Gold medal stallion power at Magic Millions

It’s almost 25 years since the first yearlings by Danehill went through the sale-ring in Australia and his name has been up in lights ever since. As a multiple champion sire and founder of a mighty global stallion dynasty, his influence remains vibrant around the world.
 
Arrowfield has played a major part in the Danehill  story from the start, securing and launching the great breed-shaper himself, followed by three Champion sire sons, including his best, Redoute’s Choice, whose 152 stakeswinners include 32 at Group 1 level.

Redoute’s Choice anchors his own dynasty at Arrowfield, standing alongside his sons, Champion Sire Snitzel and leading sire Not A Single Doubt.

Four-time Group 1-winning sprinter-miler Olympic Glory, whose first Australian yearlings sell at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, is right at home in that line-up. He is a great-grandson of Danehill and son of Royal Ascot hero Choisir, and strongly resembles the compact, supremely athletic Snitzel, so it’s no surprise that he was also a top-class performer.

Racing against Europe’s best sprinter-milers, Olympic Glory won eight of his 15 starts from 1200 to 1600 metres at two, three and four. He was a Group 1 winner in each of those three seasons. And he was unbeaten at 1400 metres.

Timeform awarded Olympic Glory a final rating of 130, ranking him among the world’s top dozen performers in 2014, alongside Hong Kong stars Able Friend and Designs on Rome and a pound above Cirrus des Aigles, his stablemate Treve & Arrowfield’s own superstar Dundeel.

Champion jockey Frankie Dettori said of Olympic Glory, “He’s uncomplicated, he has gears and a great attitude, in fact he’s a jockey’s dream.”

Eleven of the 17 Olympic Glory yearlings at Magic Millions will be offered by Arrowfield, with the other six lots consigned by Meredith Park, Kenmore Lodge, Rushton Park, Riversdale, Southern Cross Breeders & Millbrook.

Arrowfield’s Bloodstock Manager Jon Freyer highlights a pair of colts, Lot 177 out of Phaedra (by Hussonet) and Lot 675, out of Downtown Manhattan (by Manhattan Rain). “Both are great examples of what Olympic Glory is leaving, with great strength, balance and athleticism.”

For filly buyers, Lot 24 out of the Gone West mare Lanai is a must-see. Jon Freyer says, “She’s a gorgeous, eye-catching type from a sister to Group 1 winner Marsh Side. She has balance, strength and scope, and will be the first Olympic Glory yearling offered in Australia.” 

View Arrowfield’s 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast draft, including three fillies & 8 colts by Olympic Glory here.

Champion Sire Snitzel dominates every category

Such was Snitzel’s history-making 2016/17 Championship season in Australia, that it’s easier to list what he didn’t do.

He’s not the Champion Broodmare Sire, but otherwise, Snitzel dominated every category he contested.

Arrowfield’s new superstar headed the key columns of the General Premiership table, with $16.1 million prizemoney (breaking Street Cry’s 2015/16 record by almost $3.2 million), 159 winners (one short of Lohnro’s record, set in 2013/14) and equalling Danehill’s 2001/02 record of 26 stakeswinners. 

Snitzel’s first Premiership completes an unprecedented three-generation sequence of Champion Australian Sires, following Danehill’s nine titles (won between 1995 and 2005) and Redoute’s Choice’s three titles (2006, 2010, 2014).

He is the fifth Arrowfield resident to become Australia’s Champion Sire, following Redoute’s Choice, Flying Spur (2007), Danehill (1995) & Last Tycoon (1994). 

Across-the-board prizemoney increases, especially in New South Wales, have certainly made it easier for Snitzel and a record six other stallions, including his barnmate Not A Single Doubt, to crack $10 million. However, Snitzel is the only one among the top five whose major earner, Redzel with $962,000, didn’t win $1 million or more, and his 26 stakeswinners contributed only 43% of his total earnings – a good indication of the deep quality that characterises Snitzel’s stud record.

