Japan Cup winner spotlights Gio Ponti colt

Epiphaneia’s tremendous four-length victory in Sunday’s Japan Cup 2400m G1 spotlights an interesting colt to be offered by Arrowfield in two months’ time.

Epiphaneia is by two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Symboli Kris S. from the Sadler’s Wells mare Kirov Premiere who was based at Arrowfield from 2003 until her death just over a fortnight ago. Her last foal, an attractive colt by US champion Gio Ponti, is catalogued for the 2015 Inglis Classic Sale in February.

Gio Ponti’s first US yearlings have sold this year for up to $US500,000 and $US450,000 at Saratoga & Keeneland respectively.  The seven-time Grade One winner stood the 2012 season at Arrowfield which will present his first Australian yearling, a filly from Jemison (Commands), at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale in January.

Kirov Premiere was among the mares managed by the successful Arrowfield-Jungle Pocket partnership, responsible for Horse of the Year Weekend Hussler, Blue Diamond G1 winner Reaan and multiple Group winner Sweet Idea.

Herself a Grade 3 winner in the United States, Kirov Premiere had seven foals in Japan, including Epiphaneia’s dam Cesario, Japan’s Champion 3YO Filly of 2005 and winner of the Hollywood American Oaks G1 as well as the Japanese Oaks.

Kirov Premiere’s Australian-bred progeny include Group 3-placed city winner Savannah’s Choice (Redoute’s Choice), the unraced 2YO gelding See Me Sizzle, with Perth trainer Grant Williams, and two daughters, Kirovskaya (French Deputy) and Vishneva (Charge Forward) in the Arrowfield broodmare band.

Kirovskaya visited All American this Spring, while maiden mare Vishneva visited Redoute’s Choice, and both mares are safely in foal.

Beneteau lives in Blue Sky dreams

Racing a horse called Bless Me Pat with the local priest in central New South Wales and planning Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper campaigns might seem worlds apart, but actually, they’re the same story, linked by Mark Sowerby.

In partnership with Ron Hamer, Mark races last Saturday’s debut Randwick winner Aegean Sea and Maribyrnong Plate G3 winner Prompt Return. Both 2YOs are by Australia’s leading first season sire Beneteau and both wear the same Blue Sky logo silks that Beneteau carried in his brilliant Sydney debut victory almost five years ago. 

Prompt Return, trained by Danny O’Brien, won his first start at Bendigo in October, and stepped up to a fine Group 3 victory at Flemington on 8 November.  The colt ended his first campaign with a good second to Carriages in Saturday’s Magic Millions Clockwise Classic at Ballarat where he was unsuited by the tight track. 

Mark says of Prompt Return, “He’s done very well, he’s been in work since the end of July and is now having a nice break at Barwon Heads. All going well, he’ll head to the Blue Diamond and possibly the Golden Slipper, with the Coolmore Stud Stakes a likely target next season, given how well he handled the Flemington straight.”

The Clarry Conners-trained Aegean Sea will probably be seen out again before Christmas. “We’d like her to have another run, it will season her for her second prep and take the pressure off having to qualify for the Slipper in the New Year. “

Mark also explains the subtle thinking behind the filly’s name. Her dam Tyche (by Woodman’s son Saltgrass) is named for the Greek goddess of good luck and fortune, and Beneteau is the famous French firm of luxury yacht designers and builders. The Aegean Sea, between Greece and Turkey, is where the two might naturally meet.

Mark’s interest in horse-racing began 33 years ago with his family’s first racehorse Bless Me Pat in Warren, Australia’s “Cotton & Wool Capital”, on the banks of the Macquarie River, more than 500 km north-west of Sydney.

These days he’s based in Brisbane as the Managing Director of the Blue Sky Group, a private equity house Mark founded in 2006 to invest expansion capital into Australian small and medium-sized businesses.

It was Julian Blaxland’s independent company Blue Sky Bloodstock which purchased the Arrowfield-bred colt Beneteau and gave its Stallion Fund concept a notable early success when the charismatic Redoute’s Choice colt became one of the country’s best juveniles in 2009/10. 

Trained by Paul Messara, Beneteau brilliantly won his first start at Randwick in January 2010, and progressed immediately to victory in the MRC Blue Diamond Prelude G3. He started favourite in the Blue Diamond S. G1 and finished a close-up third to Star Witness and Shaaheq after a rough passage during the race.

