At the end of August is when the Hunter Valley in New South Wales comes alive.Â The who is who in the racing industry whether you are an enthusiast, owner, Group 1 winning trainer or a trainer in general and more importantly the breeders all descend on this picturesque location for one purpose – STUDS.
Every year some of the largest Thoroughbred studs in the Southern Hemisphere open up the gates and allow people to come in and check out the studs and to finalise the match making that will hopefully produce that special horse- the next winning champion to grace our tracks!
The superstars of the breeding barn are all horses we are very familiar with, we have either seen pictures of them as a foal taking their first steps, we may have potentially seen them go through the sales ring and perhaps be the sale topper, we have most definitely seen them on the track and importantly we have seen them in the Winners Circle- Champions of the turf now leaving behind a legacy that will continue on for many decades to come.
This weekâ€™s Winning Wednesday focuses on THE STUDS OF RACING– making them half of a winning formula producing the future WINNING Champions.
Thoroughbred Events Australia was fortunate enough to be in attendance to some of the biggest studs known for producing champions, here is our wrap up of the weekend.
Saturday 26th August
The weather was absolutely gorgeous and guests were treated to fantastic hospitality put on by John Messara and the entire team, there were even baristas to provide everyone with the very important caffeine boost needed to get through what would be a very busy day.
The presentation of the stars given by Susan Archer who is in charge of all Media & Communications for the stud. This year Arrowfield with 3 main focusses for their Stallion Roster – The best of Danehill, Japanese Champions and Global Champions.
An exciting line up of stallions that were champions on the turf and have continued to succeed in the breeding barn, continuing their duals for being the most successful sire.
Old Favourites of Arrowfield returned including the ever aging but still just as graceful Redouteâ€™s Choice, Freak Race horse and successful stallion Snitzel, Not a Single Doubt and Smart Missile. Joining the Best of Danehill range on offer included the new boys on the block in Panzer Division and the Next Top Supermodel Race Horse (and very gorgeous) Scissor Kick (pictured).
Representing the Japanese line returning to Arrowfield stud for another breeding season down under is Real Impact and joining him is the dual Group 1 sprinter/miler winner Mikki Isle and Japanese Horse of the Year in Maurice. Representing the Global Superstars is the returning 2013 Dubai World Champion (with his trophy in reception) Animal Kingdom, Dundeel and the new stud on the block, Shalaa.
After the viewing of the studs, we were given a very special treat in being introduced to two of the early season foals, one by Scissor Kick out of Serenade Lily, who was a bundle of joy and great entertainment.
We made a brief stop in to Darley or the newly named Godolphin, in the hopes of laying our eyes on the one and only Lonhro. Unfortunately, missing the Stallion Parade we enjoyed a picturesque environment and lunch on the lawn, also taking advantage of the opportunity to be pictured with the 2017 Melbourne Cup.
Now this is a stallion parade with a difference and a first time experience. Typically the parades are done on the same days and at the same times, making hard to get around to all the studs you wish to see. Kitchwin Hills however, is different!
Far from any other stud located in Isis Valley, Kitchwin Hills is blessed with some of the most absolute stunning horse country with an array of natural resources to assist in the development of the future stars bred on this farm – including calcium rich soil which assists in developing bone strength, the nearby Isis River but country that would make you feel like you are in The Man From Snowy River.
This event kicked off at 6pm, sun had well and truly set and the night chill was beginning to set it – to the point you could see the fog across the paddocks. Luckily, once checked in and proceed past the office (which looks more like a homestead) we discovered many small bon fires to huddle around and connect with other individuals.
This time there were no fancy sandwiches or canapÃ©s, instead dinner was a good old Aussie barbeque and soup (to keep us warm). Â We were treated to a visual presentation before each stallion was paraded and if you had been to the Sydney Show you would have potentially felt that you were watching the reenactment of the man from Snowy River. As the stallions were led out, they were absolutely under a spot light!
Kitchwin Hills stands only 3 stallions but these boys are three of the most prolific in the racing industry- Dane Shadow (sire to stars such as Red Tracer, Hurtle Myrtle, Tsaritsa and Danish Twist) and first season sires Sooboog (sired by Snitzel and half-brother to the very talented Snitzerland) and a $1.5 Million dollar yearling, along with Counter Attack (sired by Redouteâ€™s Choice and brother to Red Tracer)
Once the parade had finished we were then treated to a spectacular display by a horse doing tricks – yes can you believe a horse completing an agility course like dogs do! Unfortunately, I missed this as I took the opportunity to get up close and personal with the studs down in the stallion barn and to learn more about the plans Kitchwin Hills has for the new boys on the block and of course the old boy – Dane Shadow (not one for a party)
The best way to describe this parade other than one with a distance is it has a very Australian Outback feel and really represents what Australians are all about – Beautiful Country and Breeding Champion Race Horses.
Sunday 27th August
No rest over what is a busy weekend, so on the Sunday we were back up bright and early, heading towards the last two studs on the tour. First upâ€¦..
Again not a stud I had been to previously, however, had only ever heard good things to the point that I had told myself this year Vinery was a must. Located in the gorgeous Segenhoe Valley, Vinery is spread across 2300 acres of lush green paddocks that include a nice balance of river flats and rolling hills, ideal for raising quality and tough thoroughbreds, along with many other benefits to assist nurturing the future stars of the turf.
