Stallion Of The Week – Roc de Cambes

Readers of this site will have noticed that May was a great month for Cloughmore – ten individual winners constitutes our second best ever monthly result – but it’s now time to focus our attention on the forthcoming breeding season. My plan is to write a series of articles which focus on stallions which seem to be flying under the radar. There is no significance at all in the order in which these articles will appear, and I’m equally sure that there are stallions which I won’t be writing about which also deserve large books of mares.

I’m starting with the son of Red Ransom because I’ve previously written an article on him and he’s a horse which I’ve always thought is likely to be under-rated. His race record marks him as a racehorse of the highest class; Japanese form has long been undervalued by the New Zealand breeder – Shinko King being a case in point. To my eye, he’s a stunning looking horse and he also boasts a pedigree which appears to suit many mares in our stud book.

I’ve had a good level of success with inbreeding to Turn-to via the Don Eduardo – Prized cross (All In Black, Don Doremo) and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Roc de Cambes continues to cross well with Zabeel. The Group 1 placegetter Reminisce is out of a Zabeel mare and SP Ragnaar is out of a grand-daughter of Zabeel mare. Incidentally, there’s another line of Sir Tristram close up in Ragnaar’s dam.

We often forget that the success of our breeding industry has historically rested on the use of bloodlines which one might describe as stout. Recently we’ve moved away from breeding stayers in order to satisfy the requirements of a variety of Asian racing environments. We continue to do so at our peril.

Don Doremo Devastating at Moonee Valley

As he holds a nomination for the Sydney Cup, it was with more than usual interest that I positioned myself in front of the TV set at 9.15 on Friday to see how Don Doremo would perform in his first race over ground in his current campaign.

The first thing I noticed was that he has grown into a stunning individual. The Robbie Laing stable has clearly done a great job conditioning the gelded son of Don Eduardo; he has a lot more substance than his dam Prangelica (Prized) and he also appears to have a more relaxed temperament.

From the jump Don Doremo cruised to the lead. He over-raced a little in the first few hundred metres but then settled nicely for Vlad Duric. The middle stages of the 2040 event proceeded smoothly and with 600 to go the chasing bunch appeared to be poised to pounce. However, Duric clearly knew the quality of the horse beneath him: a little more rein and daylight appeared between Don Doremo and the opposition. By the finish he was a comfortable four lengths clear and had established himself as one of the most promising stayers in Australia.

Bred by Terry Archer, Don Doremo is bred on the same Don Eduardo – Prized cross as the Hawkes Bay Cup winner All In Black. What attracted me about the cross was that both stallions are bred on the Turn-to – Princequillo cross with several No 16 family lines thrown in. The Turn-to line has a reputation for unsoundness but the other significant influences in the cross certainly haven’t; moreover, one must always remember that the further away a questionable influence is positioned in a pedigree, the less chance it has of having a negative impact.

Let’s hope Don Doremo makes the Sydney Cup field.

Cloughmore Racing Invests In Four Yearlings

The plan was to select just three youngsters at this year’s Karaka sales to buy into but we’re all guilty of succumbing to temptation at some time or other; as Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”.

Anyway, we started off with the Mastercraftsman – Plain Jill filly which had been one of my top pedigree selections in the Select catalogue. She made $20,000 which I thought was very good value for a nice individual by a proven sire out of a six-win mare which had already left a SW and several other winners. The filly was purchased by Ilone Kelly of New Plymouth.

Next came a lot I hadn’t considered as I had thought a half-brother to a recent Derby winner would command far too high a price for our budget. However, the Echoes of Heaven half-brother to Habibi made just $30,000. Unsurprisingly, she was signed for by Donna Logan; our partnership is looking forward to continuing our association with her successful stable.

The third yearling we were fortunate to become involved with was a Shaune Ritchie purchase, a Darci Brahma – Gabana filly. Foaled in early December, this stunning walking filly won’t come early, but at $16,000 she appears to be something of a steal. Her dam won four and her near relatives include the Group 1 performer, Armstrong.

At this point, our partnership thought that we had achieved pretty much what we wanted to. However, as the sale series moved on to the Festival section, it quickly became apparent that nice fillies were being given away. I noticed that Donna had purchased lot 1065, a Tavistock filly out of a Volksraad mare – the same cross which produced Volkstok’n’barrell. Given that she was also from Empire Rose’s family, this filly looked too good to pass up – especially considering her $16,000 price tag.

So there we are, the proud owners of a minority holding in four promising thoroughbreds. Let’s hope at least one of them is as good as Candle In The Wind.

That Was Impressive!

Candle In The Wind’s conclusive win in today’s Windsor Park Stud Karaka Stayers’ Cup justified her owners’ opinion that she is a horse of considerable class. However, it’s fair to say that Hugh Bowman’s masterful ride had a significant impact on the result.

We all know that stepping a horse up appreciably in distance is one of the most difficult feats for a trainer to manage successfully and it was a triumph for Team Logan that the transition went so smoothly. Hugh Bowman’s contribution was equally meritorious: he managed to settle the Darci Brahma mare back on the fence, improved her when the pressure went on and urged her to the finish without asking any more of her than was necessary. It was a text book ride and much appreciated by the owners.

