On face value, two of the headline acts among the first-season sires represented at the 2021 Australian Easter Yearling Sale would not appear to have that much in common. But a closer examination of the backgrounds
of Coolmore’s Merchant Navy and Newgate’s Russian Revolution reveals some remarkably parallel lines.
One degree of separation, you could say.
The Coolmore factor
Merchant Navy’s original ownership group was headed by Darren Thomas’ Seymour Bloodstock and partners while Coolmore’s stake in the horse at the time was a small shareholding via the Fastnet Rock Syndicate. Following the colt’s Group One success at Flemington, the global superpower upped the ante to secure the glamour colt for stud, bringing in long-term clients and associates as well as some senior members of management.
On the other hand, Newgate’s Managing Director, Henry Field, Stud Manager, Jim Carey, and Chief Financial Officer, Tony O’Driscoll, were part of the furniture at Jerry’s Plains for many years before going their separate ways.
The business acumen and all-round horsemanship gleaned from the Coolmore days has much to do with the rise and rise of Newgate over the past decade.
Foaled in October 2013, Russian Revolution is the older of the two by one year and one month. Therefore, he was sold as a yearling one year earlier but at the same venue, the Australian Easter Yearling Sale. Prepared by Vinery Stud, the Snitzel – Ballet d’Amour colt was bought for $320,000 by the China Horse Club/Newgate Farm partnership with agent Michael Wallace signing the chit for Lot 298.
Offered at the 2016 Australian Easter Yearling Sale in the draft of Segenhoe Stud on behalf of breeder, Chris Barham, Merchant Navy attracted the attention of the trainer Ciaron Maher who secured the son of Coolmore’s Champion Sire, Fastnet Rock, with a final bid of $350,000.
On the track
Both colts were unbeaten two year olds, Merchant Navy winning all three starts at that age, one more than Russian Revolution. When retired to stud, both horses had won seven races, including twice at Group One level. For Merchant Navy, those wins came from ten starts, while Russian Revolution went to the post, you guessed it, eleven times.
There is only one race which both stallions contested, the Coolmore Stud Stakes, with Merchant Navy winning brilliantly in his year and Russian Revolution finishing fourth in that epic 2016 renewal (if only he had run second!).
Group One wins
While tied on two apiece, the pair’s sprint successes at the highest level came in vastly different ways. Merchant Navy’s dramatic late burst to snatch victory in the Coolmore Stud Stakes down the Flemington Straight Six was mirrored by his international victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
On the other hand, Russian Revolution was an on-pace speedster, winning the Oakleigh Plate/The Galaxy double over 1100m, one hundred metres less than Merchant Navy’s Group One triumphs. Only one other horse has won the same two races, the outstanding influence Snippets.
The Oakleigh Plate connection
In recent times, the Oakleigh Plate has been won by three major stallions – Snippets, Fastnet Rock and Snitzel. The pedigree connection here between our two subjects is easily seen. Merchant Navy is by Fastnet Rock from the Snippets mare, Legally Bay, while Russian Revolution’s sire, the 4-times Champion Australian Sire, Snitzel is by Redoute’s Choice from Snippets’ Lass. The other common denominator is the legendary Danehill, appearing in the second generation of Merchant Navy, but one remove further away in Russian Revolution.
The 2021 Australian Easter Yearling Sale
Traditionally, the Australian Easter Yearling Sale is not always easy going for first-season sires, up against large numbers by the leading proven stallions in the land. This year’s edition will be no different, but with both stallions having sizeable drafts from any number of vendors, it does underline the industry confidence in their credentials.
Merchant Navy has seventeen lots catalogued, Russian Revolution weighs-in with one less!
One degree of separation….or is it six? ❖