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Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Key industry figures give their opinion on the big issues

Gai Waterhouse, Angus Gold and Ned Toffey join our panel

Gai Waterhouse: would bring Winx to Royal Ascot if she trained her, she says
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Who is your pick of the sires with first-crop yearlings to sell?

Angus Gold, Shadwell racing manager
I was very impressed by the Zoustar yearlings I saw on the Gold Coast. We also have four very nice homebred yearlings by Epaulette who I’m a big fan of, and I also like the Dundeels I saw.

Sheamus Mills, bloodstock agent 
Intello, by Galileo out of a Danehill mare, was a brilliant racehorse, winning six of his nine starts and going unbeaten as a juvenile. My southern hemisphere pick is Zoustar, another top performer who won all of the right races to make a stallion. He’s also by a stallion who was destined to be a star before passing away prematurely in Northern Meteor.

Paul Moroney, bloodstock agent
In the north, Sea The Moon and Toronado. Both were freakish racehorses and good types who should hopefully physically dominate their progeny, which is the hallmark of good sires. In the south, horses by Dundeel and Zoustar have already sold well and if their best have been held back for Sydney, they should make plenty.

Peter O'Brien, Segenhoe Stud manager
The standout first-crop sire in Australia is Zoustar – a terrific racehorse who passes on his good looks to his stock and they have sold accordingly this year. Every single one of them have terrific actions and he has been well supported by leading breeders. Judging by their athleticism and quality, I’d be stunned if they couldn’t gallop.

Olly Tait, Twin Hills Stud owner
Camelot won the Guineas and Derby and was second in the St Leger, almost becoming the first colt since Nijinsky to win the Triple Crown. Both [his sire] Montjeu and his stallion sons have been a success in the southern hemisphere. Of those to race in Australia I like Dundeel, a six-time Group 1 winner by High Chaparral out of a mare by the great Zabeel.

Ned Toffey, Spendthrift Farm general manager
I’ll go with Shanghai Bobby based on the success of sons of Harlan’s Holiday like Into Mischief, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities. In the southern hemisphere, the Zoustars have impressed me physically and it looks like they’re getting into the right hands to be successful.

Gai Waterhouse, trainer
The yearlings by Fiorente have delighted me. I have already purchased one (Lot 36) at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in January and I intend to buy more in the forthcoming yearling sales. Of the other first-season sires, Adrain Bott and I have already purchased a Declaration Of War colt and a Dundeel colt. I like to buy predominantly on type and therefore I am not swung too much by the stallion especially if they are unproven. Of the northern hemisphere sires, I've been most taken by the progeny of Camelot. They are lovely loose types and remind me very much of Montjeu.


Which southern hemisphere sires with their first two-year-olds have caught your eye?

Angus Gold
I’ve heard good reports of the All Too Hards – even though he hasn’t had many winners yet, you wouldn’t expect them to be too precocious and I know the trainers like them very much. I also hear good reports of the Pierros, and we have a very nice Delago Deluxe colt to run soon.

Sheamus Mills
The two who everybody rated were All Too Hard and Pierro, but it’s been a slow season for first-crop sires to get off the ground. With a good number of winners from limited runners, I’ll plump for Your Song. He’s a son of Fastnet Rock whose offspring are generally considered to get better as three-year-olds, so I think he’s flying under the radar a little at present.

Paul Moroney
Out of left field, Highly Recommended. He's a son of Fastnet Rock making his own way in life at a small stud in the South Island of New Zealand. He was my favourite first-season sire across all sales in 2016. Two stakes performers from limited runners to date.

Peter O'Brien
There’s no real standout this year as yet, but Pierro for me is the horse with the most upside. Even though he was a brilliant juvenile, a lot of his stock look like they’ll benefit with time and all the leading trainers seem to have a good one who is yet to race. He covered as good a book of mares as any stallion has ever done with his first crop.

Olly Tait
Australian two-year-old racing is the most competitive in the world. First-season sires have to compete head on with all the Redoute’s Choices, Exceed And Excels, Fastnet Rocks and Snitzels. Perhaps as a consequence none so far have singled themselves out as being the next big thing. It’s still early days though.

Ned Toffey
Your Song has got off to a solid start at stud, and the few I saw were very good physicals. He’s got every excuse to keep it up. The Delago Deluxes really impressed me as yearlings. They just looked classy and athletic and as a son of Encosta De Lago I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a strong year.

