Brian Russell is never likely to score a Nobel Prize for Literature, but his depth of industry knowledge is legendary.
Rapidly bearing down on the big eight-0, Brian’s grasp of facts and figures is nothing short of remarkable and the factoids he often unravels are not only informative, but interesting to boot.
The amazing thing is, he pulls most of it from the grey matter sitting between his ears and, unlike yours truly, is not forever falling back on the internet for sustenance.
Providing a weekly email service of industry tidbits – subscription is free: simply email email@example.com - a couple of Brian’s recent items caught the eye, including one on Written Tycoon’s sire, Iglesia (keeping in mind that the first of the Written Tycoon (below) yearlings are up for grabs at 2010 sales).
Few sires have equalled or surpassed the feat on the one race day of the prematurely deceased Queensland used Last Tyoon sire Iglesia, the source on Saturday (19 December) of seven winners on prominent racecourses.
The contribution came from doubles at Doomben, Morphettville and Toowoomba and a success at the Gold Coast.
It was an achievement that consolidated Iglesia’s current position as Queensland leading sire numerically and pushed him higher up the ladder nationally. Since August 1 he has had 54 individual winners in Australia of 74 races and over $1.2million. He is well on his way to surpass his statistics for 2008-09, a year his oldest were six and included 64 winners of 104 races and earners of $2.1million.
Now represented by his final juvenile crop, including overseas runners Iglesia to date has provided 188 winners (seven SWs,11 SPs) of 450 races and earners of just under $11million. The wins to winners strike rate is typical of Queensland breeding.
Used for six seasons, including books of 185 (2004) and 183 (2005), at Neville Stewart’s Oaklands stud near Toowoomba, Iglesia died at 11 in early December 2006. It was a loss that came only two years after the death at Oaklands of their outstanding Danehill sire Lion Hunter at the same age.
They were losses that followed the deaths in the mid 1990s in Queensland of four sires before their progeny started racing but who left winners up to Group1 level. These sires were Brave Warrior (sire of Show a Heart), Alannon (sire of Falvelon), St Covet and Just Awesome and their losses were a shocking tragedy.
Like Just Awesome, O’Reilly and Magic of Money by Last Tycoon, Iglesia was another brilliant galloper bred and raced by Geoff and Beryl White, Invermien, Scone and trained by Jack Denham. Out of their home bred Marscay mare Yodells, dam also of Brisbane Cup winner and Melbourne Cup second Yippyio, Iglesia ran 20 times for six city wins, including the STC Silver Slipper and VRC Standish Handicap – in 1200m course record time, three stakes thirds and a Golden Slipper fourth.
Iglesia is another indication that a reliable pathway to getting a good sire is the use of brilliant Australian racehorses.
Mustard, the John McNair 12-year-old who was appearing for the hundredth time and recording his 16th win when successful at Randwick on Saturday (19 December), is only a pup and lightly raced compared to Passion Moon, a galloper who ‘lived’ on north Queensland tracks in the 1960s.
As tough as an old boot who has lain out in the paddock, Passion Moon is credited by one authority as having raced a mammoth 281 times and according to details in a 1971 Inglis Sydney catalogue being the winner of 118 races, a score that could be a world record. Seventeen of his wins were as a 14-year-old in1966-67 and 15 at 15 1967-68.
All bar one of Passion Moon’s wins, a Brisbane maiden, were over short distances in North Queensland, mostly at Cairns, Mareeba and Innisfail.These meetings, including those at Cairns, mostly only had three or four races, each with very small fields. In fact Passion Moon often had only one or two opponents and on a small number of occasions walked over for the prize. In other words there were no other runners.
Bred by Herbert Thompson, the great Australian studmaster who stood seven times champion sire Heroic at his Tarwyn Park stud, Bylong Valley, NSW, Passion Moon had quality breeding. He was by the Tarwyn Park Big Game importation Hunter’s Moon and from Nell Gwynne, a smart Sydney juvenile by Golden Sovereign, sire also of Golden Chariot, producer of a queen of Australian racing, Wenona Girl.
Coincidentally, one of the sires that Passion Moon’s dam Nell Gwynne went to was called Rigoletto. Another Rigoletto foaled some 30 years later, a handy Bletchingly Sydney sprinter, got Altezza, the dam of Mustard. She is from the first class Dignitas race filly Princess Talaria, produce of the famous Winged Beauty.
Bred by the late Sir Tristan Antico when he had the Baramul stud in the Widden Valley in the 1990s, Mustard was got there from Altezza when they shuttled the French Two Thousand Guineas winner Vettori.
Mustard’s success on Saturday, one which took his earnings to over $700,000, was the first time he had finished in the first three in the 15 starts he has had since he returned to racing at the end of April this year after 19 months in retirement. His earlier efforts had included four Sydney stakes wins, including two Group 3 sprints at Rosehill Gardens, the Star Kingdom and the Concorde.
Very few horses of 10 or older have raced in Sydney in memory, but, back at the same time Passion Moon was racing in North Queensland, a tough, durable campaigner in Sydney was Grecian Vale. Got at Baramul’s neighbour, the Widden Stud, by the Ajax AJC Epsom Handicap and All-Aged Stakes winner Achilles, he is shown as the winner of 11 races, all in Sydney, in 129 starts. Three of the wins were at 11 and he was placed in four open city handicaps at 12, his final year of activity.
The most historic old timer of Australian racing was ‘colonial’ performer Jorrocks. He won four of eight starts at 17 years, one at 18 and was unplaced in one outing at 19, appearance in the Metropolitan on what was then Sydney’s main course, Homebush.