Clearly Innocent ready for The Everest

Not A Single Doubt has the distinction of putting up two contenders for The Everest from the same 2011 crop, Group 1 winner Clearly Innocent and Fell Swoop, a Group 2 winner and five times Group 1-placed.  

Despite their double-figure odds, both these 6YO geldings boast excellent past performances in the best sprint company. In their best form, both are capable of collecting the Everest winner’s $5.8 million prizemoney and putting Not A Single Doubt on top of the General Sires’ premiership. (He’s currently 7th with $1.6 million). 

Slot-holder Damion Flower of Jadeskye Racing was happy to wait until a fortnight before the race to finalise an agreement with owner-breeder Bruce Neill of Cressfield for Clearly Innocent to contest the $10 million race. 

Damion explains how he approached the business of finding the right horse. “I knew I did not personally have a horse for the race in this first year, but I was looking beyond that to the second and third years when I could provide the race with a Jadeskye-owned horse.

“The process of securing a runner I found enjoyable, as I like following all horses, so searching through the form of our top sprinters and their performances within the form races was second nature for me.

“The business side of it was exactly that, business, and from the outset I had it in my mind that I was going to wait till the very end. Even though I had a few horses in my sights, I still felt my best option was to secure the horse that was in form and Clearly Innocent was that horse.”

Damion believes several factors give Clearly Innocent (ex No Penalty by Zabeel) a strong winning chance in one of the best fields of sprinters ever assembled in Sydney.

“Firstly, he has a better than 50% winning percentage, he’s a Group 1 winner and he’s by a stallion whose statistics show that his progeny perform in high-rating races.

“I think his pattern and his race manners will set him up for a high pressure weight-for-age race. Over the years it’s been proven that you need a tough, strong 1300-1400 metre horse for 1200 metres at Randwick, and that’s what he is.

“He also has the advantages of Hugh Bowman to steer him for the race and Kris Lees, an outstanding trainer and horseman – for me that’s a winning combination.”

For Damion, the decision to run Clearly Innocent in Cressfield’s Silver and Black Diamonds, Yellow Sleeves and Cap was easy. 

“I would not have had it any other way, he has always raced in those prestigious Cressfield silks and that’s the horse’s and Bruce Neill’s identity and I would like that to continue.

“The partnership with Bruce was quite easy as we’ve raced a horse together before, and I always look at every yearling draft Cressfield puts together – they have a great broodmare band and Wayne Bedggood at the helm.

“My dealings with Bruce were simple, we spoke numerous times with ease and it was a professional process that ended with happy mutual agreement.

“I’ve also known Kris Lees for a long time, and the look in his eye when we talked about this horse made the decision quite easy for me.” 

 

Damion hadn’t previously considered what he might do if Clearly Innocent wins The Everest.

“I’m superstitious and don’t like to count my eggs before they hatch, but now that you ask, I think it may take a while to set in, especially being the inaugural Everest, but you can bet on one thing. You will see me at the sales buying a horse for Jadeskye Racing that I think can take me to the race in the next couple of years!”

Clearly Innocent’s Group 1 victory came in the BRC Kingsford-Smith Cup G1 on 27 May, and his last start was an eye-catching third behind In Her Time and Everest rival English in the ATC Premier S. G2 on 30 September.

A Singularly Successful Year

One weekend in June 2010, Arrowfield’s Communications Manager Susan Archer went to Sunday Stables at Tulloch Lodge.

Susan recalls, “Of course, I was keen to see the young Arrowfield-sired talent in Gai’s stable, and we inspected several horses including a Not A Single Doubt colt for Star Thoroughbreds that the stable really liked.

“That was music to my ears because back in the winter of 2010 Not A Single Doubt was struggling to attract bookings, despite leaving lots of winners and receiving lots of praise from trainers who loved the straightforward ‘eat-sleep-train-race’ attitude of his progeny.”

The son of Redoute’s Choice had produced the respectable tally of 52 winners from his first two crops, seven stakes performers and several good city winners among them, but he needed stakeswinners, preferably out of major Sydney or Melbourne stables.

The tide finally turned for Not A Single Doubt when that 2YO colt Squamosa, bought for $140,000 from Arrowfield’s 2009 Magic Millions draft by Star Thoroughbreds’ Denise Martin, won his July debut, then progressed rapidly to Group 3 success and a narrow second in the ATC Golden Rose G1.

