It was frustrating. In the 1998 Goodwood Handicap, the Rob Crabtree bred and raced, Scandinavia, finished second … one of four Group One placings for the Snippets mare. Success at the elite level would continue to elude Scandinavia, but as the granddam of Black Caviar, she kinda made up for it.
Crabtree returned to Adelaide for the 1999 Goodwood, this time with Any Rhythm, another of his homebreds. The flashy grey crossed the line in lockstep with French Clock but the judge declared the latter to be the winner. Crabtree asked to see the developed print and argued – unsuccessfully for a change – that the tip of Any Rhythm’s white nose didn’t show up in the photo and that the race, should at least, be declared a dead heat. Close, but no cigar and Crabtree still marvels that the judge didn’t possess a magnifying glass.
Crabtree eventually broke through the Group One barrier when Scandinavia’s son, Magnus, won the 2007 Galaxy, but only after tantalising placings in the Newmarket Handicap and Oakleigh Plate.
Any Rhythm was just a distant memory on Saturday however as Crabtree and his wife Sylvie led, firstly, Catchy back to the winners’ enclosure after the $1.5 million Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m), only to be called up again 40 minutes later with Sheidel’s victory in the Resimax Group Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
“It’s great when it works,” Crabtree understates. “The thoroughbred industry has many ups and downs, but sometimes it just all comes together, like on Saturday. I’ve had something like 32 Group One placings prior to Saturday but that’s probably the furthest thing from my mind at the moment!
“I was pretty confident Catchy would do well in the Blue Diamond, although that confidence might have been a little bit shaky when she was turning for home behind a wall of horses. I also fancied the chances of Sheidel and Miss Promiscuity (a homebred that ultimately ran fifth) in the Oakleigh Plate.
“The Oakleigh win was particularly satisfying as Magnus was placed in successive years and another of my horses in The Heavyweight ran third, so to win it for the first time really added to the day.”
Crabtree adds that Catchy is now likely to head to Sydney for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper in three weeks time, while a number of Group One options are available for Sheidel … the Galaxy, the Newmarket or the Robert Sangster in Adelaide.
“Catchy was purchased as a yearling because I really like the Fastnet Rocks and have a couple of very good broodmare prospects by him,” Crabtree points out. “As for Sheidel, she had won three stakes races in Perth before Damon Gabbedy (Belmont Bloodstock) suggested I might take a look at her.
“I’m in no hurry to retire my mares and love to race them. They are purchased with a view to breeding, but you can have a lot of fun with them beforehand. Why not have the best of both worlds?
“I only breed around 15-20 foals a year, but the broodmare lineup is improving constantly: I now have Catchy, Sheidel and Miss Promiscuity all set to go into the breeding barn at some stage, but I’ve also got a couple of imported stakes winning mares in Gabella, a black type winner in France and Australia and, an Irish mare, Not Only Florina, that won over 2000m in France last September.
“Magnatti has won three from four and I would be surprised if she doesn’t add black type over the next couple of starts.”
Crabtree is currently in the process of selling a number of yearlings at the Inglis Melbourne Premier: three by his top 20 sire, Magnus, including a full brother to Miss Promiscuity.
“I started out in the 1980s with just a very small share in a horse that I became involved with through a charity auction and now 30 years or so later, I’ve managed to win two Group Ones in an hour.
“This is a wonderful industry, regardless of whether you get a winner at Ballarat or in a Group One.
“It’s all about getting the best out of every opportunity you can.”
Coolmore Australia was, naturally enough, extremely happy with Crabtree’s success given it stands Fastnet Rock and stood Sheidel’s sire, Holy Roman Emperor at the time of conception.
“It was an incredible day for the Coolmore stallions, but the spectacular win of Catchy was undoubtedly the highlight,” Coolmore Australia’s Sales & Nominations Manager, Colm Santry, adds. “So many good clients and friends of Coolmore were involved … Joy and Sam Jenkins have been great friends of Coolmore for many, many years and actually bred Catchy’s dam Cats Whisker at Coolmore.
“She was a high-class filly in her own right, running second in the Thousand Guineas and winning a trio of Group races.
“Robert Crabtree has been a tremendous patron of our stallions and purchased Catchy from our draft at Easter last year. She becomes the 27th Group One winner for her sire, Fastnet Rock, so the $220,000 he paid looks incredibly good value now!
“It was also a great result for the Coolmore-owned Holy Roman Emperor who stood at Aquis Farm in Queensland in 2016 and will again stand there in 2017. A great day all round.”