The ‘Curse’ of the Sandy Hollow Stud

July 19, 2018Brian Russell

French Fern – (Lope de Vega (IRE)-La Famelia by Strategic)

There appears to be a “curse” on a horse farm along the Goulburn River 10 minutes drive away from the village of Sandy Hollow in west Hunter Valley. This has been suggested by two of its owners going to the wall financially when they may have been on the threshold of becoming big forces in the Australian breeding industry.

Those breeders are Souran Vanian, the founder of a horse stud on the property, a former dairy farm, under the name of Manado Stud nearly 40 years ago, and in recent years Nathan Tinkler under the banner of Patinack Farm. In between times the farm operated successfully in the ownership of the Hayes and Sangster families, mainly under the Collingrove banner.

Tinkler, a former Muswellbrook, Hunter Valley schoolboy and coalminer, who at one stage through coal industry investment achieved wealth which had him hailed as Australia’s youngest billionaire, added neighbouring properties, giving him the biggest river frontage of any stud in the Hunter Valley, and he also extensively added to the facilities. Although not currently functioning, it is one of the best-appointed horse studs in the region.

Tinkler stood half a dozen sires at this Hunter Valley complex, including All Too Hard’s sire Casino Prince (by Flying Spur), Argentinian Husson (Hussonet (USA)), locals Monaco Consul (High Chaparral (IRE)), Murtajill (Rock of Gibraltar (IRE)) and Trusting (Tale of the Cat (USA)) and his only shuttler Lope de Vega (IRE).

A son of Shamardal (USA), who emulated his sire by winning the French 2000 Guineas and Derby, Lope de Vega left more than 320 foals here, the oldest now three, from visits between 2011-14. Shaping up as being a first class sire, he supplied a Patinack bred treble in the first weekend of March, provided by two year-olds French Fern (the Reisling Stakes-Gr.2 at Randwick) and Ocean City (Gosford) and three year-old Richcity Fortune (successful in Hong Kong). Ocean City and Richcity Fortune were both produced by the good class Danehill Dancer (IRE) race filly Dancescape. French Fern is from the Strategic (Zeditave) mare La Famelia, a daughter of Blondine (Danehill (USA)-Biancaneve by Salieri). La Famelia won the Hareeba Stakes-LR at Mornington in 2008 and she had another winner on March 17 when her three year-old son Be Like Dad, a brother to French Fern, won a 1200m maiden at Gosford.

There were also some quality sires used at the farm in between Vanian and Tinkler ownership. During this period it was first run by the Colin Hayes-founded Lindsay Park Stud, South Australia and then under the Swettenham Stud banner of his good friend and patron Robert Sangster.
Like Sangster now deceased, Colin Hayes bought the farm without inspecting it, acting on advice from its manager John Vincent and a desire to get budding young sire Rory’s Jester. Apparently Hayes was ecstatic when he eventually inspected the property, one he renamed Collingrove. Hayes had trained Rory’s Jester, a son of the dazzlingly fast Baguette juvenile Crown Jester and the fast English stakes winner Rory’s Rocket (GB) by Roan Rocket, to be the Champion Two Year-Old of 1984-85 when his five wins included the Golden Slipper.

At the conclusion of his racing, Rory’s Jester was purchased for Manado by Vanian for reportedly $1m, quite a big price at the time. Unfortunately Vanian, an Armenian international businessman who also had a stud at Newmarket UK, became insolvent and Hayes acquired both Rory’s Jester and the stud. John Vincent, a major cog in the development of Manado, was retained as the Hayes manager. He now lives in retirement at Richmond west of Sydney.

Deceased in Dubai not so long ago, Vanian was unlucky to be forced out of Australia through his financial problems because Rory’s Jester and an imported mare of modest breeding and performance, Sweet Life (GB), could have been the cornerstones of him becoming a big force in the industry. Rory’s Jester, a sire who spent the first half of his stud career at the Sandy Hollow complex and the rest at Collingrove, a Lindsay Park–Swettenham operation at Nagambie Victoria, provided 670 winners (76SW) of 2084 races and earners of more than $50m. He has gone on to be a valuable broodmare sire, responsible for the dams of more than 1240 winners (74SW) of 3000 races and $87.7m. One daughter, Singles Bar (ex Easy Date by Grand Chaudiere (CAN)), a half-sister to Snippets, is the dam of leading sire Not a Single Doubt (Redoute’s Choice), who stands alongside his sire at Arrowfield, Scone.