Along with first-crop gelding Doubtful Jack in Melbourne, he helped to fill Not A Single Doubt’s 2010 book with 192 mares and ignite the spectacular stud career that now includes three top 10 finishes on the Australian General Sires’ Premiership.

Not A Single Doubt has ended the 2016/17 season in fifth spot with $11.7 million prizemoney, slightly less than the $12.5 million that secured him the runner-up position behind Street Cry last year.  However, in terms of top-level racetrack performance and sale-ring results, 2016/17 has been Not A Single Doubt’s best ever season – so far.

Fourteen winners of 25 Australian stakes races (17 Group races) include four Group 1 winners in four states, at distances from 1000 to 1600 metres: 3YO Extreme Choice (MVRC Moir S. G1), 4YOs Scales Of Justice (WATC Railway S. G1) & Secret Agenda (SAJC Robert Sangster S. G1) and 5YO Clearly Innocent (BRC Kingsford-Smith Cup G1).

Over the past seven years, Not A Single Doubt has become a permanent fixture among Australia’s top ten 2YO sires and he closed out the 2016/17 season in 7th position. His 2014 crop produced a career-high four juvenile stakeswinners: Group winners Gunnison & Single Bullet, Moonee Valley Listed winner Doubt I’m Dreaming (sadly since deceased) and New Zealand stakeswinner Qiji Phoenix.

Gunnison was the star of Not A Single Doubt’s remarkable week at the Inglis Sales when he was knocked down for $1.4 million at the inaugural Chairman’s Sale of Racing Prospects on 30 March. He’s now in the stable of Champion Hong Kong trainer John Size.

At Inglis Easter, Arrowfield’s Quiet Maggy yearling colt made $1.25 million, helping Not A Single Doubt top the Sale’s sire averages for the first time. Finally, on 7 April, his grand Group-winning daughter Don’t Doubt Mamma was bought for $1.1 million by Arrowfield for its joint venture with Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm.  

In all, Not A Single Doubt’s 57 yearlings sold in 2017 averaged almost $250,000 off the $33,000 fee asked for him in 2014.

Now with 43 stakeswinners (7 at Group 1 level) on his CV and a full book of mares at his new fee of $88,000, Not A Single Doubt has come a very long way from the winter of 2010.

As Arrowfield’s Bloodstock Manager Jon Freyer says, “Not A Single Doubt is a wonderful Arrowfield home-bred success story and we’re very grateful to all the breeders who have supported him, the buyers who’ve turned that support into profitable sales, and the  owners, trainers and jockeys who have given his sons and daughters their racing opportunities.

“He’s also a great reminder that we need to be very careful not to judge young stallions prematurely. Despite being an outstanding sire of juveniles, it took him 708 days to leave his first stakeswinner!

“Best of all, though, Not A Single Doubt has already shown how much he benefits from quality mares and his latest books are just superb. We’ve very excited about his future.”

That future might get off to a sensational start if his top-class son Fell Swoop, selected for the slot purchased by William Inglis & Son, can take out the inaugural $10 million The Everest at Randwick on 14 October.
  

Not A Single Doubt's 4th Group 1 winner this season

Bruce Neill’s well-known boutique farm Cressfield has achieved more than its share of success as a vendor of profitable yearlings and good racehorses.

But it’s a son of Not A Single Doubt he couldn’t sell that has given Bruce his most satisfying success as both breeder and owner. 

It was Cressfield’s determination to give Clearly Innocent his chance as a racehorse that has been rewarded with a nine-win, million-dollar racing career, sealed at Eagle Farm on Saturday with an exhilarating three-length win in the $700,000 BRC Kingsford-Smith Cup 1300m G1.

Watch Clearly Innocent win the BRC Kingsford-Smith Cup G1 (Race 7).

Clearly Innocent is Not A Single Doubt’s seventh Group 1 winner overall, and fourth this season, after Extreme Choice, Scales of Justice and Arrowfield graduate Secret Agenda.

As Bruce says, “Correct sales horses are not the only avenue to owning and to racing competitive racehorses.” Thanks to Cressfield’s perseverance, and the skills of his first trainer Greg Bennett, Clearly Innocent finally made it to the track as a 4YO in August 2015.

