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Best race mares - Poor Breeders

Our very best race mares, and there has been some champions, the majority have very poor breeding records, some have been complete duffers.

There are numerous theories that can be applied; the most likely, hard racing against continuous strong opposition, surely has to take its toll.

The top race mares give it all, that is why they become champions, but at a cost, on retirement basically they are worn out, they still remain fertile, but fertility doesn’t come into the picture.

This is a multimillion dollar business, the commercial breeders, particularly in New South Wales, are at the helm, the capitol investment is mind boggling, and it is not going to go away.

When investors are willing to throw millions of dollars into an industry, and it’s a gamble, the gravy train will keep rolling along.

Those that were champion race mares are not wanted by the major studs, they are worn simply out, they have little more to give.

Tranquil Star was a classic example, she won 23 races including a Caulfield Cup, 2 Cox Plates, 32 placings and unplaced 56 times.  

After she retired, a stud career was awaiting, she reared nine foals of which seven raced.

Fortunately we rarely see acts of cruelty to that magnitude these days, racing is better administered.

The best race mares, more often than not, rarely produce the best foals, it just doesn’t happen; they have no more to give.

Flight had a busy racing career but nothing to compare with Tranquil Star, her only recorded daughter was Flight’s Daughter by Helios, she never raced.

Sir Brian Crowley sent Flight’s daughter across to Baramul Stud where Star Kingdom stood, she produced Skyline in 1955, and Sky High in 1957, each won a Golden Slipper and a Derby.

In the thirties we marvelled at Peter Pan winning the Melbourne Cup twice, little did we know in 50 years hence, a mare named Makybe Diva, would win the Cup three times. However, sadly she will never be remembered as a brood mare.

Wakeful produced Night Watch, winner of the Melbourne Cup long before the advent of Group racing and Black Type was introduced to racing; only two mares have been afforded

Group 1 status, Chicquita, she produced Eskimo Prince who won the Golden Slipper Stakes Group 1, and Miss Finland who is the dam of Stay With Me, she won the 1000 Guineas Group 1

Makybe Diva and foal Mobile

Makybe Diva with her latest foal at Vinery


Hawkshot good trial for Guineas

Hawkshot turned in more than was expected after he was almost tossed over the running rail three times at Sandown last Wednesday.

After what was quite a rough affair he was forced back to last and had to go around every horse in the race to get a reasonable run.

He will not have that problem in running the mile at headquarters, and will be a force to be reckoned with on that win, which would give his sire, Fiorente, his first Group 1 success.            

Fiorente did more than expected in his first season, he had a couple of winners, he is on the threshold of an improved season, his progeny are going to be better with time.

Hawkshot Mobile Hawkshot winning at Sandown


Peter Liston is a guy that could always ride with the punches, he could weather the storm, he was born and raised in the Mallee, they don’t give in easily up that way.

He and his wife, Pauline, with their family, moved to a stud property known as Lakewood in South Australia, in the distance was Narrung Stud where the sensational thoroughbred sire Adraan stood, his first and only season, and further on, the waters of Lake Albert.

After what was a short period Peter and his wife, Pauline, with their family wanted to return to Victoria, it offered more security and an improved lifestyle.

Above all it had to be horse country within reasonable reach of the capitol city that is where much of the racing and breeding industry is centred.

It didn’t take that long for the Liston family to settle on “Three Bridges” on the Loddon River, where the gums grow as tall as they do along the Murray.

A place of peace and tranquillity where time seemed to stand still, as you walked through the lush pastures that were to be known as Three Bridges, not that far away from the small hamlet of Eddington.

When the stud got up and running all new stabling was built, holding yards and paddocks, a veterinary facility, modern feed sheds and brand new home with all modern cons.

Pauline Liston is a remarkable woman, she is a true horse women, she wouldn’t ask a man to do a job she could not do herself.


Stryker was the first sire to stand at Three Bridges, he was by Fastnet Rock, he proved a very handy sire, however, he wasn’t really commercial, you needed to do better to remain a going concern.

You don’t find them under gooseberry bushes, the market is extremely competitive, there are a lot of players with the same intentions.

Peter Liston thought he had struck a pot of gold, the horse he was able to secure was the outstanding two year old colt, Unencumbered, who had just won the Magic Millions Classic, it was better than winning the lottery.

However that didn’t last long, Unencumbered died after covering just a few short seasons, he has had 59 runners for 32 winners.

He was leading two year old sire in his first season, with earnings of S1.9 million, winning with a winner at his first starter at Randwick.

His first crop of yearlings sold up to $150,000 in 2017, and that was just the tip of the iceberg, his replacement value is any ones guess, it could run into millions, and you may never replace him.


Jim Johnson - A Gentleman Jockey

Jim Johnson, he rode three Melbourne Cup winners on two horses, Gatum Gatum and Rain Lover twice, in 1968 and 1969.

He has just celebrated his 90th birthday a few weeks ago, and is wearing well; he can still crack a joke.

Jim retired from race riding when he reached 47 years of age, generally most jockeys’ call it quits around that age, although the late Jack Thompson didn’t call it a day until he turned 60.

Jim was just a four year old lad when his father, Alf, a successful jockey, was killed in a race fall at Oakbank in 1934.

His mother later married Charlie Cox, a prominent jockey; the family moved to Western Australia where Cox was riding quiet a lot of winners.    

Jim finally returned to Adelaide to be with his grandmother, he was a caring young man and she was good to him, there were no visions of becoming a jockey at that stage.

