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Australian Thoroughbred Breeders



The first foal, a bay filly, by Gr.1 Kentucky Derby and Gr.1 Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux) arrived at Arrowfield Stud this week. The filly is out of the winning Redoute’s Choice mare Tumble Turn, whose family include Group winner Aliyana Tilde (Snitzel), another who is expecting a foal by the same sire.




magic millions gold coast yearling sale
magic millions gold coast yearling sale

Magic Millions Saturday Night Timelapse / Magic Millions (p)


Magic Millions Sales Complex, Bundall, Queensland

Book 1 and 2

Redoute’s Choice (Aus) was responsible for the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale Book 1 topper when a colt out of Hades (Aus) (Encosta de Lago) fetched A$1 million Friday, and that cross was again to the fore yesterday when lot 818 topped the sheets at A$280,000 (US$251,976) for the sale’s single-session Book 2. The topper fueled a solid day of trade, which posted across-the-board gains. The gross was up A$2,098,500 to A$9,537,000 with 31 more yearlings offered, while the average climbed 3% to A$47,924. The buyback rate decreased to 16.7% from 23%.

From the draft of Arrowfield, the Redoute’s Choice filly is out of the stakes-winning Flame of Sydney (Aus) (Encosta de Lago), who has already produced the Group 1-placed Not Listenin’ to Me (Aus) (Dylan Thomas) on a similar cross. The October-foaled filly was hammered down to Joe O’Neill of Power Thoroughbreds, who cited the pedigree and residual value as a broodmare as attractive, but noted his main target with his new acquisition would come 12 months from now.

“We thought looking at her that she could be a 2-year-old, and we bought her specifically to target next year’s A$2-million Magic Millions 2YO Classic,” said O’Neill, who noted the filly would go into training with Kris Lees. “She’s a lovely filly, she’s very athletic, she has a lovely head and she walks very well,” he said.

The Redoute’s Choice/Encosta de Lago cross has produced Group 1 winner Musir (Aus).

The cross featured again late in the session, when a colt by Redoute’s Choice’s leading sire son Snitzel (Aus) sold for A$150,000 to local bloodstock agent John Foote.

The session-topping filly has at least one competitor already eyeing next year’s Magic Millions 2YO Classic after trainer Gillian Heinrich, the buyer of lot 704, revealed that event as the target for the I Am Invincible (Aus) colt she purchased from Mane Lodge for A$160,000.

“He’s a nice well-balanced colt and looks like an early runner, and he’s out of a nice family,” Heinrich noted. “We’ll get him ready for the Magic Millions next year, hopefully.”

Heinrich, a local Gold Coast trainer, has the credentials to get to the Classic winner’s circle, having stood there in 2010 alongside her charge Military Rose (Aus) (General Nediym). She purchased her newest acquisition under Magic Millions as agent.

I Am Invincible, Australia’s current leading freshman sire, enjoyed a strong Book 1 last week, winding up fifth amongst all sires by average, with seven sold from seven cataloged for an average of A$240,000.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News




Animal Kingdom wins Kentucky Derby
Animal Kingdom wins Kentucky Derby

Click above to watch Animal Kingdom winning the 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1)

(Image and Footage : Kentucky Derby)

“A Kingdom for a Horse”

I have only ever attended two Kentucky Derbies. It is part of the essential education of any budding horseman, and it is one of the fundamental reasons why Kentucky has become the racehorse breeding capital of the world. I “debuted” at what was arguably the greatest Derby of all time, the epic clash between Affirmed and Alydar, and as it happened, it was the opening stanza in what was the most memorable Triple Crown in history. That was 1978, and it took me 33 years to return, courtesy of an invitation from Team Valor’s Barry Irwin. It was prophetic (the invitation, I mean). A highly-charged 165,000 people thronged the Louisville course, part celebration of the horse, and as the chords of “Starspangled Banner” and “My Old Kentucky Home” resonated across that great plain, you knew the nation was also celebrating the vengeance of 9/11 with the death of Osama bin Laden a day or two before.

I used the word “prophetic” advisedly, as Animal Kingdom cruised home that day in the colours of our hosts to a dramatic two and three-quarter length victory over the accomplished Shackleton, to mark the summit in the many chapters of Team Valor’s history. For some years, they’ve topped the racing partnership charts of the world, yet here was one Team Valor not only owned, but they bred him, as well.

