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Victoria is having a dip
9th Jul 2012
The Breed - Danny Power - Thursday, 5 July 2012
It’s not often that the spotlight for new stallions falls on Victoria, but it has for the 2012-breeding season.
For the first time in my memory, and almost certainly in recent history, seven outstanding Group 1 winners have found new homes in Victoria.
Suddenly, Victorian breeders have an enviable choice on an impressive menu of stallions—horses of all styles and sire-lines.
When you add this “magnificent seven” to an quality list of established and young sires already on stud rosters, it is proof that Victoria’s breeding industry is well and truly on the move.
While the star group is headed by the sensational imported racehorse Canford Cliffs (by Tagula), who will stand his first southern hemisphere season at Blue Gum Farm, Euroa, the lover of the Australian-bred stallion has a smorgasbord of class to choose from.
Victoria’s “Aussie six”—Toorak Toff (by Show A Heart, Rosemont Stud), Ilovethiscity (by Magic Albert, Larneuk Stud), Skilled (by Lonhro, Darley), Anacheeva (by Anabaa, Chatswood Stud)), Master Of Design (Redoute’s Choice, Swettenham Stud) and the most recent, Helmet (by Exceed And Excel, Darley)—are more than ably backed up by some exciting first-season sires, who didn’t win at the highest level, but retire with as much fanfare, including the Hong Kong star One World (by Danehill Dancer, Larneuk Stud) and Black Caviar’s talented brother Moshe (by Bel Esprit, Eliza Park).
Victoria’s proven-stallion stocks are also on the rise. Eliza Park’s Bel Esprit (by Royal Academy (USA)) and Statue Of Liberty (by Storm Cat (USA))—the respective sires of sprint stars Black Caviar and Hay List—are firmly established on the stallion list for commercial yearling-sale breeders, while the up-and-comers such as Darley’s Domesday (by Red Ransom (USA)) and Independent Stallions’ Artie Schiller (by El Prado (IRE)) are two of the best young sires in the country.
Some of the impressive young Victorian-based stallions, who are yet to have runners, include the Newmarket Handicap winner Wanted (by Fastnet Rock, Eliza Park), Blue Diamond Stakes winner Reward For Effort (by Exceed And Excel, Chatswood Stud), the underrated dual Group 1 winner Turffontein (by Johannesburg, Blue Gum Farm), the Golden Slipper runner-up Von Costa de Hero (Encosta De Lago, Darley), the impeccably bred son of Fastnet Rock, Stryker (Three Bridges) and Eliza Park’s Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver (by Maria’s Mon (USA)).
Darley Victoria’s Andy Makiv wasn’t kidding when he said in early April that New Approach (by Galileo (USA)) was the hottest stallion on Darley’s books. So impressive were New Approach’s first-crop yearlings this year that Darley was forced to close his book within a week of the last gavel falling at the Sydney Easter Yearling Sale. This was supposed to be New Approach’s “tough” year, after covering three seasons at Seymour—tell the breeders that.
And then came Royal Ascot, when New Approach sired three Stakes-winning juveniles. By that time, his Australian book was well and truly closed.
The support for New Approach should be encouraging for everyone at Blue Gum Farm, because of the imported horses on the shuttle train from Europe, only Canford Cliffs can boast anywhere near the racetrack record of Darley’s chestnut.
New Approach, a dual Group 1 winner at two, trained on to win the Group 1 Epsom Derby (2400m) and Irish Derby (2400m) double before sealing his magnificent 3YO season by winning the Group 1 Champion Stakes (2000m) against older horses.
It’s safe to say he is the best-performed horse to stand at stud in Victoria.
Canford Cliffs won seven of his 11 starts. He was a Group 2 winner at two, but really hit his straps at three when he won the Group 1 Irish Guineas (1600m), Group 1 Sussex Stakes (1600m) and the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes (1600m).
At four, he won the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes (1600m) and the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m), when he thrashed the great French mare Goldikova to win his third Royal Ascot feature in three years.
Canford Cliffs finished his career with a second to the great Frankel in the 2011 Sussex Stakes (1600m) at Goodwood—he pulled up sore and was retired to stand at Coolmore Stud in Ireland in early 2012. If “milers” make the best stallions, then Canford Cliffs is the best 1600-metre horse to come to Victoria.
What’s the reason for this resurgence? Some say it is the lucrative Super VOBIS and the new VOBIS Gold are making the difference, and while that might be true in building confidence, I believe it is more that Victoria’s farms are having a good, old-fashioned dip at giving the Hunter Valley a run for its money.
More power to them.
Photo: The handsome Ilovethiscity (Magic Albert), who will stand his first season at Larneuk Stud, Euroa.