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Bluebloods : Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale 2013
MELBOURNE PREMIER YEARLING SALE BLUE RIBAND SESSION IT is something of a paradox that in a country that hosts the world's most famous staying contest (after all, where else is there a 'race that stops a nation'?), virtually all commercial breeding is aimed at producing runners that excel at little more than a third of the distance of the two-mile (3200m) Melbourne Cup-Gr.1. As a consequence, while the Australian-bred turf sprinter is second to none, as proven on the international scene by such as Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Choisir, Starspangledbanner, Scenic Blast, Ortensia and Black Caviar, in the 20 years since Vintage Crop became the first overseas raider to capture the great race, only four horses bred in Australia have won the Melbourne Cup. To put that in perspective it's the same number of times in the same period that horses bred in Australia have taken one of England's premier sprint races, the King's Stand Stakes. It's no surprise that New Zealand-breds featured heavily among the Melbourne Cup winners of the past 20 years, six of the winners hailing from that country, but there have also been winners bred in England (Jeune, Makybe Diva), Ireland (Vintage Crop), the US (Media Puzzle, Americain), Japan (Delta Blues) and most recently France (Green Moon and Dunaden). Of course, to consistently produce a horse of a given type, we need, to steal a legal term, "motive and opportunity." There has to be a reason to breed a staying type, and the raw material has to be available. In Australia, the focus on speed stems, to a considerable degree, from the dominance by the Star Kingdom line of much of the second half of the previous century and the fashioning of a racing environment around a two year-old sprinting event, the Golden Slipper. A candidate for the title of the greatest sire to ever stand in Australia, Star Kingdom, his Derby-winning sons Sky High and Skyline not withstanding, was predominantly a brilliant progenitor of speedy and precocious horses. Among his get were five Golden Slipper winners, Todman, Sky High, Fine and Dandy, Skyline and Magic Night, and several Champion Two Year-Olds. When your dominant sire is pre-potent for a certain type of runner, this is the type of runner who becomes desirable and from Star Kingdom onwards, the Golden Slipper type has been the type most breeders want to produce (and that commercial breeders virtually have to produce). Equally "at fault" is the proliferation of two year-old racing in Australia, which as a by-product sees selection for speed paramount in breeders' minds. The advent of the Golden Slipper, and the change it brought about, has been magnified in recent years with the increase in competing prizemoney in the Blue Diamond Stakes along with the wildly successful Magic Millions Sales/Race series as well as other two year-old race events tied to commercial sales. This has in turn dictated the type of stallions who are perceived as the most desirable. There is the rare transcendent stallion, such as Danehill, who was represented by a quintet of Golden Slipper victors (Ha Ha, Catbird, Merlene, Flying Spur and Danzero) but who sired top class horses over all distances, up to and including 2.5 miles (4000m), but particularly, as far as Australia is concerned, his fast sons such as Redoute's Choice, Fastnet Rock, Flying Spur, Danehill Dancer and Exceed and Excel, have had far more impact than more stamina-endowed contemporaries such as Elvstroem, Desert King, Danewin and Nothin' Leica Dane (who took second in a Melbourne Cup). In such a way, the trend tends to be self-perpetuating, sans the advent of a paradigm shifter such as Star Kingdom, and if we look at the 11 stallions advertised as standing at $A66,000 or more in Australia this season, we have Redoute's Choice, More Than Ready and Lonhro, who have all already sired a Golden Slipper winner; Sepoy, who won the Golden Slipper; and sprint champions Fastnet Rock and Exceed and Excel; and the miler Encosta de Lago; with the more staying end of the spectrum being represented by High Chaparral, whose standing is down to his New Zealand-sired crops, and his son So You Think, both at Coolmore; and Darley middle-distance horses Street Cry (who has been represented by a Melbourne Cup winner in Shocking, but who can get high class performers over almost any distance) and Medaglia d'Oro. Reflecting on the above, we can note it is the powerful Coolmore and Darley combines that are standing high- profile horses who don't fit the speed mould. This is in spite of the fact that the most successful horses on their Australian rosters are speed horses. Should those entities be prepared to persist with their current importation strategies, then over a couple of generations we may see some more stamina come back into the Australian horse. It will take time however. Of course if a potentially speedy precocious type is generally perceived as what the market wants, then this will tend to dictate the type of horse acquired for stud purposes, whether it be locally-trained galloper, long- term import or shuttle sire, and the opportunity stallions are accorded by breeders. Speed is a relatively simplistic and highly heritable trait, so if in turn horses that excel at a mile or less make up a considerable proportion of the population, this in turn will shape the demographic of the racing calendar, particularly in the lower and middle ranges. Perhaps the most extreme example of this process in a major racing country would be the US. It too once had a great race run over two miles, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which was frequently a year-end championship- deciding event, and which at that distance was captured by Triple Crown heroes War Admiral, Whirlaway and Citation, as well as such famed runners as Nashua, Kelso, Buckpasser, Damascus and Forego. Reduced in distance to 12f in 1975, it became a 10f event in 1990, and now is primarily a springboard to the Breeders' Cup Classic. We should note that even that distance is becoming something of an anomaly, as virtually the only times that a top class US dirt colt is likely to be asked to run beyond nine furlongs are in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup or Breeders' Cup, thus leading to a situation where the nation's elite dirt runners are generally a group of stretching out milers at best. More importantly, in terms of impact, is the shortage of opportunity for the non-elite, where opportunities for lower level runners to compete over 8.5f on dirt are virtually non-existent, so good luck if you are trying to find a 10f maiden, or an allowance or conditions race for a horse who wants a mile and a half (unless it is on turf). As a result, outside of a handful of horses at the February 2013 36 BREEDING STAYERS in a nation geared to sprinters by Alan Porter
2013 Magic Millions Yearling Sale
Inglis Easter Yearling Sale 2013