A $500,000 yearling buy, Headwater lived up to his speed pedigree, both parents being Gr.1-winning sprinters, to claim the Silver Slipper-Gr.2 at just his second start. Now based at Vinery in the Hunter Valley, the son of Exceed and Excel is an in-demand young sire whose first yearlings are creating much excitement in 2019.

[Published: February 2019]

CHAMPION filly Godiva, successful in the 1940 English 1000 Guineas and Oaks and winner of six of her eight starts, sadly died of blood poisoning in the autumn of her three year-old year. She was a great loss to thoroughbred breeding, given her exalted family and the subsequent success as a broodmare of her unraced younger sister Nova Puppis.

Born five years after her classic-winning sibling, Nova Puppis was unraced but left six winners from her
11 foals including the Nasrullah-sired stakes performers Limelight and Novarullah, both sires in the US, and their sister Starullah, sixth dam of Vinery’s brilliant sprinter Headwater, whose first yearlings are under the hammer this year and were in great demand at the 2019 Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale, 10 of his Book One offerings selling to average $97,500, with a top price of $180,000, a terrific return off a $16,500 fee.

Luckily then, that the mating of Derby winner and champion sire Hyperion over modest juvenile winner Carpet Slipper, a daughter of Phalaris and Simon’s Shoes (Simon Square-Goody Two Shoes by Isinglass), was repeated to produce Nova Puppis. Otherwise we would not have the Australian branch of this family, which started with the importation of Starullah’s granddaughter Sheeaun (IRE) (by Fair Trial grandson Continuation ex Sliprullah by Solar Slipper) in the 1970s and has become a byword for speed.

Although only a modest juvenile winner in four starts, claiming the 18-runner Chesterton Stakes at Newmarket and then unplaced in two further starts at three, Carpet Slipper, foaled in 1930, is a year-older half-sister to Yorkshire Oaks-Gr.1 winner Dalmary (Blandford), whose daughters, including Jennydang (Colombo) and Rough Shod (Gold Bridge) have had such a huge impact on racing around the globe, the former’s descendants featuring Lorenzaccio and Thatching and the latter’s including Moccasin (third dam of Northern Meteor), Thatch, Nureyev, Fairy King and Sadler’s Wells. Current Queensland star sire Spirit of Boom is a great-grandson of the inbred Thatching (Dalmary 4fx5f, Hyperion 4mx4m) and his sire Thatch appears 4mx5f in his pedigree.

Carpet Slipper’s branch of the 5h family also has plenty of luminaries, not the least being French Derby winner and sire Val de Loir, French Derby winner and sire Roi Lear, ‘King George’ winner and sire Petoski and the imported Cox Plate-Gr.1 winner and sire Almaarad (IRE). Carpet Slipper’s half-brother Windsor Slipper (Windsor Lad) won the Irish 3YO Triple Crown (Derby, 2000 Guineas, St Leger) before a career at stud and he features in the pedigree of Sliprullah (Solar Slipper-Starullah by Nasrullah), dam of Sheeaun and fifth dam of Headwater.

This means Sliprullah carries Carpet Slipper 3mx3f, as Solar Slipper is by Windsor Slipper and Starullah has Carpet Slipper as her second dam. It’s worth noting that Windsor Lad is a son of Blandford (sire also of Dalmary) and that Ridan, Moccasin and Thong (all ex Rough Shod) are by Nantallah, a son of Nasrullah, providing some interesting pedigree links for those using Headwater over mares featuring Dalmary or Rough Shod in their pedigrees. For example Northern Meteor, who carries the sisters Thong and Moccasin 5×3.

But we don’t have to delve far into history to find excellence in Headwater’s immediate family, as he’s a son of Darley’s champion sire Exceed and Excel (Danehill (USA)-Patrona (USA) by Lomond), Australia’s Champion Sprinter of 2003-04, whose resume includes wins in the VRC Newmarket-Gr.1 and MRC Invitation Stakes-Gr.1 (1400m track record).

By our nine-times champion sire Danehill (Danzig-Razyana by His Majesty), a supreme sire of sires, Exceed and Excel is a from a winning daughter of Robert Sangster’s English 2000 Guineas winner Lomond (Northern Dancer-My Charmer by Poker), a half-brother to champion Seattle Slew and three-quarter brother to Seattle Dancer. Their Gr.2-winning dam is a descendant of champion sprinter Myrtlewood, as is Mr. Prospector. Descendants of My Charmer could also work with Headwater.


