If the bullish comments of Darren Weir are any guide, then Nature Strip is set to make an unequivocal statement of his Everest credentials in Saturday's Gr2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley. The boom sprinter, who is yet to secure a slot in the $13 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on 13 October, has been kept on ice since scoring a devastating 6 length win in the Listed Lightning Stakes (1050m) in Adelaide on 28 July. The consensus seems to be that the remaining two slot-holders are waiting until Nature Strip proves himself over the Everest trip of six furlongs, but Weir, for one, has no doubt the fleet-footed 4YO deserves a spot in the world's richest turf race. "I think the horse deserves his spot in the race," Weir told Melbourne's Radio Sport National. "He's the fastest horse I've had no doubt. He's amazing what he can do over half a mile. He's just a beautiful moving horse and has got a huge cruising speed, so yeah he's a really good horse." Weir added: "I understand what people (the slot-holders) have a small query at him at 1200 metres, because they haven't seen him at the top level," he said. "But there's no problem for us with him at the 1200 metres." Weir said Nature Strip is scheduled to round out his McEwen preparation with a jump-out at Mortlake today. "He trials on Tuesday and he's ready to go. He's in great shape." TAB has Nature Strip on the third line of betting at $8 for the Everest.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, 5YO UK-bred gelding Avilius (Pivotal-Alessandria, by Sunday Silence) made an unequivocal statement of his class when overcoming trouble in running to score a stylish win in the $150,000 Gr3 Premier's Cup (1900m) for 3YO+, defeating I Am Serious & Testashadow. The former French-trained Avilius, who is now unbeaten in two starts since arriving in Australia, improved his record to 4 wins (including the Listed Prix de Suresnes) and 3 placings from 9 starts for $324,058 in earnings. Trainer James Cummings said Avilius would be aimed at the Gr1 Caulfield Cup in October. “He’s an exciting horse. He was a weapon when he got into the clear,” Cummings told Godolphin.com. “We won’t get carried away, but it might be worth nominating for the Caulfield Cup.” Cummings added: “From the moment he arrived his class was obvious. He’s adapted beautifully and he’s shown what the Australian team can do.” Avilius is likely to head to either the Gr3 Newcastle Cup on 14 September or the Gr3 Kingston Town Stakes at Randwick on 15 September in order to lift his rating.
At Moonee Valley in Victoria, French 2000 Guineas & French Derby-winning shuttler Lope De Vega (Shamardal-Lady Vettori, by Vettori) added a Group race success when 4YO mare Spanish Reef (Lope De Vega-Lemon Reef, by Lemon Drop Kid) scored by 2.8-lengths for trainer Ken Keys in the $200,000 Gr2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) for 3YO+ fillies and mares, defeating fellow 4YO mares Samovare & Flying Jess. Continuing her rivalry with Samovare who she defeated by less than a length two weeks ago in the Gr3 Scwheppervescence Trophy (1600m) at Flemington, this time the result was unequivocal for the favourite. Jumping well from her outside stall to camp just off Tasmanian mare Life On The Wire, Spanish Reef never looked like getting beaten at any stage and was eased down by Mark Zahra with 25m to run. A $12,500 bargain buy at the 2014 Magic Millions Patinack Farm Dispersal Sale, consistent Spanish Reef took her record to 5 wins and 5 placings from 13 starts for $420,200 earnings. Having now well and truly got the figurative stakes race monkey off her back with a Group race double, Spanish Reef's connections will be dreaming of bigger prizes ahead. Included in those is next month's Gr1 Coolmore Legacy Stakes run during The Championships. Suggesting she'll be tipped out after her Sydney sojourn, Keys revealed, "I want to keep [her] at a mile for the time being but when she gets out to 2000 metres and even a mile and a half I think you'll find she's even better."
