Jameka (pic. Sharon Chapman)
You might well wonder just how much tongue was in cheek when Gilgai Farm manager, Kelly Skillecorn, said the Victorian operation’s phenomenal success could be due to “magic grass”.
Skillecorn was merely voicing what a lot of breeders are thinking given that the boutique property at Nagambie has now produced a number of stars at our most elite level, including racing immortal, Black Caviar, her half brother All Too Hard, Newmarket Handicap winner, The Quarterback and, as of Saturday, a Caulfield Cup winner in Jameka.
The “magic grass” comment certainly got a laugh from the ‘boss’, Rick Jamieson, who was still on a high come Sunday after his home-bred, Jameka, had captured one of Australia’s most iconic events.
“I’m really proud of her effort in the Caulfield Cup,” Jamieson enthused. “It was never my intention to be anything but a hobby breeder: race a few, sell a couple. Obviously a lot of focus fell on the farm with Black Caviar, but I operate off a relatively small base.
“Gilgai has around 20 broodmares and we never have more than 15 foals annually.”
Jamieson might not look a thing like Colonel Sanders, but he’s not in a hurry to give up his secrets either, simply stating that “I have my own method” and “while studs will tell you it’s all about the stallion, I believe it’s all about the mare”.
There is clearly something in the methodology, but there’s also a lot of burning the midnight oil as Jamieson does devote a tremendous amount of time to his ‘hobby’ and loves studying pedigrees.
“I raced Jameka’s dam, Mine Game, and she was very good,” Jamieson adds. “I believed she was shaping as a potential Oaks filly, but had some bone chips and we really didn’t see the best of her.
“She (Mine Game) is a half sister to (Group One) Canterbury Guineas winner, Jymcarew, and I sent her that first year to Nadeem (ultimately producing 2000m winner, Logovardi).
“The following year she went to Myboycharlie (a Group One winner in France by Danetime) and ended up with Jameka.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Jameka has turned into such a good stayer, but initially my impression was that she’d be more of a miler.”
Having bred the greatest sprinting mare the world has seen, what does the prospect of breeding the best staying mare in Australia feel like?
“Pretty good. I think she’s an outstanding galloper and is more than capable of replicating her Caulfield Cup form in the Melbourne Cup. She really could end up being anything. “Ciaron Maher has done a great job with Jameka and don’t be surprised if this Aussie mare knocks over the internationals again a fortnight from Tuesday!”
Jamieson has confirmed that Mine Game, having missed to Redoute’s Choice last spring, was covered by Myboycharlie in early September and would be returning to Gilgai Farm in the next few weeks, while the mare’s Shamus Award filly (now a yearling) will be retained and eventually sent to Maher.
Regardless of whether Jameka becomes the first mare in 15 years to complete the Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double, Jamieson is confident yet another rising star among the Gilgai graduates will experience Group One success before too long.
“Supido is definitely capable of winning a Group One,” Jamieson points out. “He’s with Michael Kent and has won six of his nine starts, including a third to Black Heart Bart and Under The Louvre in the (Group One) Goodwood. Keep your eye on him.”
Supido – Japanese for ‘speed’ – is by Sebring out of the Japanese mare, Lady Succeed and succeed is definitely a word that Jamieson’s Gilgai is becoming increasingly familiar with – magic grass or not.