. Understandably, we will be sad to see him go, but I know he’s going to a great home that will give him the best opportunity to finish his duties with a flourish.”

Mithen clinched the deal after inspecting the horse last week: “He looks awesome. He is in great general health and fitness and I’ve got no doubt he’s got a few great years still to come in the breeding shed.”

Danzero is Rosemont’s first foray into the stallion market. Buoyed by the very successful VOBIS breeders and owners scheme, Mithen is confident he will be a very popular stallion in the garden state.

“We will look after him and only cover around 80 mares a season which won’t take long to book up. Where else for $10,000 are you going to get a stallion that has thrown 37 stakes winners, seven Group One winners, the best 2yo this country has seen in the last 20 years in Dance Hero, with plenty more still to come? He has nearly 100 rising 2yos and his Group One winners’ list is not done yet if horses like Zero Rock keep bobbing up.

“He just measures up on all levels for Victorian breeders…he gets good sales results, gets great racetrack results and trainers love them for good reason,” Mithen enthused.

Danzero will stand at Rosemont Stud at a fee of $11,000 inc. GST.