Shuttle sires proving hot property at Hunter Valley open houses
Justify, Shalaa and Territories among the popular northern hemisphere names
It is clear that Tom Magnier was immensely proud to show off Coolmore Australia’s stallion roster on Sunday, one that epitomises the global nature of thoroughbred breeding.
US Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and new recruit Justify are arguably two of the highest profile stallions to land in the southern hemisphere in the last decade, and Magnier revealed that his family, who also has its thoroughbred interests spread from Europe to the US, sees Australia as the most important market going forward.
During Sunday’s parade, long after the stallions were safely back in their boxes, Magnier reflected quietly in the barn housing the ‘dream team’ that his father John has assembled in conjunction with Coolmore partners Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor.
He said with conviction that his father sees Australia as a key part of the incredibly successful empire’s future, and part of that was ensuring that their internationally performed stallions, like the unbeaten Justify, would stand at Coolmore’s Jerrys Plains base.
"Dad, Michael and Derrick have such a belief in this horse," Magnier said of Justify. "They really want to get behind him and they’ve done that. They’ve gone out and sourced the best mares, both at the sales and privately.
"On top of the breeders supporting him, I think you need a bit of luck in life, but I’d be very excited at the chances of Justify making it in Australia. There’s a who’s who going to him this year and it’s very exciting.”
Justify’s barnmate American Pharoah, who has already sired nine winners in his first northern hemisphere crop, headed by Group 3 scorer Maven, will stand his third season in Australia this year at a fee of A$66,000 (inc GST). That leaves Coolmore Australia in a position that Magnier feels was scarcely believable earlier this century.
"But I think it says a lot about how things are going in Australia, and in fairness to Dad, Michael and Derrick, they want to send these horses down to Australia because they believe that this is where the future is.
"We have clients in Australia and the best breeders in the country that are willing to get behind these horses, and we’re very grateful to them for that.
"I don’t think we’ve ever seen a roster of this quality in Australia."
Add in the likes of Churchill, No Nay Never, Saxon Warrior and Mendelssohn, and Coolmore has an enviable hand in the shuttle stallion stakes, one that can only be matched by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation as possessing the stallion clout to be able to offer such international diversity to Australian breeders.
Yarraman Park’s superstar sire I Am Invincible - Australia’s most expensive advertised stallion in 2019 - is, of course, the result of the shuttling of Invincible Spirit to Chatswood Stud in Victoria in 2003.
He would come for another three years before returning to Europe permanently in 2006 and it is his sons who major studs in NSW and Victoria are choosing to back.
“He has a big shoulder with a big hind end and is a very good walker with low-to-the-ground speed.
“In the two years that I have been involved at Darley he's a horse who has just kept on improving.”
Local breeders such as Arrowfield Stud’s John Messara, who was instrumental in bringing Danehill to Australia in the 1990s, has also embraced the shuttle stallion in recent years by targeting sons of Deep Impact, but he has since added his own Invincible Spirit flavour with the stallion’s well-credentialed son Shalaa, who stands at Haras de Bouquetot in France.
“Be prepared for those Shalaas, they’re going to be impressive,” Messara predicted.
“He’s a real cookie cutter, they all look similar and they’ve all got a classy, athletic look about them. He’ll sell really well here I’m sure of it.”
Messara’s confidence is backed up by the show of market faith in Shalaa’s first crop yearlings at the recent Arqana August Yearling Sale in Deauville, with the top-priced lot by the sire selling to Narvick International for €600,000.
“I got two emails during the Arqana sale from two interesting people,” he said. “One was a leading international agent, who said to me ‘I’ve seen my first yearlings by Shalaa, I think you’re on to a winner’, and the other one was one of our independent vets here, who sent me a note saying ‘I’ve just seen the Shalaas, I think you’ve pulled a good one there’.
“They are two guys that I respect who, unprovoked, were excited enough to drop me a note, so obviously he did well over there.”
Messara has unequivocal belief in the late Deep Impact proving to be a successful outcross in Australia.
“The strike rate is fantastic - it’s 16 per cent with the Danehill line which is as good as it can get. It’s proven, so why go fishing where the fish are not biting,” he said.
“We’ve plucked out two or three of the Deep Impacts that had zip, he can throw sharp ones and stayers, too. We selected two or three sprinter-milers to suit the local conditions.
“We’re giving them our support and we think they’re going to do well.”
The sons of Invincible Spirit, Deep Impact and Scat Daddy are offering breeders alternatives to the prolific Danehill-Redoute’s Choice blood, while Vinery Stud’s veteran shuttler More Than Ready has played an integral role in diversifying the country’s colonial pedigrees for almost two decades.
That point was highlighted by Vinery’s Adam White at the weekend, with sons of More Than Ready including the late Sebring and Queensland’s young sire Better Than Ready more than making their mark.
“[Then we have] those two stakes winning three-year-olds two weeks ago in Melbourne (Exhilarates and Bivouac) who are both out of More Than Ready mares. He has it all covered. He’ll live in pedigrees for a hell of a long time,” White said.
Despite More Than Ready’s advancing years as he enters his 19th consecutive season at Vinery, White reminded breeders not to dismiss the son of Southern Halo.
“His popularity has ensured that he has a nice book without being out of control for an older horse,” White said. “He’s done wonders for our name, our farm and our brand. We’re in debt to him for life.”
“We all get too excited about these young horses coming through the ranks but if you actually sit back and look at what he’s done, it just makes sense to breed to a horse that you can get a good result out of for your mare.”
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