World champion Winx was naturally the centre of attention at the 2018 Australian Racehorse of the Year Awards, held at the Forum, Melbourne on 4 October.
No gift for prophecy was required to predict that she would be crowned Racehorse of the Year for the third consecutive season, joining the elite company of Sunline (2000, 2001, 2002) and Black Caviar (2001, 2012, 2013) as a three-time winner of the ultimate accolade.
Winx, unbeaten in her eight starts in 2017/18, six at Group 1 level, also won the awards for Champion Middle Distance Performer and Victorian Horse of the Year.
Outside Winx, though, it was Arrowfield’s night as the Stud celebrated its connections with five of the other seven national awards.
Snitzel claimed the Champion Sire Award for the second consecutive year, with all-time record prizemoney of $29.2 million and a record-equalling tally of 26 individual stakeswinners. It is the sixth time in the past 13 years that an Arrowfield stallion has won the coveted title, after Snitzel’s sire Redoute’s Choice (2006, 2010 & 2014) and Flying Spur (2007).
Arrowfield’s Bloodstock Manager Jon Freyer accepted the award on behalf of the Stud and the Snitzel Syndicate, acknowledging the quality of Snitzel’s competition, “possibly the strongest stallion roster ever assembled in Australia” and thanking all who had supported his stud career.
However, Freyer noted that it hadn’t all been plain sailing. “In Snitzel’s fourth year at stud we were cajoling, coercing and downright pleading with breeders to send their mares to him and fickle as this business can be, he garnered little outside support.
“In fact, a great number of his relatively modest 63 foals in 2010 were bred by Arrowfield – but the crop included the Cox Plate winner Shamus Award and the wonderful mare Sweet Idea, now a resident of Her Majesty the Queen’s broodmare band.
“That crop was conceived on a fee of $20,000 and today’s it’s $200,000. What a ride it’s been and how much we look forward to what’s yet to come with Snitzel.”
Snitzel’s dominance of last season was demonstrated when his progeny collected three of the category awards, which are decided by the votes of racing administrators and media.
It is the first time, in the 14 seasons since 2004/05 when the 3YO Filly & Colt awards were introduced, that progeny of the reigning Champion Sire
Emirates Park’s filly Estijaab (Snitzel-Response by Charge Forward) was named Champion 2YO after winning three of her four starts last season, including the ATC Golden Slipper G1 and Reisling S. G2 and $2.3 million prizemoney.
The third foal of her dual Group 1-winning dam, Estijaab was bred by Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm and purchased by Emirates Park & Bryan Carlson for $1.7 million from Arrowfield’s draft at the Inglis Easter Sale. She is trained by Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes and is spelling after a setback cut short her 3YO Spring preparation. She is expected to return in the Autumn.
Also an Inglis Easter graduate, though not finding a buyer there, is the Champion 3YO colt Trapeze Artist (Snitzel-Treppes by Domesday). He won four of his 9 starts and $2.7 million in 2017/18, a record headed by three tremendous Group 1 victories, in the ATC T.J. Smith S. & All Aged S. against older horses and the Golden Rose in his own age-group.
He is the second Snitzel son to be named Champion 3YO Colt, following Cox Plate & Australian Guineas winner Shamus Award in 2013/14.
Trapeze Artist is trained by Gerald Ryan for his owner-breeder Bert Vieira and success in The Everest, for which the colt is joint favourite, would be a timely boost for the Vieira family. Bert’s wife Gai is recovering in hospital from serious injuries suffered in a car crash on 5 September.
The inaugural Everest winner Redzel (Snitzel-Millrich by Rubiton) won the Champion Sprinter title after a spectacular, five-win, $7.5 million season that also featured the VRC Darley Classic G1 and three other Group race wins.
Redzel was bred by Lee Fleming and initially sold as a weanling, then offered by Marquee Stud at the 2014 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale where he was bought for $120,000 by Triple Crown Syndications’ Chris & Michael Ward. He is trained by Peter & Paul Snowden for a large group of Triple Crown owners and is at single-figure odds for this year’s $13 million second running of The Everest on 13 October.
Snitzel, his sire Redoute’s Choice (with Lankan Rupee in 2013/14) and grand-sire Danehill (with Exceed and Excel in 2003/04 & Fastnet Rock in 2004/05) are the only three stallions in the past 20 years to claim the Champion Sprinter in at least one of their own championship seasons.
And it is the first time, in the 14 years since 2004/05 when the 3YO title was split by gender, that progeny of the reigning Champion Sire have won the 2YO, 3YO Colt or Filly & Sprinter awards in the same season.
Arrowfield’s trophy haul was completed by Shoals (Fastnet Rock-The Broken Shore by Hussonet), bred and raced in partnership with Jonathan Munz and trained by Anthony Freedman. She was voted Champion 3YO Filly after a stunning season against older mares, winning the Myer Classic G1 at Flemington, Surround Stakes G1 at Randwick and the Sangster Stakes G1 at Morphettville.
She is the second Arrowfield home-bred filly to win the title after Miss Finland in 2006/07.
In all, Shoals won four of her 7 starts and $1.4 million last season while her full brother – cleverly named Groundswell – was the top-priced Australian yearling of 2018, knocked down for $2.3 million at Inglis Easter.
Groundswell and another full sibling, 3YO filly Tides join their big sister in the Freedman stable, and The Broken Shore is due to foal again to Fastnet Rock this month.