Success can never be taken for granted in racing.
But with a stallion like Snitzel, it must be hard to resist the temptation and allow expectations to get away from you.
For leading breeder John Messara such temptations have repeatedly been placed before him, especially over the past few years as Snitzel builds a reputation and a record to rival the best.
“When you’ve been in this business for three decades, as Arrowfield has, you never reach the point of taking any success – especially stallion success – for granted” Messara says.
Messara has been behind some of the greatest Australian, and international, breeding successes of the modern era, introducing such stallions as Danehill to this country and managing the career of the champion stallion Redoute’s Choice.
Like most, Messara and Arrowfield Stud have also been reminded of the fickle nature of the business, as they were recently by the loss of Beneteau just as he emerged as a potentially superior stallion.
But he still permits himself a glimpse toward the future of Snitzel and to his sons, like Saturday’s stakeswinner Spill The Beans, who is also bound to stand alongside his sire and grandsire at Arrowfield.
“Possibly the most exciting thing about Snitzel, and Not A Single Doubt, is that they both made slower starts to their stud careers than Redoute’s Choice, so I don’t think they’ve hit top gear yet,” Messara says.
“The best is still to come.”
At the same time, Messara can’t help acknowledging the realities.
“We’re delighted with every new stakeswinner and every good price Snitzel achieves, and grateful for all the support that breeders, owners & trainers give him and his progeny,” he says.
The victory of Spill The Beans in Saturday’s Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes at Randwick added to that delight.
At every major sale in Australia and New Zealand in the past year, his sire Snitzel has been either the leading stallion or has provided the sale-topper.
At the Magic Millions Gold Coast sale in January his colt form Mirror Mirror topped the sale at $1.6 million. He also led the averages and was the highest grossing stallion.
At last year’s William Inglis Sydney Easter Sale his brother to the Group 1-winning sprinter Sizzling led the sale at $2.2 million and a half-brother to the champion mare Alinghi brought $1.8 million, the second-highest price.
Snitzel also produced the top lot at the 2015 Melbourne Premier sale and last month he topped the averages at the Karaka Premier Sale in New Zealand.
And they can run.
Last year Snitzel had three Group 1 winners – Hot Snitzel, Wandjina and Sweet Idea.
In 2014 he had Shamus Award who won the Group 1 Australian Guineas, having won the Group 1 Cox Plate the previous year, and Snitzerland, and before that Sizzling also won a Group 1 sprint in 2013.
Already in 2016 Snitzel has produced the stakes winner Sun Jewellery (HK G1) as well as Spill The Beans.
As well as anticipating Spill The Beans’ potential as a stallion, Messara also looks to the colt as an example of the two sides of racing’s glorious uncertainty.
Offered as a yearling at the 2014 Inglis Classic Sale, Spill The Beans was less than an immediate success.
Even though Snitzel was already making a name for himself, Messara had placed a modest reserve of only $60,000 on the colt, but the bidding struggled to only $45,000 at which point the auctioneer muttered the dreaded “more needed” and he was led away.
As his trainer Gerald Ryan reported after Saturday’s win, Spill The Beans had been considered by a Hong Kong buyer at the sale, only for a vet to reject him after viewing x-rays of his joints.
“He failed the x-rays for Hong Kong at the yearling sale and again when he got up and racing,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the only flaw he found in the colt was a scar from a knock he’d suffered in the paddock – and wins at his first two starts suggest his horseman’s instinct might be superior to veterinary science.
“He’s never gone shin sore or had any issues. I’ve always thought he could gallop,” he said.
Messara, in whose Arrowfield colours the colt races, can now afford to reflect philosophically on the failed sale.
“Inherent athletic ability, great rearing, skillful training and the passage of time can, and often do out-weigh any flaws that prevent a young horse selling,” he said.
“Even with our best efforts to place yearlings in the right markets and set realistic reserves, and all the skill and effort buyers put into
their work, a few horses will slip through the net.”
For a yearling who was passed-in to go on and become a successful racehorse and stallion is far from unprecedented.
Australia’s champion stallion Fastnet Rock was led away unsold when he was offered as a yearling in 2003 and the bidding stalled at $290,000.
Spill The Beans’ win in the Eskimo Prince was his first since last June, and while his three performances in between were moderate, Ryan said he had expected the improvement the colt showed.
Ryan now has Group 1 races in mind for Spill The Beans (pictured) who holds entries for both the Newmarket and the TJ Smith Stakes.
“Whether he gets to races like that remains to be seen,” Ryan said.
For Arrowfield the future may be in colts like Spill The Beans and Scissor Kick, another son of Redoute’s Choice, but for now attention is more closely focused on the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale beginning later this month, and Easter.
“We have a very strong draft for the 2016 Inglis Easter Sale – the 25 yearlings we’re taking there represent the best work of the entire Arrowfield team and we’re proud to present them,” Messara said.
“We’ll have a few outstanding Redoute’s Choice colts at Easter in what we hope will be an admired draft.
“Melbourne Premier has been a happy hunting ground for our buyer clients with Hot Snitzel, Snitzerland & Singapore champion Stepitup all among our recent graduates.
“This year we have a standout filly by our new sire Animal Kingdom from the Queensland Oaks winner Vitesse Dane; the All American-Salutations colt and the Redoute’s Choice-Anadan colt are also very good types.”
For Messara, a look to the future can’t be made without reference to Redoute’s Choice who claimed the first of his four titles as Australia’s champion sire in 2005-06.
“The best accolade I can give Redoute’s Choice now is that 15 years after he joined the Arrowfield roster, I am still astonished by him,” he says.
“And I am still excited by the prospect of what his own progeny will do during this coming autumn, at The Championships and most of all in Europe over the next few years, as his two French-conceived crops start to race.
“Wherever he appears in a pedigree, he’s pure class.”