Toggle Cross Duplications
Show/Hide Sibling Identifiers

Five x Five Enhanced Pedigree Grid for

HEADWATER (AUS) 2012 Bay colt
by Exceed and Excel - River Dove, by Hurricane Sky


B. 2000
GW 7 wins
f:2894 r:2598 w:1829 SW:217
B. 1986
GW 4 wins
f:2414 r:2083 w:1631 SW:347
B. 1977
Wnr 3 wins
f:1075 r:837 w:658 SW:198
1Northern DancerNearctic14
Pas de NomAdmiral's Voyage4
B. 1981
f:14 r:11 w:9 SW:5
His MajestyRibot4
Flower Bowl4
1Spring AdieuBuckpasser1
Ch. 1994
Wnr 1 win
f:5 r:5 w:5 SW:2
B. 1980
GW 3 wins
f:721 r:546 w:296 SW:30
1Northern DancerNearctic14
My CharmerPoker1
Fair Charmer13
Ch. 1974
GW 17 wins
f:12 r:10 w:7 SW:3
Watch Your StepCitation3
Back BritchesCarry Back5
Br. 1998
GW 8 wins
f:10 r:9 w:7 SW:1
Hurricane Sky
B. 1991
GW 6 wins
f:767 r:629 w:400 SW:20
Star Watch
Ch. 1985
GW 6 wins
f:117 r:106 w:82 SW:10
Light of PeaceLight Wind3
Flag of Peace14
Dancing Show
B. 1983
Wnr 1 win
f:10 r:8 w:7 SW:2
Nijinsky1Northern Dancer2
Flaming Page8
Show LadySir Ivor8
Best in Show8
Ride the Rapids
Br. 1988
SW 4 wins
f:13 r:13 w:10 SW:1
River Rough
Br. 1979
GW 9 wins
f:310 r:236 w:142 SW:2
Lady Sybil22
Romantic GloryRomantic14
Snow Glory2
Br. 1983
SW 2 wins
f:8 r:7 w:6 SW:3

Northern Dancer (CAN) 1961 : 4m 4m x 5m

Bletchingly (AUS) 1970 : x 4m 4f
Natalma (USA) 1957 : 5m 5f 5m x

One of the best reverse shuttlers and Australia’s Champion Sire in 2012-13, Exceed and Excel has left 150 stakes winners among winners of more than $150m and is a particularly good sire of juveniles, Silver Slipper-Gr.2 winner Headwater among them.

Those juvenile stars include Golden Slipper-Gr.1 heroine Overreach (Snippets), Blue Diamond-Gr.1 winners Earthquake (Marauding) and Reward for Effort (Rory’s Jester), the latter now a sire success in Victoria, Guelph (Elusive Quality (USA)), who won the ATC Sires’ Produce-Gr.1 and Champagne Stakes-Gr.1 at two and then continued that good form at three by taking the Flight Stakes-Gr.1 and MRC 1000 Guineas-Gr.1, Helmet (Singspiel (IRE)), another to claim the Champagne and Sires’ Produce at Randwick and go on to glory at three, winning the Caulfield Guineas-Gr.1 before an international stud career for Darley. Sidestep (Quest For Fame (GB)), similarly excellent at two (Pago Pago-Gr.2, runner-up Golden Slipper) and three (Royal Sovereign-Gr.2) is also pursuing a stud career.

The Oakleigh Plate-Gr.1, William Reid-Gr.1 and Goodwood-Gr.1 winner Flamberge (Blazing Sword) is one of our best older sprinters and has won 11 races and more than $1.8m, former shuttler Excelebration (GB) (Indian Ridge) was a champion miler in Europe (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes-Gr.1, Prix du Moulin-Gr.1) but unlucky to be in the same crop as champion Frankel, Mr Stunning (Dayjur) won the Hong Kong Sprint-Gr.1, Outstrip (El Prado) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf-Gr.1, Margot Did (Shareef Dancer) won the Nunthorpe-Gr.1 on the way to being acclaimed at GB’s Champion 3YO Filly and Amber Sky (Rubiton), was a very good sprinter in HK before travelling to Dubai to claim the Al Quoz Sprint-Gr.1.