Nine fillies and mares joined the list of Snitzel’s stakeswinners in 2016/17, headed by Group winners French Emotion, Elle Lou, Sweet Redemption, Teaspoon & Diddums. Like most of his Championship season’s best male performers, they all remain in training.

Invader was his top-earning juvenile, contributing $960,125 to the $4.9 million that won Snitzel the 2YO Sires’ Premiership by a comfortable margin from his former Arrowfield barnmate Manhattan Rain, sire of the Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign.

Remarkably, Snitzel’s list of 31 Australian stakes wins during the season includes only one of Australia’s million-dollar races, the ATC Inglis Sires’ Produce S. G1. He made the most of it though, siring the first three horses home, Invader, Summer Passage & Trapeze Artist to complete the country’s first single-stallion Group 1 2YO trifecta since 1982.

Invader headed Snitzel’s eight list-topping Australian 2YO stakeswinners this season, a quarter of his national record-setting tally of 32 juvenile winners of 46 races. (Three New Zealand winners from his 2014 crop gave him a final tally of 35.)

It was the same story on the 3YO Sires’ Premiership, where Snitzel ended the season on top by earnings (just over $6 million, more than $1.3 million in front of Sebring), winners (68), wins (120), stakeswinners (9) and stakes wins (11).

His principal 3YO earner was Russian Revolution, winner of the ATC The Galaxy G1 in March, and two other Group races last Spring. He was one of ten Snitzel stakeswinners who emerged in the first five months of the season and, along with Redzel, he progressed to elite success in the Autumn.

Snitzel’s Australian stakeswinners were prepared by 13 stables with Peter & Paul Snowden enjoying most success, thanks to Group 1 winners Invader, Redzel & Russian Revolution, Snitzel’s last stakeswinner of the season, Calanda, and Detective, who will do his future racing in Hong Kong.

Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott sent out five Snitzel stakeswinners, including Group winners Farson & Sweet Redemption, while Diddums, Trapeze Artist & Samantha took Gerald Ryan’s career tally of stakeswinners by his former stable star to twelve.

Snitzel did his bit to promote the Australian thoroughbred offshore, with the help of Group 1 winners Heavenly Blue (South Africa) & Summer Passage (New Zealand) and dual Group 3 winner Young Man Power (Japan). They boosted his 2016/17 worldwide statistics to 29 stakeswinners (5 at Group 1 level and nine of them juveniles) of 36 Group & Listed Races, for total prizemoney of $20.4 million.

Snitzel’s dominance of the 2016/17 season extended to Australia’s major yearling sales. He was the Leading Sire by aggregate at the Magic Millions & Inglis Easter Sales, and ended the auction season with total sales of $41.7 million and 111 lots sold for an average price of $375,732.

His five million-dollar yearlings were headed by the Top Cuban colt and the Response filly, both sold for $1.7 million by Arrowfield at Inglis Easter.

Snitzel’s achievements are magnified by the class of the stallions behind him in the top 15, among them six other Champion Sires (Street Cry, Fastnet Rock, Lonhro, Redoute’s Choice, Exceed and Excel and Encosta de Lago), his fellow Redoute’s Choice sons, Not A Single Doubt & Stratum, and an impressive group of emerging younger sires.

Snitzel has set the bar exceptionally high for all of them, as well as himself, but with three large, superb quality crops in the pipeline, and a dazzling book of mares visiting him at his 2017 fee of $176,000 inc. GST, his passage to greatness may have only just begun.

Snitzel's spectacular season – so far

Four stakes wins in a day, a Group 1 2YO trifecta, a Group 1 quinella, the season record for 2YO winners, the No. 1 spot on the General, 2YO & 3YO premierships, a new prizemoney record – and it’s only the middle of May. Let’s review Snitzel’s astonishing season so far:

