Arrowfield’s best moments in a milestone season

It’s no easy task to choose the 10 – make that 11 – best moments from a milestone season in Arrowfield’s 33-year history, but here’s a spirited attempt…

It’s no easy task to choose the 10 – make that 11 – best moments from a milestone season in Arrowfield’s 33-year history, but here’s a spirited attempt, in chronological order:

Pariah joined General Nediym, Testa Rossa, Charge Forward & Snitzerland on the San Domenico G3 winners’ list. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Pariah at Rosehill, 26 August 2017
Team Arrowfield was busy hosting their annual Stallion Open House, and gathered around the marquee TV to watch star colt Pariah run in the ATC San Domenico S. G3. Arrowfield had bought back into Pariah after his Group-winning 2YO campaign for James Harron & partners, and his sparkling 3YO debut was greeted with jubilation. A year later Pariah has joined the Redoute’s Choice dynasty at Arrowfield and will parade at the Open House, 24-26 August.
Watch the Arrowfield team cheer Pariah home in the San Domenico S. G3.


Triple Crown syndicators Michael & Chris Ward celebrate Redzel’s superlative Everest victory. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

Redzel at Randwick, 14 October 2017
The Everest was an instant hit with owners, trainers, punters, media, racegoers and that elusive beast, the general public. Redzel launched the race with a classic demonstration of unyielding powerhouse Aussie speed and sparked exuberant celebrations by his Triple Crown owners, slot-holder James Harron & partners and the Snowden stable. Snitzel had already established a decent lead on the General Sires’ list, but after The Everest he shot clear by $6.6 million and was not sighted by his rivals for the rest of the season.


The Mick Price-trained Mighty Boss gave Teeley Assets a second Caulfield Guineas win, after Redoute’s Choice in 1999. (PHOTO: Darren Tindale)

Not A Single Doubt’s big day, 14 October 2017
Everest Day turned out to be huge for Not A Single Doubt too. Upset Caulfield Guineas G1 winner Mighty Boss, Group 3 winner Cool Passion and Listed winners Qafila and Torvill gave him the first quadruple stakes day of his career – and all four horses were new stakeswinners. Not A Single Doubt ended a tremendous year with a career-high season tally of 16 stakeswinners and 6th spot on the Australian Premiership, his fourth top 10 finish.


Smiles all round from Tom Dabernig, David Hayes & Ben Hayes after Boom Time’s Caulfield Cup victory. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Caulfield Cup quinella, 21 October 2017
He started at 50/1 and she was 30/1 – neither given any serious chance of beating horses like Humidor, Johannes Vermeer, Bonneval and Harlem in  the $3 million Caulfield Cup G1. But no-one conveyed that message to Flying Spur’s son Boom Time or Not A Single Doubt’s daughter Single Gaze, and home they rolled, for the season’s most unexpected Group 1 quinella. It was also the perfect sign-off for Champion Sire Flying Spur, who died at Arrowfield in May, at the age of 25. 


Star filly Shoals held off a quality field of mares in the VRC Myer Classic G1. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Shoals at Flemington, 4 November 2017
Late on 16 August 2014, John Messara shared a photo of the newborn Fastnet Rock-The Broken Shore filly with the prediction that she would be a star. Three years later the filly, named Shoals, fulfilled that prophecy with an exhilarating victory in the VRC Myer Classic G1 for her owner-breeders Arrowfield and Jonathan Munz’s Pinecliff Racing, and trainer Anthony Freedman. Further success in the ATC Surround S. G1 and SAJC Robert Sangster S. G1 stamped Shoals as an exceptional talent worthy of The Star’s slot in this season’s running of The Everest. 


The Snitzel-Flidais filly will race as Evening Slippers from the Waterhouse & Bott stable. (PHOTO: Georgie Lomax)

Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, 10-14 January 2018
Arrowfield ended the record-breaking Sale with its all-time highest Magic Millions aggregate of $14.1 million, heading the Vendor list for the third successive year. Arrowfield’s $1.8 million Snitzel-Flidais filly was the Sale’s and her sire’s top-priced filly, and Snitzel led the Magic Million Sires table for the first time with 33 lots sold at an average price of $483,788. The Stud also sold the 75th million-dollar yearling by Redoute’s Choice and the $600,000 Olympic Glory-Downtown Manhattan colt.


Dr Shalabh Sahu, Hussain Lootah, Tariq Al Shamsi, Saif Al Ketbi and Bryan Carlson celebrate Estijaab’s victory in the 2018 Golden Slipper G1. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

The Golden Slipper, Rosehill, 24 March 2018
Snitzerland was 2nd in 2012, Sweet Idea was 3rd in 2013 and then along came Estijaab to add that precious first Golden Slipper victory to Snitzel’s progeny record – and the 7th by an Arrowfield graduate. Bred by Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm, raised and sold by Arrowfield, bought at Inglis Easter by Emirates Park and Bryan Carlson for $1.7 million and trained by Team Hawkes, Estijaab was the perfect poster girl for Arrowfield’s much admired “A Diamond is Forever” marketing campaign.


