Remembering Pentire but looking to the future at Rich Hill
The stud manager tells us about the late, great sire and his successors
Rich Hill Stud in New Zealand lost its foundation stallion Pentire after he failed to recover from surgery to remove a tumour this month. The son of Be My Guest, who memorably won the Irish Champion Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes for Geoff Wragg, was 25.
Pentire excelled for the stud, supplying 16 individual Group 1 winners including kiwi horses of the year King Mufhasa and Xcellent, as well as Melbourne Cup hero Prince Of Penzance.
We spoke to Rich Hill Stud managing director John Thompson about his memories of Pentire, the future of the stud and wider issues in New Zealand breeding.
Pentire's death will presumably leave a big hole on the stud...
It was a sad day for the farm as he’d been with us for 20 years and it’s hard to get used to not having him in his paddock.
He had a great innings and helped put Rich Hill on the map, and I’d like to thank the breeders who supported him over the years.
Pentire was still very healthy; his fertility and libido were excellent right up to the day he passed away.
He sired four Group 1 winners over the last two seasons so his potency showed no signs of deteriorating as he aged. I’m sure there will be more Group 1 winners among his progeny yet.
What is the make-up of Pentire's final crops?
Pentire covered 22 mares this year. Unfortunately he still had another 15 to breed before he died. Among the mares he has in foal now are the dams of classy horses Charma, Charles Road and Sir Andrew.
He had 45 mares who were pregnant to him earlier this year, so should have had 40-plus foals born.
He has 29 yearlings on the ground and three are heading to Book 1 of the New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale at Karaka in January including a half-brother to Group 3 winner Bel Sorriso and a colt out of Group 2 Waikato Gold Cup heroine Passchendaele.
You have Shocking, the Melbourne Cup winner by Street Cry, on the Rich Hill roster. How is he getting on?
Shocking has made a very encouraging start to his stud career in Australasia. He sired a first-crop Group 1 winner with New Zealand Oaks heroine Fanatic, who transferred to Australia and recently won the Sandown Cup to become the stallion's first two-mile (3,200m) winner.
He sired three other first-crop stakes winners in Australia and NZ including The Hassler (Group 2), Chocante (Group 2) and recent Australian stakes winner Pure Pride. He has sired 12 stakes performers in his first two crops.
His pedigree, being by Street Cry out of a Danehill mare, has perhaps also enabled him to pass on impressive speed, such as with multiple Hong Kong winners Love Shock and Volitation.
He bred his best book – comprising 146 mares – last season so his long-term future looks bright.
You also stand Prix du Moulin winner Vadamos, who shuttled to Rich Hill from Tally-Ho Stud in Ireland this year for the first time. How did he go down with breeders?
We’ve had an incredible response to him, and we filled him at 150 very quickly. His book is full of quality mares, numerous stakes winners and dams of stakes winners.
He's an incredibly good-looking animal, and we were told by Australian Bloodstock agent James Harron prior to his arrival that anyone who was interested in breeding to the horse that came to see him would book, and that has played out.
We quickly found out there was quite a considerable Monsun fan club among breeders who’d long recognised his sire's achievements, and with Monsun siring three of the last five Melbourne Cup winners that recognition is now widespread. There’s only Vadamos and Fiorente representing Monsun at stud down here.
Vadamos was at his best over a mile and that’s a very good recipe for most of the New Zealand-based mares, which are more staying-oriented than the Australian mares. Vadamos’s turn of foot should see him leave quality Classic and staying types here.
New Zealand is known for producing stamina horses, and has supplied Australia with many Cup winners over the years. So how has the influx of European stayers to Australia affected the industry there?
In several ways. The Australian syndicators who traditionally came to New Zealand to buy their stayers went to Europe, which did affect our yearling sales for several years but also, with a lot of our promising young horses being sold to Asia, our trainers didn’t have the numbers of horses to travel to Australia and be competitive.
This trend is changing, with some promising young staying stallions coming through like Tavistock, Reliable Man and Shocking, and the progeny of Iffraaj and Savabeel taking over from Zabeel and Pentire.
NZ-breds have been very competitive in the Australian Classic three-year-old races in the last few years and some of the expensive European horses have not performed to expectations, so there is a bit of a swing back to our stock.
It has been announced that Sir Patrick Hogan has sold Cambridge Stud, a linchpin of the New Zealand breeding industry, to local interests. What is your view on that?
There had been talk over the last few years of international interest in buying Cambridge Stud so it is a big relief for our breeding industry that it has been sold to leading NZ businessman Brendon Lindsay and his wife Jo.
This means the broodmare band and leading young stallion Tavistock will remain here and continue to make a big contribution to NZ breeding's international reputation in years to come.
Cambridge Stud has been an industry leader for many years and many stakeholders here, including myself, spent time working for Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan, so we're all looking forward to the continuation of their legacy.