Assertive Approach wins the Listed TAB Lightning Stakes (AtkinsPhotography.com.au)
It’s somewhat fitting that Saturday’s Listed TAB Lightning Stakes winner, Assertive Approach, is out of a mare called Arrival.
After all, it was an ‘arrival’ of sorts for Mr Pan Sutong’s Goldin Farms which bred and raced, Assertive Approach … the first stakes winner for Dubawi’s Hong Kong Cup winner, Akeed Mofeed. And yes, the Hong Kong based, Mr Pan, also raced and stood – for the first five seasons at least – the highly promising Akeed Mofeed.
It’s been an interesting few years for Goldin which purchased, in 2013, what is arguably the most famous thoroughbred real estate in South Australia: Lindsay Park Stud.
No-one can put a number on just how many stakes winners have come off that property over the decades, but since Goldin took up the reins, the graduates include last year’s Group One Thousand Guineas winner, Amphitrite – somewhat fittingly trained by Lindsay Park Racing.
However, Assertive Approach would become the initial black type winner to race in Mr Pan’s white and gold, as Goldin Farm’s bloodstock manager, Brett Campbell, proudly points out.
“He (Assertive Approach) is a very exciting horse,” Campbell enthused. “That was three wins from three starts on Saturday and while we were quietly confident he’d go well in the Lightning, it’s always a relief to get that stakes win under your belt.
“A lot of people have put in a lot of work to get to this point and it means a great deal for the farm and to Mr Pan. Special mention too for recently departed general manager, Andrew Perryman, who has been a huge influence.
“We’ve been unlucky with a couple of Akeed Mofeeds who have gone very close, but Assertive Approach is clearly a very promising horse and, fingers crossed, is gearing up for a successful spring.”
Trained by Team Hawkes, Assertive Approach had his first start at Bendigo in February, winning by a head, but resumed at Sandown in late June with a resounding four length win over 1000m. Although facing tougher company on Saturday, Assertive Approach again led throughout, fighting back strongly despite the late attention from Behemoth, who was last seen in May when finishing a head second behind Despatch in the Group One Goodwood Handicap.
“I am very happy and thought the (stakes win) was long overdue, so my thanks to Team Hawkes and all my team in Australia,” a delighted Pan Sutong said after watching the race in Hong Kong. “I have always been confident in Akeed Mofeed as a sire and this win, along with the recent performances of his other progeny, should encourage breeders to support him this spring.”
While Mr Pan has extensive bloodstock interests in both Hong Kong and Australia, it’s very much a global operation with horses also in work in France, England, Singapore and Japan. Another of his runners in the United Kingdom, Gold Mount, is likely to be heading down under for the Melbourne Cup.
So, what’s next for Assertive Approach?
“John, Wayne and Michael Hawkes have more experience with good horses than just about anyone in racing, so he will go back to Melbourne and be assessed over the next fortnight,” Campbell adds. “Everyone is asking about the (Group Two) Schillaci Stakes (12 October) to get him into the Everest. It might seem like a big ask, but one thing is for certain, Mr Pan is never afraid to take on the best with any of his horses so if Team Hawkes believe he is up to the task, that’s the way he’ll go.”
While the Goldin Farms principal has scaled back his racing operation in recent times, his broodmare numbers continue to grow.
“Mr Pan had up to 50 in work a few seasons back, but has consolidated those to around a dozen with Hawkes, Will Clarken and Nick Ryan,” Campbell explains. “He still has an extensive breeding portfolio though with mare numbers in the low 40s.
“Assertive Approach is from the first crop of Akeed Mofeed, while his full brother – The Phantom Bantam – is an unraced 2YO with Austy Coffey. We sold a full sister to Yulong for $180,000 at the Adelaide Magic Millions Yearling Sale this year and, after missing in 2017, Arrival is back in foal to Akeed Mofeed.”
Very much an on-pacer like her stakes winning 3YO, Arrival was a multiple winning daughter of Choisir who finished second in the Listed Pewsey Vale (over the same journey as the Lightning) and is out of the stakes winning 2YO, Firenza. Arrival is also a three quarter sister to multiple Melbourne Group winner Tuscan Sling, while other close relations include 4-time Perth stakes winner, Lite’N In My Veins and 2018 Ballarat Cup winner, Kiwia.
Not surprisingly, Arrival will be heading back to Akeed Mofeed this spring, but will have to venture further afield for the privilege as Victoria’s Swettenham Stud will stand the stallion in 2019.
“We couldn’t have been any happier to secure Akeed Mofeed earlier this year … well, as it turns out we could after Assertive Approach’s win on Saturday,” Swetteham Stud’s Sales & Nominations Manager, Sam Matthews points out. “In those first few seasons Akeed Mofeed got reasonable numbers, but was basically utilised as a ‘private’ stallion. Yet, after his first crop came out and started winning races and made good money in the ring (Akeed Mofeed’s yearlings have sold up to $200,000), he covered 98 mares last spring.
“Mr Pan is sending 33 of his mares to Swettenham this spring and the interest in Akeed Mofeed has been incredible. He’ll certainly cover his biggest book in 2019 and a good many of those already booked are group winners or dams of group winners.
“Encouragingly, despite the stallion’s success at sales, nearly half of the broodmare owners are breeding to race.”