Dundeel’s 2YO son Irukandji earned Group-winning status at his fourth start. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

Irukandji wins for Dundeel, Rosehill, 31 March 2018
A first-crop 2YO Group winner is always on the wish-list for a young sire and Spendthrift Farm’s Hawkes-trained colt Irukandji came through for Dundeel with a convincing victory in the ATC T.L. Baillieu S. G3. Irukandji has been a headliner from the start, as a $240,000 weanling, and $500,000 pin-hook result at Magic Millions, and there may be more headlines to come – he is nominated for the ATC Golden Rose G1 on 22 September.


Trapeze Artist & Redzel finished 6 & 4 lengths clear of their rivals in the ATC T.J. Smith S. G1. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

The T.J. Smith G1 quinella,  Randwick, 7 April 2018
Snitzel posted two Group 1 quinellas in 2017/18 and both were among the season’s most thrilling finishes. Russian Revolution and Snitty Kitty were terrific in the Oakleigh Plate, but 3YO Trapeze Artist’s performance to launch from a wide run and sweep past a top-of-his-game Redzel in the $2.5 million T.J. Smith was of seldom-seen quality. A return match in The Everest this October is something to savour.


The $2.3 million brother to Shoals was 2018’s top-priced yearling sold in Australia. (PHOTO: Georgie Lomax)

Inglis Easter Sale, Sydney,
9-11 April 2018

Arrowfield celebrated the first Easter Sale held at the new Riverside Stables at Warwick Farm with a rarely achieved double: the highest aggregate (just over $20 million) and the highest average ($488,658). Leading vendor status for the fourth consecutive year, the top-priced $2.3 million brother to Shoals and 7 other million-dollar yearlings – including two daughters of Deep Impact – sealed an outstanding sales season for the Stud’s dedicated team and many very happy clients.


The Autumn Sun is out of Azmiyna, a Galileo half-sister to European champion Azamour. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

The Autumn Sun, Doomben,
9 June 2018
A Redoute’s Choice colt opened the best of Arrowfield’s season and a Redoute’s Choice colt closed it when The Autumn Sun drew clear of Zousain in the BRC J.J. Atkins Plate G1, becoming his mighty sire’s 33rd Group 1 winner, and his 9th Group 1 2YO winner. Another exciting prospect for 2018/19, The Autumn Sun capped a fine year for Arrowfield’s joint venture with the Aga Khan Studs, which also sold his three-quarter sister for $1.3 million at Inglis Easter.

Boom time for Spur & Single

They were there to make up the numbers. 

That was the message of the Caulfield Cup betting market which gave Boom Time and Single Gaze almost no chance of making the frame.

But at the business end of the $3 million race, it was the never-say-die son of Flying Spur and the bottomlessly brave daughter of Not A Single Doubt who fought out the finish. 

Watch Boom Time & Single Gaze quinella the MRC Caulfield Cup G1

Boom Time, previously a Group-placed dual Listed winner, was given a near-perfect run by Cory Parish who took advantage of gate 3 to slot the 6YO gelding in on the rail, behind the leading bunch, as Sir Isaac Newton took off in front. It took a little work to ease him into space at the top of the straight but when the break came, Boom Time sprinted to the lead.  

Single Gaze and Kathy O’Hara had a trickier task from gate 12 and took the make-your-own-luck route, spearing forward to lead the chase after Sir Isaac Newton, settling beautifully mid-race and responding heartily when the pressure came on. Boom Time just had a little more left at the end of the 2400-metre contest, and won by 1.25 lengths in 2:27.66, with Johannes Vermeer third.  

Boom Time was bred and raced with good success by Western Australian businessman Kim Loxton, until his sale earlier this year to champion trainer David Hayes, who celebrated three generations of Caulfield Cup success with his co-trainers, son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig. Colin Hayes won the race with How Now in 1976, while David already had two victories on his record, with Fraar (1993) and Tawqeet (2006).

It’s not uncommon for horses to out-run their pedigrees, but in Boom Time’s case, the disconnect is more than usually significant.

Yes, Golden Slipper winner Flying Spur took his brilliance out to 1600 metres in the Australian Guineas and All Aged Stakes. Yes, Boom Time’s damsire Snippets was a top-class 2YO and sprinter who sired winners of the Doomben Cup G1 and MacKinnon Stakes G1. However, neither stallion could be called a reliable source of stayers!

