Mates over the moon with Melbourne result

10 March, 2020 NZTBA

Two young breeders pulled off a dream result when their yearling went under the hammer in Australia earlier this month.

David Morris and Jason Thomasen headed to the Inglis Melbourne Yearling Sale knowing they had a nice filly on their hands but were not expecting her to be so hotly pursued in the sales ring.

The 24-year-olds bred Lot 208, a filly from the first crop of Windsor Park Stud’s Turn Me Loose (Iffraaj) out of Elusive City mare Herculaneum.

After a fierce bidding duel she was knocked down to Victorian trainer Clint McDonald for $150,000.

Morris, who was awarded the Sunline Trust International Management Scholarship in 2018, said though the filly had proved popular leading up to the sale he and Thomasen where blown away by the result.

“We weren’t expecting that price,” Morris said. “Jason took her through the ring and I was in the box. The bidding went to $60,000 really fast, then $100,000 really fast and I couldn’t believe it.

“There was big high fives and a hug at the end of it and a couple of days celebrating.”

Morris and Thomasen met playing rugby for the Hautapu Rugby Club when 18 and also worked together at Windsor Park Stud. Thomasen is still at the Waikato farm while Morris has just completed a Business Management degree majoring in Economics.

They purchased Herculaneum off in 2017 when in foal to Ferlax. That foal, now named Sir Finn, was sold at last year’s Inglis Ready To Race sale for $40,000 and has joined the Canberra stable of Barbara Joseph and Paul Jones.

Herculaneum is a daughter of unraced Zabeel mare Zabelette who is the dam of seven winners including Gr.1 Brisbane Cup (2400m) winner Art Success (Pentire) and the stakes placed Throw the King (Elvstroem).

It is also the family of Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) winner Hello Dolly (Mi Preferido – Drambuie) and stakes winners Big Chill (Artie Schiller – Hard Rider) and Hard Stride (Street Sense – Hard Rider).

Herculaneum herself was unsuccessful in three trips to the track but is developing into a handy broodmare having so far produced two foals to race for two winners. 

For her first mating under their management Morris and Thomasen sent Herculaneum to triple Group One winner Turn Me Loose.

“I liked Turn Me Loose as a racehorse,” Morris said. “He was a really tough, brave racehorse.”

“We wanted to try and add a little bit of speed into the family. He is strong and powerful and we wanted to get that into the mare.

“We felt like we nailed it when we saw her as a yearling.”

The pair were impressed with the filly from a young age and decided to target the Melbourne Sale early on.

“Right from when she was a foal she was a standout,” Morris said. “Rod (Schick, of Windsor Park) thought the same.”

“Her attitude was probably what got her a long way at the sale grounds. She didn’t stop walking up and down like a queen the whole time.”

“It is awesome that she has gone to a good home. Clint McDonald came up to us after the sale and had a big talk, he is nice guy she will have every chance.”

Herculaneum, who resides at Windsor Park, has a Charm Spirit weanling filly and is in foal to Mongolian Khan.

The sale result has caught the attention of several savvy private purchasers and the boys have been fielding phone calls since their return to New Zealand about the Charm Spirit filly.

“We have had a few pinhookers already approach us (for the Charm Spirit filly),” Morris said. “A guy from Australia that races Heirborn, who is a good Charm Spirit gelding over there, has also shown some interest.”

Morris credits his time on the Sunline Trust International Management Scholarship as giving him the confidence to invest in the breeding industry.

“The scholarship was an awesome experience,” he said. “It has been huge for my career and involvement in the industry.

“I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go and purchase a mare, especially when I was lacking in funds.”

Turns out what began as a friendship forged on the footy field is developing into a successful partnership in the thoroughbred industry.