  • This weekend his progeny have set a new all-time Australian prizemoney record of $13.8 million, smashing Street Cry’s record of $12.9 million set in 2015/16 – with 11 weeks of the season to go. It should be noted that the historical figures are not adjusted for inflation, so a hat-tip is respectfully made to Australia’s past champion sires, notably Zabeel whose $11.2 million prizemoney in 1998/99 is equivalent to around $18 million today.
  • Snitzel’s current 24 winners of 29 domestic Group & Listed Races isn’t a record, but he may yet surpass the 26 stakeswinners & 33 stakes wins Danehill accumulated in 2001/02, and his 7.8 per cent Stakeswinners/Runners for the season is among leading sires’ best figures of the past two decades.
  • He also leads the 2YO & 3YO Sires’ premierships by earnings, winners and stakeswinners and if he can stay on top of all three lists until 31 July, he will match the 2005/06 clean sweep of his sire Redoute’s Choice.
  • Snitzel’s trio of offshore stakeswinners (Group 1 winners Summer Passage in New Zealand & Heavenly Blue in South Africa, and dual Group 3 winner Young Man Power in Japan) take his global 2016/17 statistics to 27 winners of 34 black type races, and earnings of $14.4 million.
  • He has already posted 30 winners (eight stakeswinners) from 70 juvenile runners worldwide for the season, equalling his 2015/16 total and the record set by Lindsay Park’s great stallion Without Fear in 1975/76. The larger stallion books and multiple markets of the 21st century industry give Snitzel a significant advantage, but it can also be argued that the modern stallion business is much more competitive than 40 years ago.
  • Russian Revolution and Redzel supplied Snitzel’s first Group 1 quinella in The Galaxy on 18 March and two weeks later Invader, Summer Passage & Trapeze Artist ran 1-2-3 in the ATC Sires’ Produce S. G1. That was the first Australian Group 1 2YO trifecta since Grosvenor, Cossak Price & Sir Trout (all by Sir Tristram) led the field home in the 1982 VRC Sires’ Produce S. G1.
  • In less than three hours on Saturday, Redzel & Tangled (in Brisbane, Queensland), Debonairly (at Scone, NSW) and Vienna Miss (in Adelaide, South Australia) added four stakes victories to Snitzel’s record. A quick check of recent champion sires’ data reveals it’s an uncommon feat achieved, for example, by the great New Zealand sire Zabeel in November 1998 and two-time Australian champion sire Encosta de Lago in March 2008 & March 2009. Then there’s the stallion with four stakes wins on 9 September 2006; five on 10 May 1998; and finally, six in Australia & England on 23 September 2006 – that was Snitzel’s magnificent paternal grand-sire Danehill.

There are 79 Group & Listed Races yet to be run in Australia this season and plenty of surprises remain possible before 31 July. Nevertheless, one thing can be said with confidence, as international bloodstock analyst Bill Oppenheim wrote recently in Thoroughbred Daily News, “Snitzel…is now a world-class sire by anybody’s standards.”

Data sources: Arion Pedigrees & Bloodhound.

Redoute's Choice & Elzaam strike in Europe

Arrowfield’s ambition thirty years ago was to bring the best of the world’s bloodstock to Australia and, eventually, to send Australia’s best back to the world.

The acquisition of Danehill in 1989 fulfilled the first part of that “big hairy goal” and 14 breed-shaping years later his grandson Choisir – from a female family based in Australia since the 1920s – signalled the achievement of part two. His victory in the 2003 Royal Ascot Golden Jubilee Stakes G1 woke the world up to the quality of Australian-bred sprinters.

A succession of stars turned the Choisir story into a national novel. World champion Black Caviar, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Scenic Blast, Starspangledbanner, Ortensia, Brazen Beau & Alverta have all won or competed with distinction at Group 1 level in England. A Royal Ascot campaign for Australia’s top sprinters is now mentioned in the same breath as a tilt at The Championships in Sydney or the Spring Carnival in Melbourne. 

But Arrowfield’s ambition always extended beyond the racetrack. The eyes of the Australian industry are now fixed on another contest: the First Season Sires’ premierships in Great Britain, Ireland and France.

Four of the top ten sires on the Great Britain & Ireland table are by sons of Danehill: Elzaam (3rd; by Redoute’s Choice), Bated Breath (6th; by Dansili), Helmet (7th; by Exceed and Excel) and Foxwedge (8th; by Fastnet Rock). 