At Hawkesbury north-west of Sydney, former Coolmore & now Aquis Farm-based dual Gr1-winning stallion Holy Roman Emperor (Danehill-L'On Vite, by Secretariat) added a black-type success when 6YO Irish-bred gelding Duca Valentinois (Holy Roman Emperor-Love Valentine, by Fruits of Love) posted the second stakes victory of his career in the $150,000 Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m) for 3YO+, defeating Passage Of Time & Unequivocal. The Godolphin-owned Duca Valentinios improved his record to 6 wins (including the Listed Scone Cup) and 8 placings (including the Gr3 BRC Lord Mayor’s Cup) from 28 starts for $420,153 in earnings.
At Eagle Farm racecourse in Brisbane, Arrowfield Stud's multiple Champion Australian Sire Redoute's Choice (Danehill-Shantha's Choice, by Canny Lad) added a black-type success when 4YO mare Ravi (Redoute's Choice-Mambo in Freeport, by Kingmambo) cruised to an easy 3.3 length win for trainers Peter & Paul Snowden in the $100,000 Listed Just Now Handicap (1300m) for fillies & mares, over 5YO mares Unequivocal (Not a Single Doubt-Chocaholic, by General Nediym) & Sheiswhatsheis (Bernardini-Cry Baby, by Street Cry). This was an overdue maiden stakes victory for the talented Ravi who improved her record to 5 wins and 3 placings (including the Gr3 ATC Sheraco Stakes) from 11 starts for $283,520 earnings. "She deserved that win. She's always shown good ability," co-trainer Peter Snowden said. "It's time to go now and she'll be prepared for the autumn and maybe back here [Queensland] for the winter." Ravi, who was retained to race by her breeder Kia-Ora Stud when passed in $190,000 at the 2014 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, is a full-sister to stakes winner and dual Gr2-placegetter Elzaam who stands at Ballyhane Stud in Ireland.
At Hawkesbury racecourse north-west of Sydney, former Haunui Farm stallion Elusive City (Elusive Qality-Star Of Paris, by Dayjur) added a black-type success when 8YO gelding Famous Seamus (Elusive City-Clinique, by Dance Floor) scored by 1.8 lengths for trainer Noel Mayfield Smith in the $125,000 Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m) for 3YO+, over 5YO mare and stable-mate Unequivocal (Not a Single Doubt-Chocaholic, by General Nediym) & 6YO gelding Malice (Teofilo-Aforethought, by Encosta de Lago). Famous Seamus, who was a NZ$70,000 purchase by Flagtown Pty Ltd at the 2010 NZB Select Sale from the draft of Trelawney Stud, improved his record to 13 wins (including the Gr1 BTC Cup, Gr3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes, Listed Lightning Handicap & Listed Hinkler Handicap) and 10 placings (including the Gr1 Manikato Stakes, Gr2 Challenge Stakes, Gr3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes & Gr2 Premiere Stakes) from 53 starts for $1,312,000 earnings.
Magic Millions has unveiled its catalogue for the 2016 edition of its flagship Gold Coast Yearling Sale which is now available online. Following a record year of real results in the sale ring and on the racetrack, Magic Millions acknowledges that its capacity to continually produce quality catalogues is dependent on the support of breeders. "This catalogue is a product of the faith breeders have shown in Magic Millions," Managing Director Vin Cox stated. The unequivocal support from breeders has resulted in an exceptional offering of yearlings to be presented for sale on the Gold Coast to a global market. "The breeders have raised the bar and elevated 2016 to the next level. Take a look at the sensational catalogue they are responsible for," Cox added. The sale starts on the Gold Coast in January with 1016 quality yearlings set to be offered over five days. Book 1 of the auction comprises 746 lots and another 270 lots have been catalogued in Book 2. The 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale will commence on Wednesday January 6. Printed copies of the catalogue will be available for distribution from November 23. Click here to view online catalogue.
