Farewell Flying Spur, and thank you for everything

Arrowfield’s beloved Champion sire and Golden Slipper winner Flying Spur died peacefully early on Wednesday morning at the Stud which had been his home for most of his 25-year lifespan.

Arrowfield Chairman John Messara said, “I have memories of many special moments with Spur, both as a  racehorse and a stallion. He was a great contributor to Arrowfield in the early years and his wonderful influence will continue to be felt, especially through his daughters.”

Arrowfield’s broodmare band includes 13 Flying Spur mares and six of his best sons and daughters appear on the Stud’s list of Group 1 graduates: Alverta, Forensics, Inspiration, Juanmo, Mentality & San Luis.  

A second-crop son of Danehill, from the royally-bred mare Rolls (a Mr. Prospector grand-daughter of the influential matron Fanfreluche), Flying Spur was bred and born at Arrowfield on 4 November 1992. 

He was sent to the 1994 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale where he was bought for $160,000 by trainer Lee Freedman for a group of owners headed by Arrowfield, whose Black & Yellow Diamonds silks he carried during his 20-start racing career.

Always an imposing, quality colt, Flying Spur won on debut in November 1994, and at his third start in February 1995 he became Danehill’s 9th Australian stakeswinner in the Blue Diamond Prelude G3.

An exuberant Glen Boss drives Flying Spur to victory in the 1995 Golden Slipper at Rosehill. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

A month later he scored a dramatic victory in the Golden Slipper G1, defeating Octagonal and Millrich (later the dam of current sprinting star Redzel). 

Watch Flying Spur’s 1995 Golden Slipper G1 victory.

His Slipper jockey Glen Boss, called up as a late replacement for Jim Cassidy, said, “Flying Spur was the horse that really put me on the map. I owe a lot in my career to him and it is sad to hear of his passing.”

The colt returned the following season to win the Peter Pan S. G2, the Australian Guineas G1 and, at his final start, the All Aged S. G1. In all, he won six times, won or placed in all seven of the Group 1 races he contested and retired to stud in 1996 with prizemoney of just over $2 million. 

Flying Spur’s first crop of 99 foals produced four 2YO stakeswinners, beginning with Ponton Flyer, successful in the Blue Diamond Preview G3 on 5 February 2000. French Braids, Blab and She’s Purring soon followed, helping their sire to claim the 1999/2000 title of Champion First Season Sire.

Eight months later, he notched up his first Group 1 winner, All Time High in the Thousand Guineas G1, while in New Zealand Flying Babe compiled a series of stakes wins that earned her Champion 2YO honours. 

Flying Spur’s first six stakeswinners were all fillies, but second-crop colt San Luis opened the boys’ account with wins across the Tasman, including the Manawatu Sires’ Produce S. G1. Flying Spur’s final tally of stakeswinners is almost evenly split between the sexes, 50 fillies and 49 colts & geldings. 

It was during this early period of his stud career that Flying Spur stood the 1997, 1998 and 1999 seasons at the Irish National Stud where he sired 72 winners, among them the Group winners Steenberg, Osterhase, Mister Links & Volata  (also a Group 1-placed stakeswinner in Hong Kong, where he raced as Firebolt).

Back in Australia, he made an early impact on the General Sires’ Premiership, finishing 7th in 2000/01 with only two crops racing and $3.4 million in progeny earnings. Only one other second season sire has achieved a higher top 10 position since 2000 and that was Flying Spur’s barnmate Redoute’s Choice (3rd in 2004/05). 

Flying Spur returned to the top 10 in 2003/04 and remained there for the next four years, including his spectacular Championship season of 2006/07 when he was represented by 17 winners of 24 stakes races and $10.4 million. A highlight of that year was a majestic sequence of Group 1 winners in the Autumn: Sleek Chassis (Blue Diamond), Mentality (Randwick Guineas), Magnus (The Galaxy) and Champion 2YO Forensics (Golden Slipper).