Upon arrival, you walked through a marque that was lined with a gorgeous breakfast with choices including fresh juice, muffins, quiches, sandwiches and other delights, then as you venture out to look over the property on site coffee vans for those that may be requiring a new round of caffeine to help with the recovery from the night before.
Right on queue … we are ushered to take up an advantage spot so that we could see the studs strut their stuff in front of a massive crowd. Vinery is home to some of the biggest names that ever graced the turf and frequently occupied the Winners stall and boys I was very excited to be seeing for the very first time.
First up the old stalwart of the stud and one who has absolutely left a big imprint on the industry the big beauty himself More Than Ready. A horse introduced as one that has more frequent flyer points than most humans and is very well travelled, with earnings over $1 million dollars and the rock star looks, he has produced stars such as More Joyous, Sebring, Prized Icon, Samaready, Phelan Ready and fellow sire Pluck just to name a few.
Next up to follow was MTRâ€™s sire son in Pluck. To look at Pluck there is no mistaking who his father is. Pluck has so far given us super stars Mongolian Wolf, Plucky Girl and Lucky Louie to name a few. Out on the Stud walk next was Champion First Season Sire in Casino Prince for also delivering fellow sire, All Too Hard to us- and what a star he was! Other super star progeny from this stud include Hooked, Mighty Lucky and Casino Dancer. But to follow was his biggest superstar son in All Too Hard. The half-brother to the infamous Black Caviar, now strutting his stuff on the Stud Walk. A horse that had so much hype on him from the day he was born and more intensely when he stepped on the track, All Too Hard surely did not let us down with his ability
A horse that needs no introduction strides out next, Testa Rossa. A group 1 winner at 2, 3 and 4 became a favourite to many of us and around the crowd he was definitely one that people had come to see. Producer of stars such as Ortensia, Testifiable, Sistine Angel, Unencumbered and Pane In The Glass.
The last three to come out were also the new boys in the barn – Press Statement (unbeaten star of his time), Headwater (by Exceed and Excel) and the stunning individual and another all had come to see, Star Turn (by Star Witness and retired to stud in 2017)
After the parade had concluded, we were invited toÂ get up close and personal with the boys – of course I took the opportunity and they are some very impressive boys, should they stamp their progeny with their traits we will continue to see impressive foals drop and develop into future champions of the track. However, in More Than Readyâ€™s case – he just had to be the main attraction with his barn antics.
Last and absolutely not least and by no means a small stud to finish off what had been an amazing weekend with gorgeous weather, great people and hospitality but wrapping up at the stunning property that is Coolmore Australia.
This picturesque stud is located in Jerrys Plains and was established in 1996, stretched across 8,000 acres that is home to 5,000 irrigated flats and undulating paddocks that have been home to some of racingâ€™s biggest turf stars and will be for many years to come. Coolmoreâ€™s tagline is â€œHome of Championsâ€ and this is so very true, being the nursery that has produced superstars such as Fastnet Rock, Redouteâ€™s Choice, Vancouver, Pride of Dubai and of course the current Queen of the Turf and our hearts- Winx.
The crowd is massive and enjoying a delicious lunch of salads and Mexican on the lawns of Coolmore while we wait for the next stallion parade to commence. It presented great opportunities to network amongst other industry experts and to continue to develop knowledge and to share highlights of the weekend – or to even be spotted by a jockey on fire at present and doing it for women in racing – Chelsea Ings. What we were we both doing at Coolmore – well of course looking for part of the winning formula needed when breeding mares.
Once lunch had been enjoyed and as the time neared, people began to flock to the parade area to secure that prime location to see the CrÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of stallionsâ€™ parade before us. I waited in anticipation as some of my personal favourites of all time now call Coolmore home.
The parade started off with a sad sentiment – the soon to be retired Encosta De Lago (pictured) graced the Stud walk for what would be his final time. Now at the ripe age of 21 (or 96 in human years), Encosta has now been pensioned off and will now see out the rest of his days no longer being led to the mating barn. What a legacy he leaves behind and has influenced Australian breeding for so long, it was a fitting farewell.
Like any of the other studs, Coolmore has its returning studs for this breeding season including super stars Choisir, Fastnet Rock, StarSpangledBanner, So You Think, Pierro, Rubick, Pride of Dubai
New boys on the block at Coolmore include World Conquering and Cox Plate winner in Adelaide, European Champion 2yr OldÂ Air Force Blue, Record Breaking 2yr old No Nay Never, First Season Sire Vancouver and the one that everyone had come to see the first triple crown winner in 37 years American Pharoah (pictured below).
All stallions were just as impressive as each other, some on their toes and deciding to show off while others took it in their stride and well behaved. I personally had been dying to see So You Think and was not left disappointed, truly a majestic specimen and stamps his progeny well. I have never heard so many cameras click until American Pharoah was being led around. Another very impressive specimen and being so close able to see the muscles that this dude has – breeders in Australia wait with anticipation to see what the first foals of this global superstar will be like and how he will stamp them and of course what success they will have on the track being by one of the best the world has ever seen.
So with the Studs back in their boxes and a belly full of food, the long trip back to Sydney begun. What a weekend it was and one that was thoroughly enjoyed. I highly recommend that if you love racing and the Thoroughbred as much as we do at Thoroughbred Events Australia then this is a weekend you MUST put on your bucket list and do – you wonâ€™t be disappointed.
Article by Kylie Johnson