The owners of Germany's latest thoroughbred star Sea The Moon have issued a release clarifying that the son of Sea The Stars is unequivocally not for sale. Raised "as a pet" at the Gestüt Görlsdorf stud farm, Sea The Moon, who is by the same sire as sensational 3YO filly Taghrooda, captured the imagination of the racing world with his 11-length Deutsche Derby win and interest in purchasing him has been sky high. Sea The Moon is a red hot favourite for Germany's premier event on Sunday, the Gr1 Grosser Preis von Baden, and Niko Lafrentz, who's family own the colt, told germanracingreview.com, "No amount of money will make us sell him. We keep rejecting bids and any additional amount of money offered will not make any difference; he is our horse... He will not leave Europe as a racehorse or as a stallion. The only flying Sea The Moon will do is on the racecourse!" The family has also stipulated: "No more than 49 percent of him will be available for syndication. We want to have complete control of his future as we have his best interests at heart."
At Greyville in South Africa, 3YO colt Legislate (Dynasty-Champers, by Restructure) stamped himself as the unequivocal star of South African racing when scoring a dramatic 0.1-length win for trainer Justin Snaith in the R3.5 million Gr1 Durban July (2200m) for 3YO+, over 4YO Australian-bred entire Wylie Hall (Redoute's Choice-Beauty Belle, by Ideal Planet) & fellow 3YO colt Futura (Dynasty-Scribblin' The Cat, by Badger's Drift). This was Legislate's third Gr1 success and took his remarkable record to 5 wins (including the Gr1 Daily News 2000, Gr1 Cape Derby & Gr2 KRA Guineas) and 4 placings from 11 starts for R4,503,600 earnings. The race will be remembered as one of the most controversial Durban July's in recent history with stewards relegating first past the post Wylie Hall to second after the two horses bumped over the concluding stages. Not only did Legislate virtually seal champion 3YO and Horse of the Year honours, but the top-class colt emulated his brilliant father Dynasty by completing the classic treble of the Cape Derby, KRA Guineas and Daily News 2000 before landing the July.
Arrowfield Stud enjoyed a significant run of success on Saturday at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, when five of the eight races fell to horses with an Arrowfield connection, whether as stander of the stallion, breeder, owner, or yearling vendor. The quintet included Woodbine (Hussonet), Unequivocal (Not A Single Doubt), All Cerise (Redoute's Choice), Seaside (Redoute's Choice) and Rowie (Flying Spur). It was Rowie's fourth win from 10 starts for trainer Paul Messara and owners Arrowfield, John Leaver, Paul Favretto and Paul Rowe, whose son Andrew died in 2011 and is commemorated in the horse's name. Rowie is a result of Arrowfield's joint breeding venture with His Highness the Aga Khan. His dam also has a 2YO daughter, Downtown Manhattan, and a yearling colt, both by Manhattan Rain, and a 2013 filly by Snitzel. Arrowfield's chairman John Messara enthused, "It's been a great day, everyone has been here at Rosehill and we've had a ball."
Following what leading UK trainer Luca Cumani described as "two very bad rides" by Jamie Spencer on his Melbourne Cup entrant Mount Athos at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood this year, the fall-out has escalated with Spencer taking to Twitter to air his response, reports theguardian.com. Spencer tweeted, "The only picture that I can find to answer today's news!! #spaghetti", next to an image "of a grown man in a pram, surrounded by broken toys." Fifth in the 2012 Melbourne Cup, Mount Athos debuted this season under Spencer with a win in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester before a sub-par fifth in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and an equally ignominious eighth in the Goodwood Cup. Richard Hughes replaced Spencer at his next run in March's Goodwood Stakes when narrowly beaten. Cumani was unequivocal when responding to questions on Thursday on RSN Racing & Sport radio regarding Mount Athos' "disappointing" or "below par" efforts at Royal Ascot and in the Goodwood Cup, noting, "I'm afraid it's on record that he was given two very bad rides and that wasn't the plan to ride him like that. So I insisted on a change of jockey [for the March Stakes] and we got the result we expected."
Whether you agree or disagree with the contention that it's time for thoroughbred racing to have one unequivocal world championship raceday (see above) email us a paragraph or two on why and how it might or might not work, for publication in Breeding&Racing's 2013 Summer Yearling Sales edition (published in December): email@example.com.
