Durham Lodge sire Blackfriars is poised to pass a couple of milestones before the new season is too much older.
Blackfriars (Danehill) sired his 99th Australian winner when Éclair Surprise scored an eye-catching victory on debut at Geelong on Tuesday. The Peter Moody trained colt stole the thunder of Makybe Diva’s son Rockstardom when he split runners in the straight to win the Jacobs Creek Maiden Plate over 1300m.
Éclair Surprise (3c Blackfriars – French Scene by Scenic) is the latest three year-old to emerge from Peter Moody’s stable in advance of the spring carnival. Victoria’s premier trainer has several promising colts in that division including last Saturday’s Listed MVRC Mitchell McKenzie Stakes winner Anacheeva (Anabaa).
Where Éclair Surprise fits in the scheme of things isn’t cut-and-dried but stable jockey Luke Nolan rates him very highly. “I had to ride him back from the outside gate and then he got lost coming off the bridle around the home turn,” Nolan explained. “But he kicked like a nice horse when I pushed him through a gap in the straight.
“He got to the lead pretty easily then clocked off and had a look around. If he keeps progressing we might have a bit of fun with him this prep.”
Éclair Surprise was a $65,000 purchase from the Durham Lodge draft at the 2009 Perth Magic Millions. His dam French Scene won races at Pinjarra and Belmont for Durham Lodge owners David and Rita Smith before retiring after 15 starts. Second dam French Sound (Ksar) was a G2 winner of the WATC Winterbottom Stakes for Bob and Sandra Peters.
French Scene foaled Éclair Surprise first-up but she has missed to Hurricane Sky and Blackfriars for the last two years. She will be bred back to Blackfriars next month.
Blackfriars won the 1999 Victoria Derby and he is overdue to sire a feature winner of his own along the eastern seaboard. There have been 21 stakes performers so far in Perth and he should have broken the ice when God Has Spoken crossed the Nullabor last year.
Unfortunately, a leg injury forced trainer Neville Parnham to bring him home without racing in Melbourne. God Has Spoken recovered to win the Listed Aquanita Stakes and then he split seasoned campaigners Sniper’s Bullet and Scenic Shot in the G1 Kingston Town Classic at Ascot.
“Blackfriars is doing a tremendous job for us,” Durham Lodge general manager Jeremy Smith said. “He is developing into one of the more commercial stallions in the State and I can see him taking over from Bletchley Park in that respect in years to come.”
Blackfriars will cover at an $8,800 fee in 2010. He will stand alongside Universal Ruler (Scenic) and Hurricane Sky (Star Watch) at the Muchea nursery.
Brocco (USA) and Universal Prince have moved on from Durham Lodge for the 2010 season. Brocco (USA) will stand at Quanah Park and Universal Prince will be based at Waterford Stud.