After a series of near-misses for foundation stallion Pentire, Rich Hill Stud has finally broken through and taken top honours with New Zealand’s new champion sire Proisir.
The 2022-23 season saw Savabeel’s eight-year reign as champion Kiwi sire broken in spectacular style. Proisir sired 47 winners from 89 runners on New Zealand racetracks, with eight individual stakes winners and total progeny earnings of $4.15 million. That places him almost $1.5 million ahead of the second-placed Savabeel, who amassed $2.68 million.
Proisir’s astonishing season included five individual Group One winners – Dark Destroyer, Pier, Legarto, Levante and Prowess.
Pier and Legarto completed a special double at Riccarton in November, capturing the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) respectively. Proisir became only the fifth stallion to sire both winners in the same season, joining Crested Wave (Surfers Paradise and Plume in 1990), Pins (Katie Lee, who won both races in 2009), Fastnet Rock (Rock ‘N’ Pop and Planet Rock in 2011) and Savabeel (Embellish and Hasahalo in 2017, and Noverre and The Perfect Pink in 2021).
Legarto and Prowess also made their mark at the elite level across the Tasman with victories in the Australian Guineas (1600m) and Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) respectively.
Proisir’s special season is an enormously satisfying reward for Rich Hill Stud managing director John Thompson, who bought and syndicated the son of Choisir at the completion of a racetrack career that featured three wins and three placings from just seven starts.
While his biggest win came in the Gr.3 Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle, he also placed behind Dundeel in the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and Gr.1 Randwick Guineas (1600m), and behind Pierro in the Gr.2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
Proisir’s premiership honours also completed some unfinished business for the Matamata stud, who had to settle for six top-four finishes with Pentire between the 2004-05 and 2011-12 seasons. That included a desperately close second behind Volksraad in 2005-06.
“Pentire went so close on a number of occasions,” Thompson said.
“The year he finished second on the premiership, Volksraad just pipped him by less than $20,000. There was also another season where Pentire led the Dewar Award for most of the season, thanks to throwing a Melbourne Cup (3200m) winner (Prince Of Penzance) and the multiple Group One-winning three-year-old Xtravagant. But that was the first year that prize-money was massively increased for The Championships at Randwick, and the Savabeel mare Lucia Valentina came along and won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) to overtake him.
“Pentire really deserved to win a premiership and never quite managed it, so it’s great to get the monkey off the back for the stud in some ways.
“I don’t think there’s been many more convincing winners than Proisir. His progeny have earned more than $4 million – the first stallion to pass that mark in New Zealand, and not far off double the amount Savabeel has earned in second place. It really has been a special season.
“It’s the reason you get into the stallion business – you hope to one day have a champion, but it doesn’t happen all that often. It’s been amazing.”
While Proisir has set the pace on the sires’ premiership ever since Dark Destroyer’s win in the season-opening Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings on September 10, Thompson admits that he only became confident of taking the title after Prowess defeated a star-studded field in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe on January 21.
“He’d obviously had an incredible spring, winning both Guineas and having Dark Destroyer win the Tarzino as well, but we knew all too well that stallions can be overtaken through the latter part of a season,” Thompson said.
“It was that win by Prowess in the Karaka Million that changed everything. Immediately after that race, I said straight away, ‘I don’t think they can catch him.’
“I probably still didn’t expect him to win as easily as he has, especially after the way Savabeel reeled in Pentire in the Dewar Award that time. But Proisir has just kept getting winners all the way through. He’s pretty much had at least one winner every week.”
Proisir’s success has brought an increase in service fee, commanding $70,000 for the upcoming breeding season. It is a world away from his introductory service fee of $7,000, and a sharp rise from the $17,500 fee that he stood for in 2022.
But there has been red-hot demand for his progeny in recent times, with all of his 19 yearlings in Book 1 at Karaka earlier this year selling and earning an average price of $188,947.
Meanwhile, fellow Rich Hill Stud stallion Satono Aladdin has also earned his place among New Zealand’s top stallions, finishing the 2022-23 season as the country’s champion second-season sire and champion sire of two-year-olds.
Satono Aladdin sired 12 winners from 33 runners in New Zealand this season, with three stakes winners and total progeny earnings of $1.31 million.
Tokyo Tycoon was a standout two-year-old, scoring a sparkling come-from-behind win in the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and adding a dominant victory in the Gr.3 Matamata Slipper (1200m) a few weeks later.
Satono Aladdin also showed that he could produce a supreme stayer, with his three-year-old daughter Pennyweka winning the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and Gr.1 Australian Oaks (2400m). She became only the third filly in history to complete the trans-Tasman Oaks double at Trentham and Randwick, following on from Domino (1990) and Bonneval (2017).
“For him to be champion second-season sire and champion sire of two-year-olds is fantastic for us,” Thompson said. “It’s not very common to see a stallion produce a top two-year-old and a top staying three-year-old filly in the same year.
“He’s got some promising young horses coming through as well, so it’s very exciting. I think it’s so important to have him and his blood as part of the New Zealand industry, being a son of the great Deep Impact.
“I think we all really missed him when we didn’t have any of his yearlings to sell this year, because he’d missed that season of shuttling due to Covid-19. It’s exciting to be selling his progeny again next season, and we’ve got our fingers crossed for some really strong demand for them.
“Satono Aladdin is also our leading sire by average earnings index, so he’s delivered some outstanding results this season.”