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Bluebloods : Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale 2013
MELBOURNE PREMIER YEARLING SALE BLUE RIBAND SESSION IT is not hard to understand why people are concerned by the dominance of European bred stayers in the Melbourne Cup. They expect the race of Carbine, Phar Lap and Peter Pan to produce more Australasian bred champions. Ones we can cheer for knowing that one of us devised the mating and produced the horseflesh needed to triumph over 3200m on the first Tuesday in November. Sure, the Cup has become part of the global racing scene, a change which is irreversible, but that shouldn't mean locally bred horses simply make up the numbers each year, plodding into the Flemington straight as European-breds race past them on the way to glory. Horse breeding has been such a big part of Australia's history that, by pride alone, we need to do more to produce top class stayers. On the second Sunday in December, I set off in search of answers: how do we get the next Australasian bred Melbourne Cup winner? I arrived at a mecca for such matters, a place where in the carefully decorated dining room there are 12 photographs on the wall, a dozen larger-than-life victories in the Great Race. Count the names: Light Fingers, Galilee, Red Handed, Think Big, Think Big, Gold and Black, Hyperno, Kingston Rule, Let's Elope, Saintly, Rogan Josh and Viewed. The trainer himself entered the room, in his homestead at Princes Farm, west of Sydney, so I put my dilemma to him. Bart Cummings was typically direct. "Breed a Melbourne Cup winner", the great man said, "Put your mare to Roman Emperor and wait five years." Bart has tremendous faith in his AJC Derby-winning son of Montjeu (IRE), standing his second season at Princes Farm. He recites by rote the quality of the Montjeu line: as a racehorse, the winner of the 1999 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe; as a sire, four English Derby winners (Motivator in 2005, Authorized (IRE) 2007, Pour Moi 2011 and Camelot 2012), two AJC Derbys (Nom du Jeu (NZ) 2008 and Roman Emperor (NZ) 2009) and, of course, Green Moon (IRE) in the Melbourne Cup. Montjeu's early death in March 2012, aged 16, denied the industry a chance to breed on to one of the world's best staying lines, a natural heir to his sire Sadler's Wells. In Australia, Montjeu has just two sons at stud: Authorized (2004, ex Funsie by Saumarez, an Arc-winning son of Rainbow Quest) who shuttles to Darley in the Hunter Valley, and Roman Emperor (2005, ex Gussy Godiva (NZ) by Last Tycoon (IRE)). They are part of a small, much too exclusive club in the Australian breeding industry, the 28 stallions at stud who have won Gr.1 races at 2400m or longer. What hope is there among these staying sires for producing a Melbourne Cup winner? Measured by weight of numbers, the outlook is pessimistic. The 28 stallions served a total of 1396 mares in the 2011 breeding season, just 6.3% of the 22,288 thoroughbred broodmares served in Australia. After decades of race programming for speed, with a production line of young sprinters aimed primarily at the Golden Slipper, our best staying sires have been reduced to serving one in every 16 of the nation's available mares. Cummings remembers a different world with a different set of priorities. When he started training in May 1953, there were just five 1000m races in the eastern mainland states. By 2011, the number of five furlong scampers had grown to 1778, an increase, on average, of 30 for each year of Bart's training career. Somewhere, someone got their wires crossed. We honour Cummings as an icon of Australian racing, the one trainer most Australians recognise due to his incredible record in the Melbourne Cup. Yet, instead of backing this popular strength, instead of supporting the work of a legend, the racing authorities have moved in the opposite direction. Speed, speed and yet more speed; and the breeding industry, sniffing out the prizemoney opportunities, has followed suit. On the list of 28 staying stallions, the greatest concern is their age distribution. Only 11 were born this century. Many, such as Arena (1995), Nothin' Leica Dane (1992), Octagonal (NZ) (1992) and Desert King (IRE) (1994), have done a fine job in siring stakes winners, but realistically their best days in the breeding barn are behind them. Of the younger crop, only Starcraft (2000), Duke of Marmalade (IRE) (2004) and Monaco Consul (NZ) (2006) served books of more than 100 mares in 2011. The other century- makers on the list were Blackfriars (1996) and High Chaparral (IRE) (1999). February 2013 38 HOW TO BREED a Melbourne Cup winner (according to Bart) by Mark Latham S.H. Bart Cummings
2013 Magic Millions Yearling Sale
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