Joe Smithies is hoping the rise to prominence of leading Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) hope Goldman can be a boost for his young South Island-based sire Verdi.
Smithies is one of the principals of Monovale Holdings, which bred Goldman and co-owns Verdi with Long Acres Stud near Christchurch, where Verdi stands.
Monovale raced Goldman in New Zealand, where he won two of his four starts for Cambridge trainer Tony Pike, before he was sold to Darby Racing in a deal brokered by bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo.
Placed in the stable of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, Goldman reeled off five-length victories at Kembla Grange and Warwick Farm, and on Saturday he earned a ticket to the Melbourne Cup with an all-the-way triumph in the Listed Roy Higgins Quality (2600m) at Flemington.
“It’s very exciting – a bit surreal to be honest,” Smithies said.
“What’s great is that he’s an out-and-out homebred, being by a stallion we co-own with Long Acres, and out of a Montjeu mare, so he was certainly bred to stay and it looks like he’s going to do that very nicely.”
Verdi, a half-brother to Group One winners Sir Slick and Puccini, recorded three wins from eight starts for the Murray Baker stable, before injury curtailed his career.
“He was looking like he was going to be a black-type horse for sure. Just how far he would have gone was an unknown, but he had a minor tendon injury,” Smithies said.
“We were going to rehab him, but we were approached by Long Acres for him as a stallion, and we thought that was the best option at that stage.”
As has been expected, Verdi has had to fight his way into prominence as a stallion. He had 45 foals from his first three crops, but his numbers have fallen away a little since then.
However, Goldman’s emergence potentially gives Verdi the chance to attract the numbers needed to be a successful stallion.
“The one word I would use would be satisfying,” Smithies said of the success of Goldman, who comes from Verdi’s first crop of 18.
“To know that the horse at that end of the market can throw a horse that’s highly competitive in one of the strongest racing jurisdictions in the world is fantastic.”
Smithies is hopeful Verdi can follow the path of Zed, another Baker-trained son of Zabeel whose career was cut short by injury who worked himself the hard way into a very good sire.
“That’s a pretty good example really. He’s a horse by Zabeel who can throw a horse or two and attract people who are willing to breed a horse to race,” Smithies said.
“For those people, I think he’s a great option. He’s already proven he can throw a horse that’s very competitive off very limited numbers.”
Goldman made his mark on Smithies right from the time he was foaled and he is pleased he has continued to make progress.
“He was a really nice foal,” he said. “It was pretty evident as soon as we saw him that he was above average on type, which is the first thing you are looking at. When we got him broken in, the feedback at that stage was that he moved really nicely and could be a nice stayer in the making.
“We just gave him the time. We’ve got plenty of land and some big paddocks to grow them out in and gave him a bit of early work with Tony Pike, and his feedback all along was very positive.
“The guys all really liked him and it was just a case of waiting for the horse to furnish, mentally and physically. I think he’s still far from the finished product. He’s certainly one to watch over the next two, three, or four seasons.”
Goldman wasn’t the only Monovale-bred horse to make his mark in Australia at the weekend. They also bred Full Of Sincerity, the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) third placegetter who finished strongly late to finish fourth in the Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
The Andrew Forsman-trained galloper is by Puccini and, like Goldman, was sold as a horse in training to Australian interests – in his case an ownership group headed by OTI Racing.
He will attempt to reverse the placings with New Zealand Derby winner Sharp ‘N’ Smart and runner-up Andalus in next weekend’s Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.
Monovale has also had success this season with Impendabelle, winner of the Gr.2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1200m) and fifth in Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) from the Pike stable, while Smithies also has high hopes for another Pike-trained three-year-old they bred.
“We’re particularly excited by a Fastnet Rock colt which we’ve just named, out of a mare called No Tricks,” Smithies said.
“He’s called Hat Trick. He’s won two trials and he’s due to have his first start in the next couple of weeks. He looks well above average.”