Readers of this site will recall that our mare was purchased for a mere $2500 from the Select session of the 2011 Karaka sales. Donna Logan had noticed that Darci Brahma’s progeny were not selling well and asked me to sort out a filly with a strong pedigree from the remaining lots. The one that appealed was out of Prefer Blondes (USA). She had failed to win on the racetrack and her only foal to race had been similarly talented but I knew a little about her sire Gentlemen (ARG). He’d been the champion 3YO of his year in Argentina and had then raced in the USA before going to stud. Even though his stud record was modest he had proved to be a consistent sire of minor winners. Moreover, he had won six Group 1 events and Prefer Blondes’ dam was Let’s Sgor, 1991 Joint Wrightson Filly of the Year and winner of two Group 1 contests. Anyway, a quick visit to the trusty Arion Pedigrees site convinced me that this was the filly to go for.

It’s nice to be right but there’s always a significant dose of sheer blind luck involved in the process of finding a “good one”.

Let’s hope our luck holds at next week’s sales series.

Karaka Opportunities Abound

I was hoping to be able to report on Candle In The Wind’s Rich Hill Mile success, but one of the ongoing truths of the Festive Season is that we don’t always get what we want. The good news was that our Darci Brahma mare did herself proud, finishing more strongly than anything else in the Group 2 event and confirming our thoughts that she has the ability to be competitive at the highest level.

Regular readers of this site will recall that the mare was one of three yearlings the Cloughmore Racing Partnership bought into after the Karaka sales four years ago. A minority share in each horse for a minimal sum and although our Thorn Park – Grace Park colt broke down in his first preparation and our Lucky Unicorn – Durham Walk filly had limited ability, the Darci Brahma – Prefer Blondes filly has proved to have above average ability and provided the five of us with a lot of enjoyment – and a reasonable financial return. The fact that the Lucky Unicorn filly turned out to be a half-sister to top sprinter Durham Town hasn’t been bad news either – she’s currently in foal to Ekraar.

Anyway, now that the Cloughmore Racing concept has worked reasonably well, I feel that the time is right for a second partnership to be put together. The idea is for an initial investment of around $250 per person and the partnership’s holding in each horse selected to be somewhere between 10% and 20%. The original partnership has five members but this could be easily extended if the demand justified it. However, the key aspect of the partnership is that monthly payments be affordable – any arrangement will be structured so that racing does not become a financial strain on us. I should also point out that I charge no fees of any sort for arranging or managing partnerships.

I’ve recently completed my Karaka Yearling Sales Buyers’ Guide which involves analysing the pedigrees of every lot in the Select and Festival session. I’ve identified a number of horses which I rate highly in terms of their genetic potential; if any of these are purchased by trainers I have worked with in the past, they will be the yearlings I will focus on in including in the 2015 Partnership. I’m especially keen on yearlings by stallions which are out of fashion to some extent: Candle In The Wind cost a mere $2500, an outrageous price for a filly by a stallion standing at $20,000 but in 2011 all sorts of baseless rumours about his progeny were floating around. Current stallions which I think are highly likely to be undervalued by yearling buyers are Bachelor Duke, Captain Rio, Falkirk, Mastercraftsman, Postponed and Towkay. (I’ve included Mastercraftsman here because many of his progeny are quite plain).If we get very lucky we might add a stallion like Nadeem to the list. However, whatever the attractions of a yearling’s pedigree any prospective racehorse also has to have good conformation and a decent temperament.

Anyway, please feel free to get in touch if you’d like further information on anything outlined above.

TWO DAYS AT TELFORD

I’m not a betting man but I wouldn’t mind wagering that regular readers of my posts on this site would have no idea what the above headline refers to.

Sure, two days are two days – not a difficult concept to master – but Telford, what on earth is that?

Well, fellow breeders and thoroughbred enthusiasts, Telford could well be the best kept secret in the country. It’s an agricultural training property just a few kilometres from Balclutha and it includes equine training facilities to die for. It’s worth adding that the staff are well-qualified, professional and enthusiastic.

I’ve just got home from spending a couple of days down there at the behest of Telford Director Professor Charley Lamb to see if I could recommend some ways of increasing the number of students applying for the Level 3 and 4 Telford Equine Certificates. (For those of you who don’t know me personally, as well as being a thoroughbred breeder for 40 years I’ve also spent nigh on the same amount of time teaching at Feilding High School.)

Anyway, I did some brief research before venturing south and it became very obvious very fast that there really is a demand from employers for well-qualified young people to work on studs and agistment farms. Moreover, there’s a real opportunity for those young people to gain advancement in the industry. This information will come as a surprise to virtually all high school careers advisors, so clearly there’s work to be done here.

However, back to my main theme. I am totally confident that if you know of young people wishing to enter the industry or current employees needing to gain a qualification, Telford deserves your serious consideration. Have a look at their website or, better still, make an appointment, invest in a plane ticket and go see for yourself.

Click here to learn more about Telford.

