Animal Kingdom's first Australian Group 1 performer

A decade after Horse of the Year Weekend Hussler scored the fourth of his 7 Group 1 victories, his half-brother by Animal Kingdom came very close to securing his own Group 1 success at the same track for owner and breeder Katsumi Yoshida.

Peaceful State’s sustained effort at the end of Saturday’s $1 million VRC Australian Guineas 1600m G1 put him in the frame, only a half-length from the winner Grunt, and two lengths ahead of third-placed Bring Me Roses.

Watch Peaceful State run 2nd in the VRC Australian Guineas G1
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Jockey Brad Rawiller said of Peaceful State’s run, “Geez, he was good. I couldn’t have asked for a better run following the winner. We got that run but he (Grunt) was better on the day, but my bloke still isn’t fully seasoned yet. Down the track, there will be a Group I for him.”

All going well Peaceful State will get his next Group 1 opportunity within the next few weeks, and trainer Darren Weir is confident the longer distances of the Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby will suit him.

It’s been a good week for Animal Kingdom, now fifth on the Second Season Sires’ table after Peaceful State’s contribution and two new winners, Table Mountain and Scarlet Image.

Peaceful State is Animal Kingdom’s second Group 1 performer after US colt & Kentucky Derby contender Untamed Domain, also a Grade 2 winner and a likely starter in next Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby G2.

Animal Kingdom’s third crop yearlings have already sold up to the $240,000 paid by Heinrich Bloodstock for the colt ex Butters at Magic Millions. Other 2018 buyers include Australian Bloodstock, Paul Perry, Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott and Paul Willetts.

Animal Kingdom has a filly out of city winner Merge (by Commands) in the Bucklee Farm draft going through the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale-ring this week.

His seven lots catalogued for Inglis Easter include a half-brother to Group 2 winner Scarlet Rain in the Arrowfield draft and Tartan Fields’ colt out of Group 1 winner Plucky Belle.

Tribute to Champion Sire Hussonet

Champion sire Hussonet, responsible for 30 Group 1 winners among 96 lifetime stakeswinners, died at Cornerstone Stud, South Australia on Monday morning.

The 25-year-old son of Mr. Prospector leaves an imposing stud record in Chile and Australia, and son & daughters creating a wonderful legacy in both countries.

Hussonet was bred by Peter Brant & Julian Schnabel from the 1987 Champion US 3YO Filly Sacahuista, the grand-daughter of a sister to US Hall of Famer Shuvee and later the dam of Group 1 winner & sire Ekraar. 

Trained by Bill Mott for Sheikh Mohammed, Hussonet achieved the modest status of stakes-placed winner on the racetrack, but proved a spectacular success at stud, winning seven premierships in Chile before his purchase by Arrowfield Stud in 2003. He stood seven seasons at Arrowfield before his 2010 sale to Cornerstone.

His ten Australian-bred crops of racing age have produced the winners of more than $53 million, including 36 stakeswinners headed by six Group 1 winners: Horse of the Year Weekend Hussler, Eagle Falls (MRC Oakleigh Plate G1), Gold Trail (ARC Railway H. G1), Hong Kong stars Glorious Days & Contentment and MRC Blue Diamond S. G1 winner Reaan, as well as multiple Singapore domestic Group 1 winner Stepitup.

Given that Hussonet’s progeny tend to improve with age, the runners to come from his last few crops, his sire sons Husson, Host & Rios and his excellent broodmare daughters (49 stakeswinners, including 10 Group 1 winners), his record is well short of final. 

Arrowfield Chairman John Messara says, “Hussonet was probably the most left-field stallion purchase Arrowfield has ever made – even I took some persuasion to consider a Champion Sire from Chile! However, when I analysed South American racing, his performance and his pedigree more closely, I realised he was something special.

“His very significant contribution to Australian breeding and racing remains evident this season, when he’s been represented by Hong Kong Group 1 winner Contentment & Singapore Horse of the Year Stepitup, and as a damsire by 2YO Group winner Honesty Prevails, Listed winner Selenia and, of course, the Blue Diamond winner Extreme Choice.  He’s also the damsire of our exciting new stallion Panzer Division.

 “From all of us at Arrowfield, thank you Hussonet for a great job well & truly done.”

Farewell Weekend Beauty

Weekend Beauty, dam of 2008 Australian Horse of the Year Weekend Hussler, died on Monday at the age of fifteen.

The last of her seven foals, a colt by Animal Kingdom, was born at Arrowfield on 14 November and has been fostered.

