Australia’s King of Sires Redoute’s Choice dies at Arrowfield

World-class stallion, sale-ring sensation, dominant sire of sires & broodmares and major industry influence Redoute’s Choice has died at Arrowfield Stud…

Arrowfield Stud announces with great sorrow that the Champion Sire Redoute’s Choice died this morning at the farm, near Scone in the Hunter Valley.

The rising 23 year-old son of Danehill and Shantha’s Choice was humanely euthanised after suffering a traumatic loss of mobility which could not be restored, despite intensive care by Arrowfield’s veterinary and stallion teams.
Arrowfield’s John Messara said, “Redoute’s Choice is such a big part of all our lives, and right now it’s hard to imagine Arrowfield without him.

“He has given us so much, Arrowfield has been built on his back and he’s allowed all of us and many, many other people to fulfil our dreams and ambitions.

“I thank Muzaffar Yaseen for allowing us to buy into Redoute’s Choice almost two decades ago. Our partnership has always been amicable and it has achieved all that we could hope for, and more.

“I’m grateful to all my team, past and present, who are part of his story, especially those who have cared for and worked with Redoute’s Choice every day, and have ensured that he’s had the long and wonderful life he deserved. There are many tears being shed at Arrowfield today.

“I also thank everyone who helped us launch his stud career, his shareholders, and those who bred to him, and bought, raced, trained and rode his progeny. He has blessed us all.”

Champion. Hero. Friend.
1996 - 2019
Redoute's Choice wins the 1999 Blue Diamond S. G1 at his second start.
Redoute's Choice defeats Testa Rossa in the dramatic 1999 Caulfield Guineas G1.
Champion 2YO Miss Finland wins the 2006 Golden Slipper G1.
World Champion Sprinter & Australian Horse of the Year Lankan Rupee
John & Paul Messara with Redoute's Choice at Arrowfield in 2014.
Redoute's Choice with Stallion Manager Joe Hickey, August 2018.
The magnificent Tanya Bartlett statue of Redoute's Choice greets visitors to Arrowfield.
...the rarest of thoroughbred horses...
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PHOTOS:  Bronwen Healy; Martin King 

Redoute’s Choice was the rarest of thoroughbred horses, who exceeded even the lofty expectations of his glorious physique, powerful pedigree and brilliant racing career, to become a world-class stallion, a sale-ring sensation, a dominant sire of sires & broodmares and a major influence for years to come. 

His death comes in a season of fresh recognition and achievement, including his 34th Group 1 winner Galaxy Star, a trio of million-dollar colts at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale and a spectacular 3YO campaign by his best racing son, The Autumn Sun, who won his fifth Group 1 race, the Rosehill Guineas, last Saturday.

The Autumn Sun’s place on the Arrowfield roster is already reserved, alongside four other Redoute’s Choice sons: record-breaking Champion Sire Snitzel, leading sire Not A Single Doubt, Scissor Kick, whose first yearlings are being offered at 2019 sales, and Pariah, who served his first book in 2018.  

Almost 13 years after he won the first of his three General Sires’ Premierships, Redoute’s Choice remains a top 5 sire and is likely to secure his first Australian Broodmare Sires’ title this season with earnings of $15.2 million and 15 stakeswinners to date, among them Group 1 winners Extra Brut, Amphitrite and Arcadia Queen.

Redoute’s Choice was bred by Muzaffar Yaseen, foaled on 15 August 1996 and retained to race in the now-famous yellow, red, lime & orange Teeley Assets colours. Mr Yaseen sent him to Melbourne trainer Rick Hore-Lacy who prepared the strikingly handsome colt throughout his 10-start, 5-win, $1.6 million racing career.

He made headlines and history immediately, after winning a Listed Race at his 2YO debut on 20 February 1999 and lining up a mere seven days later in the Blue Diamond S. G1, which he won by two lengths from his great rival Testa Rossa.

His Spring 3YO campaign began with a 1200-metre weight-for-age victory in the Manikato S. G1 and peaked in the heroic, one-for-the-ages battle with Testa Rossa for the Caulfield Guineas G1, won by Redoute’s Choice only in the final metres.

Redoute’s Choice returned in the Autumn to add a fourth Group 1 success, defeating Miss Pennymoney and Intergaze in the C.F. Orr S. G1, and retired to Arrowfield as Australia’s Champion 3YO Miler.

