Alastair Pulford

published: 05 Aug 2012 in Q&A

Over the last decade or so Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Darley Australia has been playing an increasingly significant part in the development of nation’s thoroughbred industry.

Over the last decade or so Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Darley Australia has been playing an increasingly significant part in the development of nation’s thoroughbred industry.

Along the way the stud’s stallions have had an important role in the upgrading and internationalisation of Australian bloodlines.

However, this season the operation has, by any measure, been enjoying a most enjoyable 12 months.

As the racing year closes down Darley has, quite remarkably, three stallions – Exceed And Excel, Commands and Lonhro – in the top four on the Australian Sires’ Premiership.

Stallions questioned Darley’s Head of Sales Alastair Pulford about the importance of this success, the achievements of its leading sires, the approaching breeding season and other matters.


Q.: Have Darley Australia’s stallions ever had a better season

A.: No. We have three stallions in the top four including Exceed And Excel, who is steaming towards his first Australian Sires’ Championship. Also it is rare for one stud to have two champion stallions such as Exceed And Excel and Lonhro standing alongside each other.


Q.: What will an Australian Sires’ Championship mean for Exceed And Excel

A.: Well, there are not many stallions who can claim the title of being a champion sire. It means everything to us at Darley because for any stallion a sires’ championship is the ultimate achievement.


Q.: How are his next two crops looking

A.: It will be great if he can repeat the efforts of this year so fingers crossed.


Q.: Have you been surprised Commands has turned out to be such a brilliant sire

A.: I think there were indications that he had the chance to be successful. He has such a good pedigree being by Danehill from Eight Carat’s daughter Cotehele House. Obviously he could run himself finishing third to Redoute’s Choice and Testa Rossa in the sire-making Caulfield Guineas as well as producing other notable efforts. The fact that he has done it from a low fee to start with indicates how good he is.


Q.: The efforts of Epaulette have been a further booster for him

A.: They have. His wins have featured the ATC Golden Rose and the BTC Doomben 10,000 at the elite level. He has earned over $1.7 million in prize money and interestingly, too, Epaulette like his sire finished third to two high profile horses in All Too Hard and Pierro on the Caulfield Guineas.


Q.: What is the immediate future for Epaulette

A.: I believe he will race on next season.


Q.: Darley must be thrilled with Lonhro’s continuing achievements

A.: Lonhro got to be Champion Australian Sire with just four crops racing and has maintained his spot in the top five stallions in the land. He is a great stallion for Australia, as he is a perfect foil for all the Danehill blood that dominates.


Q.: How is the 2013 breeding season shaping up for Darley Australia

A.: With the dominance of our stallions on the sires’ list combined with the exciting New Approach, Street Cry, Helmet, Sepoy and so on we are looking pretty good.


Q.: How many stallions will be at Aberdeen

A.: There are going to be 13. We have some very exciting young horses that represent great value in the market place.  These are horses like Dubawi’s son Poet’s Voice, Time Thief and Ad Valorem, who is a great stallion for the money.


Q.: Which horses will be standing in Victoria.

A.: New Approach and Helmet head the roster there and are being well backed up by Reset, Hard Spun, Domesday, Street Boss, Skilled, Von Costa De Hero and Strategic. It is clearly the best line-up of stallions in Victoria.


Q.: Medaglia d’Oro is shaping up as another winner for the stud

A.: He was certainly well accepted by Australian buyers, selling at up to $500,000 at Easter. Many of his yearlings have gone into the best stables in the country.


Q.: Have any reports filtered through on the progress of Medaglia d’Oro’s rising two-year-olds in Australia

A.: Probably a bit early yet but I know we have 24 by him from many of our best mares. They have been broken in now and they will obviously give him a great chance of success here.


Q.: It must bolster confidence that his U.S. crops are continuing to post impressive results

A.: They certainly are and his latest racing crop, current two-year-olds, are reported to be his best yet.