COMANCHE GOLD RETURNS TO FORM

It’s been a long time since 2 December 2012, the date of our Hawkeye gelding’s Queenstown Cup victory. Since then we’ve had 21 losing starts, punctuated by a bleeding incident and a significant muscle issue. I must admit that I thought Graham Eade’s persistence was optimistic in the extreme but today proved that he was right and I was wrong.

Sure, it was a very small field that he beat in the PGG Wrightson Balclutha Cup and he was cleverly ridden by Lee Callaway, but not only did he settle much better than he generally does, he also accelerated in the straight with a degree of enthusiasm that had been absent for quite some time.

It was especially gratifying that this, his ninth win, took his stakearnings comfortably over the $150,000 mark. I am touching wood as I write this – but long may his change of form continue.

However, one mystery still remains. So far there have been five Cloughmore horses prepared by Graham. Apart from the promising maiden Oriental Bronze, all have been winners and Comanche’s victory today brings the total number of wins to 21. Why the Eade stable isn’t full, I have no idea.

Battle Paint The Next Big Thing?

Breeders are always looking for that stallion – the horse they can use for a bargain basement price and then participate in the ride to stardom that the stallion enjoys. Volksraad started at $2500, Sir Tristram began at $6000 and at one stage Pentire stood at a modest $6500. It can happen, it does happen and I’m thinking that perhaps it is going to happen again.

I must admit that when Battle Paint was first announced, I wasn’t much taken with his photo. Although he was a highly talented 2YO who placed second to Holy Roman Emperor in the Group 1 Grand Criterium at Longchamps and although he was by a stallion that I’ve had significant success with and although his dam had produced 50% SWs to foals, I just wasn’t convinced. I am now beginning to suspect that I was 100% wrong.

To date Battle Paint has had no less than seven individual trial winners, four of which have raced. They include the Singapore winner Affleck, successful at his only start, a S$90,000 juvenile event. Jet Trac ran third in the Listed ARC Champagne Stakes and The Real Deal ran second at his Ellerslie debut. Sure, there are 52 Battle Paint 2YOs out there but there’s a remarkable consistency in the performances of those of his offspring which have appeared at trials.

Oddly enough, what really alerted me to this stallion’s potential was a phone call from a Taranaki breeder who had come across this site. He told me that he had been breeding horses for quite some time, that he had two Battle Paint youngsters and that he had never bred horses with such outstanding temperaments.

However, I do have to say that the class of 2010 could well turn out to be a stellar group of stallions. Thewayyouare has made an outstanding start and is highly likely to go on with it, Road to Rock has impressed me so much that I’ve actually spent my own money on a service to him, my enthusiasm for Roc de Cambes is undimmed, Buffalo Man has made a great start and Sufficient is also showing significant promise. Nonetheless, given Battle Paint’s likely affinity with some of our most successful bloodlines, he also has every chance of building on his impressive record to date.

Darci The Common Factor In Cloughmore Double

The CJC Canterbury Gold Cup is a race I’ve always wanted to win and, although it’s not the same as owning or breeding the winner, doing the mating for him has to be the next best thing.

Nashville was clearly in a class of his own in today’s Group 3 WFA event but he did have to combat a heavy track and the 2000 metre distance, two factors that he had been unable to overcome in the past. On the other hand, he was re-united with Jonathan Riddell with whom he has an excellent association. Riddell’s decision to take the longer, but slightly firmer, route around the rest of the field proved to be the winning of the race.

Twenty minutes later another of Darci Brahma’s progeny, the four year old mare Candle In The Wind, romped home in a $25,000 R75 event at Ellerslie. Part-owned by the Cloughmore Racing Partnership, the mare had shown significant promise last autumn and the dead track suited her admirably. Back and wide throughout, the mare unleashed a devastating turn of foot in the straight to win by a widening 2.4 lengths. Long may this sort of form continue!

Incidentally, our only other runner on the day, the Kevin Hughes trained Umshimi Wami, ran a meritorious second in the final race on the Riccarton card. The Pentire gelding is much improved and is well worth following on tracks that are better than today’s heavy conditions.

NASHVILLE WINS HIS SECOND HAUNUI FARM CLASSIC

There haven’t been too many runners lately with Cloughmore connections and it’s also fair to say that those which have faced the starter haven’t exactly been overburdened with good fortune.

However, today it all changed. Nashville, confidently ridden by Jonathan Riddell, tracked the leaders in a slowly run Group 1 1600 event, hit the front soon after turning for home and then accelerated away for a comprehensive victory.

Clearly, the change of tactics to have the son of Darci Brahma much closer to the speed paid off significantly. Now that he doesn’t have to tail off in his races, it will no doubt make planning his future racing career an awful lot more straightforward for his owners.

The ease with which he dealt to several Group 1 winners raises the question of how good he is. It’s always somewhat ridiculous to make predictions of this sort but I can say that if you saw today’s race you wouldn’t be at all surprised if more Group 1 victories were in store.

Finally, I know I’ve written about this before but you’d have to be worried about the quality of our stayers. Apart from Mark Oulaghan’s Who Shot Thebarman, the current draft appear to be of very modest quality. Our breeding industry have achieved something which once would have been thought impossible – the destruction of the niche market which underpinned our profitability.