Rich Hill holds the Fort at Newcastle

Stratofortress (NZ) returned from the wilderness to win the G3 Newcastle Gold Cup on Thursday.  The Stravinsky gelding’s comeback was celebrated on three fronts by Rich Hill Stud in New Zealand.

Rich Hill originally sold him to Shadai Stud’s Katsumi Yoshida for $120,000 at the 2006 NZB Premier yearling sale.  He was a 3YO maiden winner for trainer Gai Waterhouse at Randwick in February 2008 but broke down soon after and his career looked over.

Stratofortress (6g Stravinsky – Instantly by Spectacular Love) was subsequently given to Joe Manning, a long-time associate of Gai’s father T J Smith and, after a year on the sidelines, he rejuvenated the gelding winning races at Albury, Wagga and Cootamundra.

Manning rang Waterhouse last year and asked if she would take the horse back.  “I used to go to Joe’s farm as a 14-year-old to muster cattle,” Waterhouse recalled.  “Stratofortress was 30kg over his racing weight so I poured the slow work into him.  He might be the oldest horse in the stable but he is also the most improved.”

Stratofortress was bred by Sian Elias, Hugh Fletcher and Alan Galbraith.  He is out of a three-quarter sister to Calm Harbour, a G1 winner of the Thorndon Mile and Captain Cook Stakes.

Rich Hill will sell a Pentire – Instantly filly at the 2011 NZB Karaka yearling sale and Instantly is due to foal to Pentire again this year.