The Next Generation of Success

The man who made supersire Danehill and his best sire son Redoute’s Choice began thinking about the current Arrowfield stallion roster more than a decade ago.

Danehill was still building his extraordinary record, and the first Redoute’s Choice progeny were foals when John Messara started talking about the need for outcross sires that would click with Danehill’s daughters and grand-daughters. It also wasn’t long before he began the hunt for likely sire sons of Redoute’s Choice.

In 2005, Arrowfield launched two stallions that reflected both strands of Messara’s long-term strategy, Charge Forward and Not A Single Doubt.

Charge Forward is the result of an inspired Northern Dancer-free mating planned by distinguished Australian breeder and original Arrowfield director, the late Phillip Esplin. He sent Sydney’s Dream, the last-born of champion sire Bletchingly’s 17 Group 1 winners, to Red Ransom who followed Danehill’s example of dual-hemisphere success.

Built in his damsire’s compact, powerful mould, Charge Forward won Australia’s first 2YO stakes race of the season, the AJC Breeders’ Plate LR in Sydney. Six months later he was runner-up in a superlative renewal of Australia’s premier 2YO contest, the STC Golden Slipper G1, won in record time by champion juvenile Dance Hero (a gelded son of Arrowfield’s Danzero). Champion filly and subsequent US Graded Stakes winner Alinghi was third and future champion sire Fastnet Rock was fourth.

Charge Forward progressed at three to beat Fastnet Rock and Dance Hero over 1000 metres in the AJC San Domenico S. G2, and win the AJC Galaxy H. G1 at his final start. At stud he has fulfilled exactly the role Arrowfield envisioned for him, as a source of precocious, high-class speed and a perfect foil for mares by Danehill-line stallions. Of his 11 stakeswinners, two are Group 1 winners, seven have been successful at two, and eight are from mares by Danehill and his sons.

Like Flying Spur before him, Not A Single Doubt was bred and raced by Arrowfield with a small group of stud clients. The first-crop son of Redoute’s Choice displayed abundant ability as an early 2YO, winning his first three starts before Christmas including a Listed stakes race, before finding Dance Hero and then Charge Forward too strong in more competitive company.

Three unplaced runs at Group 1 level did not dampen John Messara’s confidence in Not A Single Doubt, but it did limit his fee which was set at $12,500. It stayed there for six seasons while he steadily made fans of owners and trainers who enjoyed racing his professional, genuine progeny.

Not A Single Doubt’s breakthrough season came in 2010/11 with six stakeswinners spear-headed by the high-class 3YO colt Squamosa and brilliant 2YO filly Karuta Queen. He took the next step to Group 1 sire status earlier this year when another 2YO daughter, Miracles of Life romped home in the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1 for the man who bred and raced Redoute’s Choice, Muzaffar Yaseen. Now the sire of 17 stakeswinners, Not A Single Doubt is fully booked in 2013 at a fee of $30,000.

In 2006, the Arrowfield roster was further strengthened by the arrival of a second son of Redoute’s Choice, the Group 1-winning sprinter Snitzel, and another outcross prospect, Starcraft (by Nureyev’s multiple European Group 1 winner Soviet Star).

Like Charge Forward, Snitzel won the Breeders’ Plate on debut, then defeated the subsequent Golden Slipper winner Stratum (also by Redoute’s Choice) at Group 3 level. He got the better of Stratum again as a spring 3YO in the AJC Up and Coming S. G3 and three starts later defeated Royal Ascot hero Takeover Target in the MRC Oakleigh Plate G1.

With only four crops of racing age, Snitzel is about to finish his second season among Australia’s top ten sires. His earnings per runner already exceed $95,000, his 36 stakes performers include nine Group winners and five Group 1 performers, and his yearlings averaged $335,000 at the 2013 Inglis Easter Sale. He will serve a full book of mares in 2013 at a fee of $45,000.

Snitzel, Charge Forward and Not A Single Doubt all emerged from well-established pathways in the precocious speed-oriented Australian racing system. Paul and Lyndall Makin’s world-class miler Starcraft took a very different route to the Arrowfield stallion barn.

Between March 2004 and September 2005 he won five Group 1 races in Australia, New Zealand, England and France, three of them at a mile. In his final European appearance, Starcraft defeated Dubawi in the Newmarket Queen Elizabeth II S. G1 and earned an annual Timeform rating of 128.

Starcraft quickly made his mark at stud, leaving two dual Group 1 winners in his first crop. The Makins’ New Zealand-trained home-bred filly We Can Say It Now beat her own age-group in the1600-metre Levin Classic G1, then defeated older horses at the same distance in the WRC Captain Cook S. G1.

