Hazelwood Bloodstock threading its way into the big time
O'Brien celebrates Lowther victory after buying winner's half-sister
The conjunction of Sheikh Mohammed significantly pruning his stock and the upturn in the fortunes of his racing operation this season has led to many other breeders benefiting from momentous pedigree updates after their purchase of Godolphin mares.
Most notably, Camas Park Stud bought the Mark Of Esteem mare Tessa Reef in foal to New Approach for 65,000gns at Tattersalls in 2015 only to see her late, lamented son Permian establish himself as one of the most admirable middle-distance colts this season.
The stud then sold that New Approach colt the mare was carrying in-utero for €420,000 at the Arqana August Yearling Sale on Saturday.
Not all mares discarded by Godolphin have taken as long to appreciate in value, though.
At this year's Tattersalls July Sale, Hazelwood Bloodstock – the Newmarket operation run by former Plantation Stud manager Adrian O'Brien – paid 105,000gns for the winning three-year-old Invincible Spirit mare Camargue on behalf of Emirates Park, the Australian-based operation of His Excellency Nasser Lootah.
When Camargue went through the ring her year-younger half-sister by Exceed And Excel was unraced but just six weeks later that filly, Threading, has been sent out by Mark Johnston to win a Goodwood maiden by six lengths and Thursday's Group 2 Lowther Stakes by clear water.
So did O'Brien have any inside information that Threading was burning up the gallops, ready to convert her immense potential into performance on the track? “No,” he laughs. “If the reports had been that strong she probably wouldn't have been in the catalogue!
“We had no idea about Threading. The one thing the mare was a little lacking in at the sale was black type under the first dam, so for that to be put right within the space of a month was amazing.
“We thought she was a little expensive at the time but she looks real value now. All credit to His Excellency Nasser Lootah for giving us the confidence to be so strong in the bidding.”
Camargue may not have won any black type, and neither had her dam or any of her siblings back in July, but what made her a six-figure mare was her further family. She is out of a half-sister to the great Dubai Millennium from the Fall Aspen empire that has produced numerous Group 1 winners including, most recently, Ribchester.
O'Brien established the contact with Emirates Park while working in Australia – he served as stud manager of Coolmore Australia in recent years – and is friends with general manager Bryan Carlson. He will look after Camargue until plans are confirmed for her breeding career.
O'Brien boards several mares on behalf of His Excellency Nasser Lootah's operation under the Hazelwood Bloodstock banner at Red House Stud in Exning just outside Newmarket, the historic nursery that produced Group 1 winners such as Petong, Goodricke and Pastoral Pursuits.
“We're very fortunate as we have a fantastic client base with good horses, a beautiful property and a great team, so we have all the ingredients and we know the stud can produce a good horse, so there's no excuses,” says O'Brien, who established Hazelwood Bloodstock with wife Philippa 18 months ago.
The majority of O'Brien's clients breed to race but Hazelwood Bloodstock will be presenting a first, small and select, draft of yearlings at Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale comprising colts by Sea The Stars, Oasis Dream and Charm Spirit.
“The Sea The Stars is a first foal out of a stakes-winning High Chaparral mare [Lady Heidi] who is a beautiful horse with lovely balance and very good conformation,” says O'Brien.
“The Oasis Dream is another first foal out of a stakes winner [Pure Excellence] by Exceed And Excel and for obvious reasons I'm a big fan of that sire at the moment. He goes back to the good Peter Harris family of Primo Valentino and is a big, strong horse; very imposing but a beautiful mover.”
Charm Spirit enjoyed a good start at the sales with a half-brother to Qemah sold to Shadwell for €500,000 at the weekend and O'Brien says he considers the ace miler to be “one of the first-crop sire standouts”.
He describes his representative, a relative of Dubai World Cup hero Almutawakel, as “a big, scopey individual who is a sublime mover both in hand and in the lunge ring”.
With a half-sister to a two-year-old filly who ranks among the very best of her age and gender in the boxes, and a small but select group of yearlings being prepped for the sales, Hazelwood Bloodstock is proving to be a worthy occupant of a Newmarket stud with such an illustrious history.
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