John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud in Australia has acquired a majority interest in the breeding rights to the 2011 Kentucky Derby hero and Champion 3-Year-Old Male, who will begin his stud career next September and likely shuttle to the Northern Hemisphere beginning in 2014.

The deal is subject to Animal Kingdom passing importation protocols, which involve blood work that should be finalized in the next few days.

The 20 Team Valor International partners that have reached racing’s pinnacle with the home-bred colt will maintain a significant interest in his stud career. The recent runner-up to Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, Animal Kingdom is slated for the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on 9 February as a prep for the $10-million Dubai World Cup (G1) on 31 March.

After the World Cup, the son of Leroidesanimaux out of Dalicia (by Acatenango) will be flown from Dubai to England and considered for an additional start, possibly at Royal Ascot in June.

John Messara says, “Animal Kingdom excites us as a rare kind of athlete with a truly international pedigree who is able to express his class on a range of surfaces. He is already rated among the world’s elite turf milers and has the potential to become a global superstar in 2013.”

Heavens know what they paid for him. In recent times, horses like Exceed and Excel and Sebring have fetched in excess of $30million Down Under, and while Animal Kingdom will have come at something of a discount to that number in these subdued times, he will nonetheless represent a very tidy sum. Big prices for racehorses are not a revolutionary thing, though; you might recall that, according to one William Shakespeare, King Richard III made an outrageous bid at Bosworth Field in 1485, when he offered his kingdom for a horse. Fortunately, the auctioneer missed the wave of his catalogue, otherwise England may have belonged to someone else these days and there’d have been no Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth in 2012.

Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin fielded a regular stream of offers for Animal Kingdom’s stud career ever since the Kentucky Derby, in which he prevailed by 2¾ lengths as the first horse to conquer America’s great classic in his first start on dirt. He stands to be the only Derby-winning stallion prospect to race as a 5-year-old since Silver Charm, who scored in the 1997 Run for the Roses.

“Originally it was our intention to race Animal Kingdom for the entire 2013 season,” Irwin said. “However, the prospect of getting the support of John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud in the Southern Hemisphere was so meaningful, that I advised my partners to sublimate their fun and take the deal. It is critically important to get a history-making stallion master behind a new prospect and in John Messara we have that. He has developed two of the world’s most successful sires in Danehill and his son, Redoute’s Choice. No way I was going to pass up this opportunity.”

Robin Bruss of South Africa’s Northfields Bloodstock brokered the deal, just as he’d done a decade ago in bringing the Chilean champion, Hussonet, to Arrowfield.

Team Valor will form broodmare partnerships to breed to Animal Kingdom, with the plan of selling and racing his offspring around the globe.

Trained admirably by Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom is a Graded stakes winner on dirt and synthetic racetracks, and he nearly beat a Horse of the Year candidate in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf off a 259-day layoff, overcoming trouble to finish in front of the elite Europeans Excelebration and Moonlight Cloud.

Animal Kingdom also finished second in the 2011 Preakness Stakes. He has finished first or second in 8 of his 9 career starts, the lone exception coming in the Belmont Stakes when he was sandwiched after the break and nearly went down, leading to 8 months on the sidelines with an injury. He has earned $2,327,500.

Extracts from Team Valor International




David Hayes
David Hayes

David Hayes

(Photo : Herald Sun)

“Lindsay Park lost to racing

after 50 years of influence.”

Richard Zachariah
Richard Zachariah

Richard Zachariah

Thoroughbred Daily NewsThe Hayes family ownership of world-renowned Lindsay Park is over. The show-place horse stud and training property in the beautiful wine growing district of the Barossa Valley in South Australia nurtured the careers of leading Australian mentors Colin, Peter and David Hayes for 47 years.

The 1550 acres of rolling pastoral country dotted with soaring, statuesque red gums and a specific infrastructure to house, train and breed racehorses has been sold to an unnamed family uninterested in the horse business for a reported A$10 million plus.

The sold sign was erected last Saturday, a week before the planned auction of the picture-book property. The new buyers will breed cattle, a further blow to the local South Australian Thoroughbred industry which flourished in the booming Hayes heyday of the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

The weekend sale was orchestrated by sole owner David Hayes, who inherited the property from his late father Colin in 1990 and bought out his siblings after a decade of training successfully in Hong Kong from 1995.

