A sparkling double for freshman stallion I Am Invincible last weekend at Flemington and Doomben could mean the winners face off in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic on January 11 and pave the way for him to set up a commanding lead in the premiership for the sire of two-year-olds.
The win by I Am The General down the Flemington straight and Basillique's sizzling finish to score on debut at Doomben took I Am Invincible to the early lead in the premiership based on prizemoney won since August 1.
The duo took I Am Invincible's tally of individual winners to three from from 11 starters, relegating Denman to second. However, the latter does hold the lead in races won and is also making a great fist with his first crop.
The Yarraman Park sire has been popular since retiring in 2010 and from the birth of his first foals the word spread that the son of the former shuttle sire Invincible Spirit was producing cracking types.
Apart from his three Australian winners, I Am Invincible's only New Zealand representative to date, Vinnie Eagle, scored at his only start for trainer Tony Pike in September. The juvenile then went for a short spell and last week excelled in a barrier trial.
Vinnie Eagle resumes this week and a win could have him cross the Tasman to contest one of the $250,000 Inglis races at Randwick on January 18 or Mornington on February 12.
The stallion also has two highly promising stakes-placed juveniles in Tetsuko, the Gerald Ryan-trained filly beaten a long head in the group 3 Gimcrack Stakes, and Silent Whisper, placed a luckless third in the Maribyrnong Plate at Flemington in November.
I Am The General was bought by Melbourne trainer Shane Nichols at the Magic Millions sales for $35,000 and his first two runs, a first-up third before winning at Flemington, have recouped $66,000 for his 20 owners.
On the other hand, Gold Coast trainer Toby Edmonds paid $160,000 for Basillique at the same sales and he was to be I Am Invincible's most expensive yearling.
After watching his brilliant acceleration at Doomben, that could be a bargain for Basillique's large syndicate of owners, who gained a $64,000 cheque and black-type success at his first appearance.
I Am Invincible's best win was in a group 3 race at Morphettville before he finished a close-up second to Takeover Target in the group 1 Goodwood Handicap.
That was the effort which prompted Yarraman's Harry and Arthur Mitchell to pursue buying I Am Invincible as a stallion, a decision that has proven a huge success.
Bloodlines also followed the sprinter's career closely and on many occasions has recommended him strongly as one of the best dollar-for-dollar stallions in the Hunter Valley at his service fee of just $11,000.
I Am Invincible has 15 yearlings catalogued for the Magic Millions sales, including a full-brother to Basillique (Lot 682), and 22 for the Inglis Classic sales starting on January 19.
Hoofnote: A half-brother to I Am Invincible, by Starcraft, from the Canny Lad mare Cannarelle, will be sold on day two of the Magic Millions as Lot 260 from the Ampulla Lodge draft. Phar Lap movie No. 1
Steve Haskin is one of the most influential of America's racing journalists and in a recent Blood-Horse article named his top 10 racing films. Surprisingly, none other than Phar Lap was his No. 1 pick. His explanation regarding the Australian film is as follows: “If there is anything remotely close to a flawless horse-racing movie, this is it. Wonderful storytelling, historically accurate, beautifully filmed, excellent acting and they even got a horse that looks just like Phar Lap. This is just a great movie about one of the great heroes in Australia.” Bloodlines is also a great admirer of Phar Lap, putting it on level pegging with Let It Ride, starring a punt-drunk Richard Dreyfuss. Haskin had this movie as his third pick.
Zabeel's job is done
Sir Patrick Hogan's decision to retire Zabeel, aged 27, from stud duties wasn't any surprise – he had done his job and can live out his days at his home of two decades, Cambridge Stud. Hogan told the media at the announcement that he hoped to fulfil a date in early February 2015 at the Karaka select sales where Zabeel will have five yearlings catalogued. “Zabeel's last crop is four fillies and a colt I own with a partner, and he will be the last yearling ever sold at auction by Zabeel. He will be the last one presented and, God willing and I'm standing up, I will walk him through the sale ring personally.” The supremo of New Zealand breeding, Hogan has had wonderful times with Zabeel, the sire of 148 stakes winners, including 43 group 1 winners.
Monsun's days as leader of the stallions' premiership are numbered, as Fastnet Rock and Snitzel are closing rapidly. Monsun gained the premier position after Fiorente's Melbourne Cup success took his earnings to $4,279,390, but the German-bred sire doesn't have too many of his progeny to keep him on top. Fastnet Rock has been whittling away at Monsun's lead and a Mornington double on Wednesday took his progeny earnings to $4,162,640. Snitzel is also keeping up his grand form this season for stakes of $4,123,807. This trio are the only stallions with earnings exceeding $4 million, but this will change rapidly because of the big prizemoney for the Championships in Sydney's autumn.