Forensics emulates her sire with victory in the 2007 Golden Slipper G1, beating Zizou & Maurice. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

He continued as a top 20 sire for a further four seasons with the last three of his 13 Group 1 winners spread out over seven years: Alverta (2010 Coolmore Classic and subsequently a brilliant 3rd in the Newmarket July Cup G1), Champion NZ Sprinter Sacred Star (2015 Telegraph Handicap & Waikato Sprint) and finally, last October’s upset Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time.  

Flying Spur recorded his 99th stakeswinner, Traveston Girl, in November 2015, three years after his retirement from stud duties. With only 38 Australian runners this season it seems that his tally of black type winners will conclude like Bradman’s batting average, just short of a century. In all, he sired 1023 winners of 3590 races in 22 countries, and his progeny earnings exceeded $135 million – almost $90,000 per runner. 

Around 1000 yearlings were sold from Flying Spur’s 17 Australian crops, among them just one $1 million yearling, although three-time Group 1 winner Forensics came close, when Ingham Bloodstock bought her for $900,000 from Arrowfield at the 2006 Inglis Easter Sale.

Flying Spur turned heads at every stage of his career, including at his final public parade, in 2012. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Flying Spur’s remarkable effectiveness as a broodmare sire is evident in 76 stakeswinners to date, featuring Group 1 winners Preferment, Delago Deluxe, Sebring, Speak Fondly, Headway, Grand Journey and Shillelagh. He has been a top 10 fixture on the Australian Broodmare Sires’ Premiership for the past nine seasons and is currently fourth, with $104 million and 10 stakeswinners headed by Pierata.

Flying Spur’s best sire sons Magnus and Casino Prince have each left 15 stakeswinners and his grandson, four-time Group 1 winner All Too Hard is second on the current Second Season Sires’ table.

Flying Spur, whose DNA is entwined with the history of the Stud he did so much to build, will be buried at Arrowfield.

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. 

Boom Time for Flying Spur

Champion Sire Flying Spur retired from stud duties five years ago and, now 25 years-old, he lives happily at Arrowfield Stud, which his outstanding racing, breeding and sales success helped to build. We visited him a couple of days after his son Boom Time won the $3 million MRC Caulfield Cup G1:

Arrowfield Stud: Hey Spur, how are you this morning?

Flying Spur: I’m great, just enjoying the sunshine here with my old mate Iceman – what’s up?

AS: Well, quite a lot actually – one of your sons, from your second last crop of foals, has just won the Caulfield Cup!

FS: Er, what? The Caulfield Cup? But isn’t that a 2400-metre race, and one of Australia’s Big Cups?

AS: Spot on Spur, and Boom Time won it brilliantly. Mind you, he surprised almost everyone – he started at 50/1.

FS: Well, well, you just never know, do you? Who trains him?

AS: David Hayes, his son Ben and nephew Tom, and David owns him too, so a wonderful result for Lindsay Park. 

FS: I remember David, he trained Sleek Chassis for me too – lovely bloke, good on him. So who’s Boom Time’s mother?

AS: A nice bay mare called Bit Of A Ride, won seven races…remember her?

FS: Ah, I think I met quite a few mares like her in my time!  But good on her too, well done! 

AS: In fact, you’ve met a few members of her family and sired a couple of Boom Time’s smart relatives, Group 1 winner Magnus – he’s doing a good job at stud too – and stakeswinner Arctic Flight, both out of….

FS: ….Scandinavia, I’ve got you now. Isn’t that also the family of…

AS: Yep, Black Caviar – pretty amazing, eh?

FS: So where does Boom Time’s stamina come from? 

AS: Good question! It might even be you – you’ve sired several stakeswinners around 2000 metres, and Boom Time is your fourth stakeswinner at 2400 metres or more. He’s certainly improved the further he’s gone, and now he’s going for the Melbourne Cup.

