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Big hole left but no gamble taken as All Too Hard is retired

All Too Hard, another horse retired early. (AAP: Julian Smith)
Expert
5th May, 2013
26

It’s sad when a horse doesn’t get to fulfil their potential because of injury. It happened to Vain and Saintly. It killed Dulcify and threatened to end Atlantic Jewel’s unbeaten run at seven.

You can reason injury.

One has to accept what life throws at you. But how do you reason the retirement of All Too Hard last night?

According to racing’s newshound Andrew Bensley, with a stallion career beginning later this year, owners Vinery Stud didn’t want to take any chances by travelling All Too Hard to England for what was to be his swansong at Royal Ascot in June.

All Too Hard is a three-year-old colt with the world at his feet. Bred in the purple – from Group 1-winning miler Casino Prince, out of Black Caviar’s dam Helsinge – he was ready to peak at four.

Seven wins in a 14-start career. Four Group 1s – each of them between 1400m and the mile – won in his last five starts. Before we saw the best of him, All Too Hard is retired.

One way to reason the retirement of All Too Hard is to think of Vain (12 wins from 14 starts, including his last three by a combined 20 lengths, retired at three after injuring a leg at trackwork), Saintly (winner of the Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup and Orr in consecutive starts at four before breaking down) and Dulcify (winner of the Cox Plate by seven lengths at four before breaking a pelvis in the Melbourne Cup ten days later and being subsequently euthanised).

If you aren’t depressed, you’re certainly not satisfied. Injuries happen in most sports but that shouldn’t be reason to retire a healthy, young horse.

This is how you reason it – Vinery Stud bought All Too Hard for what is now a song. And they wanted to take their good investment to the bank.

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Horse racing is only a sport if you’re talking about geldings and mares. If it’s a colt, racing moves into the realm of big business.

Nathan Tinkler handed over the Caulfield Guineas winner in December last year for $30m. And then for good measure, he threw in a second stallion, Onemorenomore, and a stud property at Aberdeen, near Scone, in NSW.

Forget racing. Tinkler is the biggest loser at the moment. All Too Hard will serve 120 mares in the spring at $66,000 a service. All Too Hard will make $8m in his first season at stud.

If he’s any good as a sire All Too Hard could be worth a nine-figure sum in eight or ten years. And that would be after already putting close to $100m in the bank.

If Tinkler held the vultures at bay for another six months, he probably could’ve sold All Too Hard today – or at least a share in him – for $50-60m in a second.

Nathan cares. But do racing fans? Probably not.

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In the last three months, Australasian racing has lost four of its best horses – Black Caviar, Ocean Park, Pierro and All Too Hard.

On top of that, Mental, the best young sprinter in the country, was moved by Darley to its Arab headquarters in Dubai after the Spring Carnival and So You Think, Australia’s globe-trotting phenomenon, was retired last July.

So who fills the void?

Atlantic Jewel seems the likely candidate.

Unbeaten in her only season as a three-year old but she hasn’t raced for 12 months. AJ is clearly the best of what’s left in Aussie racing but can her legs withstand another campaign?

It’s A Dundeel won Sydney’s three-year-old Triple Crown this autumn but he has chinks in his armour. And he’s a colt. Don’t get too attached.

Perhaps we should pin our faith in the two great three-year old geldings – Super Cool the Australian Cup winner and Fiveandahalfstar the VRC Derby and BMW winner.

For starters, these two horses won’t be going anywhere for a while. They have already met four times so their owners aren’t scared of a tough match-up, and they can stay a decent trip which makes for interesting times in the spring.

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I could finish this article by showing you the best of All Too Hard but I’ll let Vinery Stud’s soon-to-be-released television ads do that.

Let’s look to the future.