David first attempted to to sell the property in June 2010, when he surprisingly relocated to Victoria where he has established a new A$20 million Lindsay Park atrural Euroa, an hour and a half north of Melbourne. The aim was to train using the same methods as Lindsay Park, SA, but be better placed geographically - roughly half way between major racing centers of Melbourne and Sydney.

Yet from the SA base, the Hayes father and son, both Australian Hall of Famers, won a Japan Cup and three Melbourne Cups plus every other Australian Classic with horses trained on the gallops of Lindsay Park, inspired by the English tradition of training on private tracks on private estates.

Despite its English heritage, Lindsay Park’s breeding and training operation under the same roof was revolutionary in Australia when established in 1965 and has led to many others being established similar to Lloyd Williams’ Macedon property outside Melbourne, that this year gave us Cup hero Green Moon. Apart from the privacy and non-rushed atmosphere of the place, Hayes always mentioned to visitors to Lindsay Park (as he did to me on a tour in the late 80s) that horses liked being horses, spending time in open paddocks and sleeping under the stars. He also repeated his mantra that the future belonged to those who planned for it.

Colin Hayes was a character with a work ethic that knew no bounds, and not only did he win continuous Melbourne and Adelaide training premierships, he also set new standards with his sire Without Fear, who broke the world record for 2-year-old winners in1975/76. In that year the stallion sired 30 individual winners of 48 races.

The Hayes dynasty not only unearthed turf stars like Japan Cup winner Better Loosen Up (Loosen Up), the ill-fated champion Dulcify, two-time Cox Pate winner Fields of Omagh (Rubiton), the future champion sire Zabeel (Octagonal) and the only filly ever to win a Golden Slipper and Victorian Oaks, Miss Finland (Redoute’s Choice). Equally importantly, they introduced the likes of Robert Sangster and Sheikh Hamdan to Australian racing.

The trio masterminded the shuttle of international stallions into Australia, now a dominant part of Australian genetics and, of course, reached a pinnacle in the imported Danehill (Danzig) emerging as a breed changing international super-success. Sheikh Hamdan, Sangster and Hayes also pioneered travelling international horses to race in the Melbourne Cup and showed the way with celebrated Cup winners, Sangster’s U.S.-bred Belldale Ball and the Sheikh Hamdan-owned and UK-born and-raised Jeune (Kalaglow).

While David Hayes has expressed sadness about selling the family seat, he is realistic that the racing caravan has moved on from SA and that prize money in the major capitals is three times that available in his home state.

The impact this has on finding new owners and developing the business is enormous and fully recognized by the financial brain of David Hayes, who nevertheless is finding it difficult to re-create the success at Euroa that he had at Lindsay Park, SA.

However he believes that is all about to change, having just posted his 50th winner for the year at not even the half-way mark.

The historic sale includes a 19th century, 38-room three-level homestead and comes only months after the death of Hayes matriarch and mother of David, Betty Hayes, who lived in a house on part of the property now leased by her grandson Sam Hayes for his Cornerstone Stud.

Sam Hayes, a son of the late Peter Hayes, is a trainer in his own right and older brother of David, and will continue to operate Cornerstone with the permission of the new owners, who will honor his lease signed with cousin David until 2016. Said Sam Hayes, “I only heard about it on Friday night. It came out of the blue, but it’s good news for David and Prue ( David’s wife), and we can continue, so that’s good too. I will be fascinated to meet the new owners and see what they plan to do with the farm. At this stage it’s only a guessing game as to who it is,” he added.

A guessing game that now intrigues Australian horse fanciers who are mourning the passing of an era that could only be said was good for the game and especially for the once prominent racing and breeding state of South Australia.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News




Fastnet Rock Stallion
Fastnet Rock Stallion

Fastnet Rock (AUS)

(Photo : Stallions)


With only ten more stakes races and just over three weeks of the current racing season to run, Coolmore’sFastnet Rock (Danehill) looks set for a first Champion Sire of Australia title by earnings and stakes winners.

Fastnet Rock’s progeny have earned $12,223,006 in prize money and 31 stakes wins from 16 individual stakes winners. He is over $3million clear of his nearest rival and last year’s champion sire Lonhro (Octagonal) whose progeny have earned $9,164,253.