But that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg, Exceed and Excel, who works with mares by a wide variety of sires, also has black type winners out of daughters of Lecture (Seeking the Gold), Halling, Snippets, Gone West, Zabeel, Kris, Daylami, Distant Relative, Fairy King, Rudimentary, Kingmambo, King’s Best, Seeking the Gold, King of Kings, Rahy, Wolfhound, Canny Lad and Bluebird. He has several good ones out of mares
by Elusive Quality (Gone West), who shuttled for Darley, has worked well with Sadlers’ Wells line and Australian speed lines including Canny Lad and his dam sire Lunchtime (GB), Century, Vain and Star Kingdom (IRE), while champion filly Guelph has a second dam by Danehill (USA).

Race Record

(in Australia)

At 2 : ATC (Rosehill) Silver Slipper S., Gr.2 (1100m beating Voilier and Mishani Honcho)
MRC Cactus Imaging 2YO P. (1000m)
3d ATC (Randwick) Todman S., Gr.2 (1200m to Vancouver and Furnaces)
At 3 : VRC Kensington S., L (1000m beating Bullpit and The Quarterback)
4th MVRC AJ Moir S., Gr.1 (1000m)

Owners of Exceed and Excel’s daughters will not have missed that Godolphin’s champion filly Alizeeis by Sepoy (Elusive Quality-Watchful by Danehill), while her dam Essaouira is a daughter of Exceed and Excel from Alizes, a daughter of Rory’s Jester in a pedigree also featuring Century, Star Kingdom and Sir Tristram. Her half-brother Tassort (Brazen Beau) is by a sire inbred to Danzig and Bletchingly. Sepoy daughters seem certain to suit Headwater.

Headwater’s immediate female line shows a similar concentration of this Star Kingdom speed as his dam River Dove has Bletchingly 3mx3f and her dam Ride the Rapids is a granddaughter of Noholme (Star Kingdom). River Dove won eight races at 1000m-1100m including the Oakleigh Plate-Gr.1 so Headwater is a rare product of the winners of two of our major sprints (Newmarket-Oakleigh Plate), no wonder he came to hand early and went like the wind.

River Dove’s Gr.1-winning sire Hurricane Sky (Star Watch-Dancing Show (USA) by Nijinsky) claimed the Blue Diamond-Gr.1 at two and trained on to win the All-Aged Stakes-Gr.1 and run second in the Australian Guineas-Gr.1 and C.F. Orr-Gr.1. His short-lived sire Star Watch (Bletchingly-Coogee by Relic) adds more juvenile speed as he won the Golden Slipper-Gr.1.

Speed sire Bletchingly (Biscay) is out of Coogee by Relic (War Relic), winner of five of his seven starts including the Hopeful Stakes at two. Relic is also sire of Eclipse Stakes winner Pieces of Eight, whose daughter Eight Carat (GB) made such an impact in Australasia, leaving five Gr.1 winners including Octagonal. That horse’s Golden Slipper-winning grandson Pierro has shown a distinct liking for all things Danehill (especially Redoute’s Choice) and his daughters look a really good fit with Headwater.

Hurricane Sky is a three-quarter brother to Shantha’s Choice (by Canny Lad and dam of Redoute’s Choice) and to Gr.1 winner and sire Umatilla (Miswaki). Umatilla also landed a Gr.1 at two (Karrakatta Plate), while Redoute’s Choice was unbeaten at that age when his two wins included the Blue Diamond-Gr.1. His descendants could also be a good fit with Headwater, as could daughters of I Am Invincible, another Danzig-line sire from a daughter of Canny Lad.

Second dam, Ride the Rapids, was a Listed winner and Gr.2 placed and half-sister to stakes winners Catchfire and I Love Sydney. Her daughters River Crossing (Kulgrinda, River Delta), River Empress (Cross Current, second dam of Willow Creek) and River Serenade (First Command, Oneworld) all produced stakes winners and four of the six black type winners mentioned above are by Danehill-line sires.

Ride the Rapids is by Champion Sprinter River Rough, a dual winner of the VRC Sprint Classic-Gr.1 (then called the Pure-Pak Stakes) and twice winner of the Lightning when it was a Gr.2 event (now Gr.1). He is by the US Gr.2 winner Brigand (USA), a son of exported Cox Plate winner Noholme (Star Kingdom) and the top flight NZ filly Lady Sybil (Count Rendered), the latter, winner of a VRC Oaks and Caulfield Guineas, is also found in the pedigree of successful sire Beautiful Crown (USA)) via her outstanding daughter Amerigo Lady. River Dove has Star Kingdom 5mx5m,5m.

