Triple G1 winner Incentivise is the most recent living, breathing, galloping advertisement for the virtues of South East Queensland’s fabled Darling Downs, situated at altitude heading west from Toowoomba.
His consecutive G1 wins over 1,600m, 2,000m and 2,400m, followed by a brave second to champion Verry Elleegant in the 2021 Melbourne Cup saw him join the ranks of legendary thoroughbreds bred and raised on the Darling Downs such as Bernborough, Tails, Eye Liner, Naturalism and Show A Heart just to name a few.
Ron and Debbie Gilbert’s Highgrove located on some of the finest dark chocolate soil on the downs at Westbrook has contributed significantly to the Darling Downs honour roll in recent times both in the sales ring and in the heat of competition on Australian racetracks.
Ron Gilbert takes up the narrative, “ I’m extremely proud of Highgrove’s record as a leading vendor, our figure of 8% plus stakes winners to yearlings sold is consistently one of the nation’s best. Buyers can trust our product, and they know we are committed sellers. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than to see our sales yearlings go on to glory for their new owners. In recent times from our small drafts we’ve sold G1 performers such as Summer Passage, Noire, Attention, Thronum and Legally Bay, the dam of Merchant Navy, plus brilliant juveniles such as Global Quest and the flying Dusty Tycoon. Many of the Highgrove fillies have gone on to produce G1 winners, establishing important families for their new owners.
We’ve also seen Jet Spur distinguish himself at stud, and G1 placed Thronum’s full brother Verne is our most recent star graduate, following an unlucky first up second to In The Congo, he won next start, then exacted revenge by defeating In The Congo who franked the form as the subsequent winner of The Golden Rose G1. He is an exciting prospect, currently back in work.
Ron is passionate about promoting the Darling Downs, having been involved in a very successful campaign to spread the message to the wider industry some years ago. “ It’s ideal country for raising equine athletes, with mineral rich soil watered by an underground stream that is filtered through basalt, so when our horses are tested for bone density they top the class. There have been some wonderful stallions located on the Darling Downs over the years, with Spirit Of Boom and Better Than Ready the latest to make their marks on various leading sire lists. The Incentivise highlight reel has been great for his breeder Steve Tregea and a wonderful, timely reminder for Australian horse breeders and owners about the merits of the Darling Downs.”
The success rate of Highgrove yearlings in the sale ring and subsequently on the track is the result of careful planning and fastidious attention to detail at every stage. Ron Gilbert is a keen student of thoroughbred pedigrees, always looking for crosses that work and sires with the right credentials. Highgrove is a family owned property, exclusively for yearlings, with the premium broodmare band of 25 or so quality mares being kept on their nearby adjoining farm called Balmoral.
Ron explains ”I originally had the idea to separate mares and yearlings from reading about Tesio, and although our farms are closer than his were, in practice it works out extremely well, for various reasons, not the least of which is horse health control.”
The Highgrove draft for the 2022 Magic Millions January sale is a select offering of five youngsters, three colts and two fillies by a quintet of Australia’s elite young commercial sires.
Snitzel’s G1 winning son Russian Revolution is a stallion Ron Gilbert has supported strongly, his faith being rewarded with the stallion’s second runner Russian Conquest winning the Max Lees Classic at Newcastle on debut. Highgrove’s MM colt lot 41 is the farm’s first yearling into the ring in 2022 and is out of the Fastnet Rock mare Fast Return with second dam being a Highgrove gem in Flamboyance. The Snitzel/Danehill cross has produced G1 winners Sword Of State and Media Award, multiple G1 placed Soul Patch and the crack sprinter Profiteer.
Next colt will be lot 57 from the first crop of five time G1 winning champion Australian 3yo The Autumn Sun who is by sire of sires Redoute’s Choice. This colt is out of the winning Street Cry mare Folk Song from another top Highgrove family responsible for the recent G1 winner Summer Passage. This colt is bred on one of the most successful crosses anyone could wish for, the Redoute’s Choice/Street Cry mix has produced 13SW and 13 SP horses for almost 15% stakesperformers to runners.
But even more significantly, SIX of the 13 Sw are G1 winners, including FARNAN, ANAMOE, TREKKING and SAVATIANO.
In other words 46% of the SW bred on this cross are G1 winners. That’s as good as it ever gets.
The third of the colts trio is lot 552 from the first crop of the dual G1 winning Sunday Silence sprinter Brave Smash, out of the Redoute’s Choice mare Sponsored, again from the prolific proven Highgrove family of SUMMER PASSAGE, EXCITABLE BOY, GET TO WORK and ORDER OF THE SUN.
Sponsored is the dam of the flying filly Dusty Tycoon whose 4 wins and $257k have already bought much enjoyment to her Mirunners syndicate of many owners. She has been a flagship first runner for Steve Brown’s innovative Mirunners concept.
To put the icing on the cake, this colt is bred on the “cross of the moment”, The Sunday Silence/Redoute’s Choice mix making headline Spring Carnival news with G1 winners PROFONDO and HITOTSU embellishing this cross which had already produced dual G1 winning 2YO KING’S LEGACY.
The Highgrove MM fillies are by two of the most exciting young sires in the nation, one proven, one first season.
Lot 156 is by the great Pierro out of the SW Choisir mare JAPHILS with second and third dams by Polish Precedent and Mill Reef adding real substance to this pedigree. Pierro’s six individual G1 winners include the VRC Oaks winner PINOT and triple G1 winner ARCADIA QUEEN and most significantly all six are bred on the same Pierro/Danehill cross as this filly.
Lot 266 is from the eagerly awaited debut crop of the crack racehorse, Australia’s Champion 3YO Trapeze Artist, winner of four of the nation’s elite G1 races and over $5.5m in prizemoney. This filly’s dam Miss Delveen is by multiple champion broodmare sire Encosta De Lago, while second dam CALVEEN was a G1 winner of 10 races and Champion sprinter and miler in NZ.
The Snitzel/ Encosta De Lago cross has been responsible for three G1 winners INVADER, SUMMER PASSAGE, SWORD OF STATE and G3 winning filly SURE KNEE (7 wins $531k) from 69 runners, and over 72% winners to runners, a great strike rate.
What is the most important object you own?
My little pocket notebook that I use to record inspections at the sales. Priceless, and doesn’t need electricity.
What is the most impressive thing you know how to do?
I make a mean spaghetti marinara, and my crumbed prawn cutlets aren’t too bad either.
If someone asked to be your apprentice and learn all that you know, what would you teach them?
Paying attention to details is something I’ve always focussed on. Whether it’s building , cooking or breeding thoroughbreds, God is in the details. No shortcuts.