Gai Waterhouse
I bought Pierro and trained him to win the two-year-old Triple Crown so I'm excited to see how his first progeny do. So far I've been delighted with what I’ve seen. I have several Pierros in the stable and they're proving to be very easy uncompleted horses to work with. They're much more attractive and mature types than the progeny of his fellow first-season sire and major racetrack competitor, All Too Hard. Of the other sires, Delago Deluxe also throws very well-boned individuals, several of which are now coming to hand and should be flying the flag for the stallion in the autumn.


Which stallions who do not shuttle do you think would work in the other hemisphere?

Angus Gold
Although I may be biased, I feel Muhaarar would work well in Australia – he was a champion sprinter in Europe, yet we felt he’d have stayed a mile, which would suit the market down there. I’d also love to see a few more Sea The Stars in the southern hemisphere, which would help to redress the balance of too many speed-oriented stallions.

Sheamus Mills
My choices are all Danzig-line horses. Oasis Dream would have been a great success, and Invincible Spirit certainly made his mark here through I Am Invincible – it would have been great if he’d kept shuttling. Muhaarar has the perfect pedigree and race record to be successful in Australia.

Paul Moroney
Kingman is the obvious off the back of I Am Invincible's success in Australia. Siyouni and Le Havre would be a great additions to Australasian breeding circles.

Peter O'Brien
The obvious stallions for the northern hemisphere would be I Am Invincible and Snitzel. The former is a freak of a stallion who’s already in the top three in Australia from mares off a very modest service fee. Snitzel is a champion sire by Redoute’s Choice whose stock have a preference for give in the ground, which would help them immensely in Europe.

Olly Tait
Kitten’s Joy would have been interesting in Australia. He dominates US turf racing where the tracks are firm and the pace is fast. Like Medaglia D’Oro and Artie Schiller, he’s by El Prado. American stallions have done well in Australia – think Street Cry, More Than Ready and Medaglia D’Oro.

Ned Toffey
I’ve always thought Malibu Moon would make a great shuttle sire. Even though the A.P. Indys really haven’t worked in the southern hemisphere, his bottom side has such a strong turf influence and he’s worked really well when bred to turf mares. Hopefully we’ll get the right son to shuttle sometime soon.

Gai Waterhouse
That’s the $64 million question. What works in the northern hemisphere rarely works in the southern hemisphere. However, when it does work, as with the breed-shaping Danehill and also More Than Ready, the results can be spectacular. Unfortunately these cases are few and far between. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see some more of Invincible Spirit's sire sons down here? I Am Invincible is the stallion on everyone’s lips. He was leading the general sires table up until recently and he has just had a A$1.4 million yearling sell at the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale. Considering he started off at just A$11,000 that is quite a feat. Therefore the news that Shalaa is on his way to Arrowfield is very exciting. If you have any more like him send them our way!


Can anything more be done in Australia to encourage the breeding of stayers?

Angus Gold
Australians have gone far too much towards breeding speed. We have a two-year-old in Australia at the moment who definitely wants at least 7f, but David Hayes tells me there aren’t any races yet over that trip – to me that’s madness. I admire those stud managers who are making an effort to redress the balance, although it’s an industry-wide problem.

Sheamus Mills
Prize-money isn’t the issue as all our staying races have big money attached to them. The issue is the results achieved in the sales ring as there are a lot more yearlings sold through the ring in Australia than many other places. I don’t see it as a problem though because we’re the best breeders of speed in the world and you can’t be good at everything!

Paul Moroney
Perhaps a tiered stayers' bonus series for Australasian-breds interstate at both metropolitan and provincial levels, with the ability for the metropolitan winners to qualify for the major Cup races.

Peter O'Brien
The focus on breeding precocious speed is baffling considering the prize-money for middle-distance races in Australia. New Zealand has Tavistock, Savabeel and O’Reilly, and with farms like Arrowfield backing Dundeel, Animal Kingdom and Real Impact, hopefully the pendulum will swing.

Olly Tait
Australia breeds great sprinters and has great staying races. Things evolve naturally (and slowly) and I don’t think we should get too worried about the lack of quality of Australian-bred stayers. However, I’m not sure what is achieved by shortening the distances of traditional races such as the Brisbane and Perth Cups.

Ned Toffey
I don’t think it’s anything we’ll see change quickly. Owners and breeders love it when their horses get to the races quickly and start generating revenue, and some action, for them. Framing longer races with better purse-money seems the most likely way to move the needle, but as we’ve seen in the US, this may have only limited results.