Bad luck dogged Beneteau’s final three starts at two and a spelling paddock injury prevented his return at three, so he joined the Arrowfield roster in 2011 at a fee of $11,000 inc. GST. Beneteau died in January 2013 after serving two books of mares that have produced a total of 135 live foals, five of which are owned by Ron and Mark.

Mark bred Aegean Sea while Ron bred Prompt Return (ex Prompt by Exceed and Excel), with each taking an ownership share of the other’s foal at yearling stage.

Mark has a yearling full brother to Aegean Sea; Ron, also a part-owner of recently retired colt Dissident and promising Manhattan Rain filly Boundary, owns a yearling sister to Prompt Return; and together they own the 2YO Beneteau-Rocketing colt, who returned to work this week with trainer Mick Price.

Mark explains, “Ron was one of the first guys to back our Blue Sky investment business, he was a shareholder in Beneteau, and now he’s either my good luck charm or I’m his!

“We never had any doubts about Beneteau as a sire, especially when we saw that his progeny look so much like him. They’re very sound, with brilliant temperaments and scope for development at three.”

Beneteau’s too-early death inevitably shadows the performances of his sons and daughters. However, with first-crop contenders for two races that eluded him, the Blue Diamond and the Golden Slipper, Mark Sowerby and Ron Hamer have their sights fixed on a fairytale finish to the story of a very special colt.

Farewell Weekend Beauty

Weekend Beauty, dam of 2008 Australian Horse of the Year Weekend Hussler, died on Monday at the age of fifteen.

The last of her seven foals, a colt by Animal Kingdom, was born at Arrowfield on 14 November and has been fostered.

Arrowfield Bloodstock Manager Jon Freyer says, “Weekend Beauty was a very special mare for us, she almost single-handedly justified Arrowfield’s selection and purchase of Hussonet, and gave Australia the champion racehorse Weekend Hussler, whose extraordinary 2007/08 season will be long remembered.”

Weekend Beauty was bred by Katsumi Yoshida and owned by the Arrowfield-Jungle Pocket partnership. An unraced daughter of Arc winner Helissio and the very good Group-winning filly Not On Friday (by At Talaq), Weekend Beauty was a half-sister to Group 3 winners Phantom Thief and Saturday Fever.

Weekend Beauty’s fifth dam was the New Zealand Broodmare of the Year Wuthering Heights, celebrated as the dam of 1970s champion Battle Heights, and grand-dam of Group 1 winner Noble Heights.

Weekend Hussler was his dam’s second foal, born at Arrowfield on 3 November 2004 in the first Australian crop of Hussonet, the champion sire of Chile who had been purchased by Arrowfield a year earlier.

Sent as a yearling to the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale, the bay colt was an $80,000 buy from the Arrowfield draft by trainer Ross McDonald. The price was below the average figure achieved by Hussonet’s first yearlings, but there was nothing average about the subsequently gelded Weekend Hussler.

An educational fourth placing at Sale marked his debut in August 2007, and he progressed rapidly from his second-start win at Cranbourne and a pair of city wins to Group 1 victories in the Caulfield Guineas and the Coolmore Stud Stakes at his fifth and sixth starts.

Five more Group 1 wins from 1100 to 1800 metres followed in the next ten months until 20 September 2008, when he won the Underwood Stakes, which was to be his last success before his eventual retirement in October 2010. “The Hussler” signed off with career prizemoney of just over $3 million earned in twelve wins and one placing from 21 starts.

He achieved a 122 rating on the 2008 World Thoroughbred Rankings, and an annual Timeform figure of 130 in the 2007/08 season.

Weekend Beauty’s three other named foals include Weekend Hussler’s year-older half-sister Talaq Dancer, successful in Adelaide and the dam of multiple Group winner Lucky Hussler (by Hussonet’s son Husson).

Arrowfield and Jungle Pocket will offer Weekend Beauty’s penultimate foal, a stunning bay filly by Redoute’s Choice, at the 2015 Inglis Easter Sale.

The partnership continues to breed from Weekend Beauty’s half-sister Any Other Day (by Redoute’s Choice), who produced a Charge Forward filly last month, and has been served by Dundeel.

Arrowfield also owns Weekend Hussler’s only full sister, Good Weekend, who has a Smart Missile yearling filly and foaled a colt by Snitzel in October.

