When Emirates Park decamped from Diggers Rest recently there were two retired stallions among the fixtures and fittings that weren’t going anywhere.
Renamed Stockwell Thoroughbreds, it has been home to Arazi and Brief Truce since they were pensioned and TBV Life Member Mike Becker will ensure his old mates will see out their lives together at the historic property 30km north-west of Melbourne.
Both horses are rising 28 and both are fit and well although that’s where the similarity ends. “Arazi is happy enough pottering about his paddock,” Becker said. “But Brief Truce is still keen and would love to get back into the breeding barn.”
Arazi (USA) began his career with an unbeaten juvenile campaign in 1991 winning the G1 Prix de la Salamandre, G1 Prix de la Salamandre and G1 Grand Criterium before shipping to Churchill Downs to claim the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by five lengths for owners Allen Paulson and Sheikh Mohammed.
The Blushing Groom colt was crowned European Horse of the Year and won the North American 2YO Eclipse Award. “He still has an amazing following,” Becker said. “Every year, when the Breeders’ Cup comes around, I get calls from the American media for interviews.
“He had a fan club and they wanted head-collars, shoes and locks of hair as a memento. He would only have half a mane if I responded to all the requests.”
Arazi stood in England, Japan, USA and Europe before making a final move to Victoria in 2003 when Becker operated Independent Stallion Station. The best of his progeny was USA Group 1 champion Congaree and his name will live on as the damsire of Swettenham Stud sire Americain.
“His passport was already full when he arrived here. He’s a cheeky character and loves attention but isn’t happy if I turn up without an apple.”
Brief Truce (USA) was a Group 1 winning galloper in the same era winning the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1992 against a star-studded field that included odds-on favourite Arazi. Trainer Dermot Weld then sent him across the Atlantic to finish third behind Lure in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile at Gulfstream Park.
Bob and Jack Ingham shuttled him to Woodlands Stud, however, the first couple of crops took time to fire and he didn’t return to the Hunter Valley. “I found out he was standing in Switzerland and decided to get him back,” Becker recalled. “There were a couple of promising horses coming through the ranks here and I thought he deserved a second chance.”
Within months of his arrival, Brief Truce was making headlines with Diatribe (G1 Caulfield Cup) and True Jewels (G1 Blue Diamond Stakes) leading a stakes winning posse that also included So Gorgeous, La Rieuse, Gordo & Play Station.
His most recent black-type winner General Truce took the G3 VRC Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) in November 2009 and he was back at Flemington to win his 10th race in the Jezabeel Hcp last month.
“I retired him in 2011 when breeders were ringing up wanting to get in for next to nothing,” Becker said. “One bloke told me he would send a mare down with a couple of slabs. That wasn’t giving him the respect his record deserved.”
Mike and his son Brodie Becker have a long term lease arrangement on Stockwell Thoroughbreds and they will offer a full suite of services for breeding stock and racehorses from stallion walk-ons, pedigree analysis, foaling down and sales preparation through to racehorse spelling and post-surgery rehabilitation.
For more information & enquiries, call Mike Becker (0412 538 155) or Brodie Becker (0437 788 434).