Fastnet Rock will become the fifth stallion in the last seven years to win the title, and the third son of Danehill (Danzig) to emulate their great sire who was champion sire on nine occasions. He will also become the first stallion since Encosta de Lago (Fairy King) in the 2007/08 season to finish the season with progeny earnings in excess of $10million.

Much has been written about the exploits of Fastnet Rock this season at stud, one that has seen his current crop of three-year-olds dominate including the Group One winners Atlantic Jewel, Foxwedge, Mosheen and Sea Siren.

Fastnet Rock completed the 2010/2011 season as the tenth leading sire by earnings and has made a notable rise with his progeny with well over double the prize money they earned this season. Other stallions to make significant upward moves this season include, Exceed And Excel (Danehill), currently eighth from 15th in 2010/11, Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice), ninth from 39th in 2010/11, Mossman (Success Express), 11th from 17th in 2010/11 and Magic Albert (Zeditave), 16th from 25th in 2010/11.

The closest contest in the leading sire honours is the race for Leading Sire of Australia by winners. Darley’sCommands (Danehill), who has won the title for the last two seasons, narrowly leads with 133 winners from his barn mate, Lonhro (Octagonal), who is currently on 128 winners. While Lonhro ($3,414,030) also looks set for his first Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds honours by earnings with a clear advantage over Sniztel ($2,830,015).

Patinack Farm’sCasino Prince (Flying Spur) and Husson (Hussonet), are well clear in the First Season Sire Title of Australia by earnings with Casino Prince leading on $645,095 from Husson on $489,950.

Extract from ANZ Bloodstock News




Fastnet Rock Stallion
Fastnet Rock Stallion

Fastnet Rock (AUS)

(Photo : Stallions)


Danehill (USA) - Piccadilly Circus (AUS)

Coolmore shuttler Fastnet Rock was officially the busiest shuttle stallion in 2011, covering no fewer than 364 mares throughout the year.

Fastnet Rock covered 214 mares at a fee of A$132,000 during the Southern Hemisphere season at Coolmore’s Australian base in the Hunter Valley, on top of the 150 mares he covered during his second shuttle trip to Ireland.

Fastnet Rock’s popularity stems from his status as one of Australia’sleading sires. Although still only ten-years-old, the son of Danehill is the sire of 24 stakes winners including eight at Group 1 level. His first European crop are yearlings and he is set to stand his third Irish season at Coolmore at a private fee.

Fellow Coolmore shuttler, So You Think’s sire High Chaparral, was also in demand down under, covering 180 mares at a fee of A$99,000. That figure, however, was a drop from the 2010 Southern Hemisphere season when the son of Sadler’s Wells covered 235 mares, the most served by any stallion in Australia that year.

Excellent Art covered 147 mares while Choisir was the recipient of 157. Darley’s American shuttlers Lonhro and Bernardini were also popular in Australia, with books of 149 and 126 mares.

King’s Stand and Golden Jubilee Stakes runner-up Star Witness had a busy first season, covering 143 mares at a fee of A$33,000 at Widden Stud.

Extract from Racing Post




Ron Gilbert of Highgrove Stud with top Street Sense colt
Ron Gilbert of Highgrove Stud with top Street Sense colt

Ron Gilbert of Highgrove Stud with Aus$440,000 Street Sense Colt

(Image : Highgrave Stud)

“The only colt from Street Sense’s

first Southern Hemisphere crop

to be offered in South Africa.

Diners at House And Leisure / Visa’s Restaurant of the Year, Hartford House, will tell you that their most popular choice among 2010’s new creations is the Warm pink peppercorn seared Springbok loin Salad with fresh beetroot, parmesan spoom, candied Walnuts, foie gras terrine and Black Lava Salt. This dish would never have been the same were it not for the Black Lava Salt, a gift from prominent Australian racehorse breeder, Ron Gilbert.

Sunday, it was Gilbert’s Highgrove Stud’s turn to celebrate, as his colt by the only horse in history to have completed the Breeders Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby double, Street Sense, topped the final select session at the Magic Millions Yearling Sale at Aus$440,000 (+- R3million). Ron Gilbert has a small but highly select broodmare band at his Darling Downs base in Queensland (yes, right in the middle of the flood-ravaged Toowoomba area), and he has been responsible for any number of serious runners in recent seasons, including the 2010 Group One winning sprinter, Wanted.