Belle of a day for Bob & Sandra Peters

A pair of belles made Super Saturday at Ascot in Perth very special indeed for leading owner-breeders Bob & Sandra Peters, their private trainer Grant Williams and champion jockey William Pike.

Their highlight was undoubtedly Elite Belle’s victory in the $1 million WATC Railway S. G1. It was the ninth win by the 6YO daughter of Canny Lad who suffered a tendon injury two years ago and was nursed back to soundness at the Peters’ farm at Keysbrook, south of Perth.

Antique Belle (Redoute’s Choice-Antique by Metal Storm) enriched the day’s cake with her second black type success, in the $100,000 Jungle Mist Classic 1200m LR. The 5YO mare is one of five Redoute’s Choice fillies left by Antique: four have won and Antique Belle is the second stakeswinner after Broadway Belle (WATC Jungle Dawn Classic LR).  Antique now has a yearling filly by Snitzel and is foaling to him again this season.

The Peters’ staunch support for the Arrowfield roster encompasses an investment in the Stud’s new stallions Animal Kingdom and Dundeel.

Antique Belle is the ninth stakeswinner this season for Redoute’s Choice, and his second in Western Australia after Rock Magic (WATC Farnley S. LR). His season earnings in Australia now stand at $3.8 million.

Rather ominously for his rivals, these statistics put the champion sire well ahead of where he was in late November 2013, in the early stages of his third Australian premiership season.  At that point he had notched up four stakeswinners and just under $2.8 million prizemoney.

Redoute’s Choice has 11 colts & nine fillies catalogued for the 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, including five beautifully bred fillies in the Arrowfield draft.

Eisenhower rules for Star Thoroughbreds

All American’s son Eisenhower scored his second win in as many starts when he prevailed in a tight finish over 1400 metres at Randwick on Saturday.

Redoubtable Heart (by Redoute’s Choice) and Good Project (by Not A Single Doubt) put Eisenhower under considerable pressure in the closing stages of the race, but the 3YO gelding would not give in and led home an Arrowfield’sired trifecta by a half-head.

Jockey Sam Clipperton said, “He was challenged left, right and centre, but he pinned his ears back and tried really hard.

“He was out on his feet there for a while. He had to really tough it out and will be a better horse in six months.”

Eisenhower, the last foal of his dam Princess Chutima (by Regal Classic) was bred by David Hunter and purchased by Star Thoroughbreds for $75,000 from the Musk Creek Farm draft at the 2013 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale.

Trained by Gai Waterhouse, he won his first start at Newcastle on 1 November and is one of seven winners this season by All American, also sire of Group 3 winner Bachman and stakes performers Zebulon and Tender.

The son of Red Ransom has six lots catalogued for the 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, including three fillies and a colt to be offered by Arrowfield.

Slipper in sight for Beneteau filly

Leading first season sire Beneteau posted his second winner today when 2YO debutante Aegean Sea led all the way over 1000 metres on the Kensington track at Royal Randwick.

Three horses were scratched at the barrier, but the delay did not faze the filly who travelled sweetly and then produced more, to stave off the challenges of Denpurr and Chloe’s Comet in the final 300 metres.

Aegean Sea’s trainer Clarry Conners said, “A lovely filly. I did not want to lead but she pings the barriers and she is a natural runner.

“She has done everything right from day one and she has been a pleasure to train, so very happy with her.

“She is a natural racehorse and I think she is top grade. I thought she could win today and I was pretty keen on her and I think she has a future. She will go out and we will get her ready for the Slipper.”

Aegean Sea (from the stakes-placed city winner Tyche by Woodman’s son Saltgrass) is raced by her breeder Mark Sowerby and Ron Hamer, who also race Beneteau’s son Prompt Return (VRC Maribyrnong Plate G3 and second in Saturday’s $200,000 Ballarat TC Magic Millions Clockwise Classic).

Another son of Beneteau, Voilier (ex Ivyrose by Strategic) made a big impression when winning a Warwick Farm trial by 5 lengths last Thursday.

Beneteau remains on top of Australia’s First Season Sires’ list, and now heads the 2YO Sires’ table with prizemoney of more than $220,000.

He has seven yearlings from his second and final crop catalogued for the 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, including a filly and a colt in the Arrowfield draft.

