The Magic continues for Redoute's Choice

A new Classic prospect in France and a senior sprint star in Australia have added the latest flourishes to the remarkable record of champion sire Redoute’s Choice.

On Saturday star Western Australian sprinter Rock Magic  became the first horse in 25 years to win consecutive runnings of the $150,000 Roma Cup 1200m  G3. Rock Magic’s stablemates Battle Hero and Durendal completed the trifecta. 

The race is extra-special for trainer Chris Gangemi and his brother Michael because their grandfather Michele helped to introduce the Roma Cup in 1966. 

Chris said, “The trifecta’s an unbelievable result. To get the job done I’m sure nonno, dad and the whole family would be proud.”

“Rocky looks like he’s getting better as he’s getting older which is ridiculous.”

Rock Magic and Battle Hero will meet again on 2 June in the Belmont Sprint G3 – also won by Rock Magic in 2017.

Bred by Arrowfield’s partnership with John Leaver, Rock Magic began his career with Paul Messara who prepared him to win four races before his sale as a late 4YO to the Gangemi stable. Now rising nine, he has rewarded his large group of Perth owners with 10 wins, eight of them Group or Listed Races.

He’s also won enough prizemoney to join the elite group of 15 million-dollar earners by Redoute’s Choice, a group headed by 2006 Champion 2YO Miss Finland & 2014 Horse of the Year Lankan Rupee. 

Rock Magic is one of only three living foals out of Group 1 winner Rockabubble (by Bubble Gum Fellow) who continues to live in happy retirement at Arrowfield. 

On Friday Redoute’s Choice’s French-bred daughter Lady Athena, a debut 2YO winner last season, showed a lovely turn of foot to score over 2100m at Chantilly, inspiring a tweeted comment from her trainer Yan Durepaire, “The French Oaks has always been on our mind, hopefully that will be next run!”

The French Oaks (Prix de Diane) is held at Chantilly on 17 June. 

Although she was foaled in France by the stakes-winning Monsun mare Monblue, Lady Athena has connections with Australia beyond Redoute’s Choice. She is a home-bred for John Hutchins of the Queensland farm Element Hill, also responsible for 2010 Australian Horse of the Year Typhoon Tracy. 

Monblue was a €400,000 purchase from the 2013 Arqana Breeding Stock Sale by Damon Gabbedy’s Belmont Bloodstock for Element Hill. She  delivered a colt by Soldier Hollow in 2014 and then visited Redoute’s Choice  during his second and final season at Haras de Bonneval. 

Another exciting Redoute’s Choice 3YO in Europe is the John Gosden-trained colt Sevenna Star, winner of the Sandown Classic Trial G3 on 27 April and heading to the King Edward S. G2 at next month’s Royal Ascot meeting.  

So far in 2017/18, Redoute’s Choice has compiled 12 winners of 13 stakes races in Australia & Europe, with Time’s Arrow (France), Sevenna Star, Glenall (New South Wales) and Rock Magic all successful within the past month. 

The three-time Champion Sire ended the weekend with a pedigree update from Japan, where Silk Racing’s outstanding filly Almond Eye raced away with the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) G1 in near-record time. Like Redoute’s Choice, Almond Eye (by Lord Kanaloa) is descended from 1982 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Best In Show.

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.

Wandjina a gallant sixth at Royal Ascot

Almost exactly 12 years after Choisir began the antipodean invasion of Royal Ascot, 3YO colts Brazen Beau & Wandjina carried the Australian flag with distinction in Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes, held over six furlongs on the Straight Course.

Brazen Beau, trained by Chris Waller and ridden by Craig Williams for 38 owners managed by Grant Morgan’s Ontrack Thoroughbreds, raced alone on the near side for much of the race and found plenty to withstand every challenge except that of Undrafted who caught him only in the final strides.

Wandjina, trained by Gai Waterhouse and ridden by Damien Oliver for Edmund & Belinda Bateman, sat just behind the leaders and when the pressure came on up up the rise, he responded generously to finish sixth.

Wandjina (Snitzel-La Bamba by Last Tycoon) was a $1 million purchase from Arrowfield for the Batemans by bloodstock agent James Harron at the 2013 Inglis Easter Sale.

Sent to champion trainer Gai Waterhouse, the bay colt named for spirits of the Aboriginal Dreamtime won the second of his four juvenile starts in Sydney. He has raced only in stakes company ever since, but did not earn black type until last Spring when he was an eye-catching third in the MRC Caulfield Guineas 1600m G1, only 1.3 lengths from Shooting to Win.

Wandjina returned in February to dominate the pace and defy all his rivals in both the VRC CS Hayes S. G3 and the VRC Australian Guineas G1. He signed off on his Australian career with a fighting second in Dissident’s ATC All Aged S. G1 on 18 April, and will stand at Newgate Farm this Spring.

Snitzel joined his sire on the Arrowfield roster in 2006 and is now the sire of 31 stakeswinners, six of them successful at Group 1 level: Shamus Award (Cox Plate & Australian Guineas), Snitzerland (Lightning Stakes), Sweet Idea (The Galaxy), Hot Snitzel (BTC Cup), Sizzling (TJ Smith Stakes) and Wandjina.

In 2013/14 Redoute’s Choice and Snitzel completed an historic 1-2 finish on the Australian General Sires’ Premiership – the first time that has been achieved by a father-son combination.

This year in April Snitzel topped the Inglis Easter Sale for the first time, with not one, but two colts, sold for $2.2 million and $1.8 million.

Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel and his second Arrowfield-based son Not A Single Doubt are all among Australia’s top 10 sires this season, with combined totals of 26 stakeswinners and more than $21 million prizemoney.