FS: Well, that’s one trophy I know I don’t have in the cupboard. It would go nicely with Forensics’ Golden Slipper, Mentality’s Randwick Guineas, Sleek Chassis’ Blue Diamond, Magnus’ Galaxy, Alverta’s Coolmore Classic, All Time High’s Thousand Guineas and Inspiration’s Hong Kong Sprint. And all the rest!

AS: Nothing wrong with your memory, Spur! Something else to tuck away – you’re now ninth on the Australian Sires’ list with just over $2 million and only three winners this season.

FS: Gee, what are the rest of my kids doing? Gone on holiday?

AS: Hate to break it to you Spur, but your youngest kids are now five-year-olds, just a year younger than Boom Time. And you’ve been sitting on 99 stakeswinners for nearly two years now…

FS: …so time’s running out. I get the message. Still, 99 is pretty good – and how many Group 1 winners now?

AS: Thirteen, not as many as Redoute’s Choice, but still ahead of Snitzel – only just!

FS: That young whippersnapper! Where’s he on the Sires’ table?

AS: Easy old boy, he’s already won his first Premiership and is on top again this season, with Not A Single Doubt chasing him.

FS: I knew they’d go far, those boys. I never told Redoute’s Choice this, but he’s all class, the only other stallion I ever looked up to. Apart from Dad.

AS: And now, like Danehill, you’ve sired a Caulfield Cup winner. 

FS: How about that? Hey, better go now and catch up with my old mate. Thanks for the update!

AS: Good on you Spur, and maybe you’ll get that 100th stakeswinner yet!  

 

Zac Spirit takes his second Lion City Cup

For six months now, Flying Spur has been on the brink of his 100th stakeswinner, while Traveston Girl (no. 99), Mahuta (no. 98) and Sacred Star (no. 93) have added further Group 2 & Group 3 successes and a pair of Listed wins to his record.

No. 92, Zac Spirit chimed in on Sunday evening with an exhilarating victory, in near-course record time of 1:08.45, in the $S800,000 Lion City Cup 1200m Sgp-1, the third leg of the Singapore  Sprint Series.

Watch Zac Spirit’s second Lion City Cup Sgp-1 victory.

The result was greeted with considerable emotion by trainer Cliff Brown who sent Zac Spirit back to Australia to recover after surgery for a knee chip found after his unplaced run in last year’s Krisflyer Sprint G1.

Brown said, “There was a lot of work to bring him back and that goes across the board…it’s a huge team effort.

“I thought he was too far back in the race, but when I saw him improve before the home turn, I was like ‘Crikey! He really is travelling!’

“It’s amazing what he’s done. He’s won the Lion City Cup two years ago and he’s won it again, after injury.”

It’s the 6YO gelding’s fifth Singapore black type win and came after only one lead-up run, on 3 April, when he dead-heated for second with Wimbledon (by Snitzel) in the Kranji Sprint Sgp-3, the first leg of the Sprint Series.

Zac Spirit was bred by Newhaven Park Stud & the late Colin Tidy and is raced by Andy & Genni Wong’s Zac Stable which also enjoyed success with his stakes-winning half-brother Zac Influence.

Named Singapore’s Champion Sprinter of 2014, Zac Spirit has now won or placed in 20 of his 22 starts for prizemoney of more than $S1.7 million. That’s more than ten times the $140,000 Brown paid for him at the 2011 Inglis Easter Sale.

His dam Kidman (by Quest for Fame) is a great-grand-daughter of Mr Tidy’s marvellous broodmare Summoned, dam of five-time Group 1 winner & sire Zeditave and four other Group winners. Kidman’s other descendants include Group 1 winners Melito, Greys Inn and Norzita, and Group 2 winner Jet Spur, also by Flying Spur.

Zac Spirit’s 3YO half-sister Always (by Manhattan Rain) won on debut in January for Newhaven Park & Helen Tidy, and his 2YO three-quarter brother Preferred (by Redoute’s Choice)  is yet to race for James Harron Bloodstock & partners. Kidman has a weanling filly by Redoute’s Choice and is in foal to Exceed And Excel.