He served 134 mares in 2000 at a fee of $30,000 which did not increase until his fifth season, in 2004. That was after the appearance of his first stakeswinners Not A Single Doubt and Tahni Girl, the 2003/04 Champion First Season Sire title and his first million-dollar yearling.

It was in the 2004/05 racing season that Redoute’s Choice, with 137 runners from two crops of racing age, emerged as a potential champion stallion and the inheritor of Danehill’s crown. He unleashed a staggering 15 stakeswinners, four at Group 1 level: 3YO filly Lotteria and 2YOs Fashions Afield, Stratum and Undoubtedly. Only Danehill and Zabeel headed him on the Australian General Sires’ Premiership and his 2005 Inglis Easter Sale results included the Tugela colt, sold for a then all-time Australian record price of $2.5 million.

He served a full book of 196 mares in 2005 and continued to serve at least 100 mares each year until the last two seasons when his book was restricted to 74 and 45 mares.

Redoute’s Choice claimed his first General Sires’ Premiership with three crops racing in 2005/06, the season of six Group 1 winners: Champion 2YO Miss Finland, Snitzel (Oakleigh Plate), God’s Own (Caulfield Guineas), Nadeem (Blue Diamond S.), Fashions Afield (Flight S.) and Lotteria (Myer Classic).

His second Premiership came in 2009/10, the year of diversely gifted  fillies, the dual Group 1 winning-sprinter Melito, Queensland Derby winner Dariana and Toorak Handicap winner Allez Wonder.

That season also marked the arrival of his statistically most notable crop, eventually the source of 21 stakeswinners from 107 named foals – a remarkable strike rate of 19.6%.  Flag-bearer for that 2009 cohort was World Champion Sprinter, Horse of the Year and five-time Group 1 winner Lankan Rupee who helped propel Redoute’s Choice to his third and final Premiership, in 2013/14.

Snitzel’s second-place finish in 2014 resulted in a father-&-son Premiership quinella unprecedented in Australian thoroughbred history and signalled the passing of the baton to the next generation of the Danehill dynasty at Arrowfield.

Redoute’s Choice now has 22 stakes-siring sons, 10 of them also Group 1 sires. They are responsible for 279 stakeswinners, while his daughters have left 86 stakeswinners, including 13 at Group 1 level.

International recognition of Redoute’s Choice’s contribution to the Australian thoroughbred industry has grown steadily in recent years. Only last month leading bloodstock analyst Bill Oppenheim announced that his APEX A Runner index of 3.82 earned him the No. 1 spot among Australasian sires, ahead of Snitzel, I Am Invincible, Savabeel and Fastnet Rock.

John Messara said, “It is a great consolation to me that Redoute’s Choice leaves us at the top of his game, having sustained his greatness as a sire from start to finish, across the full span of his career.

“His legacy to Australian breeding and racing is immense, through his sire sons, his broodmare daughters, his final crops still to come and all the people he touched over the past two decades.

“Thank you Redoute’s, for everything.”

Arrowfield’s tribute to Nick Columb

John & Kris Messara, Paul & Alice Messara and the entire Arrowfield team join many thoroughbred industry people around the world to mourn the death of our great friend Nick Columb on 10 August…

John & Kris Messara, Paul & Alice Messara and the entire Arrowfield team join many thoroughbred industry people around the world to mourn the death of our great friend Nick Columb, in Girona, Spain on 10 August after suffering a stroke ten days earlier.

Of course, this would be much more entertaining and scandalous if Nick was still here telling us about his own drama-filled life, as he so often did in hilarious, sharply observed episodes. It’s some consolation for us that Paul Messara and Martin Story spent a few days in Japan last month with Nick at his entertaining best, holding court and telling outrageous stories in his inimitable style. 

Nick’s ability to rise again from failure, change tack and adapt to different times and opportunities meant that people met and knew him in several thoroughbred industry roles: as the stunningly successful high-rolling owner and buyer of the 1980s, the energetic owners’ advocate of the 1980s and 1990s, and the globe-trotting bloodstock consultant of recent years. Yet they only hint at the significant impact he had on the Australian and international racing community and on the many people who have paid tribute to him.

John Messara says, “Nick Columb was the staunchest friend, always fearless, constantly innovative and deeply passionate about horse racing and so much else. He leaves an unfillable gap in Arrowfield’s world, and so many good memories and reasons to be grateful for his incomparable life.”

The high drama of Nick’s life began just after World War II in Bucharest when his parents and the infant Nick fled from the Soviet occupation of Romania, eventually emigrating to Australia in the early 1950s. 

