Reykjavik after winning the Winter Championship Series Final (Racing Photos)
James Ch’Ng likes coming to Victoria. Although Ch’Ng has been based in Perth for the last 35 years – where his company is the largest supplier of scallops in Australia – the self confessed racing tragic grew up in Melbourne and returns regularly. Especially for the racing.
And he was more than happy to fly across last weekend where he watched his gutsy galloper, Reykjavik, pull out a blinder to capture the Listed Winter Championship Series Final over 1600m at Flemington.
It was the 4YO’s second black type victory – having earlier won the Listed Hannan’s Handicap at Kalgoorlie – and the son of Artie Schiller now has six wins overall and a further 13 placings from 30 starts for $463,635 in stakes.
Trained by Lindsey Smith, Reykjavik had campaigned solely in the west, but shifted to Victoria in June where he ran fifth in the $100,000 Gold Topaz at Swan Hill, third over 1400m at Flemington two weeks ago and then – on Saturday – the jackpot.
While Ch’Ng has raced a number of gallopers over the years, he takes special pride in Reykjavik as he also bred the horse from his Rock of Gibraltar mare, Gibraltar Storm.
“I believe he’s a very exciting horse and capable of winning quite a few more races,” an excited Ch’Ng points out. “Most of my racehorses are in Victoria, with various trainers, and all of my mares reside there as well.
“One of my first runners was Theatre, who was trained by Rick Hore-Lacy and went on to win the (1998 Group Two, now Group One) Ascot Vale Stakes and two other stakes races (HDF McNeil Stakes and Ian McEwen Trophy).
“I also race in partnership, or raced, the three full relations – Princess of Queens (dual stakes winner), Prince of Brooklyn (Group winner) and Duke of Brunswick (winner of over $500,000) with Mick Price, while Archie Alexander at Ballarat trains Spanner Head for me (a stakes placed, dual winner at Flemington who ran sixth behind Reykjavik in the Winter Championship).
“Melbourne is like home to me and I love the racing and breeding there. Even more so after Saturday!”
One of 47 stakes winners for the Stockwell Thoroughbreds’ based, Artie Schiller, Reykjavik is a half brother to one winner – Gibraltar’s Street – while his dam is a three quarter sister to the multiple stakes placed Storm Burst.
Other family members include the Australian-bred, Group One New Zealand Derby winner, Rangipo.
“Reykjavik’s dam (Gibraltar Storm) has been a good mare and she also has an unraced Written Tycoon 2YO called Tycoon Storm, while the full brother to Reykjavik – born last August – is an absolutely cracking type,” Ch’Ng adds. “Unfortunately Gibraltar Storm didn’t get back in foal to Artie Schiller last year, but she’ll be covered by Fiorente this spring.”
Reykjavik’s victory – particularly on home deck – is a timely result for Stockwell Thoroughbreds’ principals, Mike and Brodie Becker, who purchased Artie Schiller last year.
“He (Artie Schiller) has been a terrific stallion over the years, particularly with horses like (Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes winner and Newgate Farm stallion) Flying Artie,” Mike Becker points out. “His fertility is still very good, but he won’t be shuttling any more and we’re looking to cover around 70 to 80 mares this spring. He looks terrific and is great value ($13,200 fee) for a stallion who has $66 million in progeny earnings and strike rate of 70%.”
This season at Stockwell, Artie Schiller will stand alongside another proven stallion in Al Maher (34 stakes winners) and Fastnet Rock’s Group Two winner, Rock Sturdy, whose oldest progeny turn two next month.