Flying Spur, happily retired at Arrowfield since 2012, still has plenty of runners competing for him, but it’s most likely that his 100th stakeswinner will emerge from the 129 foals in his final two crops (current 3YOs & 4YOs) that have already raced.

A Phillip Stokes-trained 4YO mare down to contest Saturday’s SAJC City of Adelaide H. LR is Flying Spur’s best immediate chance to complete his century and it would be fitting if she did. Like her sire, Rationality carries the Arrowfield silks and she is a full sister to one of his very best performers, the three-time Group 1 winner Mentality.

Spur is still Flying high

There are many paths a stallion’s career can take, but the hardest trick is putting a final flourish on an outstanding stud record.

Champion sire Flying Spur experienced many highs and a few lows during his 17-year stud career, but when he retired in the Spring of 2012, there was more than enough evidence on the board to ensure he will always be a gold-plated name in a pedigree.  He had earned the right to retreat gracefully off the stage, leaving the limelight to his barnmate Redoute’s Choice and the young guns of the next generation.

However, the now 23-year-old son of Danehill is working from a different script. In the three-and-a-half seasons since he left the Arrowfield stallion barn, 15 horses have added 30 Group & Listed stakes wins to his record, and his worldwide, lifetime progeny earnings have increased by $22 million to almost $128 million.

Although, inevitably, Flying Spur’s racetrack representation will diminish and the flow of winners will eventually stop, it’s not happening yet. 78 winners and $4.1 million kept him in last season’s top 30 Australian sires, and right now, he’s 17th with 52 winners and $3.3 million.

That’s largely thanks to 3YO colt Mahuta, from Flying Spur’s last full crop, who has progressed from maiden class to multiple Group success and $1.6 million prizemoney in less than six months.

4YO Arrowfield graduate Traveston Girl won twice in Listed company last November & December, while Hazard, Okahu Bay & That’s A Good Idea – already stakeswinners – have placed in black type company.

Across the Tasman just over a year ago, Sacred Star became Flying Spur’s 12th Group 1 winner, earning the title of Champion New Zealand Sprinter. He returned last Saturday to win the ARC Darley Plate LR, his ninth victory in a $678,000 career.

Flying Spur is now only one winner away from a century of stakeswinners and, given the durability of his stock, it will be no surprise to see him add a few more beyond that milestone.

At the same time, his sons, and especially his daughters are building a powerful second-generation legacy. Flying Spur’s value as a broodmare sire is well-established by 62 stakeswinners, six of them Group 1 winners including Preferment, Speak Fondly and leading sire Sebring. His sire sons Magnus (11 SW lifetime), Casino Prince (12 SW) and Jet Spur (7 SW) all appear among the top 35 stallions on the current Australian General list.

Buyers looking for a touch of Flying Spur’s magic can start with the 15 Inglis Easter Sale yearlings out of his daughters, including Turangga Farm’s handsome filly by Charge Forward from Chatelaine. The Charge Forward/Flying Spur cross has an excellent SWs/runners strike rate of 13.5% and this filly is a full sister to the best of them, Champion 2YO Filly & 3YO Group 1 winner Headway.

Stakes double for Arrowfield graduates

The two fillies were foaled 22 days apart in the Spring of 2011, grew up together at Arrowfield and were sold as Lots 69 and 111 at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale.

On Saturday Wild Rain (by Manhattan Rain) and Traveston Girl (by Flying Spur) both won their second Listed Races, and are right on track for a serious tilt at Magic Millions riches next month.

Wild Rain earned black capital status with her SAJC Lightning S. LR victory at Morphettville in July, and resumed with strong second placings at Flemington & Ballarat last month.

This time, she lined up at Sandown in the $120,000 MRC Doveton S. 1000m LR and settled close to the pace, then claimed the lead on the turn and kicked clear to score by 1.75 lengths from Office Bearer, with a half-length further back to Tried And Tired.  The $1 million Magic Millions Sprint over 1100 metres is the main goal of her summer campaign.