First stakeswinner for Beneteau

Handsome 2YO colt Prompt Return made the step up to Group company at Flemington with ease to claim Saturday’s $150,000 VRC Maribyrnong Plate 1000m G3, and become the first stakeswinner for his sire Beneteau. In turn, Beneteau is the 14th stakes-siring son of Redoute’s Choice.

Prompt Return jumped smartly from barrier 4 and was quickly directed by jockey James Winks to the inside rail where he soon took control not only of the group on the flat, but also the larger group on the stand side.

Prompt Return extended beautifully to stretch his lead and score by two lengths from Old Trieste. Sailing By and Jaqueric (also by Beneteau) both finished strongly from well off the pace to fill the third and fourth spots.

Trainer Danny O’Brien said, “He’s a very nice colt. He went to Bendigo and it was really a barrier trial, he won and he came home and improved on it and you saw the improvement today.

“He’s been very dominant today in what has been historically a very good formguide for the two-year-old season.”

Prompt Return was bred by Ron Hamer and sold from the Newgate Farm draft for $60,000 to Blue Sky Bloodstock at the 2014 Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale.  Hamer, who retained a share in Prompt Return to race him with Mark Sowerby, also has a yearling full sister to the colt.

The colt’s dam Prompt is a daughter of Exceed and Excel and the good New Zealand racemare Amnesia whose race record includes nine Group & Listed Race placings and a fourth in Pace Invader’s 1998 CJC NZ 1000 Guineas G1. Prompt Return is the second of his dam’s two runners to win, after Caulfield juvenile winner Diamond Glow, also second to Miracles Of Life in the 2013 MRC Blue Diamond Preview LR.

Options for Prompt Return include the Magic Millions 2YO Classic in January and the Blue Diamond S. G1 n February.

Beneteau (Redoute’s Choice-Slice of Paradise by Encosta de Lago) was sold by Arrowfield for $1 million to Blue Sky at the 2009 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale and, in the hands of trainer Paul Messara, quickly proved to be one of Australia’s most exciting juveniles.

After a debut win in the Blue Sky colours at Randwick in January 2010, he travelled to Melbourne to claim the MRC Blue Diamond Prelude G3 before finishing an unlucky third in the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1 and fifth in Crystal Lily’s Golden Slipper.

Beneteau joined the Arrowfield roster in 2011 and served 179 mares during two seasons at stud before his death in January 2013.

The second and final crop of yearlings by the much-missed son of Redoute’s Choice will be offered in 2015.

120th stakeswinner for Redoute's Choice

Strawberry Boy gave leading owner-breeder John Singleton and champion sire Redoute’s Choice a new stakeswinner with Thursday’s victory in the $100,000 Hawkesbury RC Ladies Day Cup 1400m LR.

In the 6YO gelding’s first start for trainer Chris Waller he sat on the pace outside early leader Havana, then took control before the field straightened. Placegetters Monton and Heart Testa launched their claims soon after, but Strawberry Boy held them out to score by almost a length in 1:22.94.

Strawberry Boy is the third stakeswinner out of US-bred Strawberry Girl (by Strawberry Road), after Danroad and Newtown Jet. Strawberry Girl died last month, soon after foaling a colt by Not A Single Doubt.

Strawberry Boy’s record now reads 7 wins, five placings (four in Group company) and more than $380,000 prizemoney from only 17 starts.

It’s been a tremendous week for Redoute’s Choice, represented on Saturday by the splendid mare Bonaria (VRC Myer Classic G1) and brilliant 3YO filly Majmu (Turffontein Starling S. G3).

The champion sire has a tally of eight stakeswinners this season, including Group 1 winners Hampton Court, Lankan Rupee & Bonaria, and Group 2 winners Majmu (in South Africa), Panzer Division & Scissor Kick.

Hussy hijacks Desirable Stakes

“She’s pretty good, isn’t she?”

That was Joe O’Neill’s purely rhetorical question after Hijack Hussy swept to victory in the $150,000 VRC Desirable S. 1400m LR on Melbourne Cup day at Flemington.

The 3YO daughter of Hussonet is the third Arrowfield graduate stakeswinner in the past fortnight, following Moonovermanhattan (MVRC Moonee Valley Vase G2) on 25 October & Majmu (Turffontein Starling S. G3) last Saturday.

Joe, the principal of Prime Thoroughbreds, bought Hijack Hussy from Arrowfield for $62,000 at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale.