Better still, all of that quartet except for Bated Breath are Australian-bred, with Elzaam the result of Kia Ora Stud’s 2007 decision to send the Kingmambo mare Mambo In Freeport to Redoute’s Choice for a northern time mating.

A €280,000 buy for Sheikh Hamdan from the Arqana August Yearling Sale, Elzaam earned black type with a strong win in the Newbury Carnarvon S. LR as a 3YO. Better indications of his class were his close second, at his second start, in the 2010 Royal Ascot Coventry Stakes G2, and his fourth place finish, beaten two lengths by Society Rock, in the following year’s Golden Jubilee Stakes G1.

Elzaam stands at Ballyhane Stud, Ireland at a 2016 fee of €3,500 which looks very attractive after eight winners from his first 22 runners, including Clem Fandango (Group 2-placed at Royal Ascot) and King Electric (two wins and 4th, Curragh Railway S. G2).   

The Danehill theme is repeated on the French First Season Sires’ table, which features Bated Breath again (5th), Redoute’s Choice (6th), Requinto (7th; by Dansili) and Excelebration (9th; by Exceed and Excel).

Redoute’s Choice gets his second chance to appear on freshman sires’ lists thanks to his two-season stint at HH The Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval. His first three runners include the filly Deep Inside (ex Well Spoken by Sadler’s Wells), successful over 1400m at Compeigne on 25 June for MD Bloodstock Ltd and trainer Gianluca Bietolini, and the colt Celestial Spheres (ex Copernica by Galileo), second on debut at Sandown for Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby.

Arrowfield is not the only stud watching the Danehill and Redoute’s Choice story unfold in Europe. Leading French stud Haras d’Etreham has already committed to stand Arrowfield’s new son of Redoute’s Choice, Scissor Kick, for the 2017 Northern Hemisphere season.

His sire and Elzaam have certainly paved the way for the dashing Group winner’s shuttle career,  but European breeders need no introduction to Scissor Kick’s stellar female family. He shares his mitochondrial DNA, and some of his paternal genetics, with Danehill’s champion sire son Dansili, whose remarkable dam Hasili is a half-sister to Scissor Kick’s grand-dam.

Interview with John Messara

The Arrowfield Story concludes with John Messara, Chairman and owner of Arrowfield Stud, and Chairman of Racing NSW, answering ten questions put to him this week.

If you have a question for John, please tweet it to @ArrowfieldStud and he will tweet his answers there.

What attribute do you refuse to compromise on when considering stallion prospects?
JM:
I seek much the same attributes as other stallion managers do, but I generally will not compromise on the pre-potency of the subject horse’s sire line.

How do you define what makes a colt a must-have stallion prospect?
Stallions do come in all shapes and sizes and I have to say that a sixth sense comes into play when you come across the “must have” animal. Danehill is a case in point.
We undertook extensive research to determine which son of the pre-potent sire of sires of the time, Northern Dancer, would provide the most suitable line to acquire for Australia. Danzig shone out for us because of his progeny’s aptitude for sprinting and their effectiveness on grass surfaces. He also boasted an outstanding strike rate of elite runners.
However, at the time Danzig was by no means the most popular of Northern Dancer’s sire sons and this presented us with an opportunity. We tracked all of Danzig’s live runners and zeroed in on Danehill, with his impeccable stallion’s pedigree and sprinting prowess. As soon as he broke through for his Group 1 win in the Haydock Sprint Cup, I flew over from Australia with our vet Dr Percy Sykes to inspect him. The colt had taken but half a step out of his box and the decision was made!

Which major race success has meant the most to you personally, and why?
You get the most satisfaction when you make a judgment call and it comes off against the odds.
My first Group 1 winner was a purchase I made as a foal walking through a paddock in New Zealand in 1980. I had gone there to inspect a race filly which was for sale and I was drawn to this other filly galloping in a paddock of foals. I made a bargain with the breeders to buy both fillies, and the foal I picked out of the paddock ,which I named Starzaan, went on to win the Group 1 AJC Australian Oaks.
We set her for that very race from the start and she was an outsider in a very competitive renewal. So certain was I that she could win the race, that I invited all my family, as well as close friends from the US and all my office staff to come and watch her win. It was an unforgettable day. It’s difficult to describe to a non-racegoer the feeling that overcomes you when your silks go past the post first in a circumstance such as this!