Watch Wild Rain’s MRC Doveton S. LR win at Sandown.

Bred by Arrowfield & John Leaver, Wild Rain was a $150,000 purchase by her trainer Mark Kavanagh whose wife Isobel and son Levi are among her owners.

Wild Rain’s dam North Flower (by Rory’s Jester) is a 2YO city-winning half-sister to the dam of 2003 Horse of the Year Northerly, and Group winners North Boy and Northern Song.

North Flower has also left the stakes-placed city winner Flowerchild to Redoute’s Choice and an unraced 3YO daughter, Tahlia Star, to Starcraft. The Animal Kingdom half-sister to Wild Rain will be offered in Arrowfield’s 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast draft.

Manhattan Rain has six fillies and a colt in the Magic Millions catalogue, among them Arrowfield’s filly from the Not A Single Doubt mare Zing and Swing.

At Doomben Traveston Girl took up her usual leading role in the $100,000 BRC Brisbane H. 1640m LR and fought hard to hold out Hopfgarten by a half-head, with a length back to Shotover River in third.

It was Traveston Girl’s second black type success in a fortnight and the Bernborough Handicap LR on 19 December will be her final tune-up before the $1 million Magic Millions Trophy over 1800 metres on 9 January.

Traveston Girl is the fourth foal and fourth winner out of Milande (by Dehere), an unraced sister to multiple Group 1 winner Defier from the family of champion 3YO Triscay and Group 1 winners La Baraka & Demerger.  The Flying Spur/Dehere cross has previously produced the Arrowfield-sold three-time Group 1 winner Forensics.

Bred by the partnership of Arrowfield, John Leaver & Alan Jones, Traveston Girl was purchased for $60,000 from Arrowfield’s 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale draft. She is prepared by Tony Gollan for Troy Schmidt’s River Junction Racing which now also owns Milande and has a yearling half-brother to Traveston Girl by All American.

So far, Arrowfield graduates from the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast auction include five stakeswinners: Group 3 juvenile winners Bachman (who won his season debut at Randwick on Saturday) & Oakleigh Girl, and Listed winner Hijack Hussy, as well as Traveston Girl & Wild Rain. 

Arrowfield graduate makes 99 for Spur

A century of stakeswinners is one of the few achievements missing from Flying Spur’s CV, but now an Arrowfield graduate has upgraded its status to “imminent.”

4YO mare Traveston Girl became the retired champion sire’s 99th stakeswinner in Saturday’s $100,000 BRC Recognition S. 1600m LR at Doomben, where she led all the way to win by 1.5 lengths from Shotover River & Blue Lion.

Traveston Girl has been a star-in-the-wings ever since she split Amicus and Sabatini in last year’s MRC Thousand Guineas G1, but her next five black type appearances produced only a couple of placings during the Queensland Winter Carnival.

She resumed in October with a third at Doomben, and a second trip south for a solid fifth in Group 3 company at Flemington on Cup Day proved to be the turning point.

Her trainer Tony Gollan said, “We’ve never lost faith in her. Since she won that race as a two-year-old she’s stepped up and raced in the best company in Melbourne and Brisbane.”

“She’s come back in superb order and she’s still got improvement to come.”

Traveston Girl has several opportunities to add further stakes success, and major prizemoney to her three-win, quarter-million-dollar career. All going well, she’ll line up in the Brisbane Handicap LR on 5 December, the Bernborough Handicap LR on 19 December and the $1 million Magic Millions Trophy on 9 January.

Traveston Girl is the fourth foal and fourth winner out of Milande (by Dehere), an unraced sister to multiple Group 1 winner Defier from the family of champion 3YO Triscay and Group 1 winners La Baraka & Demerger.  The Flying Spur/Dehere cross is already responsible for a top-class Arrowfield graduate, three-time Group 1 winner Forensics.

