Merlo Downs studmaster Jeff Marlow was confident Dance Hunter would make the grade as a sire and the son of Lion Hunter was represented by his first winner at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.
Sadly, Dance Hunter met the same fate as his own sire when he died all too soon in April 2009. The sum total of his stud career was 30 live foals from just one crop conceived at the Queensland nursery.
Modern Warfare (2c Dance Hunter – Ceres by Our Maizcay) opened his account in the Contour Consulting Maiden putting 11 lengths between himself and the minor placegetters Popular Belief (Jet Spur) and Patron Saint (St Averil).
Modern Warfare shadowed the pacemaker Patron Saint before clearing out on the cushion surface. He is trained by Kathy Stabe at Deagon for a syndicate that includes his breeder Adrian Cran.
“We will nominate for a 1400m race in town on Easter Monday and, if he goes well, we will consider setting him for the winter carnival,” Stable said. “He’s a lovely horse to work with – he doesn’t know he’s a colt!”
Cran bought Modern Warfare’s dam Ceres from Croxley Stud in 2006 and she is currently in foal to Widden Stud sire Tickets.
Stabe has another unnamed Dance Hunter youngster in work at Deagon. Like Modern Warfare, the filly is out of an Our Maizcay mare (Amaizing Escape) and is showing just as much ability as the Sunny Coast winner.
Meanwhile, Merlo Downs is going full steam ahead with its USA bred stallions Changeintheweather (Gone West) and El Nino (Storm Cat).
Changeintheweather has his first Queensland crop on the ground. He was a G1 winner of the Grey Breeders Cup at Woodbine and began his stud career in North America before the Marlows bought him outright in 2010.
It was a timely purchase considering his strike-rate in the northern hemisphere is currently a sky-high 65%.
El Nino served his first southern book last year after a career highlighted by three sprint victories in Kentucky. He was also G2 placed in the Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga. Storm Cat got him from a half-sister to G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Boston Harbor.
El Nino sired six juvenile winners in his first northern crop in 2011 headed by Senor Rain. He was stakes placed at Hollywood Park in December and added more black-type when third in the LR Californian Derby (1700m) at Golden Gate in January.
Connections switched him back to sprints and it paid off in spades with a brilliant 1400m allowance victory at Santa Anita on March 16. His sectionals in front gave nothing else a chance when clocking 44.74s for the first 800m.
Changeintheweather and El Nino both stand for a $5,500 fee at Merlo Downs alongside Savabeel’s half-brother Garrison Savannah (Danehill).
Son of Storm Cat standing at Merlo Downs