Anthony Hall didn’t bother making the trip to Sydney to watch his horse, Sense of Occasion, win the Group Two Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The Kris Lees trained galloper lined up a $31 pick for the race and punters weren’t the only ones caught on the hop by the 6YO’s sense of occasion.
“We didn’t even go to Randwick because he (Sense of Occasion) hadn’t raced since mid October and we all thought he’d probably need the run,” Hall explains with a laugh. “Great win though … very exciting.”
With an in-form, Ben Melham, doing the steering, Sense of Occasion settled near the tail of the Villiers field before making a well-timed run to get up right on the line.
This was the third stakes victory for Sense of Occasion – his most recent in the Listed Premier’s Cup (1900m) at Rosehill in August – and his earnings have now shot to $538,520 from 29 starts.
That’s not a bad return on the original asking price of $80,000 at the 2012 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.
“(Bloodstock Agent) Paul Beamish has bought a few horses for us and I was with him at the sale and saw this really nice Street Sense yearling go through the ring which was eventually purchased for $210,000,” Hall points out. “Paul told me he’d seen a pretty good type by Street Sense in the Yarraman Park draft and we should have a look.
“I spoke to Harry Mitchell (Yarraman Park’s co-owner) and he thought the colt would make somewhere between $70,000 to $100,000 so I left it with Paul and headed home. Paul rang me later to tell me he’d picked up the colt for $80,000.”
Hall, a retired businessman based in Newcastle, got a few mates into the horse, along with close friend, John Wragge, who sadly passed away this year.
“I got my first horse back in 1979 and had a bit of luck along the way,” Hall adds. “I have raced (7-time Group winner) Moss Rocket and Twin Wing, who won a Grafton Cup and Winter Cup, but I’ve had some slow ones too.
“It’s all part of the game though … makes the wins that much better!”
Hall was unsure as to where Sense of Occasion would head next and would wait “until the dust settles”.
“It’s up to Kris (Lees) but one option is the (Group Three) Gosford Gold Cup (2100m) in mid January and there is another mile race coming up too, but he might be looking for further (than 1600m) at this stage.
“Ultimately I think he might be shaping up as a Brisbane winter carnival horse. That race (Villiers) gives him an exemption from the Doncaster but you have to be realistic and we don’t want him running into horses like Winx too much. I would happily settle for a win in Brisbane … it helps to pay the bills!”
Beamish was quick to laud Hall’s patience with Sense of Occasion who took two years to make his way from sales ring to winners’ circle: “I told Anthony the horse would take time but he’s clearly been worth the wait,” Beamish reveals. “That win in the Villiers caught everyone by surprise but the unexpected ones are the sweet ones.”
Sense of Occasion is out of the well-rated mare, Saywaan, and was bred by global conglomerate, Shadwell Stud, at Yarraman Park.
A half sister to the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner, Rewaaya, and tracing back to the highly influential Easy Date (dam of Snippets), Saywaan died in 2015.
Sense of Occasion, meanwhile, is by the former Darley-based stallion, Street Sense, who notched up a stakes double on Saturday with 5YO mare, Cosmic Storm, taking out the Listed Starstruck Classic – also over 1600m – at Ascot.
Exported to Japan in 2013 after five seasons in Australia, Street Sense is a 3-time Group One winning son of Street Cry and has produced 47 stakes winners world wide.