The past five Melbourne Cups have all been won by stallions and four of them now stand at stud. Forget importing Europeans – Australian stock is the one to buy.
As breeders and owners dream of lifting the Cup on the first Tuesday of November, our zealous spending in Europe has sparked price inflation for stayers at Europe’s Horses in Training sales.
Buying stayers in Europe was once a feasible way of getting a quality stayer not that long ago. With prize money for handicap races over there minuscule in comparison to weight-for-age races, European owners had no use for a stayer unless it was capable of winning at weight-for-age level.
And with that thought, they sent their horses to the sales where Australians once upon a time were able to discretely snap up a stayer.
But those days are over because the sudden increase in Australian connections eyeing off the Tattasalls Autumn Horses In Training sale is alarming. We all think we’re going to find the next Melbourne Cup winner there and under that assumption, price is irrelevant and exorbitantly inflated when we bid against ourselves.
Where Australia has been disadvantaged is we haven’t had a genuine weight-for-age stallion capable of running 3200 metres. Zabeel was our best for so long but most of his progeny were handicappers.
But over the coming three years, I suspect the Australian staying landscape is going to dramatically change.
The last five Melbourne Cup winners – Shocking, Americain, Dunaden, Green Moon and Fiorente – are all stallions.
Prior to the quintet, only two of the past ten Cup winners were stallions. They were Viewed who is now deceased – and Delta Blues, who went straight back to Japan after his victory. All other winners between 1999 and 2008 were mares or geldings.
Dunaden stands in Europe and Green Moon has one more season of racing in him. But with the other three Cup winners now at stud, the Australian landscape is entering a very exciting time with low-cost staying blood right on our doorstep.
Americain stands at Swettenham Stud for $13,750, Fiorente at Eliza Park for $17,500 and Shocking at Rich Hill Stud (NZ) for New Zealand $12,000.
On top of those, we now have two very exciting European sires with excellent staying prospects in Dalakhani at Cornerstone Stud for $22,000 and Camelot at Coolmore Stud for $22,000 here in Australia.
Those figures are miniscule compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars being splashed on the European imports.
While we see horses like The Offer bought for $360,000 that go on to win Group 1s in Australia, we rarely hear about the ones that don’t make it and flop.
Michelangelo was a $2,000,000 purchase that has now been gelded and the jury is out on Voleuse Des Coeurs who was bought for $1,700,000 and yet to fire a shot in Australia.
Of the winners, only Shocking’s progeny will be going through the sales rings this year but there will be a very sudden boom of local stayers when Americain, Dalakhani, Fiorente and Camelot have their progeny hit the sales over the next four years.
The low nomination costs are key. To change the Australian dynamics for staying bloodstock, we have to start at the bottom and Racing Victoria seemingly understands that. It’s why for the 2014/15 season, there was a $19.4million increase in Super Vobis and Vobis Gold bonuses which included a large number of increases for races run over 2000m and beyond.
While the October Tattersalls Autumn Horses In Training sale will still get significant Australian interest, we are verging the tipping point where Australian stock is the one set to boom.