He explains, “I was the underbidder on Members Joy from the Arrowfield draft the year before, so I decided that when I saw the next Hussonet filly I liked, I’d buy her.  

“When I saw the Joy Ride filly, I couldn’t believe she was in Book 5, she had a great girth, strong hind-quarters and a good head.”

Joe is especially thrilled for his fellow owners, “all lovely people”: Greg Althaus, Ron & Shane Chipperfield from Bribie Island, first-time owners Terry & Maree Mitchell from Brisbane, Matthew Taylor and long-time clients James Treloar & Mark Snowden.

For one owner, Walter Power, Hijack Hussy’s win was the first highlight of a day made unforgettable by Protectionist’s outstanding victory in the Cup itself. Power Thoroughbreds appears in the ownership of both horses.

Hijack Hussy adds to the strong results achieved in Melbourne this Spring by Eagle Farm trainer Tony Gollan who also prepares Arrowfield graduate Traveston Girl (2nd, Thousand Guineas G1), Looks Like The Cat (2nd, Danehill S. G2 & Caulfield Guineas Prelude G3), Alma’s Fury (2nd, Chatham S. G3) & Temple of Boom (2nd, Bobbie Lewis H. G3).

Prime Thoroughbreds’ Royal Blue, White Star & Red Cap were carried by an earlier Arrowfield graduate, the bonny mare Hidden Wonder, winner of almost $600,000 and the Gosford RC Belle of the Turf S. LR among her nine wins. 

Not A Single Doubt’s 2YO daughter Atalanta Miss, a smart winner on debut in Adelaide last month, will represent the Prime Thoroughbreds stable in the Magic Millions Ballarat 2YO Clockwise Classic on 22 November.

Hijack Hussy will now have a short-let-up before a brief summer campaign aimed at the $1 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas, then another short break ahead of the Brisbane Winter Carnival and, all going well, a tilt at next year’s Myer Classic G1.

Hijack Hussy is the 93rd stakeswinner by champion sire Hussonet, whose Australian stud career began at Arrowfield in 2003 and continues at Cornerstone Stud in South Australia.

The filly was bred by the partnership of Arrowfield, John Leaver & Alan Jones from the Redoute’s Choice mare Joy Ride, an unraced three-quarter sister to stakeswinners Lucky Unicorn and Provence, from the family of Group 1 winners Inspiration, Festal, Masked Party & Dracula. Joy Ride has 2YO and yearling colts by Charge Forward, and has been served this Spring by Dundeel.

Redoute’s Choice now has 31 stakeswinners on his record as a broodmare sire and Hijack Hussy is the fourth by Hussonet.

Risen From Doubt flies at Flemington

Not A Single Doubt’s son Risen From Doubt made his liking for Headquarters abundantly clear on Cup Day with a strong victory in the $100,000 VRC Flemington Fling S. over 1000 metres.

The 3YO colt jumped well from barrier 4 and settled behind the early leaders Toothless, Empress O’Reilly and Rough Justice, before sprinting up to them and taking control of the race at the 300-metre mark. Rough Justice came with him but Risen From Doubt had enough in hand to beat him by a long head in 57.29, with Alaska 1.75 lengths away in third spot.

It was Risen From Doubt’s first success since his sparkling debut, also on Flemington’s straight course, in last year’s VRC Maribyrnong Trial S. LR. However, his five starts between those wins included a third in Mossfun’s ATC Silver Slipper S. G2 and fifth placings in the ATC Todman S. G2 and last month’s MVRC Red Anchor S. G3, won by the smart Galaxy Pegasus.

Trainer Tony McEvoy said, “He’s always shown good ability and I thought he was good enough to run in a Golden Slipper.

“He just didn’t handle Moonee Valley but he made no mistake here and it’s onwards and upwards with him. I’ll try and place him in some better races now, ideally get some more black type to his name.”

Risen From Doubt was bred by Dean Fleming from the unraced Fantastic Light mare Coconut Mamma, a grand-daughter of Queensland Oaks winner Joie Denise from the Denise’s Joy dynasty.

A $140,000 buy for agent Adrian Hancock from the Tyreel Stud draft at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, Risen From Doubt has now earned almost $175,000 from seven starts for a group of owners including Adelaide builder Peter Katelanis.

He was one of four winners around Australia on Cup Day for Not A Single Doubt, currently fourth on the Australian General Sires’ list by winners with a tally of forty-five.