There’s a twist to this, of course. The only colt from Street Sense’s first Southern Hemisphere crop to be offered in South Africa, is included in the Summerhill draft for the National Sales.


TBA Sales Complex, Gosforth Park, South Africa

15 - 17 April 2011

summerhill stud, south africa
summerhill stud, south africa

For more information please visit :




pluck winning the breeders cup juvenile turf
pluck winning the breeders cup juvenile turf

Click above to watch Pluck winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf…

(Photo : Sky Sports - Footage : Breeders Cup)


More Than Ready (USA) - Secret Heart (SAF)

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Gr 2, 8f) winner Pluck (2 c Secret Heart, by Fort Wood) is scheduled to stand alongside his sire More Than Ready (USA) at Vinery Stud in Australia following his recent acquisition.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Team Valor-homebred came with a big finish in the straight to land the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf having previously won the Summer Stakes (Gr 3, 8f) at Woodbine in Canada.

The colt has since been transferred to Graham Motion and could be targeted towards Europe with the Irish 2,000 Guineas a possible option.

A decision as to when Pluck will retire to stud will be made following his three-year-old campaign.

His dam Secret Heart is a stakes winner in South Africa, by Champion sire Fort Wood, and is a half-sister to the Champion South African 3-year-old Filly of 2004, Promisefrommyheart. His granddam Secret Pact is a stakes winning half-sister to champion London News.



artificial insemination
artificial insemination

Artificial Insemination

(Photo : eHow/Delaware)


Would the introduction of Artificial Insemination (A.I.)improve overall fertility in the Thoroughbred herd? Would A.I. cause a narrowing of the Thoroughbred gene pool?

Pro-A.I. supporters will state that A.I. improves fertility rates and that it does not narrow the gene pool.

New research conducted by Arrowfield Group’s pedigree analyst, Peter Jenkins - using the Australian Standardbred industry as a model - has uncovered some interesting results. Jenkins’ research shows that overall fertility, as manifested in the live foal rate, diminished with the use of A.I. and that there has been a significant narrowing of the gene pool since its widespread introduction into the Standardbred industry. 

The use of the Australian Standardbred industry as a model to study the effects of A.I. carried strong credibility due to identical geographical and climatic conditions and a common pool of veterinary expertise.

In 1994 the live foal rate for Thoroughbreds in Australia was 63.4%, trailing by 6.4% the Standardbred rate of 69.8%. However, by 2008 the Thoroughbred live foal rate had risen to 67.0%, eclipsing the Standardbred rate of 61.3% by 5.7%. Interestingly, the very first year that imported frozen or chilled semen was used on more than 100 Standardbred mares – 1998 – was the very year that the Standardbred live foal rate fell below that of the Thoroughbreds. The evidence indicates that there is no overall fertility benefit to be gained by allowing A.I. usage within the Thoroughbred industry.

It is also evident, as seen by the comparative study of the top 20 most popular stallions in the Standardbred code, in both the pre-A.I. and current era, that stallion numbers in the Standardbred industry have been reduced by more than half with the most popular stallions serving vastly more mares. Disturbingly, the top 5 Standardbred sires averaged 341 mares served per season (incl. chilled semen services in NZ) and the top 20 sires covered 42% of the total broodmares bred not just in Australia but in Australia and NZ combined. This compares with 15.8% of mares bred being covered by the top 20 stallions in the pre-A.I. Standardbred era. It would therefore be very difficult to argue that a similar pattern would not develop if A.I. were introduced in Thoroughbreds.

“In fact, if the Australian Thoroughbred industry was overlaid with the Standardbred model, we could see the top 20 Thoroughbred stallions ‘covering’ over 550 mares annually on average” said Peter Jenkins.

“This reduction of stallion numbers and the enlarged books served by the most popular sires (as evident in the Standardbred industry) would logically result in a significant genetic narrowing which, using sirelines as a marker, is confirmed by our research” added Jenkins. 

Further, given that overall genetic narrowing in the Standardbred code is tempered somewhat by mainly colonial damlines, the impact of A.I. on the Thoroughbred code is liable to be more dramatic in terms of genetic narrowing due to the high numbers and the very strong commercial impact imported mares have enjoyed in Australian Thoroughbred breeding in recent years.




