Territory Titan wins the (Atkins Photography)
At $5,000, Northern Territory trainer, Phil Cole, thought he’d snapped quite a bargain with his Red Element colt at the 2017 Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YOs in Training Sale.
A Red Element for the Red Centre so to speak.
Based on price and type, Cole managed to entice family, friends and clients into taking a share, but ironically, it turned out the dirt cheap youngster just didn’t like ‘dirt’.
Campaigning the ambitiously named, Territory Titan, on the sand surfaces at Darwin and Alice Springs, the best the then 3YO could manage in seven tries was a fourth at Fannie Bay in January last year. His final run under Cole’s stewardship was a 20 length eighth of nine at Alice Springs.
“We’d won a voucher for the Gold Coast sale and were looking for a horse that might shape up as a Guineas or Derby type,” Cole recalls. “He (Territory Titan) was one of the nicest types at the sale and obviously great value.
“And while he showed us plenty on the training track, come race day he just didn’t come up with the goods.
“I started out training in South Australia before shifting to Darwin about six or seven years ago, but I’ve known (Bordertown trainer) James Dodgson for a long time and decided to send Territory Titan to South Australia to see how he’d handle the going down there. It appears to have done the trick.”
It certainly has! On Saturday, Territory Titan would win his sixth race for Dodgson by capturing the TAB Handicap over 1550m at Morphettville in a style that would suggest quite a few more are in store.
Indeed, the ‘green change’ had been almost immediate with Territory Titan winning his first start for Dodgson by almost six lengths at Mt Gambier last June. Less than two weeks later, Territory Titan would win again – this time across the border at Casterton – before producing successive placings at Morphettville.
All up, Territory Titan has raced on 17 occasions for Dodgson for six wins (last three in a row) and four placings, but Saturday was the galloper’s first win in town and takes his earnings past the $100,000 mark.
With just two in work and “a few young ones coming through”, Dodgson was naturally elated with the city success.
“I took out my trainers’ licence in 2016 and started out at Kangaroo Island but moved to Bordertown a couple of years ago to seek out more opportunities,” Dodgson explains. “The idea was to be close to the border so I could run my horses in both South Australia and Victoria but the COVID mess has put the Victorian excursions on hold for the time being.
“I’m hardly complaining though – that was a terrific win on Saturday and I’m over the moon for Phil and the rest of the owners.”
Quite aside from adding to the stable’s reputation, Dodgson has further cause to cheer Territory Titan, given that he now part-owns the 4YO’s dam, Stox and Blondes.
“A few of us, including Phil, chipped in to buy Stox and Blondes through Bloodstockauction.com earlier this month, paying $880 for her,” Dodgson reveals. “I wasn’t exactly looking to get into breeding, but hey, you’ve got to have a swing.
“Territory Titan was her last foal and she’s actually been used as a paddock ‘nanny’ for the last few seasons.
“Evidently the previous owner hadn’t wanted to breed from her as she wasn’t a commercial proposition, but we’ll have a crack and she’s already up at Tradewinds Farm at Hervey Bay in Queensland where she’ll be covered this spring by Territory Titan’s sire, Red Element.”
As for the “where to from here”, neither Cole nor Dodgson would be drawn on Territory Titan’s racing targets, although the latter conceded the gelding would “likely keep on improving over extra ground and there’s quite a few options”.
A return ‘north’ is highly unlikely though.
“I keep on teasing James that I’m going to bring Territory Titan back for the Darwin Cup, but he’s much better staying where he is,” Cole adds. “James has done a great job with the horse and it hasn’t been smooth sailing with a few gear changes along the way. James is the trainer and it’s up to him where the horse goes, but as long as he keeps running the way he did on Saturday, we’ll all be happy.”
That goes for Simon Elix as well who purchased Red Element in August last year and will stand the Red Ransom stallion at his boutique, Tradewinds Farm, this spring.
An orthopaedic surgeon – from Darwin! – who “grew up around stables”, Elix is seeking to ‘rehabilitate’ the career of the impeccably bred, Red Element, a multiple stakes winner of five races and Group Two placed.
A son of the hugely prolific Red Ransom (110 stakes winners of $137 million) who stood at Vinery Stud for 11 seasons and produced Group One winners and sires, Charge Forward, All American, Red Dazzler and Duporth, Red Element is a full brother to 2009/10 Australian Horse of the Year, Typhoon Tracy. Red Element’s mum, Tracy’s Element, was a multiple Champion in South Africa.
“Red Element covered just the 11 mares last season and most of the mares were mine,” Elix points out. “He struggles commercially because apart from Group placed Hostwin Legend and the stakes horses Grey Missile (10 wins) and Kelvin the Kruel, there’s not a lot of black type. That said, his strike rate is pretty remarkable with 66% winners to runners.
“Quite a few of his horses – Tarbert (11 wins), King Red (8 wins), Red Chase (8 wins) – win a lot of races and several have banked well over $200,000. One of his runners, Starlight, has won close to A$1.3 million in Hong Kong.
“The crop that Territory Titan hails from, for instance, has produced 14 runners for 11 winners, which includes Ihu, who won at Te Rapa on Saturday and effectively gave Red Element a city double. Matter of fact, each of his seven runners on Saturday finished in the top four.
“I’ve selectively purchased a number of mares over the last 12 months in which to support Red Element and we’re obviously pretty happy to have Territory’s Titan’s dam on farm too.”