Q4. What are your still-to-be-fulfilled racing and/or breeding ambitions?
I would like to win Group 1 races at Longchamp and Ascot, both iconic courses with long, wide stretches that present a serious test of class for the very best horses. As in all other sport, elite international competition is the ultimate challenge. There’s nowhere to hide at those two venues and winners of their best races are proper horses.

How do you respond to the inevitable setbacks in business?
People respond to setbacks in different ways. After the initial disappointment, I go into a phase of self- examination to see how I could have avoided it. Generally, setbacks spur me on.

Who has inspired you most throughout your business career?
There is no one particular person, but I have learned much from the many individuals with whom I have dealt. I believe that everyone has something to offer. Within racing, Robert Sangster was a true pioneer, I doubt that many appreciate the role he played in developing today’s international approach to racing and breeding…I have always admired him for that. Percy Sykes, the world renowned vet and a close friend and mentor, has X-ray vision when it comes to horses….I have learned so much from him.

What are the most significant changes you have seen in thoroughbred racing & breeding over the past 30 years?
Thirty years ago in Australia, thoroughbred breeding was mostly the domain of farmers and in many cases secondary to their other business activities. Since the 1980s, with advances in communication technology, it is so much more professional in nature with volumes of statistics and information freely available for analysis.
Rightly or wrongly, thoroughbreds have become something of a commodity, and a growing proportion of horses are now bred for sale, and purchased for re-sale rather than racing.
More recently, we have the international dynamic of owners prepared to race in multiple jurisdictions.
The biggest change though, might be the competition our sport now faces from other forms of leisure and gambling. In Australia, at least, racing was a mainstream sport, but today we are fighting hard to hold our position.

Q8. What advice would you give to an ambitious 20-something man or woman beginning their thoroughbred industry career now?
It’s tough to find positions in our industry. I think a stint at one of the leading auction companies is probably the fastest way to learn a lot about the horse business. You must remember, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish that matters. However, a bit of scholarship to start with provides a good launching pad. Courses such as the Marcus Oldham program in Australia or Darley’s Flying Start Program provide a valuable base of knowledge. Darley Flying Start will surely prove to be one of Sheikh Mohammed’s enduring legacies to the thoroughbred industry. (Arrowfield employs three Flying Start graduates.)

What will Arrowfield be doing in 2018?
I would like Arrowfield to be doing what we do now, but in an even bigger and better way than today, with a strong profile as a globally successful business based in Australia. This year we launch a truly global stallion in Animal Kingdom.

How do you see the NSW and Australian racing industries in five years’ time?
I envisage NSW and Victorian racing as the twin hearts of a vibrant Australian racing industry that is irresistibly attractive to international owners, because of its excellent prizemoney, competition, facilities and integrity.

Interview with John Messara

The Arrowfield Story concludes with John Messara, Chairman and owner of Arrowfield Stud, and Chairman of Racing NSW, answering ten questions put to him this week. 

If you have a question for John, please tweet it to @ArrowfieldStud and he will reply on Twitter.

What attribute do you refuse to compromise on when considering stallion prospects?
JM: I seek much the same attributes as other stallion managers do, but I generally will not compromise on the pre-potency of the subject horse’s sire line.

How do you define what makes a colt a must-have stallion prospect?
Stallions do come in all shapes and sizes and I have to say that a sixth sense comes into play when you come across the “must have” animal. Danehill is a case in point.
We undertook extensive research to determine which son of the pre-potent sire of sires of the time, Northern Dancer, would provide the most suitable line to acquire for Australia. Danzig shone out for us because of his progeny’s aptitude for sprinting and their effectiveness on grass surfaces. He also boasted an outstanding strike rate of elite runners.
However, at the time Danzig was by no means the most popular of Northern Dancer’s sire sons and this presented us with an opportunity. We tracked all of Danzig’s live runners and zeroed in on Danehill, with his impeccable stallion’s pedigree and sprinting prowess. As soon as he broke through for his Group 1 win in the Haydock Sprint Cup, I flew over from Australia with our vet Dr Percy Sykes to inspect him. The colt had taken but half a step out of his box and the decision was made!