Sweet Life, the mare who could have played a big role for Vanian, was a 93 Timeform-rated performer up to 2000m in England. She was by the Pardal-sired English Derby third Pardao and from Vanita, a grandaughter of Sugar Bun (Mahmoud), a three-quarter sister to the dam of Dawn Watch (FR) (by English St Leger winner Tehran) and traces to classic winner and influential mare Chelandry, her ninth dam.

A first class sprinter in Great Britain, Dawn Watch (ex Javotte by Whirlaway) was imported by Hall of Fame jockey George Moore when he had the Yarraman Park Stud at Scone in the 1960s. Now conducted by the Mitchell brothers, Arthur and Harry, Yarraman Park is one of the current boom Australian studs, hosting as sires the Australians Hinchinbrook (by Fastnet Rock), I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) and Magic Albert (Zeditave).

Family produced Zeditave

Coincedentally, Zeditave was a five times Gr.1 winner and very good sire by the brilliant The Judge (by Showdown (GB)) and from Summoned, an unraced daughter of Crowned Prince (USA) and Sweet Life. She also produced Alannon, a good Noalcoholic (FR) sprinter whose only season of use resulted in Falvelon.

The winner of 15 races, including the Doomben 10,000 and Hong Kong Sprint on two occasions each, Falvelon, born in 1996, is now a leading Queensland sire from use at the Glenlogan Park Stud (40 mares at $7700 in 2015). This stud also stood Alannon, but he died after only one season (78 live foals).

Except for a foal she carried inside her to a southern hemisphere mating with the brilliant English racehorse and sire Habitat, Sweet Life was an ordinary broodmare as a winner producer. She had nine foals for four winners, by far the best being the Habitat product, a filly named Sweet Habit (1976). She won twice in Sydney, finished second in the VRC Bloodhorse Breeders’ Plate-Gr.2, third in the STC Golden Slipper-Gr.1 and AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes-Gr.1 and fourth in the AJC Champagne Stakes-Gr.1.

Sweet Habit raced for Norman Booth, a Sydney motor dealer who had the Midlands Lodge Stud at Oberon NSW. He bought Sweet Life and the foal who was to become Sweet Habit from financially troubled Souran Vanian. After Booth’s death, Sweet Habit became the property of his daughter Barbara and her husband Peter O’Donnell. Subsequently owners of the Pine Lodge Stud at Scone, the O’Donnells bred 14 foals from her including seven winners, three of them stakes placed. She is also second dam of Mariton (Marscay; nine wins, third AJC Flight Stakes-Gr.1) and third dam of Amex (10 wins to Listed, second STC Shannon Stakes-Gr.2


Zeditave (The Judge-Summoned by Crowned Prince (USA))

However the daughter of Sweet Life who did much to make her a premier matriarch was Summoned. Bred by Norman Booth and owned as a breeder by recently deceased Colin Tidy, a very respected Sydney racing identity, she produced 13 winners, including among five successful in stakes the superstar Zeditave. He ran 17 times for 14 wins (nine from 10 at two), the Champion Three Year-Old title 1988-89 and then a stellar career as a sire from use at the Kelly’s Newhaven Park Stud in central western NSW. Among his best runners was Gr.1 winner Strategic (ex Sudden Impulse by Luskin Star) now retired from active duty at Darley Stud but sire of Gr.1 winners Meurice, Mistegic and Platelet among 25 stakes winners and mentioned earlier as the dam sire of Gr.2 winner French Fern, whose fourth dam is Blue Diamond-Gr.1 winner Forina.