Wandjina's breeder in expansion mode

As Wandjina prepares for the Royal Ascot Diamond Jubilee Stakes, the Hunter Valley farm that bred him is getting ready to expand its business off the back of a spectacular season.

Arrowfield Stud has completed the construction of an additional 40 yearling runs at its Sales Centre to create one of the best yearling preparation units in the southern hemisphere.  Further work is being undertaken to improve internal roads and paddock layouts, and enable the Stud to stand up to 16 stallions. Arrowfield currently stands ten stallions, headed by Redoute’s Choice and his sons Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt.

Paul Messara, who took up the Stud Manager’s role a year ago, says, “We achieved record fertility on the farm last Spring and we’ve had a wonderful run with the stallions on the track and in the ring this season. Stallion-making is our core business and we plan to keep investing in it.”

Arrowfield, selling in its own right and on behalf of clients, was the leading yearling vendor in Australasia this season, grossing more than $18 million at the major sessions of the Magic Millions Gold Coast, Inglis Melbourne Premier & Inglis Easter Sales. Yearlings by stallions on the Stud’s current roster have returned almost $70 million to their vendors in 2015.

Wandjina was purchased from Arrowfield by James Harron for Edmund & Belinda Bateman at the 2013 Inglis Easter Sale for $1 million, making him Snitzel’s first seven-figure yearling.  Paul says, “He was an outstanding colt, as good as you’d ever see at a sale.”

The Australian Guineas winner is one of four Arrowfield-bred and -sold Group 1 stars this season, alongside Hot Snitzel & Sweet Idea (also by Snitzel), and brilliant South African filly Majmu (by Redoute’s Choice). Arrowfield’s thirty-year record of Group 1-winning graduates now stands at 54 – forty of them bred by the Stud.

La Bamba, dam of Wandjina, Inspiration (Hong Kong Sprint G1) and stakeswinners Lucky Unicorn and Provence, is the fourth Arrowfield mare to leave two Group 1 winners, after Eloquent Edition (dam of Daney Boy & Magic Of Sydney), Lady Giselle (Baryshnikov & Zabeel) and Urge To Merge (Suntagonal & Master Of Design). Now rising 21, La Bamba has a lovely weanling filly by Snitzel that will be retained by Arrowfield.

Messara is very familiar with what’s required to compete in major UK races, as the trainer of Ortensia (2012 York Nunthorpe S. G1 & Goodwood King George S. G2) and Alverta (3rd, 2010 July Cup G1).

He says, “It’s important for Australian horses to keep competing in England, but it’s a very tough task to win any of their big sprints.

“The main challenges are the tracks and their style of racing, because the pressure comes on very early and doesn’t let up, and the undulating tracks make it difficult for horses to maintain their balance. Wandjina’s ability to lead and win over 1600 metres is a plus for him and Gai has kept him fresh, so he’s set to produce his best effort.”

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes will be shown on Sky Racing 1 & Sky Thoroughbred Central at 1.20 am AEST on Sunday morning.

John Messara's impressions of Royal Ascot 2013

I was asked by an Australian journalist if there were any aspects of the Royal Ascot meeting which we could adopt for Sydney racing; I found it difficult to give a response!

The fact is the Royal Week at Ascot is a spectacle of many parts. Its success lies in the sum of these parts – it’s not divisible. The pageantry of the carriage procession, the scope and beauty of the facilities, the testing nature of the track, the quality of the equine athletes, the dress and demeanour of those in attendance and the sing song after the last race, all go to making Royal Ascot an event that cannot be replicated in whole or in part. In other words, we need to create our own, equally original event in Sydney.

This year we attended as owners, again chasing that elusive Group win at the holy of holies – but it was not to be. Dismayed but not deterred, we will try again! It’s that sort of place. Foreign owners are very well treated at Ascot, and receive an extraordinary level of personal attention.

We were enthralled in this Royal Ascot renewal by a number of special moments: the joy of the Queen’s victory with Estimate in the Ascot Gold Cup, a battle royal between two top European 3YO colts in the St James’s Palace Stakes, the victory of Riposte for Lady Jane Cecil after the recent death of the master of Ascot, Sir Henry Cecil, and the sparkling performances by 2YOs War Command and Kiyoshi. These highlights placed the sport of racing, for positive reasons this time, on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

The spoils were shared widely amongst the major stables at Ascot, but the Al Thani family of Qatar was the notable emerging force, with two winners and three placegetters during the meeting.

The pre-Ascot events were also splendid, including the cocktail party at Asprey’s on the eve of the first day, and the luncheon at Highclere Stud on the Sunday. Highclere Stud was established in 1902 by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and is now operated by his great-grand-daughter Lady Carolyn Warren, her husband John Warren and their son Jake. John is Her Majesty The Queen’s bloodstock advisor, and is well known to us in Australia. He is also a director of the successful racing syndication company Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Ltd, owned and managed by Lady Carolyn’s brother, The Hon. Harry Herbert.

I found the Highclere operation to be a highly professional family affair, and the event was attended by a mix of international racing people, including a good number of Australians. A tour of Highclere Castle, a parade of horses and a great luncheon, made for a most pleasant afternoon, leading into the Royal Week.

The five days of super racing in those glorious facilities make Royal Ascot a “can’t miss” destination for enthusiasts from the United Kingdom, Europe and around the world. A total attendance for the meeting of around 300,000 is just one measure of Royal Ascot’s remarkable success.

This is surely one thing we can adopt for the Sydney Autumn – that is, the development of an unmissable week at the end of our Autumn for the racing world, akin to Royal Ascot and Melbourne Cup Week, but infused with our own heritage, style and flavour. The potential benefits of such an event for NSW racing and the state economy are very considerable indeed.