Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I was confident. Over confident as it turns out. When Bel Esprit landed his 155th individual winner for 2012-13 just on a week ago, I’d taken the fast track to cloud nine. And Brian Donohoe was floating adjacent. Only one more winner required for the all-time record.
Now Brian, for those of you who don’t know, was (still is) a part owner in Bel Esprit and if there is a person walking on this mortal coil that keeps a closer eye on a particular stallion’s stats, then I’d be surprised.
In fact, look ‘fanatical’ up in your dictionary.
Brian’s the bloke that runs the Bel Esprit blog and rarely misses an Esprit event (except for perhaps a six week break a year or so back when Mrs Donohoe dragged him to the North Pole … I kid you not!).
Anyway, it was Brian who alerted us a couple of weeks back that Bel Esprit was looming large and, to back it up, provided a comprehensive rundown of national premierships (by winners) for the past 12 seasons.
Not only was Bel Esprit poised to overtake Commands’ record (set in 2010-11), he was doing so with a superior strike rate. In fact, this champ's winners to runners is the best in 10 years.
So, in preparation for the big day, we double checked and triple checked. Lots of checks as a matter of fact … Brian Russell, the Stud book, Stallions publisher Andrew Reichard – even Jeff Kruger at Lyndhurst which stood one of the all-time great winner-getters in Celestial Dancer. All clear. 156 would be the most … ever!
And we thought he’d do it on his ear. Really. How could he not … I mean, he’s been pumping out – on average – five wins a week, every week for 12 months.
Surely there would be ONE more for heaven’s sake. I was cocky too – even thought how nice 160 would look in print.
I managed to drag a few compadres in … we’d check the entries every day, size up their chances. Thursday and Friday were wipes, but all day Saturday, there I was, hunched over the keyboard … waiting, waiting.
Eliza Park’s noms lad, Phil Marshall, was actually smiling. Who knew he had teeth?
But then disaster struck. Lemaitre finished second and so did Royal Request.
A Facebook friend (the only ones I’ve got) went off before acceptances by posting a ‘well done’ when Half His Luck won at Morphettville. Half His Luck? Try no luck! Half His Luck had won his previous race at Bendigo at 5pm on 2 August 2012 – just 41 hours into the season. Ouch.
By Sunday arvo, Phil was getting wobbly and by Monday night, he’d done what his fellow countrymen rarely do – he’d walked.
Indeed, he began to scoff at my suggestions that a $180 pop might just turn it all around.
The clock was winding down and runners were few.
Then out came The Hummel in the Aussie Mornington Plate over 1200m on Tuesday … 30 July. Less than 33 hours before the end of 2012-13. Seventh line of betting in an 11 horse race.
Now, I wouldn’t have a clue what a Hummel is but when he started to put in the big ones near the finish line, I was seriously considering having the name tattooed on my left cheek.
But wouldn’t you know it, right on the wire he gets nabbed by the Tony Noonan trained Special Girls. Now Tony is a top bloke. Good trainer too. But Tony, you are not, repeat NOT, invited to my next birthday party.
The Hummel missed by a nostril. If Bel Esprits were renowned for blinding speed AND big noses, the champagne corks would now be popping.
So, 155 it is. Can’t say we’re totally shattered though … after all, he is the first Victorian stallion since way back when to win a national general sires’ title and he went within a Hummel of becoming the greatest winner-getter in an Australian racing season.
Of equal import, he even did it with less runners!

That’ll do Bel … that’ll do.


It might have been the last day of the racing season, but Astronomer Royal 2YO, Caribbean Blue, showed his true colours over 1500m at Ballarat on Wednesday, taking out the Porter Plant Handicap with a well timed run.
And what colours they are! The lightly raced youngster carried some of the most popular silks in racing – that of Moonee Valley chairman, Bob Scarborough and his wife Rosemary.
Now, while Caribbean Blue has a long way to go to catch up with other Scarborough luminaries such as Sleek Chassis, Marble Halls, Gallica, Gold Ace, Final Card and Light Fantastic, the Ballarat score was full of merit.
With his oldest Australian runners just 2YOs – actually three as of tomorrow – Astronomer Royal’s European runners include the stakes winner Table Ronde and the multiple black type placed, Sir Patrick Moore, while Gourmet Night won impressively at Geelong at the end of June.

Bred at the Scarboroughs’ Wood Nook Farm, Caribbean Blue is out of the Don’t Forget Me mare, Good News and is a half brother to another of the couple’s headliners in Victoria Derby winner Hit The Roof and stakes winner War Ends.

A bit of Caribbean blue ...


Statue of Liberty is the subject of this week’s Breeding Spotlight (Tara Madgwick - Tuesday, 30 July 2013)

