Prince of Sussex after crossing the line to win The Showdown (Racing Photos)
“It’s all about relationships.”
Swettenham Stud’s Adam Sangster was one happy camper driving to the Oaklands Junction sales complex on Sunday morning to attend the Inglis Melbourne Gold Yearling Sale.
Sangster was basking in the glow of Prince of Sussex’s thrilling victory in Saturday’s inaugural $1 million Ladbrokes Showdown over 1200m at Caulfield, particularly given that the winner is by Swettenham’s boom first season sire, Toronado.
What’s more, Prince of Sussex was bred (and is part-owned) by Sangster’s good mate, Chris Jackson, who entrusted Swettenham to sell the then colt on his behalf for $145,000 at last year’s Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
And, just to top it all off, it was Sangster who would introduce Jackson to purchaser, Paul Dugan, with the pair striking up a fast friendship, resulting in the breeder retaining a racing share.
“It’s great for us (Swettenham) obviously and Toronado in particular, but it’s brilliant as well for Chris who has his mare on farm and for all the other connections too,” Sangster enthused. “Meanwhile, Paul came to Swettenham after I purchased his speedy mare Lamingtons, who was also trained by (Prince of Sussex’s trainer) Matt Laurie.”
Mateship aside, Sangster couldn’t hide his delight at the importance of the win in regards to his prize High Chaparral stallion.
“Very satisfying result,” Sangster points out. “The Showdown is all about up and coming stallions and, while there were a lot of established sires with progeny in the race, a first season stallion has managed to pull off the big win.
“Toronado was a Group One winner at three and four in England, but was also unbeaten at two, which included multiple stakes wins, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Prince of Sussex trains on to Group success in the spring.
“Toronado got off to a flyer with his first crop in Europe for Qatari owner, Al Shaqab Racing, producing 25 winners – five of them stakes horses – but I was pleasantly surprised when he got 167 quality mares last spring.
“That fourth season is notoriously tough for any stallion, but he ended up covering more mares than in years two and three. Trainers had really liked the look of his yearlings and word gets around.”
Word had gotten around too about Prince of Sussex after two trial victories were split by a close up fourth on debut at Pakenham: but it was his win at Bendigo in the $250,000 Gold Rush at the end of March that really set the alarm bells ringing. As a consequence, he was sent out a $3.60 second favourite for The Showdown.
Despite a strong challenge from Magic Millions 2YO Classic placegetter, Hightail, Prince of Sussex really put the pedal to the metal over the closing stages at Caulfield, racing away to score comfortably.
Breeder/part-owner, Jackson, wasn’t resting on his laurels though and the Melbourne based tax consultant was back in the office on Sunday morning.
“No rest for the wicked (or racehorse owners it seems!) but I’m planning on having a long lunch,” Jackson says with a laugh. “I’m in Prince of Sussex with a very close friend whom I’ve known since primary school, while – ironically – another of the owners is a guy I used to play footy with. Didn’t even realise he was in the horse until I saw him at Bendigo.”
Jackson initially caught the ownership bug following an overseas trip in the early 1990s.
“I went to Japan with a few mates to watch Naturalism race and that’s when I met Adam (Sangster). The following year I bought into my first horse,” Jackson recalls.
Currently racing around half a dozen at a time – “usually small shares in each” – Jackson was part-owner of multiple Group winner, True Glo who also finished second in the 2003 Group One Manikato behind Spinning Hill and second, beaten a lip, by Titanic Jack in the Group One Emirates.
“True Glo was probably the best horse I’ve raced and then I had a bit of a drought for a few years, but now Prince of Sussex has come along and there is really is no comparing horses against one that you’ve bred!”
Prince of Sussex is the second foal from winning Testa Rossa mare, Il Diamante, a half sister to Group winner Montauk from the Tasmanian stakes winner, Diamond Cove.
“I’ve only got the one mare (Il Diamante) and she has two winners from two to race,” Jackson explains. “I was a part-owner in Diamond Cove too and she was trained by Peter Moody. I was keen to breed from her but couldn’t buy out the other partners, so I bought into her daughter Il Diamante which was also trained by Moods. She won a race, but had leg problems and, once retired, I managed to buy her out.
“She went to Equiano that first year and has been to Toronado ever since. I race the first foal, Algadon Miss (three from four) with several mates and she’s trained by Matt Laurie too. We’re having a lot of fun with Il Diamante: she’s got a lovely weanling filly and will head back to him on an early cover this year.
“Prince of Sussex looked a cracking type from the moment I laid eyes on him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes even better over 1400m or a mile in the spring. Very exciting!”
Sangster, meanwhile, continues to the marvel at the strength of the Australian thoroughbred industry: Victoria in particular.
“That was an incredible day at Caulfield on Saturday … seven VOBIS races worth $2.3 million,” Sangster reveals. “Prizemoney in Australia has increased by 84% in the last 10 years and the Showdown is one of some 55 million dollar plus races in Australia in 2019.
“Swettenham has been around since the 1960s through Robert Sangster and very much involved nationally for decades, but we made the decision in 1995 to re-locate our NSW stallions Rory’s Jester, Danehill Dancer, Bluebird and Scenic from the Hunter Valley to Victoria to capitalise on newly formed VOBIS (Victorian Owners & Breeders Incentive Scheme).
“Courtesy of VOBIS, in 2019 there is $26 million in added prizemoney here in Victoria. It’s just that good a scheme in my opinion.
“Swettenham has really evolved too and, thanks to my trusty offsider, Sam Matthews (Sales & Nominations Manager), we’ve got a lot of support for the stallions and, for the upcoming spring, introduced two horses in Scat Daddy’s Group One winning 2YO, Sioux Nation, and the proven Dubawi stallion, Akeed Mofeed.
“Toronado deserves to have a slight increase and will stand at $27,500, but both Swettenham and Al Shaqab Racing will always acknowledge existing clients who have supported Toronado.
“An old mate of mine once said that ‘Victoria is for Value’ and he’s absolutely spot on … but it’s also about personalising an industry that thrives on emotions.
“As I said, it’s all about relationships.”