Starcraft’s Australian-based son Star Witness (from a mare by Danehill’s son Lion Hunter) more closely matched the familiar Australian template as an early-maturing sprinter. He is one of six Arrowfield-sired Blue Diamond G1 winners in the past decade, and as a spring 3YO had two runs on Flemington’s famous straight 1200-metre course. He beat his own generation in the VRC Ascot Vale S. G1 and a week later split world champion sprinter Black Caviar and Ortensia in the VRC Victoria Racing Club S. G1.

Taken to Royal Ascot later in his southern hemisphere 3YO season, Star Witness was a brave placegetter in the meeting’s two premier sprints, the King’s Stand S. G1 and Golden Jubilee S. G1.

Starcraft’s 23 stakes performers also include Group winners Hallowell Belle, Lunar Rise and Crafty Irna, as well as the promising rising 3YO colt Havana, and his 2013 yearlings sold up to $420,000.

With this quartet of young stallions all underway, John Messara took an uncharacteristically long break from launching stallions, though not from pursuing them, and it was four years before new names were added to the Arrowfield line-up.

In 2010 the Stud announced another Group 1-winning duo, both co-incidentally bearing American-flavoured names, and both offering valuable outcross options for Australian breeders.

As a grand-looking half-brother to Redoute’s Choice by Fairy King’s champion sire son Encosta de Lago, Manhattan Rain was born with most of his boxes already ticked as a stallion prospect. He added the all-important performance tick with a 2YO Group 1 win, placings in the Golden Slipper G1 and MRC Caulfield Guineas G1 and finally a courageous second to champion So You Think in the MVRC W.S. Cox Plate G1.

Manhattan Rain’s first-crop yearlings were sold this year and will race from several of Australia’s best stables. He is helped by the perfectly timed entrance of the jury on Encosta de Lago as a sire of sires, thanks to Northern Meteor, this year’s likely Champion First Season sire of Australia with 16 individual winners.

Charge Forward’s success encouraged Arrowfield’s investment in a second son of Red Ransom, the handsome All American, bred by John Singleton’s Strawberry Hill Stud.

All American’s excellent 2YO record – he won Group 3 and Listed stakes races, was an unlucky runner-up in the 2008 Blue Diamond and fifth in the Golden Slipper – reflected natural athleticism rather than innate precocity and he was expected to blossom as he grew into his generous frame.

A frustrating 3YO career tested Arrowfield’s patience, but John Messara was prepared to wait for the major performance he knew the colt was capable of delivering. However, even he was astonished by All American’s decisive two-length defeat of champion So You Think in the 2009 VRC Emirates S. G1, stopping the clock at 1.33.98, the fastest time ever run by an entire over 1600 metres at Flemington.

All American’s first-crop yearlings have been well-received by buyers in 2013, averaging 8 times his $15,000 fee at Australia’s major sales, with a top price of $290,000 paid for Arrowfield’s strapping colt from Miss Victoria at the Easter Sale.

All American is the first Australian-owned stallion to shuttle to the United States after standing the 2011 season at Darby Dan Farm, home of his illustrious paternal grand-sire Roberto.

The first spring 2YO trials in Sydney always attract a large crowd of owners and breeders anxious to see if their dreams of a new racing star have a hope of realisation. The horse that turned heads in 2010 was Smart Missile, by Fastnet Rock from a half-sister to Group 1 winner, and now exciting young sire, Northern Meteor, all tracing to Claiborne’s famous blue hen mare Rough Shod.

John Messara privately described Smart Missile as “the best raw talent I’ve seen since Redoute’s Choice” and after the colt effortlessly won the Breeders’ Plate, he began discussions with owner and breeder Eduardo Cojuangco of Gooree Park Stud.

Smart Missile went on to defeat champion 2YO Sepoy and subsequent Group 1 winner Foxwedge in the ATC Todman S. G2 , and returned at three to win at Group 3 level before running a close second in the ATC Golden Rose S. G1. In all these races Smart Missile posted sectional times that confirmed his highly prized ability to accelerate and sustain his top speed when other horses were tiring.

Messara completed the deal to stand Smart Missile in the autumn of 2012 and, when his fee of $20,000 was announced, his book filled within days. He has proved equally popular again in 2013 and his first foals are expected in August.

Over the past decade Arrowfield has fulfilled John Messara’s three-fold stallion strategy: to secure the best representatives of the Danehill line, the best outcross sires for daughters of Danehill and his sons, and the best possibilities for the next breakout sireline. With the arrival of Animal Kingdom in 2013 all three bases are well and truly loaded.

Watch this space for the grand slam.

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