Slipper winner Sepoy to join heavyweight roster at Darley
- BY:SHAYNE O’CASS
- From:The Australian
- July 02, 2012 12:00AM
Sepoy is one of 27 stallions on duty for Darley Australia this year. Picture: Colleen Petch Source: Supplied
POWERFULLY built chestnut Sepoy will aim to join a seemingly endless procession of Golden Slipper-winning colts to make the grade at stud when he takes up residency at Darley’s Hunter Valley headquarters this season.
The $3.55 million Golden Slipper Stakes, aka the richest two-year-old race in the world, has proven to be the stallion-making race on the Australian calendar.
Inaugural winner Todman (1957) paved the way for a steady stream of future influential sires that were able to win the 1200m Rosehill Gardens Group I autumn feature.
After him came the likes of Vain, Baguette, Luskin Star, Marscay, Rory’s Jester, Marauding, Canny Lad, Danzero and Flying Spur. There have been disappointments too — with Full On Aces, Sir Dapper and Grand Slam hero Tierce among them — but all in all the Slipper has been the Golden ticket for stud success.
Indeed, of the 12 Golden Slipper-winning colts since 1980 that have progeny to race, 11 have produced a Group I winner and no fewer than five have produced a Golden Slipper winner.
Sepoy is one of 27 stallions on duty for Darley Australia this year and his usage fee of $66,000 (inc GST) makes him the stud’s (equal) fourth-most expensive progenitor behind heavyweights Lonhro, Street Cry and Medaglia D’Oro.
Sepoy is priced considerably higher than the last two Golden Slipper-winning colts to retire to stud, namely Widden cohorts Stratum ($30,250 plus GST 2006 season) and Sebring ($49,500 inc GST 2009 season). That said, Darley’s colt boasts an infinitely superior record to Widden’s still well above average duo, with 10 wins and one second from his 13 starts to date.
Sepoy and triple Group I winner Helmet represented owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the glittering World Cup meeting in Dubai on March 31. While both horses failed in their respective tests, fans would argue that neither was comfortable on the unfamiliar tapeta synthetic track surface.
Sepoy will be given another more suitable international opportunity to stage a glorious swansong when he lines up for the coveted Group I July Cup at Newmarket on July 14.
Europe’s premier 1200m race would naturally sit well among Sepoy’s four other Group I wins back in Australia.
Without it, however, Sepoy remains the most prolific Group I winner of the Golden Slipper since the extraordinary Novocastrian Luskin Star, which completed the Grand Slam in 1997 before adding the Caulfield Guineas and Oakleigh Plate at three. But Luskin Star never won a Blue Diamond as Sepoy managed to. Indeed, one has to go back to 1972 and to the grey John’s Hope to find the last colt to carry off the Blue Diamond-Golden Slipper double. The only other two-year-olds to complete the double are the immortal Manikato, Bounding Away and Courtza.
With due respects to Kentucky Derby/Preakness hero Smarty Jones, Sepoy is the best performed son of the enigmatic Elusive Quality, which stood at Darley from 2003-08, at one time with a $137,500 service fee.
A son of Gone West from the venerated Natasha tail-female line, Elusive Quality was unable to emulate his chart-topping US success in Australia although strong books of mares in the 2007 and 2008 seasons may turn his fortunes around in his absence.
Whatever penalty breeders may choose to impose owing to Sepoy’s sire is more than compensated through his distaff pedigree. Sepoy is out of the Danehill mare Watchful, which is also a sister to Queensland Derby-winning filly Camarena, which delivered 2007 Group I AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) winner Camarilla and this season’s VRC Victoria Derby runner-up Induna for Darley; more importantly, both were by Elusive Quality.
Sepoy’s Golden Slipper credentials are reinforced by the close presence of Rick Hore-Lacy’s 1990 Slipper winner (and Darley’s oldest resident stallion), Canny Lad. Hore-Lacy, something of a stallion-maker himself, also trained the twice champion Australian general sire Redoute’s Choice during his glittering career.
“Redoute’s Choice was a pretty good horse and won the the Blue Diamond in 1min 8.7sec, but (Sepoy) won the Blue Diamond by about four lengths eased down in 1:8.55,” the former lawyer says in Darley’s brick-sized 2012 stallion brochure.
And Canny Lad? “I reckon if you lined this one (Sepoy) and Canny Lad up over 1200m, I would want to be on Sepoy,” Hore-Lacy concluded.
Sepoy’s solidly built chestnut frame is reminiscent of the indomitable Star Kingdom, the direct sire of the first five winners of the Golden Slipper and partially responsible for many more after, Sepoy included.