Which major race success has meant the most to you personally, and why?
You get the most satisfaction when you make a judgment call and it comes off against the odds.
My first Group 1 winner was a purchase I made as a foal walking through a paddock in New Zealand in 1980. I had gone there to inspect a race filly which was for sale and I was drawn to this other filly galloping in a paddock of foals. I made a bargain with the breeders to buy both fillies, and the foal I picked out of the paddock ,which I named Starzaan, went on to win the Group 1 AJC Australian Oaks.
We set her for that very race from the start and she was an outsider in a very competitive renewal. So certain was I that she could win the race, that I invited all my family, as well as close friends from the US and all my office staff to come and watch her win. It was an unforgettable day. It’s difficult to describe to a non-racegoer the feeling that overcomes you when your silks go past the post first in a circumstance such as this!

What are your still-to-be-fulfilled racing and/or breeding ambitions?
I would like to win Group 1 races at Longchamp and Ascot, both iconic courses with long, wide stretches that present a serious test of class for the very best horses. As in all other sport, elite international competition is the ultimate challenge. There’s nowhere to hide at those two venues and winners of their best races are proper horses.

How do you respond to the inevitable setbacks in business?
People respond to setbacks in different ways. After the initial disappointment, I go into a phase of self- examination to see how I could have avoided it. Generally, setbacks spur me on.

Who has inspired you most throughout your business career?

There is no one particular person, but I have learned much from the many individuals with whom I have dealt. I believe that everyone has something to offer. Within racing, Robert Sangster was a true pioneer, I doubt that many appreciate the role he played in developing today’s international approach to racing and breeding… I have always admired him for that. Percy Sykes, the world renowned vet and a close friend and mentor, has X-ray vision when it comes to horses. I have learned so much from him.

What are the most significant changes you have seen in thoroughbred racing & breeding over the past 30 years?
Thirty years ago in Australia, thoroughbred breeding was mostly the domain of farmers and in many cases secondary to their other business activities. Since the 1980s, with advances in communication technology, it is so much more professional in nature with volumes of statistics and information freely available for analysis.
Rightly or wrongly, thoroughbreds have become something of a commodity, and a growing proportion of horses are now bred for sale, and purchased for re-sale rather than racing. More recently, we have the international dynamic of owners prepared to race in multiple jurisdictions. 

The biggest change though, might be the competition our sport now faces from other forms of leisure and gambling. In Australia, at least, racing was a mainstream sport, but today we are fighting hard to hold our position.

What advice would you give to an ambitious 20-something man or woman beginning their thoroughbred industry career now?
It’s tough to find positions in our industry. I think a stint at one of the leading auction companies is probably the fastest way to learn a lot about the horse business. You must remember, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish that matters. However, a bit of scholarship to start with provides a good launching pad. Courses such as the Marcus Oldham program in Australia or Darley’s Flying Start Program provide a valuable base of knowledge. Darley Flying Start will surely prove to be one of Sheikh Mohammed’s enduring legacies to the thoroughbred industry. (Arrowfield employs three Flying Start graduates). 

What will Arrowfield be doing in 2018?
I would like Arrowfield to be doing what we do now, but in an even bigger and better way than today, with a strong profile as a globally successful business based in Australia. This year we launch a truly global stallion in Animal Kingdom.

How do you see the NSW and Australian racing industries in five years’ time?
I envisage NSW and Victorian racing as the twin hearts of a vibrant Australian racing industry that is irresistibly attractive to international owners, because of its excellent prizemoney, competition, facilities and integrity.

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 Americ
an’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.