Third dam Kilmarie (Bletchingly-Sheeaun (IRE) by the Fair Trial grandson Continuation) is a half-sister
to Gr.2 winner Lauriat (Lunchtime). Her dam won over 9f in Ireland and produced six winners. Kilmarie won twice including the Listed Gallantic Handicap at Flemington and produced six winners. This is family 5h.

Headwater won three of his 11 starts and more than $460,000, opening with a 2.75 length debut win at Moonee Valley (1000m) on December 27, 2014, beating Stoker by 2.75 lengths. Off the scene until February 21, 2015, he showed real class to land the Silver Slipper-Gr.2 (1100m in 1:04.38) by 2.25 lengths from Voilier, leading all the way.

The team Hawkes-trained youngster, a $500,000 Easter purchase, met four other unbeaten runners in seven-strong field and turned the race into a procession and Michael Hawkes described Headwater as a “super colt” after the win. “Headwater has been a natural since day one,” he added.

“That was a quality performance and the win speaks for itself. He did everything right and beat some quality horses,” jockey Blake Shinn said. “This colt jumps, he travels and can sit behind. He has acceleration, the looks and is the complete package.”


Headwater - Stallions Listing

To see the full listing on Stallions.com.au click here

Headwater was then third behind Vancouver and Furnaces in the Todman-Gr.2 (1200m) and then a close fifth (of 16) in the Golden Slipper-Gr.1, beaten 1.9 lengths by Vancouver on March 21.

His four starts between August and mid-October 2015 proved winless when co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said
he “wasn’t quite right”, although he was fourth behind Buffering in the Moir-Gr.2, beaten 1.5 lengths.

He resumed at Flemington on January 30, 2016 in the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m), coming from seventh at the 400m to mow down Bullpit and Gr.1 winner The Quarterback in 56.90. Headwater was retired after two unplaced runs in March and was syndicated privately among his dedicated connections, Vinery Stud Syn (Mgr: P Orton), R & C Legh Racing Syn (Mgr: R. Legh), Kia-Ora Stud Syn (Mgr: A. Krishnan), A. Paradice, Echo Beach B’stock Syn (Mgr: A Green), Encompass B’stock Syn (Mgr: S. McCann), B. Singer, Werrett B’stock Syn (Mgr: N. Werrett), Dr T. Simon and Greenwich B’stock Syn (Mgr: G. Perry), covering 168 mares in his first book at $16,500, a fee that remained unchanged in 2017 (121 mares) and 2018 (122 mares).

There were 116 live foals in that first crop and the first of them were on show at the Magic Millions in early January. Ten of his 13 lots catalogued in Book One sold (two passed in, one withdrawn) for $975,000, to average $97,500 and with a top of $180,000 for a colt from The Carnival (Encosta de Lago) being knocked down to Hong Kong buyer Ricky Yiu. Another HK buyer, Michael Chang, went to $150,000 for the colt from Academy Idol (Made of Gold (USA)), while HK buyer George Moore outlaid $100,000 for the colt from Holder Sunset (Shamardal (USA)).

Some very good judges who purchased Headwater yearlings included James Bester, Dalziel Racing/Peter Moody/Phillip Stokes, James Kennedy/Seamus Mills Bloodstock, Matthew Dunn/Neil Jenkinson and Kelly Schweida. A Headwater colt from Gr.1 placed Honesta (Monaco Consul) made $100,000 in Book Two to the bid of Greg de Vries. This colt’s second dam is by Bradbury’s Luck (Redoute’s Choice).

Headwater has a huge draft (42) catalogued for the Inglis Classic (February 9-14) in Sydney and a further 11 yearlings at the Inglis Premier (March 3-6) in Melbourne and they are sure to be in demand.

When the horse retired Vinery’s Peter Orton described Headwater as a “really exciting prospect”.

“He is a horse of immense quality and is the son of a proven sire from a strong stakes winning family. He should appeal to commercial breeders as he has everything they want.”

It’s a sentiment being echoed by buyers too who recognise that a fast Danehill-line sire from a speed family is just the ticket to throw juvenile winners.

Did I mention his dam won the Oakleigh Plate? n

David Bay

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