His talent was immediately obvious and he won seven of his 9 starts that season, culminating with victories in the $500,000 Country Championship Final at Randwick and the Luskin Star S. LR at Scone.

After Bennett’s move to work with Aquis Farm in Queensland, Kris Lees took over the now 5YO gelding whose progress this Autumn has been even more dramatic, stepping straight from his second Luskin Star success on 13 May to a runaway victory at his first try in Group 1 company.

Clearly Innocent’s dam No Penalty (by Zabeel) hails from one of New Zealand’s best families of the past three decades, descended as she is from Mary Poppins, ancestress of Group 1 winners Veloso, Domino, Linky Dink, Sale Of Century & Hero.

No Penalty was bred by Sir Patrick & Lady Hogan from the mare Court whose sire Prince Echo, dam Tupelo Honey and damsire Vice Regal all played major roles in Chequers Stud’s remarkable success during the 1980s and 1990s.  

Sold for $160,000 as a yearling at the 2002 Inglis Easter Sale, No Penalty won three races in Sydney and was then bought as a broodmare by Cressfield. Clearly Innocent and 4YO mare Champagne Kisses (4 wins) are the best of the four named foals Cressfield bred from her before selling her to Yarradale Stud for $16,000 at the 2013 Inglis Easter Sale.

Clearly Innocent’s steep rise to Group 1-winning status has been matched by Not A Single Doubt’s emergence as a major Australian sire. Two years ago the son of Redoute’s Choice had just posted his 23rd stakeswinner, including his second Group 1 winner, and he ended the 2014/15 season inside the top 10 sires with progeny earnings of $7 million. Now, he has 42 career stakeswinners on the board, holds fifth spot on the General Sires’ premiership with $10.3 million and is pressing hard to finish the season even higher.

Clearly Innocent is NSW Country Horse of the Year

While Not A Single Doubt was attacking the new season’s stallion premiership with a stunning Group race double at Moonee Valley, his son Clearly Innocent was being honoured for last season’s achievements in Sydney.

The 5YO gelding picked up the Country Horse of the Year Award at the NSW Country & Provincial Racing Awards dinner held at the Sheraton on the Park on Friday evening.

Bred and raced by Bruce Neill’s Cressfield, Clearly Innocent is out of the Zabeel mare No Penalty, a city-winning member of a family nurtured for many years at New Zealand’s Chequers Stud and responsible for Group 1 winners Veloso, Domino, Sale Of Century, Hero & Linky Dink.

Clearly Innocent emerged from the stable of leading country trainer Greg Bennett to win seven of his 10 starts last season. He capped it all with a brilliant win in the Country Championship Final followed by victory in the Scone RC Luskin Star S. LR. That took his earnings past $500,000 and sealed his bush hero status with country racing fans.

Bennett rates Clearly Innocent the best horse he’s trained and is now Melbourne-bound after the gelding’s pipe-opening sixth in The Shorts G2 two weeks ago. The 1400-metre Moonga Stakes G3 at Caulfield on 15 October will be his next start.

Group 1 night for Not A Single Doubt

Not A Single Doubt made his first same-card Group race double really count, when Extreme Choice and Don’t Doubt Mamma won the feature races at Moonee Valley on Friday evening.

He also completed a notable milestone for the Redoute’s Choice dynasty at Moonee Valley.  The champion sire and his sensational sons have now sired the winners of 3 of the Club’s four Group 1 races, with Extreme Choice joining Snitzel’s son Shamus Award (2013 WS Cox Plate) & Redoute’s Choice’s son Lankan Rupee (2014 Manikato Stakes).

3YO colt Extreme Choice simply couldn’t have been more impressive in the $500,000 MVRC AJ Moir S. 1000m G1, defeating a quality field, including last season’s Champion Sprinter Chautauqua, with superior speed.

His jockey Craig Newitt said, “He’s as good a horse as I’ve sat on – the acceleration around that bend was unbelievable. He picked up a high class field and put them away in a couple of strides.”

The placegetters Heatherly and Arrowfield graduate Wild Rain (by Manhattan Rain) were both very game in defeat, and outfinished Chautauqua and Buffering, but the effort told on Heatherly who bled and so cannot race for three months.