Arrowfield Bloodstock Manager Jon Freyer says, “Weekend Beauty was a very special mare for us, she almost single-handedly justified Arrowfield’s selection and purchase of Hussonet, and gave Australia the champion racehorse Weekend Hussler, whose extraordinary 2007/08 season will be long remembered.”

Weekend Beauty was bred by Katsumi Yoshida and owned by the Arrowfield-Jungle Pocket partnership. An unraced daughter of Arc winner Helissio and the very good Group-winning filly Not On Friday (by At Talaq), Weekend Beauty was a half-sister to Group 3 winners Phantom Thief and Saturday Fever.

Weekend Beauty’s fifth dam was the New Zealand Broodmare of the Year Wuthering Heights, celebrated as the dam of 1970s champion Battle Heights, and grand-dam of Group 1 winner Noble Heights.

Weekend Hussler was his dam’s second foal, born at Arrowfield on 3 November 2004 in the first Australian crop of Hussonet, the champion sire of Chile who had been purchased by Arrowfield a year earlier.

Sent as a yearling to the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale, the bay colt was an $80,000 buy from the Arrowfield draft by trainer Ross McDonald. The price was below the average figure achieved by Hussonet’s first yearlings, but there was nothing average about the subsequently gelded Weekend Hussler.

An educational fourth placing at Sale marked his debut in August 2007, and he progressed rapidly from his second-start win at Cranbourne and a pair of city wins to Group 1 victories in the Caulfield Guineas and the Coolmore Stud Stakes at his fifth and sixth starts.

Five more Group 1 wins from 1100 to 1800 metres followed in the next ten months until 20 September 2008, when he won the Underwood Stakes, which was to be his last success before his eventual retirement in October 2010. “The Hussler” signed off with career prizemoney of just over $3 million earned in twelve wins and one placing from 21 starts.

He achieved a 122 rating on the 2008 World Thoroughbred Rankings, and an annual Timeform figure of 130 in the 2007/08 season.

Weekend Beauty’s three other named foals include Weekend Hussler’s year-older half-sister Talaq Dancer, successful in Adelaide and the dam of multiple Group winner Lucky Hussler (by Hussonet’s son Husson).

Arrowfield and Jungle Pocket will offer Weekend Beauty’s penultimate foal, a stunning bay filly by Redoute’s Choice, at the 2015 Inglis Easter Sale.

The partnership continues to breed from Weekend Beauty’s half-sister Any Other Day (by Redoute’s Choice), who produced a Charge Forward filly last month, and has been served by Dundeel.

Arrowfield also owns Weekend Hussler’s only full sister, Good Weekend, who has a Smart Missile yearling filly and foaled a colt by Snitzel in October.

A Superlative Record of Group One Graduates

When Miracles of Life won the MRC Blue Diamond S. G1 in February this year she made several kinds of history.

She is the first Group 1 winner by Not A Single Doubt, bred and raced by Arrowfield, and now a rising star on the Stud’s stallion roster.

She is the second Blue Diamond winner for her owner-breeder Muzaffar Yaseen who won the race 14 years ago with Arrowfield’s champion sire, and paternal grand-sire of Miracles of Life, Redoute’s Choice.

The diminutive chestnut filly is also the 43rd Group 1 winner bred, raised and/or sold by Arrowfield.

The Group 1 winners began appearing very soon after John Messara established Arrowfield Stud. Two of the first horses to carry the “jockey cap over diamonds” brand were Australian Guineas G1 winner Zabeel, and four-time Group 1 winner Dr Grace, both bred in partnership with Robert Sangster and foaled in 1986. Both became Group 1 sires, but Zabeel earned champion status 15 years ago and has exerted a beneficent influence on Australasian distance racing ever since.

Group 1 winners Danzero, Danewin and his Group 3-winning brother Commands are other significant sires found on Arrowfield’s honour roll, while more recent graduates Reaan and Master of Design are in the early stages of their stud careers.

There are several famous fillies among Arrowfield graduates too. The Stud’s brand was carried to three historic Melbourne Cup victories by Tony Santic‘s champion mare Makybe Diva, who spent 15 months of her early life at Arrowfield.

Golden Slipper winners Belle du Jour and Forensics were raised and sold by the Stud, while bred-and-sold graduates include champion 2YO filly Fashions Afield and Arrowfield’s million-dollar yearling Sunday Joy, winner of the Australian Oaks, and dam of champion mare More Joyous (eight Group 1 wins).

Proud as he is of Arrowfield’s superlative record as a nursery of elite performers, John Messara is most interested in the myriad relationships behind them. Three horses, a filly, a colt and a gelding illustrate how important those relationships have been to Arrowfield’s success.

