John Sargent and I have been talking about the way ahead for Quintessential following her convincing victory in last Saturday’s Chairman’s Handicap at Eagle Farm.
The priority in all our planning is getting the quality mare to the Brisbane Cup, 08 June at Eagle Farm. She could run next week in the A$125,000 Premier’s Cup-Gr.3 (2200m) at Doomben under Handicap conditions. The other option is to wait another week and tackle the A$250,000 Eagle Farm Cup-Gr.2 (2200m) which is under Weight-For-Age conditions. There’s merit in both scenarios and we’ve decided to put a nomination in for next week’s Doomben event and see what weight she is allotted and make a decision from there.
Jockey Damien Browne has made himself available for whatever course of action is decided. Quintessential and Damien just get on. He gets her beautifully balanced and knows how to get the best out of her without a flogging.
Reports from Brisbane are pleasing. Bruce and Marina Compton are looking after Quintessential in Brisbane – which was the case last year when she won the Oaks – and Marina told John Sargent that the mare is as bright as a button today, despite what was a tough first up run last Saturday.
Plans beyond the Queensland Winter Carnival are in the melting pot. There is a chance she will be retired and be mated with All Too Hard. If she was to perform very well in the next couple of runs, a rethink to retirement plans will no doubt occur. Quintessential is only rising 5YO, so time is certainly on her side.
Three of the four horses owned by the Challenge No.1 Syndicate are likely to be seen out over the next few days.
HARPER ROSE (by Sakhee’s Secret) steps out in tomorrow’s Listed Berkley Stud Champagne Stakes (1250m) at Riccarton Park in the hands of Robbie Hannam. She has been placed in two of her three starts since shifting south to the stable of Kevin and Pam Hughes. While the opposition is much stronger tomorrow, in her favour is the fact that she is seasoned in what is bound to be a tough slog on a track which is currently rated a Heavy10.
DANCER’S TALE (by Tale of the Cat), who won the Listed Welcome Stakes for the Challenge No.1 Syndicate on the Riccarton Park course in November, is close to racing trim and might be seen out at the Te Awamutu trials next Tuesday.
FASCINATION STREET (by Elusive City) is a definite runner at the trials. She looked smart in the spring, winning a trial; placing second behind Catalonia in another trial and running fourth at her race day debut behind Bounding and Catalonia.
Great thrill today to see Jumeirah Palace (3YO Zabeel ex Sarajay gelding) successful at Geelong for trainer Mark Kavanagh and jockey Michael Rodd.
Sherryl & I bred Jumeirah Palace in conjunction with Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan. It was a simple deal – something we did three times with Sarajay – we provided the mare and Patrick and Justine provided the Zabeel service.
What was particularly-pleasing about today’s win is that the horse is the very first to run from the mare.
There is a 4YO brother out there with Gai Waterhouse which is yet to race, while the 2YO brother, named Cyberjaya, is with Bart Cummings and is yet to trial.
Jumeirah Palace was always a lovely type; probably more like his mum than Zabeel. You’ll see from the photo below (as a yearling before the Karaka Sale where he made $240,000) that he’s a strong colour like Sarajay and perhaps lighter-boned than many of the stock of Zabeel.
Anyway, great celebrations in the Clark household; we sent the mare to Zabeel three times in the hope that the Super Sire could get us a result. It’s early days yet, but at least we have some runs on the board!
Quintessential will have the services of the in-form Leith Innes when she tackles the Group One New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha on Saturday.
The four-year-old mare, who is trained by John Sargent for Greg Tomlinson’s Nearco Stud Ltd, has had two runs in this preparation to ready her for Saturday’s assignment and judging by what I saw at trackwork this morning, she is close to peak fitness.
Quintessential (Fast ‘n’ Famous ex Florette) is best know for her Queensland Oaks-Gr.1 (2400m) victory last winter and Queensland Derby-Gr.1 (2400m) second placing a week later, but she should not be underestimated at 1600m. Last season at three years she won the Desert Gold Stakes-Gr.3 (1600m), defeating Capital Diamond and Artistic.
One of her very best runs last term was when a fast-finishing fourth in the Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m) at Eagle Farm, while earlier this season she was a close-up fifth at 1600m in the Group One George Main Stakes with the likes of Shoot Out, Rangirandoo, Secret Admirer and All Too Hard in front of her that day.
A return to Australia is on the cards for Quintessential if she performs with distinction this weekend, with possible targets to include the Doomben Cup-Gr.1 and Brisbane Cup-Gr.2.