(Photo: Mungrup Stud)


The exploits of the emerging Australian sire, Oratorio, have captured the attentions of Australian racegoers to the degree that their premier racing monthly, Bluebloods, has devoted three A5 pages to him in their January 2010 issue.

The article kicks off “with the winners of more than $620 000 (just short of R4 million) including Gr.2 winner, Gold Rocks, the Mungrup Stud-based Oratorio was one of the success stories among first crop sires last season, and he’s continued the work this season, with two further Stakes winners”.

“Oratorio was easily the leading sire of Two-Year-Olds as well as the top Freshman sire in his home state of West Australia, and was also fourth on the national first crop list behind Charge Forward, putting him well ahead of the many high fee and high profile sires from the eastern states” (Editor: this is no mean achievement, given that he’s West Australian-based, where stakes are substantially lower, and his local competition includes the much-heralded Bletchley Park, one of the nation’s tried- and-tested juvenile stallions).

This season, his first crop, (now three), includes the good three-year-old filly Clueless Angel, winner of six of her ten starts including the West Australian Guineas and the Burgess Queen Stakes, and the exciting colt, Waratah’s Secret, unbeaten in his first four, including two Stakes events.

This is an auspicious beginning for the place-getters in what looked like a vintage renewal of one of Australia’s great “stallion makers”, the Blue Diamond Prelude (Gr.3,) where Way West proved too good for his quality competition.

Those that’ve visited Way West’s spectacular effort in this event on our website video ( will recall that it was a “gear from God” on the home bend that kicked him away from his field, following a mid-race stumble which might’ve ruined the prospects of a lesser mortal. Way West’s time in the race beat that of one of the great fillies of modern Australian history, Alinghi, Oratorio flew from behind to get within half length of Way West at the post, and when the timekeepers glanced at their clocks as the horses pulled up, they noted the shattering of the Stakes record.

Also known as the “Demolition Man” to his fans, Way West was tagged a stallion prospect in the making in the aftermath of the Prelude by no less an authority than Peter Keating. With the Blue Diamond (Gr.1) and the world’s richest juvenile event, the Golden Slipper(Gr.1) now in his sights, Way West’s form had Champion trainer, David Hayes contemplating a return from Hong Kong to assist with his mission, but it was not to be. We all know now that a career-crippling foot injury put an end to what would’ve made the son of Danehill a magnet to every Australian stud worth its salt.

As it happens, we can only conjecture at how good he could’ve been, given the chance, but in the end, it may be a blessing for South African breeders. He wouldn’t have been in this country if he’d fulfilled the expectations of his connections, and we must wait now for his first runners to make their debuts before the jury delivers. We’d have to say we fancy his chances a bit, knowing what we saw at the Emperors Palace Ready To Run.

Let’s see what happens at post time.



The rains have stopped now in our part of the world, the days are blue and there’s hardly a cloud in sight. From now until September, the one thing that’s constant with us, is day after day of sunshine, the only difference lies in temperature. From nature’s perspective, Mooi River’s world goes to sleep for a few months and takes a well earned rest after so much output, so much given from September until now.

But for those of us who live here, we’re just entering another era of furious activity, weaning mares, preparing the winter pastures, preparing ourselves for the breeding season and the marketing of the stallions, assessing all the horses on the farm, particularly the mares, with a view to the forthcoming breeding season, and then writing the recommendations to our many customers around the world.

Of course, KwaZulu Natal, Africa’s racing capital, enters its Champion’s Season as we write, and so the sports are only just starting.

It’s a beautiful time at Summerhill and Hartford, and it’s not only the wonderful weather but the changes that come with the seasons, the briskness of the mornings, the warmth of mid-day and the coolness of the evenings. It’s an invigorating time, energies are lifted, and while the land and the environment go to rest, we have a little respite in which to get stuck into our intellectual pursuits.

And then we have a few things to look forward. Next month we have a draft of five yearlings arriving from Australia, two filles by the reigning European champion sire, Galileo, and colts by the celebrated international stallions, Red Ransom, Anabaa and Hussonet. On the same flight we will have a brace of new stallions, two men who will hopefully have a breed-shaping influence on our lives for many years to come.

These are momentous events in the life of a thoroughbred stud, the arrival of two progenitors who’ve been especially selected to take us to new levels.