Bred by the partnership of Arrowfield, John Leaver & Alan Jones, Traveston Girl was purchased for $60,000 from Arrowfield’s 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale draft for Troy Schmidt’s River Junction Racing.  Mr Schmidt now owns Milande as well and has a yearling half-brother to Traveston Girl by All American.

Flying Spur’s other Spring star is dual Melbourne Group winner Mahuta, from his final, 2012 crop of 59 foals.  The Darren Weir-trained colt has contributed more than $360,000 to his sire’s $126 million+ lifetime earnings.

Traveston Girl is the fifth stakeswinner sold by Arrowfield from its 2013 Magic Millions draft, after Group 3 winners Oakleigh Girl (by Snitzel) & Bachman (by All American), and Listed winners Hijack Hussy (by Hussonet) & Wild Rain (by Manhattan Rain).

98th stakeswinner for Flying Spur

The Darren Weir-trained Mahuta has become the 98th stakeswinner for champion sire Flying Spur with a strong all-the-way win in Saturday’s $120,000 MRC Gothic S. 1400m LR.

The 3YO colt came into the race off a six-length maiden victory at Kyneton on 8 October and defied his double-figure odds by taking early control of the pace and kicking hard after the turn to hold off Holler, with Flying Light 3.5 lengths back in third.

Jockey Mark Zahra said, “He won well. He was a bit aggressive going to the gates so I wanted to have him where he was happy. He got to the front, relaxed and gave a good kick.”

A member of Flying Spur’s final crop, Mahuta was bred by John Johnstone and purchased for $35,000 from the Redbank North draft at the 2014 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. He is a half-brother to stakeswinner Anlon, from the unraced Vahine (by Zabeel), a three-quarter sister to top-class 2YO filly Isolda who has left Group 3 winner Bid Spotter to Redoute’s Choice.

Flying Spur, now living out a well-earned retirement at Arrowfield, has enjoyed notable success with mares by sons of Sir Tristram. Mahuta is the 12th stakeswinner from 93 runners bred that way, a group that includes Sleek Chassis (Blue Diamond Stakes), dual Group 1-winning juvenile Juanmo, and Rosehill Guineas winner Dealer Principal.

Mahuta has bolstered Zabeel’s position on the Australian Broodmare Sires’ list, but not quite enough to overtake Flying Spur, represented as a damsire on Saturday by two stakeswinners, Dothraki at Randwick and Vezalay at Caulfield.

The champion son of Danehill remains Australia’s leading sire of broodmares this season with $3,190,484 prizemoney and six stakeswinners, just ahead of Zabeel with the same number of stakeswinners and earnings of $3,112,523.

Sacred Star named Champion NZ Sprinter

Flying Spur’s son Sacred Star was named Champion Sprinter at the 2014/15 New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards presented on Thursday evening in Hamilton.

The award was accepted by Dato Yap Kim San, the owner of New Zealand-based Raffles Thoroughbred Racing, who was accompanied by his son Kyan, manager Bruce Sherwin and trainer Tony Pike.

It was a “starry” season for Raffles Racing, which also entered the Group 1 winner’s circle as owner-breeder of First Seal (Flight S. G1), and owner of Sacred Falls (George Main S. G1) & Rock Diva (Auckland Cup G1).

Sacred Star won two Group 1 races in 2014/15, the 1200-metre WRC Telegraph Handicap and the Waikato Sprint at 1400 metres, taking his record to eight wins and more than $600,000 prizemoney.

He was bred by Victorian businessman Mark Ruff from the Group 2-placed O’Reilly mare Irish Nova, whose relatives include another Group 1 winner last season Diademe (NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ S. G1) and the excellent broodmare Professionelle, dam of Group winners Sportsman, Prisoner of Love & Hoystar.

Read: Victorian breeder celebrates first Group 1 Star

Flying Spur, Australian Champion Sire of 2007, retired from stud duties in 2012, but remains a powerful influence on Australian breeding & racing. His 99 worldwide winners last season included seven stakeswinners, headed by Sacred Star, Godolphin’s Group 2-winning mare Hazard, 3YO filly Okahu Bay, winner of the South Australia Fillies Classic G3, and Singapore sprinter Zac Spirit.

