Just one group1 event remains for the 2017-18 Australian racing season and the Chris Waller stable, aided by a huge contribution from wonder mare Winx, has produced another amazing 12 months.
A total of 69 group1 races were programmed in the 12 months beginning August 1, 2017, finishing on Saturday week with the running of the group1 Tattersall’s Tiara for fillies and mares at Doomben.
In the limelight: Trapeze Artist was the stand-out performer for his champion sire Snitzel during the season.
Encosta De Lago has maintained his domination in the premiership for leading broodmare sire. He has had 649 runners representing him for 298 winners of 477 races, bringing in prizemoney of $21,049,724 – $4 million-odd more than Redoute’s Choice and $7 million in advance of Zabeel.
Other multiple group1-winning trainers were James Cummings and Anthony Cummings both celebrating five winners, while Mick Price and the Hayes-Dabernig team recorded a similar number of wins. Gerald Ryan and Pat Webster both had three group1 triumphs with their stable superstars Trapeze Artist and Happy Clapper respectively.
What Snitzel has achieved this season – and there are still six weeks remaining – may possibly never be eclipsed. His prize winnings after Wednesday racing was $28,076,989 – $12 million more than the season before.
Street Cry was runner-up to Snitzel last year with earnings then of $11,879,115 and Winx winning $6,105,000. This season Winx has won almost the same amount at $6,215,000, but Street Cry can manage just fifth place on the stallions’ premiership with $11,887,535.
Snitzel and Street Cry were joined by Fastnet Rock as producing the greatest number of group1 winners – with six fantastic performers during 2017-18. Snitzel’s wins at the highest level were three for Trapeze Artist and one each by Redzel, Russian Revolution and Golden Slipper winner Estijaab. Fastnet Rock’s numbers were made up of three wins by the Anthony Freedman-trained mare Shoals and one each by Merchant Navy, Unforgotten and Comin’ Through.
Winx won all her six starts in group1 races this season to put her sire on par with the other two.
The deceased High Chaparral had five wins in group1s with Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling the highlight horse joined by Ace High, who won two group1s, and the three-year-old fillies Hiyaam and Youngstar.
Tony McEvoy’s bonny two-year-old filly Sunlight was the major factor in her sire Zoustar running away with the Australian first-season stallions’ premiership from Spirit Of Boom.
Zoustar’s prizemoney surged past the $3 million barrier with the second placing of Zousain behind stablemate The Autumn Sun in the group 1 J.J. Atkins Stakes at Doomben last Saturday. Zousain earned $123,000 for his effort and his overall earnings are a tidy $331,440 and he is second in winnings behind Sunlight, whose Magic Millions win helped take her total earnings to $2,165,400. Lean Mean Machine is third-highest earner with $221,194.
Zoustar’s prize-winnings have been primarily on Queensland racetracks with Sunlight winning three of her starts on the Gold Coast track, while Zousain and Lean Mean Machine won group2 races at Doomben leading into the Atkins.
Zoustar has sired eight individual winners while Spirit Of Boom leads the individual winning tally with 17 winners but his earnings are $1,814,820. As a result of their siring performances Zoustar and Spirit Of Boom have had substantial fee increases for the coming stud season, with the former going from $44,000 to $60,500 while the latter goes from $11,000 to $55,000.
Irishman Aidan O’Brien spoke with Australian media in a lengthy phone hook-up earlier this week and the trainer and part-time breeder had plenty of plaudits for the two new Coolmore stallions heading to Australia for the 2018 breeding season.
The horses in question are Caravaggio (Scat Daddy x Mekko Hokte) and Churchill (Galileo x Meow) who will be standing at introductory fees of $33,000 and $27,500 respectively.
O’Brien said the pair were probably the most exciting horses to leave Coolmore to go to stud. ‘‘Caravaggio was a natural from day one. He was very clear-winded and had a great mind, great action, covered an awful lot of ground when he galloped. We thought he was absolutely the bee’s knees,’’ he said.
‘‘Probably, with my hand on my heart, he was a miler who got a mile and a quarter, so for us both of those were no-brainers to go to stud. For us everything was right with them, their wind and mentality.
‘‘They had strength, vitality, they had pace and physique and I think they are going to be massive additions to your bloodlines in your part of the world.
‘‘For me, they were the two horses to come through here in the one year that I thought were the real thing. We are really looking forward to seeing their stock.
‘‘I think they will make good-looking stock because physically they were very good and had the natural ability to go along with everything else. Then the most important thing, their minds were brilliant. Both of them.
‘‘We are looking forward to both of them up here and when we did our mares lists this year it was very easy – everything was Caravaggio and Churchill all the way along.
‘‘Caravaggio is an outcross of all mares. Churchill is Galileo with no Danehill blood in him, which makes him unbelievable for you guys down there,’’ O’Brien concluded.