But this little story is about autumn, not new stallions, and that is a story for another day.

Active sires in Australia show a 73% drop in last 20 years

(Photo : The Virtual Form Guide)

A lack of diversity and dwindling numbers in the sire ranks have become clear trends in Australia - which is the world’s second largest producer of thoroughbreds behind the United States.

Owner & Breeder reports that Michael Ford, keeper of the Australian Stud Book, noted in a recent report that the number of stallions that covered mares has fallen 73% since 1988, from 2,917 to 768 in 2008. The number of mares bred has decreased by about 40%, falling from 44,413 to 26,800. Perhaps most remarkably, of the 768 stallions bred to in Australia last year, 114 were by Danehill and another 56 were grandsons of Danehill, with that prolific line thus accounting for 22% of the total stallion population.

And many of the Danehill line horses are some of Australia’s most active, with Coolmore’s young Danehill stallion Fastnet Rock the busiest in 2008 with a total of 248 mares covered.

Eleven of the top 20 sires in Australia in the most recent season are sons or grandsons of Danehill, including God’s Own, third most active stallion with 196 mares.

Others are Choisir (194), Holy Roman Emperor (180), Oratorio (173), Flying Spur (171), Not A Single Doubt (161), Stratum (159), Dylan Thomas (157), Commands (151) and Exceed And Excel (148).

Ford, however, focused his comments on shuttle stallions rather than the Danehill phenomenon. “Shuttle stallions have been the biggest influential factor in horse breeding in the last 20 years,” wrote Ford in a paper published by Australian Breeding & Racing. “In 1989 there were two: Bluebird and Last Tycoon, and they covered 163 mares between them. In 2006, there were 64, covering 5,627 (an average of 90 for each shuttle stallion) mares – more than one in five of the total Australian population.”


manhattan rainManhattan Rain (Encosta De Lago/Shantha’s Choice)
(AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes - The Royal Randwick)

Australia-watchers were dealt a feast of quality racing at Sydney’s Royal Randwick at the weekend, where the historic Doncaster Handicap, Australian Oaks, the T.J. Smith Stakes and the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes featured on the menu. The event though, that really caught the imaginations of racing fans, must surely have been the Sires’ Produce, the second leg of Sydney’s Juvenile Triple Crown, where the remarkable mare, Shantha’s Choice (by Canny Lad) featured her third Grade One winner and her fourth Stakes winner, overall. Amazingly though, that’s not the end of the story, as Manhattan Rain (by last season’s champion sire, Encosta De Lago) is a half brother to no less a man than Redoute’s Choice, sire sensation of Australia. Shantha’s Choice herself was an undistinguished runner, yet her fairytale continues here, with the fulfilment of his pedigree destiny by this juvenile youngster.

Ironically, Manhattan Rain was bred by Muzaffar Yaseen, 50% owner (can you believe?) of Redoute’s Choice, so his mother is precluded by virtue of his own ancestry, from visiting what is arguably the best stallion in Australia. For the record, without being able to return to the sire of her two best runners to date (Danehill is deceased), Shantha’s Choice has had to settle for a range of different mates, one of whom (Rock Of Gibraltar by Danehill) is the sire of her Grade Three winning filly, Sliding Cube, as well as a return visit to Encosta da Lago and most recently Hussonet, the Mr Prospector stallion resident at Arrowfield Stud.

LINDSAY PARK STUD : The Extension of a Legend

sam hayes national yearling sale (heather morkel)Sam Hayes
(Photo : Heather Morkel)

One of the associations in which we take great delight, is with the legendary Lindsay Park Stud in the vicinity of the famed Barossa wine growing region of South Australia. Lindsay Park was founded by one of Australia’s training icons, the late Colin Hayes, father of Australia’s leading trainer of the present era, David Hayes and grandfather to Sam Hayes, who has taken over the stud breeding operations at the property.

Lindsay Park has many things in common with Summerhill, not the least of which is its isolation from the mainstream of Australian breeding, the Hunter Valley. Like us in KwaZulu Natal, South Australia is off the beaten track in breeding terms, yet it continues to produce a stream of top quality horses, despite its removal from the location of the nations top stallions. Only recently, it has produced the likes of the celebrated Grade One winners, Niconero and Nicconi (winner of last weekend’s Galaxy Stakes Gr1). From all accounts, Sam enjoyed his trip to us last week. With his permission we quote from his note penned on the way home.


