Owner-breeder celebrates Havana's Group success

It’s typical of co-breeder and part-owner Paul Favretto that he should acknowledge everyone’s achievement except his own after Havana’s success in the $125,000 BRC Fred Best Classic 1350m G3 at Doomben on Saturday.

It was, in fact, his first stakes win as a breeder, but Paul’s first response was, “Great for the mare, stallion, stud and trainer most of all.”

Havana’s story begins with the filly Top Cuban, who was raced by Paul and good friend Paul Rowe with limited success – to be precise, one win from 13 starts. However, her pedigree (by Anabaa and descended from the US Grade 1-winning mare & producer Weber City Miss) offered hope of redemption as a broodmare.

So the two Pauls sent Top Cuban to Starcraft in 2009 and got a handsome bay colt with abundant athleticism and charisma. The decision was made to sell him at the 2012 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale where he was knocked down for $290,000 to Blue Sky Thoroughbreds for their 2012 Stallion Fund.

Both Arrowfield and Paul Favretto took shares in Havana’s ownership, and added a third Paul to the story by sending him to the Scone stable of Paul Messara.

Havana’s ability was seen early in a couple of trial wins and a third placing in Criterion’s ATC Todman S. G2 in March 2013, followed by a frustrating string of unplaced efforts in black type company. The benefits of a gelding operation last Spring were evident immediately upon Havana’s return to racing in March when he broke his maiden by 4 lengths at Canterbury.

At Doomben on Saturday Havana enjoyed a good passage behind the leaders and let down powerfully in the straight to win by a length from In The Red (by Not A Single Doubt) and Dothraki.

Winning jockey Luke Nolen told Sky Racing, “I rode him once before when he was a real juvenile. I rode a placing on him when he was still a colt. I liked him then, they cut him, and I think that’s been the making of him. He’s a smart horse.”

The $350,000 Queensland Guineas G2 at Eagle Farm on 31 May is Havana’s likely next target.

In the meantime Paul Favretto & Paul Rowe can celebrate a very rewarding couple of months with Top Cuban. Havana’s yearling full brother was bought for $360,000 by the Hong Kong Jockey Club from Arrowfield’s Inglis Easter draft, and Top Cuban is in foal to Redoute’s Choice.

Havana is the 15th stakeswinner, and one of 3 stakes performers in eight days for Starcraft, who stands the 2014 season at a fee of $11,000 inc. GST.

New stakes performer for Starcraft

Starkiato has done well for Adelaide trainer Lloyd Kennewell and deservedly became Starcraft’s 26th stakes performer when he ran second to the talented Rhythm To Spare in Saturday’s $150,000 SAJC R.A. Lee S. 1600m G3.

The 5YO gelding (ex Okiato by Flying Spur) has won six races, earned more than $160,000 and now joins stable star Conservatorium on the journey to Brisbane for a Queensland winter campaign.

Earlier this year Kennewell Racing purchased Mill Park’s scopey Starcraft-Bella Cassani filly with the aim of developing her for 3YO classic racing.

Starcraft had two other stakes performers on Saturday, both of them adding to previous efforts in black type company. The John Hyam-trained 4YO mare Stella Lante (ex Villa Lante by Filante) was 3rd in the SAJC Centaurea S. 2006m LR, her fifth stakes placing in a three-season career that has garnered more than $220,000.

Stella Lante’s breeder Tori Park Stud has a weanling colt by Starcraft from Villa Lante.

Paul Messara sent Havana (ex Top Cuban by Anabaa) to Doomben confident of a good run in the BRC Mick Dittman Plate 1110m LR and that’s what the 3YO gelding delivered when he finished second to previous track & distance winner Agitate. Havana is likely to back up in next Saturday’s $125,000 BRC Fred Best Classic G3, also at Doomben.

Havana’s lookalike full brother was purchased by the Hong Kong Jockey Club from Arrowfield’s 2014 Inglis Easter draft for $360,000, but that was only the second-highest price for a Starcraft yearling this year. Mill Park’s filly from Dane Belltar sold to David Redvers for $650,000, the highest price ever paid for a yearling by the sire of dual Group 1 winners Star Witness and We Can Say It Now.

Starcraft stands the 2014 season at a fee of $11,000 inc. GST.

Starcraft's son targets Autumn riches

Havana’s easy four-length victory at Canterbury on Wednesday was more than usually satisfying for his co-breeder Paul Favretto and fellow owners including Arrowfield and Blue Sky Thoroughbreds.

The handsome 3YO son of Starcraft showed his trainer Paul Messara abundant early ability and was third in the ATC Todman S. G2 as a juvenile. However, a lack of concentration undermined his raceday performances and after a frustrating Spring campaign, the decision was made to geld him.

The result was today’s sparkling win. Jockey Nash Rawiller took Havana forward from his wide barrier and they controlled the pace comfortably, then sprinted quickly at the 300-metre mark to put the race beyond doubt. Havana, who carried topweight of 59.5 kg, cut out the 1100 metres in 1:03.57, and posted 34.65 for his final 600, despite being eased down over the final fifty metres.

Paul Favretto was both thrilled and relieved. “We all thought he could win that well and I’m so glad for Paul [Messara], he’s always had massive faith in him and presented him looking magnificent today.

“He’s a totally different horse now, he really wants to race, and Nash was surprised by the way he clicked up a gear in the straight.”

Paul bred Havana in partnership with Paul Rowe and kept a share in him after he was purchased for $290,000 by Blue Sky at the 2012 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. Arrowfield will offer Havana’s full brother as Lot 255 at next month’s Inglis Australian Easter Sale. The Arrowfield draft includes another two Starcraft colts, full brothers to dual stakeswinner Ain’tnofallenstar and Group 3 winner Lunar Rise.

Paul Favretto says of the Top Cuban yearling, “Like Havana, he’s blossomed during his sale prep and is a very athletic mover.” Top Cuban (by Anabaa) is now in foal to Redoute’s Choice.

At this stage, Havana’s Autumn targets are the Darby Munro S. LR over 1200 metres at Rosehill on 29 March, and the $500,000 Royal Sovereign S. G2 at the same distance on the second day of The Championships at Randwick, 19 April.

Starcraft was also represented today by 2YO filly Shantra (ex Shantreusse by Danehill), who made a pleasing debut, finishing second at Kyneton for owners including Brad Spicer and her breeder Suez Thoroughbreds.