Sherryl & I got a huge buzz out of watching Rachel Rafter (Perfectly Ready ex Tears We Cry) carry our colours to victory in the juvenile event at Wingatui today.
We don’t race many horses – in fact Sarajay’s Gasmate Stakes-Gr.2 win in December 2007 was the last time these colours were carried to victory – and to be honest, it was never intended to race Rachel Rafter.
The truth of the matter is, we couldn’t sell her.
I should point out it wasn’t because of anything wrong with the filly; she’s a strongly-made, correct type with a lovely temperament. It was more a case of the fickle nature of the marketplace – and we had two cracks at the market with her.
As a weanling she went forward to the New Zealand Bloodstock National Weanling Sale. She was looking good & Perfectly Ready had made a strong start to his stud career, however she fell over & injured herself on the sale ground. It wasn’t much, but enough to stop any sale.
So we took her back to auction early the following year & she was offered at the Karaka Select Sale. We put a modest reserve on her, but didn’t even get a bid!
So it was time to back my judgement; did I think this horse had a chance of being a success on the track?
My gut feeling was yes, so I thought “bugger it, let’s have a go”.
Kevin & Pam Hughes train the filly from their Christchurch base. They are lovely people & very kind with their horses. I’ve known Kevin since my days in Foxton in the 1970s (yes, I am that old!) when Kevin was training a few horses part time (he was, from memory, a diary farmer in those days) and I was the local track reporter.
Rachel Rafter was very convincing today and I’m sure she’ll get better over even more ground. She will race again at Riccarton Park, 20 April over 1000m (a tad short for her), then her main aim in this preparation is the Berkley Stud Champagne Stakes-LR (1200m) two weeks later on the same track.
My very first public syndication effort – known as the Challenge No.1 Syndicate – has now been fully sold.
It’s been an interesting exercise for me and certainly a learning experience as it’s the first time in my 30 year career in this industry that I’ve delved into the area of Syndication.
Probably the most pleasing aspect of this initial effort is that I’ve managed to attract more than 100 investors; many of which are brand new to the business of racehorse ownership.
I pitched the initial syndicate as an ‘entry-level’ offering. Investors got a slice of four fillies for their money and the spread of interest amongst four leading stables has proved popular.
Winning with our very first runner – Dancer’s Tale at Wanganui in October – was a real bonus; but it got even better at Riccarton Park during November when the daughter of Tale of the Cat pulled off a stunning victory in the Listed Welcome Stakes.
Dancer’s Tale was a runner in the Karaka Million and while 10th was her lot; having a runner in a $1m race was a massive buzz for all concerned.
Dancer’s Tale has been spelling since the Karaka Million & returns to the Murray Baker/Andrew Forsman stable in the next couple of weeks.
Fascinati0n Street (by Elusive City), who has won a trial & run fourth on debut, is currently at Kendayla Park’s Aqua Walker and returns to the John Sargent stable in the next few weeks.
Raajaine (by Iffraaj) has had one trial for Shaune Ritchie and is spelling till May.
The fourth of the Challenge fillies, Harper Rose, has recently transferred to the Christchurch stable of Kevin & Pam Hughes, having originally been prepared by Richard Collett at Pukekohe. Harper Rose has had two recent trials and been placed in both. She steps out over 1000m at Riccarton Park next Thursday (07 March) and will have Matthew Cameron in the saddle.
John Sargent and I were very pleased with Quintessential’s fresh-up effort for fifth at Matamata last Saturday.
The distance of 1200m was always going to be too short – she has never won at less than 1400m – however the pleasing aspect was the big strides she was putting in at the business end of the race.
Quintessential has come through the outing really well and is likely to step out next over 1400m (Open Handicap) at Te Rapa, 16 March.
This will provide a nice platform for her next big assignment, the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes-Gr.1 (1600m) at Te Aroha, 06 April.
The now four-year-old daughter of Fast ‘n’ Famous has won at 1600m in the past, last year’s Desert Gold Stakes-Gr.3 at Trentham Gardens. Another significant 1600m effort by Quintessential was her fourth placing in last year’s BRC Gunsynd Classic-Gr.3 at Eagle Farm.
The beautiful thing about Quintessential is that she goes on all types of footing. She won the Desert Gold on top of the ground and was equally at home when getting through a deep track to win last year’s Queensland Oaks-Gr.1 (2400m).
There are numerous options for Quintessential after Te Aroha; the Sydney Autumn Carnival is one – so too is a return to Brisbane for their Winter Carnival.
I was asked the other day what the attraction to the Karaka Million is for me, wearing my Authorised Syndicator hat.