Gai Waterhouse
Australia is similar to America in that the majority of our races are under a mile. Excluding the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups there are just not the races to warrant breeding staying types. I would love to train more stayers but on a week-by-week basis there just aren’t the races for those horses. There is definitely an appetite for owners to have a cup horse but people are very aware that the best staying prospects are from Europe, just like my 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente. It’s too easy at the moment for us to import proven horses with the specific aim of targeting those few races.


Do you think Winx will travel to Royal Ascot? And if she does, is she unbeatable?

Angus Gold
I’m not sure she’ll travel to Ascot as this would have been the year to bring her, but understandably they’re very keen to try to win a third Cox Plate – obviously she’s an outstanding mare, but with all of the travelling involved one could never say she’d be unbeatable.

Sheamus Mills
She’s a freak mare with an unbelievable will to win. I don’t think the course or distance will hamper her and she’s the sort to handle a trip away. Quality-wise, she’s the perfect animal being by Street Cry. Nothing fazes her and she has an unmatched motor, certainly in Australia. It would be a great buzz to see her travel, but only if she goes while still at her best and not as an afterthought.

Paul Moroney
No. That would be asking her to peak three times in the current season and twice within two calendar months as well as travelling out of hemisphere. No horse is unbeatable especially against the level of competition she would meet at Royal Ascot.

Peter O'Brien
I doubt whether she’d travel. The owners would like to win a third consecutive Cox Plate and I’d fully support them in that as for her to win three in a row would equal the mighty Kingston Town’s record. That said, I’d dearly love for her to run in the summer of 2018 as the world should get a chance to see her perform in the flesh and realise close up what an equine superstar she is.

Olly Tait
Unfortunately they can all get beaten. Zenyatta, also by Street Cry, won 19 straight and then got chinned in her final start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It would be great for the profile of racing if Winx goes to Royal Ascot, but if she doesn’t, or if she didn’t win, she’s still an absolute champion.

Ned Toffey
I have no idea. I’d love to see her run at Royal Ascot but I’ll be watching wherever she runs. Unbeatable? Who knows – but I won’t be betting against her!

Gai Waterhouse
If I trained Winx then Royal Ascot would most definitely be on her agenda. Chris Waller has shown he’s not afraid to put her out there so far so yes I can see them biting the bullet and making the trip over to England. She has carried all before her in Australia and it would be only fitting that the British racegoer has the opportunity to see her, and in my opinion get to see her win at Royal Ascot. She is a top-class racemare and Royal Ascot would be a wonderful showcase.


What are your thoughts on The Everest and who do you think is the most likely winner?

Angus Gold
Anything that brings new prize-money and interest into the business must be encouraged, although I wouldn’t know a likely winner at this stage. Now Chautauqua appears to have lost a bit of his mantle, the sprinting division would be very open.

Sheamus Mills
It’s going to create plenty of interest and hopefully it’s at the right time of year to attract some international runners. I’m not convinced it will increase a potential stallion’s value, but the concept is a great marketing idea. Speith would be my shout as a leading contender at this early stage.

Paul Moroney
I think it's a marketing gimmick that will struggle to get off the ground here. It seems to be a kneejerk reaction to the Pegasus and a state v state power-play rather than something that's in the best interests of racing in general.

Peter O'Brien
It’s a fascinating concept and the timing is perfect, particularly for northern hemisphere sprinters. A horse like Caravaggio could run in Europe in the summer, run in The Everest and then go on to the Breeders’ Cup. I think it will encourage sprinting colts to race a year longer rather than go to stud. There would be no more deserving winner than Speith and trainer Bryce Heys.

Olly Tait
It’s an interesting concept. The Pegasus World Cup in Florida is the blueprint for this type of race structure and it was seemingly a success, largely because of the interest generated by California Chrome and his rematch with Arrogate. The key to its success will be getting the starting positions filled and to do that investors as well as horses will be required.

Ned Toffey
It’s a great idea. The Pegasus World Cup was a huge success here and I’m sure it will be the same in Australia. I’d probably give the nod to Chautauqua – if he can get the kinks worked out he’s as good a sprinter as there is in the world.

Gai Waterhouse
The Pegasus in America has proved the concept can work so I think it’s a great initiative and will showcase our outstanding sprinters on a world stage. However I’m slightly concerned the three-year buy-in may make it difficult for people to commit as it's big dollars. It's too early to predict, as we don’t know which horses will be buying a slot. However I think that’s part of the intrigue and drama isn’t it?

Click here to read more on the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale in our special supplement

The news that Shalaa is on his way to Arrowfield is very exciting. If you have any more like him send them our way!

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