When a knock came to the door a fellow asked, “is Alf Johnson’s son staying with you?” “Yes he is” was the reply.

It was Stan Chapman, a horse trainer at Morphettville, he invited Jim to go down and see the stables, but that was all, nothing was mentioned about becoming a jockey.

Stan was playing it cool, no pressure applied, they both got on well together, it was just a matter of time before Jim Johnson was apprenticed to Stan Chapman and not long before he out rode his claim.     

Yes, Jim Johnson was a great jockey, however, he seemed to be reluctant to leave Adelaide, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and Jim was very loyal, he didn’t chase rides, they came to him.

Originally Les Coles was engaged to ride Gatum Gatum in the Melbourne Cup, however, after what was a poor run in the Moonee Valley Cup Coles preferred to ride Conference.

Jim didn’t chase the ride on Gatum Gatum, it was the owner, Malcolm Reid, that did the chasing, Jim was a light weight and very strong, plus an excellent judge of pace, and would suit Gatum Gatum.

After the celebration Jim returned to Adelaide doing what he does best, riding winners, the Melbourne Cup was as far away as ever.

Gatum Gatum returned the following year, and so did Jim, but 12 months is a long time in racing and a lot of water had flowed under the bridge, Gatum Gatum was only a shadow of his former self.

When Jim thought the Melbourne Cup could have been only a dream, up popped Rain Lover, he didn’t win once, he won it twice.

The winning margin was 8 lengths the first time, the second time, with an additional stone to shoulder, the margin was a head.

Rain Lover was a great favourite, as was Tobin Bronze, who bowed out of racing in the spring of 1967 having won six races in succession, the Doncaster Hcp, All Aged Stakes, Nulla Nulla Hcp.,Toorak Hcp., the Caulfield Cup was the swansong.

Tobin Bronze was sold to American interests, soon after Jim went across to ride him for one race, the horse failed; no more was heard of him after that.

Jim has long retired to the western suburbs of Melbourne, rarely goes racing these days, but has wonderful memories of an excellent career in racing.

Jim Johnson MobileJim Johnson with one of three Melbourne Cups


Better Than Ready

Better Than Ready is off to a flying start leading, the way at this stage on the first season sire’s list, with seven winners of ten races, including two stakes winners to his credit, he has got away to away to a brilliant beginning with his first crop to race.

He was a very good colt having raced 15 times for 8 wins, and was only out the money 5 times, winning up to 1200 metres, with 80 per cent of our races at 1600 metres or less.  

Better Than Ready went to stud early in 2015 and is producing results in his first season, he was not over raced, that is now a proven formula, local sires have never had it so good.

He has been very well marketed, nothing has been left to chance, it is a very competitive market, if he hadn’t performed in the first couple of seasons it could have been an uphill battle.

It is no surprise really, he has a lot going for him, lovely foals developing into strong yearlings, and from there it’s just a natural progression.

Richard Foster selected the right stud when his choice was Lyndhurst, a great slice of sound horse country, with Jeff Kruger at the helm, with 2500 acres at his disposal on the rich rolling Darling Downs, at Warwick, in Queensland.

Better Than ReadyBetter Than Ready- Champion first season sire

Lyndhurst is a renowned piece of horse country dating back as far as the last century, when the previous owner, John McDougall, was in search of a new stallion for the stud.

It had to be a staying horse, as Lyndhurst had a reputation to uphold of breeding stayers, and that had to be retained.

John took a fancy to a horse named The Bastard, he was by Spion Kop who had won the English Derby, he was ridden by an American jockey, Frank O’Neill, he demanded 200 pounds for the ride and if he won a 1,000 pounds, that was back in the early twenties.

It was a time consuming exercise, no plane travel in those days, you selected an agent and you had to be guided by that agent, you didn’t have much option, and travelling time was around 8 weeks if you were lucky.

John was not getting anywhere, he couldn’t get a picture of how the horse looked, in desperation be cabled back to the agent, saying,” I will take The Bastard”

That soon brought the pot to the boil, John was in trouble when he had some explaining to do, sending a cable with that wording was an offence, and he could face a charge.

When the Postal Master General became involved it was serious matter involving John, who was the innocent party, but still was held responsible.

Finally, it all blew over when it was proven the horse was registered in England as The Bastard, a name change sufficed, he was renamed The Buzzard.

The name change made no difference to The Buzzard, he was an amazing horse, the greatest sire of stayers worldwide, he sired 22 major cup winners.


Brazen Beau’s first Winner

Brazen Beau sired his first winner, from four life time starters, when Tassport led all the way over the 1100 metres, creating a class record of 1-03.88 at Royal Randwck.

Tassport is a highly promising colt, he could even be Golden Slipper material, there will be a lot of other trainers thinking the same, each time a two year old wins a race at this time of the year.

Brazen Beau has a lot going for him; he won the Newmarket Handicap and the Coolmore Classic, 5 wins and 4 placings from 12 starts.
He is really sires material, he won the good races yet was never over raced, he has a great future, he is an outstanding stud prospect.

Both Brazen Beau, and his sire, I Am Invincible, were both sparingly raced, the results the stud farms are now reaping the rewards.

His sire, I Am Invincible, is flying at present, he is having a great season, he has three unbeaten fillies in Melbourne that could play a prominent role in the autumn.

And Voodoo Lad added to the score when he came from behind in Perth to win the Winterbottom Stakes, the last Group 1 race of the calendar year.


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