Watch Extreme Choice win the MVRC AJ Moir S. G1.

Trainer Mick Price and his racing manager Luke Wilkinson bought Extreme Choice for $100,000 from the Bell River Thoroughbreds draft at the 2015 Inglis Classic Sale.  Bell River’s Andrew Ferguson and his wife Georgie, long-time supporters of Not A Single Doubt, bred Extreme Choice in partnership with good friends Lloyd Walker & Bob Hogno.

The colt is raced by a Newgate Farm-led partnership that includes Aquis Farm, China Horse Club & Matthew Sandblom and has now won $1.6 million and four of his five starts, including the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1. His main target is the $500,000 VRC Coolmore Stud S. G1 in a month’s time, but his next start is likely to be in the $350,000 MRC Blue Sapphire S. G3 on 12 October.

Extreme Choice’s dam Extremely (by Hussonet) is an unraced daughter of Canadian Group winner Going To Extremes, and has left three other winners, including multiple Singapore winner Raise No Doubt (also by Not A Single Doubt).  Extreme Choice is yet another outstanding result of the sustained investment in Australian breeding by the great Japanese breeder Katsumi Yoshida, who sent Going To Extremes 13 years ago to Arrowfield where she left two colts and two fillies, including Extremely.

Extremely, in foal again to Not A Single Doubt, was purchased for $735,000 from Bell River earlier this year by Yulong Investments at the Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale. She also has a yearling colt by Smart Missile.

4YO mare Don’t Doubt Mamma was at her brilliant best defeating Kaniana and Miss Rose de Lago in the $200,000 MVRC WH Stocks S. G2, her first success at 1600 metres.

Trainer Tony McEvoy confirmed that Don’t Doubt Mamma would now go for the $500,000 VRC Myer Classic G1, also over 1600 metres, on 29 October.

“The Myer’s her race. It’s a big Group 1, against the mares, and she probably won’t run before it.”

Five of her seven wins have been at Group or Listed level, and her earnings now exceed $600,000.

Watch Don’t Doubt Mamma win the MVRC WH Stocks S. G2.

The daughter of Coconut Mamma (by Fantastic Light) was bred by Dean Fleming and purchased privately as a yearling by Blue Sky Bloodstock for Katelanis, his son Jordan, Peter Hunt, Andrew Lathlean, Darren Thomas & Seymour Bloodstock.

Coconut Mamma’s only other Australian-based daughter, Miss St Tropez (by Magnus), was purchased in 2011 by Blue Sky for Arrowfield. She has a yearling filly by All American and visits Not A Single Doubt this Spring.

Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt have compiled 13 Australian Group & Listed wins in the first two months of the 2016/17 season. Unofficial figures indicate that after Friday evening Not A Single Doubt is breathing down Snitzel’s neck at the top of the General Sires’ premiership. 

Clearly Innocent gets the verdict

The category for the Most Progressive Horse by Not A Single Doubt this season is rather crowded.

Leading contenders include the Group 1-winning pair Good Project & Single Gaze, and Fell Swoop, so nearly a Group 1 winner in Melbourne & Sydney, before his Group 2 success in Brisbane.

Then there’s the sensational 2YO colt Extreme Choice, who sailed through Listed & Group 3 company before a dominant Blue Diamond S. G1 victory in February.

And surely Don’t Doubt Mamma deserves several votes. She began the season with one juvenile win and barely $30,000 prizemoney, and has banked another $360,000 from four wins since September, two Listed wins and a Group 3 victory.

But if the award recognises a horse whose potential exceeds even his extraordinary rise this season, then Clearly Innocent gets the nod.

His hometown victory for owner-breeder Bruce Neill in Saturday’s $140,000 Scone RC Luskin Star S. 1300m LR was his 7th win from his nine career starts, all of them this season.

It was a stiff test for the 4YO gelding, caught wide in sixth position as Randwick Group 3 winner Music Magnate hauled the field along in front and showed no sign of weakening in the straight. He was challenged first by Cradle Me, but Samantha Clenton pressed the button on Clearly Innocent soon afterwards and the result was quickly settled, with Music Magnate a gallant second and Cradle Me third.