Flying Spur’s lifetime record as a sire now stands at 97 stakeswinners, 12 of them successful at Group 1 level, and an impressive Earnings per Runner figure of more than $84,000.

His broodmare daughters had an even better year, putting nine stakeswinners on the board, among them 3YOs Preferment (Victoria Derby G1) & Moonovermanhattan (Moonee Valley Vase G2), 2YO Speak Fondly (Magic Night S. G2). Flying Spur ended 2014/15 holding 4th spot on the Australian Broodmare Sires’ list, behind Danehill, Zabeel & Encosta de Lago.

Magnus did best of his Australian sire sons, finishing 19th on the General Sires’ Premiership with earnings of $5.1 million and three stakeswinners, notably the Perth Group 1 winner Magnifisio.

Hazard's ripper season

At the start of this season Flying Spur’s 5YO daughter Hazard looked like a candidate for that unlucky band of talented mares who build good records, but retire to stud without the stakes-winning status they really deserve.

Thankfully, Godolphin kept her in training and Hazard is now a dual Group winner after her success in last Saturday’s $200,000 BRC Dane Ripper S. 1350m G2.

That performance, defeating multiple Group winner & Group 1 placegetter Catkins, confirmed Hazard’s coming of age after more than three years of steady development by Anthony Freedman, now training in partnership with brother Lee.

A debut win can be a sign of stakes-winning potential and Hazard delivered it as a 2YO when she narrowly defeated subsequent Group 2 winner & Group 1 performer Angelic Light at Geelong in April 2012.

Eight months later she began a sequence of four consecutive 3YO successes, three of them in Melbourne at 1200m, 1400m & 1600m, and a black type win seemed imminent.

However, her career stalled after a runner-up finish in the SAJC Laelia S. LR at three and her 4YO season was a little disappointing, despite a valuable win at Bendigo, a Group 3 second and a Listed third.

It took five starts this term for Hazard to find the winner’s circle again, over 1000 metres at Caulfield in April. Unplaced in the MRC Bel Esprit S. LR later that month, she then hit her most rewarding patch of form, winning three races in three states from 2 May to 6 June, including the SAJC Proud Miss S. G3 and now the Dane Ripper.

That brings her record to a thoroughly admirable 10 wins, five placings and $551,615 from 25 starts, and elevated status as the best of four Group winners left by her outstanding dam Dawn Attack (by Fantastic Light) to four different stallions before her premature death in 2013. 

Dawn Attack’s other three performers are the fillies Crucial (by Nadeem) and Antelucan (by Domesday), and the gelding Java (by Medaglia d’Oro).

Darley’s Managing Director Henry Plumptre says, “Interestingly, Hazard has been the most backward of the four mentally, with Antelucan a two-year-old stakeswinner and both Java and Crucial  showing plenty as two- and three-year-olds.  

“As a type, she is a big strong girl now. Plenty of strength and scope, with a preference for good tracks.

“Dawn Attack was a great mare for our operation and it is good fortune that we have three stakes-winning daughters.”

Hazard, dual New Zealand Group 1 winner Sacred Star and Singapore speedster Zac Spirit head Flying Spur’s seven stakeswinners among 90 winners worldwide this season.

The now-retired champion sire now has a career tally of 97 stakeswinners and a century is in sight with the 173 foals from his last two crops about to turn three and four. 

Flying Spur still appears in the top 30 stallions on the Australian General Sires’ list, but his best performance is now on the Broodmare Sires’ table where he’s become a regular fixture behind Danehill and Zabeel, and alongside his relative Encosta de Lago and, more recently, Redoute’s Choice.

In 2014/15 Flying Spur’s best second-generation runner has been Victoria Derby G1 winner Preferment, one of three Group winners from only 8 named foals bred on the Zabeel/Flying Spur cross.