Melbourne’s spring carnival is the envy of clubs around the world and Victoria’s racing program is the best, by far, in Australia.
It’s time the Super VOBIS State narrowed the gap on NSW in the high-stakes bloodstock business and there’s a refreshing dynamic among local breeders heading in that direction.
“We’re going from strength to strength,” TBV president James O’Brien declared. “It’s an exciting time for Victoria. We hitched a ride with Black Caviar and launched several initiatives including Super VOBIS & VOBIS Gold which offer up to $18 million prize money every year.”
TAB returns are also taxed on a more favourable rate in Victoria – some $80 million a year less than NSW. And Victorian breeders aren’t fighting the mining sector for their livelihoods.
Leading the way are Eliza Park International and Woodside Park who have been reinvented under new owners in the last twelve months. Both studs have signalled their confidence in the future by investing in outstanding sire prospects Fiorente and Zoustar.
The Sun Group bought Eliza Park International which is home to Champion stallion Bel Esprit. He has claimed the Victorian sires’ title six years in a row and is gunning for a seventh come August 1.
Fiorente won a Melbourne Cup and Australian Cup but is by no means a one-dimensional stayer. “We have the greatest confidence in Fiorente,” EPI sales manager Mark Lindsay said. “He could produce an exceptional turn of foot and one of his best performances was over 1400 metres when third to All To Hard and Rain Affair in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes.”
The Sun Group backed its judgement buying 17 mares specifically for Fiorente during the Magic Millions National Sale at a cost of $2.25 million.
Woodside Park changed direction when Mark Rowsthorn took over the family farm last year. He installed proven sire Written Tycoon and, in a coup for the Victorian industry, struck a deal for Zoustar to alternate between Woodside Park and Widden Stud
“It’s an historic arrangement,” Rowsthorn said. “It gives Victorian breeders direct access to the hottest young stallion in Australia.”
On the sales front, Woodside Park enjoyed a stunning return at the Melbourne Premier in March with 6 yearlings averaging $202,500.
The new wave of stallions is filtering right through Victoria. Blue Gum Farm owner Phillip Campbell introduces Group 1 winning import Glass Harmonium and War, a precocious son of More Than Ready credited with a Group 2 victory in the ATC Up And Coming Stakes.
The Liston family have tapped into a proven Victorian sireline with the arrival of Unencumbered at Three Bridges Thoroughbreds. He won the Magic Millions 2YO Classic and is a son of Testa Rossa who started out at Yallambee Stud.
It doesn’t stop there. Kuroshio (Darley) and Mawingo (Larneuk Stud) are other first-season sires on board this season and Equiano (Swettenham) will have his first Victorian bred two year-olds ready for action in 2014-15.
The new breed also includes the likes of Anthony Mithen (Rosemont Stud), Ross Ferris (Two Bays Farm), David Kobritz (Musk Creek) and Cathy Hains (Burnewang North Pastoral).
They are raising the bar even though it’s hard to imagine how anyone could match high-achievers Tony Santic (Makybe) and Rick Jamieson (Gilgai Farm).
“Tony and Rick proved we can produce world champions,” O’Brien explained. “We are heading in one direction and it helps having such a pro-active environment in Victoria.”