Watch Clearly Innocent win the Scone RC Luskin Star S. LR.

Clearly Innocent’s career began with two winning appearances at Scone last August, a sixth and a second in Sydney during December, followed by five consecutive wins, most notably his 2.5 length romp in the $500,000 ATC Country Championship Final on 2 April. 

That win, despite a stone bruise and the disadvantage of bar plates, crowned a stressful week in Sydney for trainer Greg Bennett. Back at his home track on Saturday, Bennett enjoyed the glow of a very popular local victory, but immediately ruled out a Queensland campaign. Clearly Innocent will now spell and prepare for next season’s Spring & Autumn Carnivals.

Clearly Innocent is the latest star from a family’s that’s full of them. He descends from the fine Chequers Stud broodmare Mary Poppins, whose daughters left multiple Group 1 winners Veloso, (Our) Westminster and dual Oaks winner Domino, dam in her turn of sprinter-miler Hero, whose 15 wins included two at Group 1 level, and Group 2-winning juvenile Super Natural.

Clearly Innocent’s corner of the family has already thrown up Sale of Century (Rosehill Guineas G1), Affleck (Champion Singapore 2YO & 3YO) and Sydney stakeswinner Gimmick. However, he is the first winner out of his city-winning dam No Penalty (by Zabeel), purchased in 2013 by Yarradale Stud in Western Australia.

The combination of Not A Single Doubt with Zabeel mares has a predictably good strike rate: 16 winners from 18 named foals, including Group 2 winner Gypsy Diamond, Listed winner Every Faith and three stakes-placed horses, as well as Clearly Innocent.

Clearly Innocent is the 34th lifetime stakeswinner for Not A Single Doubt whose season earnings in Australia now approach $11 million. The son of Redoute’s Choice is also the year’s leading sire of Australian stakeswinners, with a total of 12, alongside his sire and Street Cry, and is either first or second on the General, 3YO & 2YO Sires’ prizemoney tables.

Not A Single Doubt cracks the century

It’s been a slightly below average week for Not A Single Doubt.

Only five wins, including Don’t Doubt Mamma’s Group 3 at Flemington, Clearly Innocent’s Country Championships Qualifier, a double at Goulburn, plus his 100th Australian winner for the season, the Robbie Griffiths-trained Song One at Sale last Tuesday. And another 2YO stakes placing, thanks to Jackson in Melbourne. 

It’s a tongue-in-cheek quibble, of course, because Not A Single Doubt is enjoying a spectacular 2015/16 season. The first 29 weeks have so far produced 167 wins in six countries – almost six wins a week – and he’s a more-or-less permanent fixture on the weekly Top Sires by Wins & Winners tables.

He heads the Australian General Sires’ table on both counts, with 101 winners and 151 wins, healthily in front of Written Tycoon, Fastnet Rock and Lonhro.

Not A Single Doubt has plenty of quality to match the volume and is giving the earnings list a good shake too. His tribe’s weekend work has nudged his prizemoney over $6 million, less than $240,000 behind table leader Street Cry, and almost $800,000 ahead of Fastnet Rock.

Both those rival stallions have major performers running for them over the coming weeks, but so does Not A Single Doubt. His 2YO son Extreme Choice is favourite for next Saturday’s $1.5 million MRC Blue Diamond S. G1, and second favourite for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper G1 on 19 March.

He has already helped Not A Single Doubt into third spot on the 2YO Sires’ list, where he splits his barnmates and fellow Redoute’s Choice sons Snitzel & the much-missed Beneteau. Together they’ve already notched up 15 juvenile winners this season, four of them stakeswinners.

Also in the mix for major Autumn prizes are Not A Single Doubt’s Group 1 winner Good Project, talented 3YO fillies Don’t Doubt Mamma & Secret Agenda, and Oakleigh Plate contender Fell Swoop. 

And there’s no doubt at all that Cressfield’s home-bred Clearly Innocent will be aiming to add the $400,000 Country Championship Final to the Provincial Final won last year by Not A Single Doubt’s son Sure And Fast.

Small wonder that demand for yearlings from Not A Single Doubt’s 2014 crop is so strong. The next opportunities to buy them come up at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale where he has four colts & three fillies catalogued, including Arrowfield’s colt from Time To Move.