Educated at Brighton Grammar School, Nick attended the Law Faculty at Monash University for two years until, as he explained, he “started falling asleep in lectures.” A cadetship at the Melbourne Herald (now the Herald-Sun) followed and he worked as a journalist there for almost ten years, covering crime, the Courts and all sports, including racing.

After a period as the National Marketing Director for the George Patterson Advertising Agency, Nick launched his own successful business, eventually investing in a pub, private hospitals and the Morning Star Estate at Mount Eliza.

His passion for the turf was sparked, as it was for so many in that generation, by Saturdays spent with his punting father at the races and at 18 Nick leased his first “hopelessly slow” horse with a couple of mates. Some years later he bought a filly named Teversham who did a little better, being denied victory at the Avoca Picnic Races only by a judge who awarded the race to his cousin’s horse. At least, that’s how Nick told it!

Undaunted, he persisted in racehorse ownership, through an expensive and very fast Vain colt who suffered knee chips, a share in Full On Aces and success in the 1981 Golden Slipper and AJC Sires’ Produce and the purchase of a horse from a drunken Kiwi one night in a Melbourne bar. Syndicated with the help of Tommy Smith, that horse was Little Brown Jug (he raced as My Brown Jug in Australia) who won the St George and the Alister Clark and famously savaged Manikato in the C.F. Orr.

Then along came the first of the horses that elevated Nick’s profile an owner and cemented his long friendship with trainer Ross McDonald. That horse was Magari, who swept through the 1982 Melbourne Spring Carnival winning what are now the Sir Rupert Clarke, the Toorak and the Cantala Stakes.

Nick bought Magari’s dam Aurea in foal to Century and with a Century filly at foot that raced as Centaurea and gave Nick one of his biggest thrills when she won the 1985 Australasian Oaks, ridden by Lester Piggott.

This was a golden era for Nick as an owner and he visited the Group 1 winner’s circle regularly over the next few years, thanks to three spectacular fillies, all bought at the New Zealand yearling sales.

Courtza carried Nick Columb’s famous colours to victory in the 1989 Golden Slipper G1. (PHOTO: Martin King, Sportpix)

Tristarc (Sir Tristram-Renarc) took 14 races to break her maiden, but eventually won five Group 1 events including the 1985 Australian Derby and Caulfield Cup. Million-dollar earner Imposera (Imposing-Calera) won the 1988 Australasian Oaks and Caulfield Cup and a year later Courtza (Pompeii Court-Hunza) earned 2YO Championship honours after completing the Blue Diamond-Golden Slipper double. 

The crash of the early 1990s slowed Nick’s activity as an owner, but not his advocacy on behalf of Victorian and Australian owners, a task he pursued with typical vigour. His philosophy was simple: “Without owners there is no racing. We ‘feed’ everyone – trainers, jockeys, strappers, vets, float drivers, grain merchants and race club committees. Without horses out on the tracks there’d be nothing to bet on. Indeed, all we’d see is grass growing!”

Although he later said it was “mostly banging my head up against closed officialdom’s doors”, Nick’s 15 years as Chairman of The Racehorse Owners’ Association (TROA) were far from fruitless. The SuperVOBIS Scheme, current owners’ privileges and facilities and wider distribution of prizemoney are all achievements to which Nick, among others, contributed.

Nick’s experience as a buyer of bloodstock, his vast network of industry contacts and deep understanding of the thoroughbred business led him to his last professional role as the head of Hong Jockey Club’s purchasing team for the Hong Kong International Sale.  The strong growth of that Sale and graduates including Champion Stayer & dual Group 1 winner Pakistan Star are results that Nick and his colleagues rightly celebrated.

Nick had many passions outside racing, notably the Western Bulldogs (formerly Footscray) AFL Club. He spent almost a decade on the Club’s board and, despite a turbulent year as President in 1989, he remained a loyal Bulldogs fan. (They defeated North Melbourne 92-85 on Sunday which would have pleased him!)  

A flirtation with city politics gave Melbourne the opportunity to elect a really interesting Lord Mayor in 2008, but as he always did, Nick rose above the failure of that campaign and continued to enjoy life, racing, football, friends, family and the other things he loved: “travel; good music; fine food and great red wine; and above-average sheilas.”

Nick is survived by his children Adrian, Georgia & Nick with his first wife Bev, Raphaela & Romany with his second wife Rosanne, and grandson Charlie.