A classic case of being in the right place at the right time led Rich Hill Stud’s John Thompson to the stable door of Ace High.
Impressed by what he saw, Thompson duly signed the son of High Chaparral to the farm’s stallion roster and at Riccarton on Saturday major celebrations were sparked by his first-crop daughter Molly Bloom when she triumphed in the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m).
The Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained filly came from the tail of the field with a powerhouse finish under Joe Doyle to claim top honours and provide Ace High with a massive fillip.
“The 1000 Guineas is a proper Group One and for him to get one so early in his career is a major boost for everybody involved in the horse and for the New Zealand industry,” Thompson said.
Ace High was the dual top-flight winner of the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and the VRC Derby (2500m) for Sydney trainer David Payne and Thompson was led in his direction by Astute Bloodstock’s Louis Le Metayer.
“I always go to the Sydney Easter Yearling Sale for a look around, I wasn’t selling anything, and I ran into Louis,” he said.
“I said to him do you know of any stallions available, and he said you have to come and look at this horse, he’s just come on the market.”
Timing proved to be crucial as the stars aligned for Ace High to begin the second stage of his career at Rich Hill.
“At Sydney Easter, most of the Australian studs had got their stallions and they were going to race Ace High on, but he was getting a bit colty and David Payne said he needed to go to stud,” Thompson said.
“I went and had a look at him with Louis at Payne’s stable and because no one had expressed any interest in standing him I thought he must have bad legs or something.
“I just couldn’t believe it, he was a big, physical horse and went away and said to Louis that as soon as I get home, give me a chance to try and syndicate the horse.”
Thompson’s efforts were well-received on his return and an agreement was subsequently locked in.
“I got on the phone and rang around the people I spoke to were very keen,” he said.
“A number of New Zealand stud jumped in like The Oaks, Mapperley Stud, Gordon Cunningham (Curraghmore), Mark Baker (Hallmark Stud) and Graeme Hunt as well.
“The fact that he was a dual Group One-winning son of High Chaparral and how well that blood has done in New Zealand enabled us to get the deal over the line.
“We announced him reasonably late that year, probably around May by the time we got everything together.
“He’s since been a popular horse and served around 100 mares every season and he’s heading that way again. After Saturday, we had more inquiries from people with late foaling mares.”
Expectations had always been high for the stallion’s first three-year-old representatives.
“When you look at Ace High’s race record, he was a mature spring three-year-old as evidenced when he won the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and that race has very much developed into a sire-making race,” Thompson said.
“You need a physically and mentally mature horse to win that race and he’s by High Chaparral out of a Redoute’s Choice mare.
“I must admit, I have preached on about Ace High’s pedigree and High Chaparral as a sire of sires so there’s a lot of good factors involved.”
Sold by breeder Seaton Park to Wexford Stables for $150,000 at Karaka last year, Molly Bloom headlined a stellar weekend for Rich Hill.
They also bred and retain an ownership interest in Riccarton undercard winner Say Satono, a daughter of Satono Aladdin who has been successful twice in a handful of starts for Andrew Carston, and bred and sold Molly Bloom’s gifted stablemate Uderzo.
The son of Vadamos was a $125,000 yearling and his resuming victory at Tauranga was his fourth from 11 appearances.
“Say Satono is out of Say No More, who won two Group Ones and her first foal is now the dam of Lantern Way who won the Hawke’s Bay Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m) so she’s a three-quarter sister to him,” Thompson said.
“Uderzo is also out of a Pentire mare and he looks like he is in for a good campaign and then the Shocking horse Never Look Back won the Waipukurau Cup for Gail Temperton on Sunday, so it was a really exciting weekend for us.”