Summoned’s descendants also include more than 20 others of consequence, including Unison (Marauding; six wins, third AJC Galaxy-Gr.1), Zac Spirit (Flying Spur; Champion Sprinter Singapore), dual Gr.1 winner Melito (Redoute’s Choice; Australasian Champion 3YO Filly 2009-10 and now at stud in Ireland), You’re So Good (Savabeel; second VRC Australian Guineas-Gr.1), Shikoba (Chief Bearhart (CAN), Champion 3YO Filly New Zealand 2005-06), Grey’s Inn (Zabeel; South African Champion 3YO Classic Colt 2003-04), Smart Call (Ideal World; three Gr.1 South Africa) and Jet Spur (Flying Spur; MRC Caulfield Sprint-Gr.2; a leading Queensland sire). Other descendants of note are Generous Tycoon (Generous (IRE); Malaysia Perak Derby), Mystic Prince (Reset; Western Australian Derby-Gr.2), Military Rose (General Nediym; STC Reisling Stakes-Gr.2, Gold Coast Guineas-Gr.3, Magic Millions 2YO Classic-RL) and Norzita (Thorn Park; Champion 3YO Filly Australia 2012-13).

The South African champion Grey’s Inn is one of the world’s most travelled horses. He was got in New Zealand to a southern hemisphere mating of Zabeel with Great Verdict, a Colin Tidy bred sprint winner at Hawkesbury, Gosford and Kembla Grange by the Biscay son Christmas Tree (ex Joy and Fun by Showdown (GB)- from Denise’s Joy) out of Summoned. He was foaled in America, initially raced in South Africa and then a contestant in majors in Dubai, Hong Kong and Australia. He is now a prominent sire in South Africa, including among offspring South African Derby winners Royal Bencher and Legal Eagle. Now a four year-old, Legal Eagle in January raced twice in Gr.1 events at Cape Town’s Kenilworth for a win the Queen’s Plate (1600m) and then three weeks later a second in the J & B Metropolitan (2000m).

He was one of two Gr.1 stars at both meetings carrying Summoned in their pedigrees, sharing this distinction with the four year-old Smart Call. She won the Kenilworth Paddock Stakes-Gr.1 (1800m) on the Queen’s Plate program and then enjoyed her fourth win in succession when she trounced Legal Eagle by 3.5 lengths in the Metropolitan.

A Gr.1 winner and runner-up at three, Smart Call is by Ideal World (USA), a Gr.3 winner in France by Kingmambo and out of Banks Hill, a Danehill sister to noted sire Dansili (USA), and from Good Judgement (USA), an unraced mare by Horse Chestnut (SAF) (by Sadler’s Wells sire Fort Wood) and from Summoned’s daughter Great Verdict.

A South African Horse of the Year and also a winner in America, Horse Chestnut initially stood in the latter country, but, following modest results, was returned to the land of his birth. His use at stud in America was the prime reason Great Verdict’s owners, scions of the South African Diamond mines, the Oppenheimer family, sent her to that country to have the Zabeel foal, Greys Inn.

Great Verdict had two seasons at stud in Australia for one foal, a non-money-earning Fairy King filly named Neerim Star. Great Verdict went to Zabeel twice in New Zealand, producing the Zabeel colts Baleze (minor winner Australia) and Greys Inn, had four matings in America, three times with Hot Chestnut, and finally five in England. Eight of her 11 foals raced, but only three won.

Tasmanian’s Summoned double

Terry Clarke Bloodstock, Orielton (near Hobart) Tasmania bred and sold for $40,000 a colt at this year’s Tasmanian yearling sale inbred 3mx3f to Summoned. He is by the Zeditave sire Magic Albert and from Neerim Star, a Fairy King mare who is the only Australian foal from Great Verdict.
She has had six foals race for four winners, Nervate (More Than Ready (USA) filly who has won in Sydney), Modena Spirit (Fuji Kiseki (JPN), seven wins Macau), Forever Diamond (Octagonal gelding. won South Africa at two) and Set to Star (Reset filly; 18 starts, won once each Ballarat, Warrnambool).

Set to Star also doubles up Summoned as Reset, a Darley sire, is by Zabeel and from Assertive Lass, a dual Gr.1-winning mare by Zeditave. This means her bloodlines are very similar to Greys Inn. Reset also saw service at Darley in England, use that saw him mated once with Great Verdict. The result was a gelding named Repealed who was placed at three in a maiden at 2200m.

Published April 2016

Brian Russell

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