Where Champions Stand

At the end of the 1997/98 season, Danehill’s star was close to culmination in Australia, and beginning to rise in Europe. His 44 southern hemisphere stakes winners included 7 multiple Group 1 winners, headed by the Arrowfield-bred Danewin and the enigmatic mare Dane Ripper, and three winners of Australia’s premier 2YO contest, the Golden Slipper: the filly Merlene, and two Arrowfield-bred colts, Danzero and Flying Spur.

In the north Desert King (Irish Derby and Two Thousand Guineas), Danehill Dancer (the National S. and Phoenix S. in Ireland), Kissing Cousin (Royal Ascot Coronation S.) and US filly Danish had given Danehill Group 1 sire status, future stars Aquarelliste, Banks Hill, Mozart and Regal Rose were foals on the ground and Rock of Gibraltar would be born the following year.

The great sire Zabeel, bred by Arrowfield in partnership with Robert Sangster, had interrupted Danehill’s streak of Australian General Sires’ titles, and he would repeat that success in 1998/99. After that, the premiership would belong to Danehill for the next six seasons, giving him a final score of nine sire championships, unprecedented in Australian thoroughbred history.

It was just as Danehill was temporarily eclipsed that the horse who would ultimately succeed him as Australia’s champion sire, and most firmly secure his legacy, began his rise to fame.

A big, good-looking colt called Redoute’s Choice won his first race, a Listed Stakes event, at Caulfield in Melbourne on 20 February 1999.

John Messara picks up the story. “I thought to myself what a good performance it was first time out at that time of year, when all the best two-year-olds are out there. The trainer then said he was going to run him the following Saturday in the Blue Diamond.

“I thought, this is absolutely crazy, they’re running him a week after his maiden start. And they did run him, he drew the outside barrier and he still won the Blue Diamond, a Group One at his second start in a race, and I was absolutely flabbergasted. I thought to myself, from that moment on, this is the real thing, and I must track this horse.”

Bred and raced by Sri Lankan businessman Muzaffar Yaseen, and named for the famous French fashion company La Redoute, the colt was already on Messara’s radar, as he explains.

“I knew the pedigree well, because we were the under-bidders for his dam Shantha’s Choice when she was sold at the Melbourne Yearling Sale for $220,000. I’d seen Mr Yaseen after the sale and I’d congratulated him. Then, when she retired from racing, they’d called me and booked the mare into Danehill. So I’ve had an involvement with Redoute’s Choice from the day he was born, if you like, indirectly.”

The Damascus moment came in October 1999, when Messara was in France for the Arc meeting and Redoute’s Choice ran in the 1600-metre Caulfield Guineas G1, widely regarded as one of Australia’s stallion-making races.

“I remember waiting up at night and getting one of my staff to put the phone on the radio so we could hear the call of the Caulfield Guineas from Paris. It was an extraordinary call where Testa Rossa kicked clear, passed Redoute’s Choice, and Redoute’s fought back to win.”

The 1999 Caulfield Guineas remains one of the best displays of raw talent, and raw courage in recent Australian racing history, an assessment franked by the subsequent careers of the two colts Redoute’s Choice defeated that day.

Testa Rossa won another four Group 1 races and is a successful sire of 46 SW, including the high-class international performer Ortensia, trained by Paul Messara to Group 1 success in Dubai and England last year. Third-placed Commands, an Arrowfield-bred colt, has been a top 10 sire in Australia for the past eight seasons.

John Messara recalls, “With what I knew about Redoute’s Choice, his physical characteristics, his pedigree, and those two performances, I thought I’ve just got to get this horse. I came home from France and approached Mr Yaseen and luckily he sold me a half-interest in him.”

It was to prove another destiny-shaping decision for Arrowfield Stud and the Australian industry, but not everyone shared Messara’s confidence in Redoute’s Choice. Arrowfield already stood two brilliant Danehill sons, Danzero and Flying Spur (Australia’s Champion Sire in 2007), and doubts were expressed about the wisdom of standing a third.