Elsewhere in England, the "town of Newmarket was celebrating after it was announced that the Secretary Of State & the planning inspector have unanimously turned down Lord Derby's appeal against the decision of Forest Heath District Council to refuse the application to build 1,200 houses on the site of Hatchfield Farm in Newmarket" reported tattersalls.com. Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony commented: "It is a triumph for the town of Newmarket, for the racing industry & for common sense. The unequivocal decision must now be recognised as the end of the line for this wholly inappropriate development. Godolphin's chief operating officer Hugh Anderson added: "The proposal for the land at Hatchfield Farm was totally inappropriate from the outset. It needed to be strongly resisted if Newmarket was to be preserved as the world's best racehorse training & breeding centre."
Meanwhile the Victoria Racing Club formally confirmed it "is not prepared to endorse any long-term revenue model for racing until independent analysis is undertaken" reported The Herald-Sun. The VRC sent Racing Victoria a letter "detailing its concerns, after discussing the gross revenue & turnover funding models at its committee meeting on Friday". Club chief executive Dale Monteith reiterated that the club was "unequivocal" in its belief that "independent analysis should be commissioned" & confirmed the VRC had given RV "a list of potential analysts". The RV Board meets today "to again thrash out its preferred future funding model".
In Ireland, sales company Goffs "has received shareholder approval to sell a major part of its stake in its French counterpart Arqana to help offset a pre-tax loss of €6.4 million (A$9m)" reported racingpost.com. The sale of a 26.67% shareholding in Arqana to Grenfell Ltd (a company owned by The Aga Khan) for €7.5 million (A$10.6m) in cash "was unanimously approved at an extraordinary general meeting". Chairman Eimear Mulhern told shareholders that Goffs will "continue to hold a 5% stake in Arqana & intends to work closely with the French auction house in coming years". Mulhern "delivered a rallying cry for breeders to support Goffs & declared: "We need the industry's support. If the industry acknowledges the unequivocal support of its shareholders, the efforts of the Goffs board & its staff, and the protection it has given to its vendors, then show that support in real terms & offer your best bloodstock to Goffs. Goffs is here to serve you. It has proven time & time again that it can do the job, but it needs the horses. Send us your best & you will not be disappointed."
The new on-line betting company Race-O New Zealand "has launched guaranteed NZ$1 million jackpots," reported thoroughbredinternet.com. From their own computer, players "can choose specific horses from the featured races, pick their own favourite numbers or simply request a Quick Pick lucky dip bet; the single jackpot bet is NZ$2." Founders & investors in Race-O "include Sir Patrick Hogan, the leading horse breeder in NZ, & champion trainer David O'Sullivan," reported The New Zealand Herald. Race-O NZ chief executive David Allen declared the launch signified "a new era in gaming & on-line interactive betting" & that it was envisaged "at this stage that 50% of the profits would flow directly back into NZ racing, a decision which will provide an unequivocal incentive for the industry to actively support the Race-O concept". Race-O recently hit the headlines in the UK where the jackpot reached £1 million (A$2.4 million).
Peter Sidwell has resigned as chairman & director of TROA (the thoroughbred owners' representative body in Victoria). Sidwell (who oversaw a difficult boardroom debate during his tenure) commented: "The decision to step down is consistent with my representations during the debate. We are now on a single-minded course working for the betterment of all owners. It has been an interesting ride. Despite distractions we have achieved much in the last 12 months. There has been the introduction of the very successful Gold Card, the financial consolidation of TROA & a securitisation of its long-term financial viability & importantly, TROA has reaffirmed its position of relevance & independent view for the racing industry. Notwithstanding, there are some serious challenges ahead for TROA, including bringing on-going pressure for an equitable solution to the Sky Channel/TVN rights issue; the preservation & growth of prize-money levels; & an active role in the shape & form of racing post 2012 when the new licences will be introduced." And Sidwell added: "David Moodie, probably the most successful owner in Victoria in the last 20 years & current vice-chairman, has my unequivocal support to assume the role of chairman."