Dear Mick and Cheryl,

I am currently flying from Johannesburg to Sydney and reflecting on the last ten days.

I would like to sincerely thank you both for your wonderful hospitality in Johannesburg, at Hartford House and at Summerhill Stud.

The South African experience in general was everything that I had hoped it would be (and more!). The results of the National Sale were encouragingly strong in the face of a decline in world confidence. I was most impressed by the sale ground facilities and permanent hospitality areas within each barn (not to mention Linda’s chicken rolls… one of many highlights!)

The trip from Johannesburg to Natal with the stopover at Clarens provided for a great opportunity to view the South African landscape. Thanks for letting me travel with you.

Hartford House is a very special place. It is a credit to your imagination and sense of style Cheryl. The decor, delicious food, excellent service, warm hospitality and Zulu dancing will not be forgotten. It is a world class venue. Congratulations!

Summerhill Stud was quite inspirational. Seeing the Summerhill Stud graduates winning Group races at Turffontien on Saturday and then witnessing the top filly and colt being sold from your draft was only the beginning! Being able to observe your farm and your team at the top of its game was a real treat.

It was motivational to see first hand what can be achieved with hard work, optimism and persistence. The vision that your team has for Summerhill has largely been realized and to see a business modeled so meticulously on the template of one’s vision was most inspiring.

The things that stand out in my mind are the proactive initiatives to train and educate your staff (not only with work skills but general life skills as well). The genuine focus on clients. The effective diversification of your business through insurance and feed divisions and the development of organic pasture management practices.

But what I loved most was the burning desire you all had to become South Africa’s leading breeders, backed by a steadfast belief that you would one day get there despite not having the monetary backing or the perceived geographical advantage of your rivals. You are reaping the benefits of doing what you love. That really does inspire me.

Naturally I found so many parallels with what we are hoping to achieve at Lindsay Park Stud. I can’t wait to get back to work. I know, with time, we can do the same.

Thanks also for giving me an insight into how you run your monthly accounts. Those templates will be very useful in helping us to re-design our financial reporting.

The whole experience was an absolute privilege that I sincerely appreciate. Not even watching the Australians loosing the one dayer in Cape Town was going to dampen my spirits!

Please pass on my thanks to all the team, especially Heather, Linda, Kerry, Annet, Tarryn and Marlene.

Long may your success continue!

Warm Regards
Sam Hayes

Summerhill Stud’s Australian Ambassador!

ARROWFIELD STUD : A world leader leads the way

Redoute’s Choice
(Photo : Arrowfield Stud)

Events at Sydney’s Easter Sale, showcase of Australia’s Thoroughbred industry, have prompted a major re-think on stallion fees by that country’s marquee farms. John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud, has headed the change with its announcement of fees for the forthcoming season, largely characterised by dramatic reductions. Of course, most of Arrowfield’s stallions come off a very substantial base, and in the current climate this would not be sustainable. Public spiritedness has brought about the revision.

“We have elected to fully recognise the current market situation, occasioned by the global financial crisis and to adjust our fees to levels which will ensure breeders can achieve profitable outcomes by using Arrowfield’s first class stallion line-up,” John Messara said. “While the Easter yearling average was down about a third on the 2008 figure, it should be remembered that the service fees at the time of conception of these yearlings made a lot of the Easter trade quite profitable.”

“The other factor that breeders should consider is that the 2009 conceptions will not be sold until the 2012 yearling sales, by which time it is hoped the economy will have recovered.”

Redoute’s Choice fee for 2009 will now be $198,000 (inc GST), down from $330,000. Going against the trend is the country’s leading first season sire by earnings, Charge Forward, which will stand at $27,000, an increase of 11 per cent.”

The new Arrowfield fees:

Charge Forward $27,500 (inc GST) up 11%
Danzero $22,000 (inc GST) down 20%
Flying Spur $82,500 (inc GST) down 40%
Hussonet (USA) $71,500 (inc GST) down 48%
Not A Single Doubt $13,750 (inc GST) unchanged
Redoute’s Choice $198,000 (inc GST) down 40%
Snitzel $22,000 (inc GST) down 33%
Starcraft (NZ) $22,000 (inc GST) down 33%