It was an easy answer. When you put horses up for syndication, you live in hope that you can offer the utmost of excitement to your investors; the Karaka Million provides that in spades. The Challenge No.1 Syndicate has Dancer’s Tale running in the $1m race on Sunday night and I reckon the build-up, the anticipation, the ‘what-ifs’ provide as much fun/excitement to my investors as the race itself will at 7.15pm that evening.
I bought four yearlings for the Challenge No.1 Syndicate, but only two of them were entered for the Karaka Million, Dancer’s Tale and Fascination Street; the latter being an Elusive City filly with John Sargent who has won a trial and run fourth on debut behind Bounding and Catalonia.
It’s an expensive exercise, so you’ve got to pick your horses carefully. Not only is there the $1,750 payment up front, but around another $9,000 in race fees.
Dancer’s Tale was in my mind a natural for the race, if she proved she could gallop. It’s why I offered her to Murray Baker to train. He’s won the race before (The Heckler in 2009) and the big stage doesn’t in any way phase Murray – he always appears rock-solid in his judgment and so he should be – 1000 winners including scores of major Group Races tells the story.
Murray made the call yesterday to take the blinkers off Dancer’s Tale for the Karaka Million. While I was a touch surprised, I wouldn’t for a moment doubt his judgment. When you employ someone to do a job, let them get on with what they do best. Dancer’s Tale is in the best of hands and if subtle changes like taking the blinkers off can make a fraction of a difference, you have to go for it.
Dancer’s Tale had her final gallop at the Cambridge track yesterday morning – she worked in company over 1000m on the plough – it was fantastic work and I’m confident she will be at peak for her big assignment on Sunday.
Whatever the outcome of our bid for the Karaka Million, the Challenge No.1 Syndicate has had a hell of a ride just getting here. We have a function room at Ellerslie and there is 80 on the guest list. It could have been double that; such is the level of interest amongst our team. I love their enthusiasm and, equally, I love the fact that they are all realistic enough to know that it’s an achievement just getting a start in this race.
It’s a good thing that Dancer’s Tale has a very strong back; she will be carrying all of us on Sunday!
The picture tells the story – a bright and alert Quintessential (Craig Grylls up) before her lovely run for second at today’s Te Awamutu Trials.
The four-year-old daughter of Fast ‘n’ Famous had a 6 week spell after her sixth placing in the Spring Classic-Gr.1 (2040m) at Hastings at the start of October.
John Sargent has given her a long and slow preparation and the mare has only had a couple of gallops before stepping out today.
Her trial was over 1000m. Quintessential jumped quickly and lead early. She then took a trail and when a gap presented itself half-way along the short Te Awamutu straight, she quickly ran through. At the post she was beaten a half-head with the winner clocking 1.00.16; the fastest of the six heats over 1000m.
Quintessential is a Group One winner (Queensland Oaks-2400m) and a Group Three winner (Desert Gold Stakes-1600m), so understandably is Rated 99 in New Zealand. The obvious kick-off target for her is the Waikato Draught Sprint-Gr.1 (WFA – 1400m), 09 February, though a decision on where she will begin this campaign is yet to be determined.
I was pleased with what I saw this morning when Dancer’s Tale galloped over 800 metres in company at the Cambridge Track.
The filly finished on terms with her galloping partner, clocking a tick under 48 seconds and travelling strongly at the line.
Dancer’s Tale makes her right-handed debut at Ellerslie on Saturday where she is expected to meet the talented Ruud Awakening. The outing will not only provide Dancer’s Tale with a look at Ellerslie, but complete her preparation for the Karaka Million at the end of the month, a race she is currently the third-leading qualifier for and guaranteed a start.
Raced by the Challenge No.1 Syndicate, Dancer’s Tale (Tale of the Cat) was spelled for 19 days on returning from Christchurch where she scored an impressive victory in the Listed Welcome Stakes (1000m). The filly did very well during her short break at Paul Pertab’s Matamata spelling property. She quickly settled back into the stable routine with Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and from what I witnessed this morning, will strip close to peak fitness for Saturday’s assignment.
Dancer’s Tale will be having her fourth outing on Saturday. She won her debut over 800m at Wanganui at the start of September. She then ran third (beaten Ruud Awakening) in the Listed Wellesley Stakes (1000m) at Trentham Gardens before being freshened for the Welcome Stakes.
Michael Coleman partnered Dancer’s Tale at Riccarton and did a sterling job in what was a roughly-run race. Coleman rides the filly again this weekend.