Smart Hong Kong debut by Arrowfield graduate

On paper, Race 2 at Sha Tin on Sunday evening was a modest (at least in Hong Kong terms, with prizemoney of $A140,000) Class 4 handicap over 1200 metres.

It attracted special attention because of the debut of this year’s Hong Kong International Sale-topper, the Starcraft-Top Cuban colt bought for $360,000 from Arrowfield’s 2014 Inglis Easter draft by the Hong Jockey Club.

He was then purchased by Liu Yu Wen for $HK8.5 million (~$A1.4 million) at the Hong Kong Sale last March and sent to trainer David Hall. The now 4YO gelding’s excellent lead-up work and two barrier trials ensured considerable interest in his first raceday appearance.

Jing Jing Win could hardly have made it look easier. He jumped out smartly and took up the running, but jockey Zac Purton was happy to let Gainfuljet cross over into the lead, allowing Jing Jing Win to settle comfortably behind him.

Purton slipped the favourite off the fence before the turn, putting him in the perfect position to attack and attack he did, just before the 300-metre mark, powering away to win by 4 lengths in 1:09.51. Three-time Hong Kong winner Winning Boy was second and Gainfuljet was third.

Watch Jing Jing Win score on debut at Sha Tin.

While acknowledging Jing Jing Win’s evident ability, David Hall did not overplay the performance. “He’s got a bit of talent, he’s done the job nicely first time and now he’s got to build on it.”

For Paul Favretto, who bred Jing Jing Win with Paul Rowe, there is much to look forward to.

He said, “We’re excited to own a mare that can produce such athletic and talented sons and for all involved: Jing Jing Win’s owner, trainer and Arrowfield. 

“We’re looking forward to seeing what he can achieve in Hong Kong, the debut of his Redoute’s Choice half-brother for Shadwell, how her Snitzel colt develops ahead of next year’s sales and her next foal by Redoute’s Choice.”

Messrs Favretto & Rowe are familiar with major Hong Kong success: they’re also co-breeders of Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup G1 winner Contentment (Hussonet-Jemison).

Top Cuban (by Anabaa) has already left Group 3 winner Havana to Starcraft and her $1.5 million Inglis Easter colt by Redoute’s Choice, named Eltizaam, will race for Sheikh Hamdan from the Hayes & Dabernig stable.

Arrowfield graduates top Hong Kong Sale

The only two Arrowfield graduates in Friday evening’s Hong Kong International Sale have topped the results of the auction, which grossed $HK100.5 million, 5.9% up on last year’s figure, for 24 lots. 

The top price of $HK8.5 million ($1,455,479) was paid by businessman Liu Yu Wen for the athletic 3YO Starcraft gelding out of Top Cuban, bred by Paul Favretto & Paul Rowe and sold by Arrowfield for $360,000 at the 2014 Inglis Easter Sale. 

This is the all-time highest price for any progeny of Starcraft, and the second-highest price ever achieved at the Hong Kong Sale.

A full brother to Group 3 winner Havana, the gelding’s appeal has been enhanced by the recent outstanding performances of another Arrowfield-sold son of Starcraft. That’s Blizzard, unplaced in Sunday evening’s Hong Kong Derby HK-1,  but otherwise a top-three finisher in 11 of his 15 starts for earnings of $HK7.7 million.

Top Cuban has an impressive Redoute’s Choice colt catalogued as Lot 113 in Arrowfield’s draft for this year’s Inglis Easter Sale.

Ho Ka Kui Boniface paid the Sale’s second-highest price of $HK7 million ($1,198,630) for the 2YO colt by Manhattan Rain from La Bamba.

A half-brother to Hong Kong star Inspiration & Australian Guineas G1 winner Wandjina, he was a $700,000 purchase from Arrowfield’s offering at the 2015 Inglis Easter Sale.  La Bamba’s yearling filly by Snitzel has been retained by the Stud.

Arrowfield will offer another superbly bred Manhattan Rain colt as Lot 233 at next month’s Easter Sale. He’s out of  Charming Estelle, full sister to Australian Horse of the Year Lankan Rupee.

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.