Breeders' judgement tips the Scales

Breeders are generally advised to avoid over-mating mares. Yet it can sometimes be exactly the right tactic to take a breeding program to a whole new level.

That’s the experience of Victorian breeders Gerard & Kathy Hammond who found themselves leaping off the couch last Saturday to cheer home their first Group 1 winner Scales Of Justice in the $1 million WATC Railway S. 1600m G1.

“It’s a nice feeling,” says Gerard, who made his first foray into horse breeding during the 1970s when he and his father Brendan bought shares in several stallions. That venture proved unsuccessful and, although he remained a “mad racing fan”, Gerard chose to concentrate instead on his career in corporate finance. He stepped up his breeding interests shortly before his retirement in 2008, eight years after dipping his toe back in the water with a yearling filly by Umatilla bought privately from breeder Thea MacKnamara.

“I got onto the filly via the internet and when I inspected her in the paddock, I fell in love with her straight away. I like horses that are well-balanced, staying types with a bit of length, and I liked the way she moved too.

“I needed a trainer for her, and Thea MacKnamara’s partner Bob Gard, a bit of a character who knew a lot, recommended a young trainer in Stawell named Darren Weir.”

Named Beymatilla, the filly unfortunately broke down before she raced, but Gerard and Kathy decided to breed from her. She left winners to Johann Cruyff, Grass Wonder and Spinning World, and unraced fillies by Good Journey and Al Maher before the Hammonds sent her to Not A Single Doubt in 2011 – the season his fee increased to $24,750 after six years at $13,750.

Gerard explains, “I’d been breeding for several years with Beymatilla and her progeny could all run, but they were very much like her, tall, angular and not a lot of muscle or bone, so they weren’t attractive to the Australian market.

“I was getting more serious about breeding and she needed to go to a stallion with far more substance. I was very keen on Not A Single Doubt, the absolute opposite of Beymatilla on physical type, but I was well aware it was probably over-capitalising the mare.

“However, I knew we’d get a foal with substance that would run, as well as line-breeding through Redoute’s Choice and Umatilla to Best In Show, so I thought the risk was worth it and I was very optimistic about it.”

The resulting colt, born in September 2012, sadly proved to be Beymatilla’s last foal, but he was everything Gerard hoped he’d be: an imposing, powerful, athletic type that presented superbly well at the 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale. Taken through the ring by Millford Thoroughbreds who agist and prepare the Hammonds’ horses, the colt was knocked down to agent Craig Rounsefell of Boomer Bloodstock for $180,000.

Raced by owners Chris Wells and Bill Andrews, the now 4YO gelding is prepared by leading Western Australian trainer Lindsey Smith who is confident he’ll be equally effective over the 1800 metres of the Kingston Town Classic G1 on 3 December.  

Gerard Hammond agrees. “The family’s distance range is 1800 to 2200 metres, and they don’t peak until they’re five or six, so the best is still ahead of him.” Not A Single Doubt’s progeny also train on and he’s already had four Group winners at 1800 metres and beyond: Single Gaze (ATC Storm Queen S. G1), Gypsy Diamond, My Ex Mate and 2011 Champion Older Horse in Singapore, Always Certain. 

Gerard acknowledges Smith’s management of his new stable star. “I’ve followed Scales Of Justice very closely and when I saw what he was doing at shorter distances, I thought he might be special. But he’s needed time to relax properly during his races and Lindsey has done a terrific job with him.”

Group 1 success won’t tempt the Hammonds to increase their broodmare band beyond an ideal number of five, but Gerard is planning to ring the changes by selling a couple of mares and bringing in some fresh bloodlines. However, Another Show (by Redoute’s Choice’s three-quarter brother Al Maher from Beymatilla) is definitely not for sale!    

Group 1 quinella for Not A Single Doubt

Not A Single Doubt is back in pole position as Australia’s leading active sire after Scales Of Justice and Good Project claimed most of the $1 million prizemoney attached to Saturday’s WATC Railway S. 1600m G1 in Perth.

Scales of Justice, backing up from his 1500-metre Group 3 success a week, and champion Hong Kong jockey Douglas Whyte took early control of the race and never looked like losing it. He won by 2.75 lengths from last year’s winner Good Project, who completed a Group 1 quienlla for Not A Single Doubt.

Watch Scales Of Justice win the WATC Railway S. G1

Douglas Whyte said, “Lindsey gave me all the confidence in the world. He said, ‘If no one leads you lead and if you lead they won’t beat you’.

“He led and put his ears up. He was always going to be a hard nut to crack. When I got to the 300 and pressed the button, he really let down and he’s not done with yet. He’s going up.”

Bred by Gerard & Kathy Hammond, Scales Of Justice is the sixth and final foal of the unraced mare Beymatilla (by Umatilla) and was a $180,000 purchase by Craig Rounsefell’s Boomer Bloodstock from Millford Thoroughbreds at the 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale. He has now won seven of his 13 starts and more than $940,000 for his owners Chris Wells & Bill Andrews, who turned down a substantial Hong Kong offer for the 4YO gelding earlier this year.