Boom Time’s female family is almost entirely dedicated to short-course speed. His dam Bit Of A Ride won seven races up to 1400 metres, and under his third dam Love Song sit the names of Magnus (AJC The Galaxy G1), Champion 3YO Colt All Too Hard and – the very definition of unrivalled speed in 21st century Australian racing – Black Caviar. 

Boom Time is the 13th Group 1 winner for 2007 Champion Sire Flying Spur, still in good health at the age of 25 and very happily enjoying his retirement at Arrowfield, on the farm he did so much to help build.

Flying Spur’s tally of stakeswinners is 99 and with his final crop now five-year-olds, time is running out to complete his century. Boom Time will get the chance to add a much bigger prize to Flying Spur’s CV by taking his place in the field for the $6 million Melbourne Cup G1 on 7 November. 

Royal Descent on Caulfield Cup quest

After Royal Descent’s heroic second in last Sunday’s VRC Turnbull Stakes 2000m G1, owner-breeder Gerry Harvey and his Racing Manager Claire Bird had a robust discussion about the next major target for the daughter of Redoute’s Choice.

Watch Royal Descent’s run for 2nd in the Turnbull S. G1.

Claire’s preference was for the VRC Myer Classic G1, run over the metric mile at which Royal Descent has compiled six of her eight Group 1 placings, all at Randwick: three seconds in the George Main Stakes, a second & a third in the Doncaster and a second, by a nose, to He’s Your Man in the 2014 Epsom Handicap.

However, Gerry has been thinking for some time about giving Royal Descent a second crack at the Caulfield Cup, two years after she ran fifth in the race, only 1.9 lengths from Fawkner, and three years after her spectacular 10-length victory in the ATC Australian Oaks G1. These have been her only two starts at 2400 metres.

Gerry, who enjoys working with people able to argue with him, says, “I know I’m pushing the odds, but we still don’t really know what her best distance is, and she deserves another chance at 2400 metres. It’s possible she may be much better at that distance than the mile.”

Gerry maintains he doesn’t win many arguments with his team, but this time “they let me have a win.” Royal Descent was paid up for the Caulfield Cup on Tuesday with 53.5 kg. Gerry then called Hall of Fame jockey Glen Boss who rode the mare for only the second time on Sunday.

“I told Glen not to take the ride if he had a better option, but he said he’s very keen to ride her, has learned a lot about her and wants to ride her a bit differently next time.”

While Royal Descent’s preferred distance remains unsettled, there is no doubt about her class or her competitive will. The evidence is in her record: five wins, 15 placings and $2.7 million from 29 starts (16 at Group 1 level) with only three finishes outside the first five.

On the one hand, her Group 1 runner-up record is heart-breaking: she has been denied six Group 1 victories and an additional $2.1 million prizemoney by a total of around 2.5 lengths.

On the other hand, there is so much to celebrate about a mare that has competed with undaunted resolve in the best company over four seasons and has beaten outstanding horses like Adelaide, Criterion, Dear Demi, Dissident, Fawkner, Hallowed Crown, Happy Trails, Hawkspur, Lucia Valentina, Rising Romance, Sacred Falls, Shooting To Win and Silent Achiever.

Gerry sums up Royal Descent’s best quality as “consistency at the top level – there aren’t many horses as consistent as she is. It’s much harder to run second in six Group Ones than to win one Group 1, a Group 3 and four Listed Races.”

Royal Descent is the seventh foal of Group 2 winner Mulan Princess (by Kaapstad), a three-quarter sister to dual Group 1 winner Golden Sword. She visits Snitzel this Spring, and has six daughters in the Baramul & Westbury Stud broodmare bands, including two city-winning full sisters of Royal Descent, The Warrior Woman & Chateau Lafaite.

Gerry has supported Redoute’s Choice every season since the start of his stud career, and has bred 10 stakeswinners by the champion sire, among them another wonderful Group 1-winning mare Lotteria. Gerry continues to breed from her, as well as a third Redoute’s Choice Group 1 winner he raced, Fashions Afield, and retains all their daughters.

The broodmare paddocks at Baramul will soon be home for Royal Descent too. But not just yet.

 

Bart Cummings, AM: master trainer, sporting legend

Among the many honours received by James Bartholomew Cummings – the AM, the Hall of Fame inductions, the postage stamp and the state funeral – was one much rarer than the others.

Nickname-only status is given in sport to the very few people whose professional excellence is matched by public respect and affection. “Bart” is famous throughout Australia as the man who dominated the Melbourne Cup, and much of the rest of Australia’s Group 1 racing for half a century.

The 12 Melbourne Cups, bracketed by two of the great race’s closest victories, by Light Fingers in 1965 and Viewed in 2008, are more than enough to ensure fame well beyond the extraordinary 87-year life which ended peacefully on 30 August at Princes Farm in New South Wales.

