Feature race wins by La Crique in the Gr.3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) and Lincoln King in the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham on Saturday, continued a wonderful run for progeny of the resident stallions of Matamata-based Rich Hill Stud.
La Crique is a three-year-old daughter from the first crop of European Group One winning miler, Vadamos while Lincoln King is by former Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and Gr.1 Australian Cup (2000m) winner Shocking.
They join Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) winner Levante and Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) winner Dark Destroyer, who are both by another Rich Hill stallion in Proisir, as recent stakes winners to provide further impetus to the momentum of the Matamata nursery just six weeks out from the start of the 2022 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling sale at Karaka.
Co-owner John Thompson is thrilled with how things have been going for the stud which was established with business partner Alan Galbraith QC and Thompson’s parents Colin and Irene back in 1994.
“We have had a really good run over the last few months and long may it continue,” Thompson said.
“It is certainly very satisfying to see just how well our stallions are performing as they are quite a diverse group, with a nice combination of different bloodlines that we can offer to the market at a realistic price.
“To see how far we have come since we first kicked off is just amazing.”
Rich Hill currently stand Shocking, Proisir and Vadamos along with Group One winning Japanese miler Satono Aladdin, a son of Deep Impact, and dual Group One winner Ace High, whose eldest are yearlings.
However, it is foundation sire Pentire that Thompson credits for providing the platform for where the Walton nursery sits today.
“Pentire was our first stallion and he was just amazing and has provided us with the resources to grow into the operation we are today,” he said.
“I think in some ways we, and I mean the whole New Zealand industry, may have taken him a little for granted in some ways as year on year he delivered horses that were capable of winning at all distances and in all company.
“As a relatively young stud, we didn’t have a huge broodmare band to support him and perhaps if we had he could have risen to even greater heights.
“What he did do though was allow us to expand and establish ourselves and to be in a position to act when opportunities to secure new stallions came along.
“That was how we have managed to obtain the stallions we have now as we were in the right place at the right time and had the resources and business partners to support the purchasing decisions we have made.”
Thompson cites Ace High as a classic example of that philosophy which saw the Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) winner added to the Rich Hill roster courtesy of a trip to the Sydney Easter sales.
“I was in Sydney for the Easter Sale there and certainly not looking for another stallion,” he said.
“I had an agent approach me and when I took a look at him as a son of a champion stallion in High Chaparral, I knew I had to find a way to make it work.
“Thankfully I got on the phone and spoke to some of the people who were supporting our other stallions and got such a positive vibe that we managed to snap him up.
“His first crop will go to the yearling sale at Karaka this year and we are very excited by the feedback we have received from breeders who are offering their yearlings at the sale.”
Thompson is also thrilled by the support that all five stallions received in the recently completed breeding season, with approximately 480 mares covered amongst the group.
“Our own broodmare band has grown in recent years and we have around sixty to support our stallions, but we certainly don’t have the levels that some of the bigger studs have,” he said.
“In the last season every one of our stallions covered a sizeable book, which we are very thankful for as it shows just how they are perceived in the market.
“Satono Aladdin had his book slightly cut short due to having to travel back to Japan a little earlier than planned, but he still had around 65 mares which we were pleased with.
“That’s where the racing results of late tie in beautifully for us and give us further confidence looking ahead to the future.”
Thompson is optimistic that despite the current threats and restrictions provided by the COVID pandemic, the annual Karaka yearling sale will be a big success.
“We were very nervous last year as we rely on the Australian buying bench as the backbone of the sale,” he said.
“When they couldn’t be here due to travel restrictions it was a major headache, but the work that was done to create the online selling platform was tremendous and it proved a real winner.
“We just don’t know how it will play out this year as the whole COVID situation is a rapidly moving beast, but I’m confident that the bases are covered by NZB and the vendors and the sale will be very good.
“It also helps that pushing the date back from its normal January slot has let our yearlings mature a little longer and I know breeders will reap the benefits of that as well.”
Rich Hill Stud will offer 41 yearlings across the Book 1 and Book 2 sales at Karaka, which commence on March 7.