Scales Of Justice is Not A Single Doubt’s fifth Group 1 winner and his second this season, after Extreme Choice, brilliant winner of the A.J. Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley in September. With total earnings of almost $4.1 million, Not A Single Doubt is Australia’s current leading active sire, ahead of Fastnet Rock and Snitzel, who shares table lead by stakeswinners with Exceed and Excel – they have eight apiece.

Not A Single Doubt leads Sires' premiership

“It’s surreal,” was how breeder Andrew Ferguson described his experience of watching Extreme Choice win the $1.5 million MRC Blue Diamond S. 1200m G1 on Saturday.

The number 11 gate and being forced to race wide without cover weren’t enough to stop the colt from scoring an outstanding victory in 1:08.95, almost two lengths in front of his stablemate Flying Artie, with the Redoute’s Choice filly Zamzam six lengths away in third place.

Watch Extreme Choice win the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1.

The $900,000 winner’s cheque has swept Extreme Choice’s sire Not A Single Doubt past Street Cry to the head of the Australian General Sires’ premiership with a new figure of $7,244,601. Not A Single Doubt also tops the table by winners (102) and wins (155), and has claimed the No. 1 spot on both the 2YO & 3YO Sires’ lists.

The result was a career highlight for Mick Price who trained the quinella and, with his Bloodstock Manager Luke Wilkinson, bought Extreme Choice for $100,000 from the Bell River Thoroughbreds draft at the 2015 Inglis Classic Sale. 

Bell River, near Wellington in central NSW, is owned & managed by Andrew Ferguson and his wife Georgie who bred Extreme Choice in partnership with good friends Lloyd Walker & Bob Hogno.

The colt’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). She has a yearling filly by Duporth, a weanling colt by Smart Missile and is back in foal to Not A Single Doubt.

Unbeaten in three starts, Extreme Choice has now earned almost $1.3 million for his owners Anthony Bongiorno, Matthew Davidson, Anthony Davis, Dennis Foley, Louie Gonzy, Karen & Ross Greer, Paul Horton, Gary Jones, George MacDonald, Paul Marsh, Arch Staver, Jim Turner, Dennis Turner, Shane Walter, Matthew Ward, Brad & Lisa Wheeler, Luke Wilkinson & the Newgate Farm Extreme Choice Syndicate.

Extreme Choice is Not A Single Doubt’s third Group 1 winner after Miracles Of Life and Good Project, and Fell Swoop did his very best to become the fourth, in the race after the Blue Diamond, the $500,000 MRC Oakleigh Plate 1400m G1. He went down by the narrowest of margins to a very determined and deserving winner Flamberge.

Between the two Caulfield features, Good Project was third in the $150,000 ATC Liverpool City Cup 1300m G3 and, earlier in the day, 3YO filly Single Gaze split Ghisoni and Stay With Me in the $175,000 ATC Surround S. 1400m G2.

On Friday evening Secret Agenda, another member of Not A Single Doubt’s 2012 crop, was beaten only by the Beneteau filly Almighty Girl in the $150,000 Typhoon Tracy S. 1200m G3.

In total, the Blue Diamond win and four Group placings have added $1,082,000 to Not A Single Doubt’s earnings in just over 20 hours – that’s around $54,000 per hour.

The son of Redoute’s Choice has four colts and three fillies on offer at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale which starts on Sunday. They include a powerfully built colt from Time To Move in the Arrowfield draft, Lot 396.

A Good Project for Cup Week

A trip to Melbourne is on the cards for Not A Single Doubt’s 4YO son Good Project, who opened his new season campaign with a strong win over 1200 metres at Rosehill last Saturday.

Settled comfortably by James McDonald on the rails behind the leaders, Good Project took a split between Princefamous and Slate On Edge at the top of the straight and picked up smartly to find the lead just inside the 300-metre mark. He pushed on with plenty of determination to repel the late challenges of Inz’N’Out and Music Magnate and win by three-quarters of a length in 1:09.36.

Watch Good Project’s win at Rosehill.

Although this was only his third win, Good Project has been admirably consistent, finishing out of the first three in only five of his 16 starts.

Trainer Chris Waller said, “He’s a colt that’s shown us potential so we’ll just see where his rating is after today and try get another soft win. We love taking horses down for Cup week and it’s quite possible this horse will head there.”

Bred by Richard Pietrykowski from the winner Euchre (by Final Card), Good Project is a half-brother to five winners including dual Singapore Group winner World Airlines (10 wins) and stakes-placed Singapore winner Alacarte (11 wins). He is Not A Single Doubt’s equal second top-priced yearling, sold from the Fairhill Farm draft for $300,000 at the 2013 Inglis Melbourne Sale.

Good Project is owned by Macau businessman C.C. Lai whose red & yellow silks have also been carried by Sydney Cup winner Grand Marshal and Group 2 winner Delectation.

Good Project joins two other members of Not A Single Doubt’s 2011 crop, Fell Swoop (already a stakeswinner at Moonee Valley this month) and Strong Hand, as well as 3YO fillies Themis & Secret Agenda to give their sire a strong presence in upcoming Spring features.

Less than seven weeks into the new Australian season, Not A Single Doubt leads the Australian General Sires’ table by wins (34) and shares the lead on 28 winners with Fastnet Rock.