In June 1988 a 4YO chestnut mare called Rolls arrived at Arrowfield after travelling from the United States via New Zealand where she conceived to champion sire Star Way. By Mr. Prospector from Grand Luxe, a daughter of the blue hen Fanfreluche, Rolls was to have a spectacular impact on Australian breeding.

Her first Australian-born foal was a filly named Shoal Creek, the future dam of champion sire Encosta de Lago, and in 1992 she delivered a colt in the second crop of Danehill. Between those two foalings, Rolls passed from the ownership of the New Zealand-based Ra Ora Stud to Arrowfield. John Messara says of the Danehill colt, “He was magnificent from the day he was born and when we offered him for sale, I put together a syndicate of long-time clients and supporters to compete in the market, which we do from time to time for colts we particularly like, and buy him for $160,000.”

Named Flying Spur for the turbo-charged version of the famous Rolls Royce Silver Spur, the colt was trained in Melbourne by Australian Hall of Famer Lee Freedman. He progressed quickly from his debut win in November 1994 to Group 3 winner to Blue Diamond runner-up, to winner of the 1995 Golden Slipper G1, beating subsequent Horse of the Year Octagonal.

Flying Spur returned at three to take his speed out to 1600 metres and win the VRC Australian Guineas and AJC All Aged Stakes at Group 1 level before retiring to stud in 1996. He was withdrawn from service at the age of 20 before the 2012 season.

Champion Sire of Australia in 2007, Flying Spur has 89 stakeswinners to his name, 11 of them Group 1 winners, and is now building an imposing second-generation record. His daughters have already produced 42 stakeswinners (4 Group 1) and his son Casino Prince is the sire of multiple Group 1 winner All Too Hard, who will serve his first book of mares in Australia this spring.

During the past decade Arrowfield’s growing stallion power has attracted the attention of major international breeders interested in the kind of joint ventures that proved so successful for Robert Sangster in the 1980s.

In 2003 the late HH Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum’s Gainsborough Stud and Arrowfield bred a bay filly by Redoute’s Choice from Forest Pearl, an unraced daughter of Woodman and the 1995 Epsom Oaks G1 winner Moonshell.

John Messara recalls, “Gainsborough sent us beautifully bred mares and Forest Pearl’s filly was the most wonderful looker and a great mover.”

The filly was consigned in the Arrowfield draft at the 2005 Inglis Australian Easter Sale and Messara prepared to buy her outright, with the help of close friends, stockbroker John Leaver and broadcaster Alan Jones.

In a curious twist of fate, Arrowfield outbid Sheikh Hamdan’s manager Angus Gold to secure the filly for $450,000, and was under-bidder on a Redoute’s Choice colt from Candide purchased from Edinglassie Sud for $700,000 – by Angus Gold.

Ten months later Sheikh Hamdan’s colt, Nadeem defeated the filly, Miss Finland in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes. It was the only time the pair ever met, as Nadeem’s career was cut short by injury.

Miss Finland went on to triumph in the STC Golden Slipper G1 and claim the title of Champion 2YO. The following season she won seven of her 11 starts including the VRC Oaks, VRC Australian Guineas and two other Group 1 races to earn a final accolade of Champion 3YO Filly.

The day after Miss Finland’s last win in the spring of 2007, a gelded bay son of Hussonet and Weekend Beauty won a provincial maiden race in Victoria. It marked the start of a remarkable 12 months for Weekend Hussler, named the 2008 Australian Horse of the Year, and rated the world’s best 3YO sprinter after winning seven Group 1 races from 1200 to 1800 metres.

Weekend Hussler’s Timeform figure of 130 is the highest achieved by any Arrowfield graduate, and an outstanding result for the Stud’s relationship with Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm

It was Arrowfield that encouraged Mr Yoshida to extend his Australian racing interests to breeding by way of the joint venture which sent Weekend Beauty, an unraced daughter of Helissio, to Hussonet in 2003. The resulting colt was sold as a yearling for $80,000 to Melbourne trainer Ross McDonald whose owners banked just over $3 million during Weekend Hussler’s 21-start career. 

The Arrowfield/Northern Farm joint venture also bred and sold Hussonet’s Group 1 2YO winner Reaan and has enjoyed conspicuous success this season as the breeder of Group 2-winning fillies Sweet Idea and Flying Snitzel.

A similar venture with HH The Aga Khan produced this season’s promising 3YO colt Vadashan whose sire Redoute’s Choice has just completed his first northern hemisphere season at the Aga Khan’s Stud in France.

As John Messara says, “The winner’s circle is not so much fun if you’re alone there, and the Group 1 winners that mean most to Arrowfield are always those we breed or race with other people.”