Notnowcato's Redkirk Warrior fuels Ascot dreams with Black Caviar win
The seven-year-old was bred in North Yorkshire by Manor House Stud
The latest chapter in the remarkable story of Redkirk Warrior was written on Saturday when the son of Notnowcato came with a withering late run to chin The Everest winner Redzel right on the Flemington winning line and land the 5f Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes.
Redkirk Warrior broke half a stride slower than the other nine runners, but young jockey Regan Bayliss seemed content to bide his time at the back of the field.
With 300m to travel, and with Redkirk Warrior still full of running, Bayliss had to angle off heels to find daylight in which to launch his challenge. With 200m to go Redkirk Warrior began his effort, and showed a searing turn of foot and a tenacious attitude to collar Redzel in the final stride.
Saturday's victory was Redkirk Warrior's second at the highest level - having taken out the Newmarket Handicap over 6f last March, a race he could bid to defend his crown in later this year - and saw joint-trainer David Hayes suggest that the seven-year-old could be aimed at the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot.
"If the horse is well I'd love to go to Ascot," said Hayes. "It's on my bucket list to train a winner in the UK. I've had a couple of tries with Nicconi and Criterion, but if you go to England you should go with what you're good at, and for us that's sprinters, even though he's a Pom himself really!"
Should Redkirk Warrior head to Ascot - a track at which he is one-from-one, albeit over 1m2f - he would arrive via a most circuitous route, having been bred in the sleepy setting of rural North Yorkshire at breeder Lenore Peacock’s Manor House Stud in Middleham.
He is by Notnowcato, a son of Inchinor, who won the Juddmonte International, Tattersalls Gold Cup and Coral-Eclipse during a stellar racing career with Sir Michael Stoute.
Notnowcato retired to Stanley House Stud in Newmarket in 2008, from where he sired the likes of three-time Group 2 winner Custom Cut and classy handicapper Chil The Kite.
Despite a string of talented Flat performers, Notnowcato was relocated to Sean Kinsella’s Knockhouse Stud in County Kilkenny in 2014 to stand on a dual purpose basis. Through the exploits of the likes of Old Guard, Long Dog and Doesyourdogbite he has since garnered a reputation as an emerging force in the jumping world, a career trajectory quite at odds with Redkirk Warrior's blazing success.
He is out of the unraced Selkirk mare Flag, who has produced seven winners from seven runners and who counts Bold Arrangement - the 1986 Kentucky Derby runner-up - among her near relatives. Redkirk Warrior may be the only stakes performer produced by Flag, but Manor House Stud has also bred the likes of 1990 2,000 Guineas winner Tirol.
Redkirk Warrior was first sold to agent Jill Lamb for 22,000gns at the 2012 renewal of Book 2 of Tattersalls’ October Yearling Sale.
He quickly made up into a smart type as he won both of his starts for William Haggas at three, bolting up in a Yarmouth maiden before defeating subsequent Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner and Irish St Leger runner-up Agent Murphy in an Ascot handicap off an official rating of 88. Both of his British victories were gained over a mile and a quarter.
He left Haggas’s yard after the 2014 season to continue his racing career in Hong Kong under the care of Chris So Wai-Yin - where he was the one-time Hong Kong Derby favourite - but after suffering recurring issues with his feet he was shipped to the Lindsay Park Racing stables of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig late in 2016 with a view to entering retirement.
But having undergone remedial work on his troublesome feet, Redkirk Warrior re-entered training and - despite being by a sire noted for his stamina influence - blossomed for being dropped back in trip by the Hayes and Dabernig faction.
He has also won the 7½f Group 3 Yarramalong Racing Club Stakes in November last year before making his Group 1 breakthrough in the Newmarket Handicap, a race he won by clear water. He produced an even better performance on Racing Post Ratings when landing the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality by two and a half lengths to earn a performance figure of 119.
Redkirk Warrior's career has already made for quite the story. But should a horse who reached the brink of retirement from racing, and who is by a stallion now consigned to the dual purpose ranks, go on to gain a Royal Ascot victory, the fairytale really would be complete.