First Group 1 winner for Manhattan Rain

Several boxes were ticked on Saturday when Whisky Baron scored a spectacular victory in South Africa’s richest race, the ~$500,000 Kenwilworth Sun Met 2000m G1.

The 4YO gelding a is a new Group 1 winner for Arrowfield’s Inglis Easter Sale honour roll; he’s the first Group 1winner for the Aga Khan Studs/Arrowfield joint venture; and the first Group 1 winner for his sire Manhattan Rain.

Whisky Baron showed promise as a 3YO when he won and was twice second in Group 3 company, but he has progressed more rapidly as this season as a gelding, winning all four of his starts before the Met, including the Kenilworth Peninsula H. G3 on 7 January.

The big finish he unwound to over-power Horse of the Year Legal Eagle and Group 1 winner Captain America and win the Sun Met by 1.5 lengths in 2:02.71 left no doubt that Whisky Baron, trained by Brett Crawford for brothers Craig & Ross Kieswetter, is South African racing’s newest star.

Watch Whisky Baron win the Sun Met G1.

A $50,000 purchase by Craig Roscoe & Joey Ramsden from Arrowfield’s 2014 Inglis Easter draft, Whisky Baron is the fourth foal of the unraced Sinndar mare Tazkara. Like this season’s debut 2YO stakeswinner Azazel, and a pair of $500,000 yearlings sold at Magic Millions three weeks ago, he is a result of the Aga Khan/Arrowfield joint venture.

He joins the excellent record of the Aga Khan foundation mare Tonnera, herself winner of the 1966 Prix St Alary G1 over 2000 metres, and ancestress of  European Group 1 2YO winners Arcano, Carlotamix and Damson.

Tazkara has a 3YO filly named Pretty Snitzel (by Snitzel) in training with Kelly Doughty on the Gold Coast and, after returning to France in 2014, foaled a second filly by Snitzel. Now a southern hemisphere 2YO, that filly will be prepared by leading French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. Tazkara also has a yearling colt by Excelebration and is foaling to the speedy young Shadwell stallion Muhaarar (by Oasis Dream).

Whisky Baron is Manhattan Rain’s third stakeswinner this season, after Group 2-winning sprinter Wild Rain and brilliant juvenile She Will Reign, an early favourite for the Golden Slipper. His Group 2-winning daughter Scarlet Rain, who returned from a long break to win stylishly at Rosehill on Saturday, must be a fine chance of adding more black type to her record in coming weeks.

The Group 1-winning son of Encosta de Lago has a small number of yearlings catalogued for upcoming sales, including NZ Select, Inglis Classic, Premier & Easter and Magic Millions Adelaide. Manhattan Rain’s top-priced lot at Magic Millions Gold Coast was the $360,000 filly out of Double Ranga, a full sister to Scarlet Rain. Offered by Arrowfield, she was purchased by Wu Jae’s Rifa Mustang Pty Ltd.

Five yearlings by Redoute’s Choice & Animal Kingdom out of Aga Khan broodmares from the families of Vadawina, Azamour, Manighar and Mandistana will be offered by Arrowfield at the Inglis Easter Sale in April.

Manhattan Rain's new Group performer

3YO colt Whisky Baron joined Manhattan Rain’s steadily growing list of stakes performers when he was runner-up, beaten less than a half-length, in Saturday’s Kenilworth Winter Guineas 1600m G3 in South Africa.

The race is the first leg of the Cape Winter Series that has unveiled several outstanding horses over the past decade, notably champion Pocket Power who won all three legs in 2006, the great miler Variety Club, and Power King, who progressed to win last year’s Durban July Handicap G1.

In this year’s Guineas, Whisky Baron launched what looked like a late winning challenge, but he was caught by the favourite Marinaresco, whose previous third in the 2000-metre Kenilworth Cape Derby G1 suggests he’ll relish the remaining two legs of the R1 million Series. Those races are the Winter Classic 1800m G3 on 21 May and the Winter Derby 2400m G3 on 25 June.

Whisky Baron, a $50,000 Craig Roscoe & Joey Ramsden purchase from Arrowfield’s 2014 Inglis Easter draft, broke his maiden in January and has been placed in his other five starts (all at Kenilworth) this season. He hasn’t raced beyond 1600 metres yet, but his pedigree offers good evidence that he’ll also be effective at longer distances.

His unraced dam Tazkara, by the dual Derby and Arc winner Sinndar, is a grand-daughter of Tashtiya (by Shergar), winner of the 1983 Ascot Princess Royal S. G3 over the equivalent of 2400 metres. All four of Tazkara’s Australian-bred foals to race have won, with Flying Force (by Flying Spur) already successful at 2200 metres.

Manhattan Rain’s own versatility as a racehorse is showing up in his stud record too. This season alone he has been represented by smart juveniles Scarlet Rain (3 wins inc. the ATC Sweet Embrace S. G2) & Speeding Comet (a stakes-placed winner in Perth), stakes-winning 4YO sprinter Wild Rain, Brisbane miler Right Or Wrong and 3YOs Man Of Choice & Promise To Reign, placed in Group 1 & Group 2 company over 2000 metres.

The son of Encosta De Lago now claims six stakeswinners and 10 other stakes performers from his first three crops, with nine of them successful or competitive at Group level.