• December 10, 2023

All this talk of Derby, Arc & King George but only Coolmore seem interested in breeding middle-distance superstars


As buyers favour speed at the UK sales houses ‘we’ risk running out of horses to flog to Australia where the pathetic state of home grown middle distance horses was clear for all to see at Flemington on Saturday.

Australian/New Zealand competition beyond a mile and a quarter has long been in dire straits, even taking into account the efforts of three-time Melbourne Cup heroine Makybe Diva, So You Think and Winx.

Winx, Australia's most recent star


Winx, Australia’s most recent starCredit: AFP or licensors

But Saturday’s Grade 1 TAB Turnbull Stakes at Flemington embarrassed locals to a new level.

Of the first nine home – and including raiders like Hong Kong star Romantic Warrior – only fifth-placed Lunar Flare was Australian bred.

The other eight were all imports, numbering Gold Trip, West Wind Blows, Soulecombe, Duke de Sessa, Francesco Guardi, Spanish Mission and El Bodegon.

Goodness only knows how the late Bart Cummings would have coped. He must be watching down in horror.

In many ways this is fabulous news for European sellers. But for how much longer?

At the Book 1 sale at Tattersalls last week it was clear that staying stallions were not in favour unless you went to Frankel, Lope de Vega, Dubai or Kingman.

Outside of that quartet good luck if your stallion and mare are stamina laden.

Ironically, of course, none of those four horses won over a mile and a half which is probably why they sell. Even the brilliant Sea the Stars offspring are offered at much better value.

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It’s a bizarre set of breeding events.

From June so much excitement surrounds the Derby, King George at Ascot and then we talk for weeks about the Arc. Yet other than Coolmore no-one seems interested in breeding a Derby hero or Arc star.

People must be encouraged to change their view on this. Both for domestic racing and the selling of stock abroad.

I posted about Tommy Kinane’s passing on ‘X’ the other day and what a character has left us.

But the man who rode Monksfield left his mark, both as a jockey and a sire. Of course Tommy helped deliver Michael Kinane, and many will argue there have been few better Flat jockeys than the latter.

Tommy was also a fun man. He had a wicked sense of humour and when I met him at the races he always had a smile and a quip. Tommy was one of the lads. A good lad.

Europe don’t win the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile but that all might change at Santa Anita next month thanks to Algiers who was an eyecatcher on Saturday.

The Simon & Ed Crisford-trained star, runner-up in the Dubai World Cup when looking sure to win a furlong out, was back in action in America at the weekend when finishing an unlucky second to Artie’s Storm in the Grade 3 Durham Cup at Woodbine.

Artie’s Storm is a Grade 2 performer at best, but Algiers was back from a break and didn’t get a clear run a furlong and a half out.

The Crisfords have had a fantastic year thanks to Middle Park hero Vandeek, while West Wind Blows, Chesspiece, Carla’s Way and Poker Face, as well as Algiers, have done their bit.

Algiers is a proper horse.


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