Sometimes a sire goes quiet through no fault of his own – but quite often – it’s the calm before the storm.
The successful return to racing of ‘comeback kid’ Mic Mac in the Listed ATC Civic Stakes at Rosehill at the start of July highlighted his sire Statue of Liberty (USA), who is of course best known for giving us hulking sprinter Hay List.
While Hay List is his undisputed headline horse, it was Mic Mac that first put Statue of Liberty on the map winning the Group II ATC Hobartville Stakes as an autumn three year-old in 2009.
He’s won eight races in total, close to a million dollars in prizemoney and breeders that have utilized his sire since he returned to Victoria following an absence of two years in 2007 and 2008 will be hoping there are more like Mic Mac and Hay List in the pipeline.
Now with Eliza Park International, after starting his stud career at Blue Gum Farm, Statue of Liberty is a horse that has always held plenty of appeal for breeders.
A son of breed shaping sire Storm Cat, Statue of Liberty won the Group III Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot at two and was Group I placed as a three year-old running second in the Sussex Stakes over a mile at Goodwood.
If you subscribe to the theory that a big female pedigree is what makes a leading stallion then none are bigger than that of Statue of Liberty.
A half-brother to US Group I winner and leading sire Lemon Drop Kid, Statue of Liberty comes from the family of champion US sire AP Indy as well as successful sires including Summer Squall, Bite the Bullet (USA) and promising up and comer Duke of Marmalade (IRE), while this year’s Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World also appears on the page.
Since resuming shuttle duties to Victoria, Statue of Liberty has been afforded excellent opportunities by broodmare owners in the wake of triple Group I winner Hay List and his rise through the sprinting ranks.
Statue of Liberty has a good crop of 122 rising three year-olds that should serve him well as they mature.
So far this season, Statue of Liberty has had 27 2YO runners in Australia for eight winners, which is a promising indicator from a sire not particularly noted for his juveniles.
The best of them is stakes-placed Octane Flyer, a winner of over $100,000, not to mention Miss Steele (below) and Miss Santa Fe, while it is worth noting that 22 of juvenile his runners have collected prizemoney this season.
Because of his two year gap in shuttling to Australia, Statue of Liberty has had no three or four year-olds to run for him this season, which is why the uneducated punter might think to himself, ‘gee that Statue of Liberty has gone quiet!’
Three and four year-olds are the lifeblood of any stallion, it’s where the bulk of their winners come from and without them a sire can slip easily off the radar through no fault of his own.
Statue of Liberty has covered 481 mares in the last four years at Eliza Park, so it’s now full steam ahead for him as each new crop comes online and gets their chance to prove their worth.
Broodmare owners who use the crystal ball and need to consider what the state of play will be three years down the track when they hope to sell a yearling by Statue of Liberty after breeding to him this year, might find themselves looking at a very different scenario to what we see now.
Statue of Liberty has had his fee reduced to $11,000 this year, which is the cheapest it has been since 2006, so if you like him this would be the year to go to him.

For more information contact Mark Lindsay on 0416 334 338 or email

Monday, July 29, 2013


Bel Esprit had four winners over the weekend - Half His Luck at Morphettville and Wayne in Queensland on Saturday, along with Miracle to Me (see below) and Full Hand in Victoria on Sunday. All were previous winners in the past 12 months so he remains tantalisingly close to breaking the all-time record for the most individual winners in an Australian season ... just one more to go!
Following is a wrap up on Miracle To Me’s win at Sandown from Breednet’s Tara Madgwick.

Bel Esprit will finish the 2012/2013 racing season as the leading sire by individual Australian winners and one of those winners, 2YO filly Miracle to Me, became a repeat offender when she scored her second win of the season at Sandown on Sunday.
The John McArdle trained filly powered home to win over 1200m by half a length, her trainer revealing he plans to nominate the filly for the Group I MRC Thousand Guineas in the spring.
“We will give her a short break and give her a crack at some of those 1400m and 1600m fillies’ races. If she stands up, she stands up,” McArdle said. “She’s a tough, honest little thing. I trained her mother (Miracletto), who was a mile-and-a-half horse. I don’t know whether she’ll get as far, but I think she’ll run a mile.”
Miracle to Me was a $42,000 purchase for Redgum Racing from the Burnewang North draft at the 2012 Magic Millions National Yearling Sale and is the first winner for Miracletto, a daughter of stakes-placed by Belle Bellotto by Fuji Kiseki (Jpn).
Burnewang North retained a share in the filly, who has now won two races and placed twice from five starts earning in excess of $60,000.

Bel Esprit has 155 winners to his credit this season and stands at Eliza Park at a fee of $33,000.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


In a fitting end to 2012-13, Magnus has snared one of the final black type races of the season with Prettyhappyaboutit producing a command performance in the Lightning Stakes at Morphettville.
Sitting just behind the leader, Prettyhappyaboutit forged to the lead about 300m from home and soon put the issue beyond doubt, racing away to score comfortably.
Only lightly raced, this is a very good filly. Trained by Robbie Griffiths, she won easily at her first two outings in January, before peeling off four city placings prior to the Lightning.
Bred by Eliza Park, Prettyhappyaboutit is out of the Peaks And Valleys mare, Call Me Pretty, and is linebred to Mr Prospector through a daughter and son. She is also a half sister to stakes winner and Group One placed Born To Rock and hails from the family of Champion Sire, Storm Bird.
As for Magnus … what a season! Sitting second on the Australian Second Season Sires’ chart by winners, 2013 is the year he has truly come of age. Platinum Kingdom, a stakes winner at two and three in New Zealand, crossed the Tasman in the autumn and took out the South Pacific-LR during the Sydney carnival before capturing Group success in Brisbane the following month.
Missy Cummings, won her first three races, culminating in the James Carr-LR at Randwick, just a week after Platinum Kingdom grabbed black type at headquarters.
Then there’s the highly rated Perth sprinter, Magnifisio – winning all three starts at Belmont this time in – and who, according to Jim Taylor, has a very promising future.
And it might pay to ‘black book’ the brilliant debutant, I’m In Charge, who lived right up to his name with a resounding performance at Geelong on Friday.
It’s certainly shaping as a big spring for Magnus (below) – both in the breeding barn and for his runners!

Click here to watch Prettyhappyaboutit’s Lightning victory.