Aretha (Matt Cameron, right) digs deep to win the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes from Rainbow Dash.
The two black-type juvenile features at Matamata last Saturday showcased New Zealand’s latest generation of first-season sires.
Windsor Park shuttle stallion Charm Spirit has made an enormous impression with his first northern hemisphere crop, and his daughter Aretha got him underway in this part of the world with a gritty victory in the Gr. 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.
“To have a Group winner in your first crop of two-year-olds really is the perfect start for a stallion,” Windsor Park’s general manager Steve Till said.
“It always augurs well for the future. He’s been very well supported in his first few seasons at stud and it’s important to get underway with a start like that.
“It was great to see Aretha show so much fight and determination to win that tight finish in the Breeders’ Stakes. Charm Spirit himself was very tough and tenacious in his three Group One wins, and he appears to have passed those qualities on to his daughter.”
Charm Spirit sired 34 individual winners in his first northern hemisphere crop, headed by the Group Three winner Yourtimeisnow along with two other stakes performers.
The Invincible Spirit stallion’s yearlings have sold up to $400,000 at Karaka, and they averaged $237,000 at this year’s Magic Millions sale on the Gold Coast.
“We’ve been very happy with the response at the sales,” Till said. “Being a triple Group One winner, the highest-earning son of Invincible Spirit and from the family of Encosta De Lago and Flying Spur, obviously there were high expectations.
“He’s been very well supported in his first few seasons at stud and it’s important to get underway with a start like that.
“They sold extremely well in his first season, up to $400,000 at Karaka, and he’s backed that up this year with his second crop.
“To achieve those sorts of results, you need to have both type and pedigree. The signs are good and they’re looking like they might reward the faith of the breeders and buyers who have supported him.
“Murray Baker, who trains Aretha, was saying earlier this year that he has a number of Charm Spirits in his stable and he sees them more as three-year-olds. That’s the really encouraging thing for us.
“Particularly with our gene pool, which doesn’t have the precocity that they have in Australia, we would expect them to improve as three-year-olds on anything that they’re showing now.
“There’s a lot to look forward to. There’s plenty of his progeny in the wings here, in Australia and in Asia that are showing any amount of ability and are yet to step out.”
Till was especially pleased that Charm Spirit’s Group Two winner was bred and raced by long-time client and friend Greg McCarthy.
“Greg has been a friend and supporter of the stud for more than 20 years,” he said. “It’s been a long and successful friendship, and I’ve tried to help him along the way towards achieving results on the racetrack.
“It’s really rewarding for us to have such a great client and friend achieving those results.”
Adding to a satisfying weekend for Windsor Park, young stallion Shamexpress sired impressive come-from-behind Gr. 3 Typhoon Tracy Stakes winner Embrace Me at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
“We bred Embrace Me, who has now won three of her last four and was an unlucky third in the other,” Till said.
“Gee, she produced some remarkable acceleration to come from last and win so impressively in a sprint race. It really reminded us of the way Shamexpress himself came from the back to win the Newmarket at Flemington. It was a tremendous turn of foot.
“It’s great for Shamexpress to get that result in Australia. Obviously Australia is our main market, so results on that side of the Tasman are so important for any stallion’s career.
“We’ve got such a young stallion roster (also featuring the likes of Mongolian Khan, whose first yearlings sold well at Karaka this year). We’ve had to wait for their progeny to come through, following a bit of a hiatus since the days of Thorn Park, Volksraad and High Chaparral. These results have been great for the farm, and long may they continue.”
Westbury Stud was also well pleased by the results at Matamata. Their freshman sire El Roca was represented by Moeraki, who was third in the Gr. 3 Waikato Stud Slipper, along with Matamata Breeders’ Stakes fourth placegetter Bella Mente.
“When a stallion’s first crop come up to racing age, the expectations are there but you just never know until they start to perform on the track,” Westbury general manager Russell Warwick said.
“We were delighted to see El Roca’s progeny finish third and fourth in black-type races at Matamata, and then another one (La Joya) was fourth at Wairoa the following day.
“We’re very encouraged by El Roca’s results so far and we expect further improvement as his first crop turn three. Moeraki and Bella Mente are both obviously very talented, and Bella Mente will head to the Gr. 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes before going out for a spell. She looks like she’ll make a lovely three-year-old.”
Rich Hill Stud’s Proisir was the leading first-season sire until Charm Spirit passed him last weekend. The son of Choisir has been represented by two winners – Tappy’s One and Harlow.
White Robe Lodge’s Ghibellines has also had an early winner, while Australian stallion Dissident has made an impact on this side of the Tasman with the winner Louis Luck and stakes-placed Challa.