The remainder of Bart’s Group 1 record elevates him to a place where he has very few companions indeed. Only Tommy Smith prepared the winners of more Group 1 races, 279 to Bart’s 268.

Consider this: horses trained by Bart won 57 (79%) of Australia’s 72 current Group 1 races. In fact, he had won 42 of them at least once by the end of the 1977/78 season – with another 37 seasons to go.

By the end of 2014/15, the second of the two seasons Bart trained in partnership with his grandson James, he had, remarkably, won all but 15 of the Australian races currently given Group 1 status.

Hallowed Crown – so aptly named – ticked off the last Group 1 race Bart had not previously won, with his Golden Rose Stakes victory in September 2014. He added the the last of Bart’s Group 1 victories, the Randwick Guineas on 7 March 2015, 57 years after Stormy Passage opened the batting in the 1958 South Australian Derby.

In the end, only three Group 1 races in Sydney eluded the master trainer: the Canterbury Stakes, the Queen of the Turf Stakes and the T.J. Smith Stakes – all raised to Group 1 standing only within the past decade or so.

The Melbourne Cup was just one of 52 Group 1 races won more than once by Cumming-trained horses. His dozen trophies from the Race that Stops the Nation are exceeded by his 13 Australian Cup wins, by Arctic Coast, Gladman, Leilani, Lord Dudley, Ngawyni, Ming Dynasty (twice), Hyperno, Noble Peer, Let’s Elope, Saintly, Dane Ripper and Sirmione.

He also won four of the five Group 1 2YO races at least twice, and the Golden Slipper four times (with Storm Queen, Tontonan, Vivarchi & Century Miss).

Sixteen of Australia’s 17 3YO Group 1 races appear on the Cummings record, including the South Australian Derby (10 times, from Stormy Passage to Shiva’s Revenge), VRC Oaks (9 times, from Light Fingers to Faint Perfume) and Australian Oaks (7 times, from Light Fingers to Danendri). In all, he won 32 Derbys, 24 Oaks & 16 Guineas in six states of Australia.

Bart’s success in the big sprints was equally impressive: a record eight Newmarkets, seven Lightnings, six Victoria Racing Club Stakes (Darley Classic), four Stradbrokes, three All Aged Stakes, three Doomben 10,000 wins, two Oakleigh Plates and two Galaxys. 

Ditto the famous miles: six Cantala (Emirates) Stakes wins, five Doncasters and three Epsoms. And, as well as the Australian Cup, the best weight-for-age races beyond a mile: 11 MacKinnons, six Caulfield Stakes, five Underwoods, five Cox Plates (with Taj Rossi, Saintly, Dane Ripper & twice with So You Think), three Queen Elizabeth Stakes (with Lowland, Ngawyni & Ming Dynasty between 1969 and 1978) and two wins in each of the BMW and the Ranvet Stakes.

Major staying success was achieved beyond Flemington too, in the Caulfield Cup (seven wins) and the Sydney Cup (three wins), as well as the Adelaide (4), Brisbane (2) & Perth (1) Cups, which no longer have Group 1 status.

Among the horses that compiled this spectacular history are nine Horses of the Year: Dayana (1973), Taj Rossi (1974), Leilani (1975), Lord Dudley (1976), Maybe Mahal (1978), Hyperno (1981), Beau Zam (1988), Let’s Elope (1992) & Saintly (1997).

Several others qualify as outright or category champions, notably Dane Ripper, Shaftesbury Avenue, Campaign King, Sky Chase, Bounty Hawk, Ming Dynasty, Galilee, Lowland, Light Fingers and the exceptional colt who delivered a final flourish in the twilight of Bart’s career, So You Think.

Four Redoute’s Choice sons and daughters also appear on the Bart Cummings Group 1 honour roll: Allez Wonder (Toorak Handicap), God’s Own (Caulfield Guineas), Dariana & Empires Choice (Queensland Derby).

Like Bart himself, many of his wonderful horses now have stakes races named after them. They include Cap d’Antibes, Century, Dane Ripper, Galilee, Let’s Elope, Light Fingers, Maybe Mahal, Shaftesbury Avenue, Sheraco, Storm Queen, Tontonan, and Ming Dynasty whose race at Randwick last Saturday was renamed as a tribute to his trainer. 

The last winner sent out under Bart’s name, at Wyong on the day he died, was the 4YO mare Muy Bien, who posted her second win for Gooree Stud. Muy Bien is Spanish for “very good” – exactly the kind of brief, under-stated comment Bart often made in response to inquiries about his horses. 

It is perhaps all he might choose to say now, from his new, and no doubt lofty vantage point, to answer a question about how life on earth turned out for him. His record stands – the superlatives are all ours to add.