The first Redoute’s Choice progeny sold at Australia’s premier yearling auction, the Inglis Easter Sale, averaged a respectable, if unspectacular, $134,000 off his $30,000 opening fee. That initial crop eventually produced 8 SW from 98 named foals, including the Arrowfield-bred colt Not A Single Doubt who opened his sire’s black type account in the AJC Canonbury S. LR on 20 December 2003. Another four 2YO winners that season were enough to earn Redoute’s Choice the title of Champion First Season Sire.

In 2004/05 he rocketed into third position on the General Sires’ list, behind Danehill and Zabeel, and won his first 2YO Sires’ premiership thanks to Golden Slipper winner Stratum. In 2005/06, with only three crops racing, he claimed the first of his two General Sires’ titles with 12 SW, six of them at Group 1 level: Fashions Afield, God’s Own, Lotteria, Nadeem, Snitzel and Arrowfield’s sensational Champion 2YO, Miss Finland.

Seven years later, the aggregate statistics of Redoute’s Choice’s stud career are astonishing: 105 SW, 23 Group 1 winners (including 7 juveniles, and 12 Classic winners), progeny earnings of more than $93 million, nine consecutive years as the Easter Sale’s leading sire by average, and 63 million-dollar-plus yearlings, among them this year’s Helsinge colt, sold for an Australasian record price of $5 million. More than 20% of the Easter Sale’s turnover since 2003 has been supplied by Redoute’s Choice yearlings.

This season alone Redoute’s Choice has been represented worldwide by 20 SW, two new Group 1 winners, Royal Descent in Australia and Wylie Hall in South Africa, plus 19 other stakesplacegetters.

However, it is his lifetime performance percentages that establish most clearly the margin of quality between Redoute’s Choice and his rivals. His 11.9% SW/Runners, 8.9% SW/Named Foals and 2.6% G1 Winners/Runners place him firmly in the very top bracket of the world’s elite stallions and have attracted the attention of another breeder who, like John Messara, focuses on quality.

That is HH The Aga Khan whose Haras de Bonneval in France has been home to Redoute’s Choice this northern hemisphere season, the first time the champion sire has left Arrowfield since 2000.

As leading European bloodstock commentator Tony Morris wrote in January 2013:

“No horse from the southern hemisphere has ever come north with more impressive credentials, and such conspicuously strong support from the world’s most successful private breeder can only encourage other European breeders, private and commercial, to get involved.”

The exceptional mares in his first French book, including the Aga Khan’s unbeaten champion Zarkava, offer Redoute’s Choice a rare and richly deserved mid-career opportunity to become a major international influence.

In Australia, Redoute’s Choice is already the dominant sire of sires in his generation, with ten stakes-siring sons, six of them with Group 1 winners on their records: Bradbury’s Luck, Duelled, Fast ‘N’ Famous, Not A Single Doubt, Snitzel and Stratum.

John Messara was as quick to secure early-crop colts by Redoute’s Choice as
he had been to purchase Danehill sons. In 2005 Not A Single Doubt joined the Arrowfield roster at a modest fee of $12,500. He has now sired 17 SW including the unbeaten Group 1-winning juvenile Miracles of Life and is fully booked for 2013 at a fee of $30,000.

Group 1-winning sprinter Snitzel arrived at Arrowfield in 2006 and last season, with his oldest progeny only 4YOs, he topped the Australian APEX ‘A’ Runner Index (compiled by Bluebloods magazine with Bill Oppenheim’s blessing) with an exceptional figure of 5.04.

Snitzel has stepped up the pace again in 2012/13 and will end the Australian season on 31 July with 11 SW and $6.5 million prizemoney earned by fewer runners than any other stallion in the top ten.

Arrowfield sold Snitzel’s first $1 million yearling at April’s Easter Sale where his average price of $335,000 was bettered only by Redoute’s Choice and Fastnet Rock.

A 50% fee increase for the 2013 breeding season, to $45,000, has not deterred breeders who filled Snitzel’s book in a matter of weeks.

The fate of sire-lines cannot be predicted with certainty, but it is certain that Danehill and his best son Redoute’s Choice have ensured the durability of Arrowfield’s stallion-making legacy.