The view from the Australian Gold Coast

Michael Moroney: buys six yearlings a year to race in Britain

PICTURE: Getty Images The view from the Gold Coast in Australia
5:17PM 10 JAN 2017

James Thomas asks trainers and agents at Magic Millions about stallions and sourcing stock

Gai Waterhouse, trainer

What do you look for in a European horse?

We're looking for horses that will be effective under Australian conditions. The pedigree is not quite as important as whether they'll handle it. We look for horses that are lightly raced. And you have to have speed and a turn of foot, they can't be too dour.

How difficult is it sourcing the right horses from Europe?

It's always difficult. Soundness is a big thing, they're trained so differently in Europe – we train on dirt a lot here but then race on turf. The tracks are so much different here too, they're much tighter.

Which European sires' progeny do you look out for?

Some sires work well here and others don't but I think you have to go on type. That's the most important thing. We recently bought Imperial Aviator and Goodwood Zodiac. Both have been in work in Melbourne, have come up to Sydney and have now gone to the paddocks for a month.

What do you think is the key to the success of European bloodstock in Australia?

The ones that have done well are the ones that have adapted best.

Which European horses would you have liked to have trained?

I would have loved to have trained a horse called Vintage Crop because then I wouldn't have had to run second to him!

Matt Cumani, trainer

What do you look for in a European horse?

Funnily enough I think the main reason they do well is the difference in the handicap system. Horses in Europe are given a rating which is much more accurate as it takes into account a lot of factors, whereas here it's more like an allowance system. Horses I've bought in the UK recently like Diamond Geyser, Archery Peak and Van Dyke were from the cheaper end of the market but they're all winners with ratings between 70 and 85. Because of the discrepancies in the system they come down here and get given a pretty low rating, which is a big help. If you buy the right kind of horse they'll continue to improve.

How difficult is it sourcing horses from Europe?

People have had to adjust their sights a little bit due to the expense and instead of going to the top-class performers, which are almost impossible to buy, you readjust and look at the lower level. Of course it's about finding the horse you like and think is sound and in which you see glimpses of possibilities in their form.

Which Europe-based sires' progeny do you lookout for?

Obviously I'd love to get more Dubawis down here. He shuttled down here for a bit and I think a lot of people regret not making more of that opportunity. Now we're looking at relatives of Dubawi – Akeed Mofeed now stands in South Australia and I'd love to try and get my hands on some of them. I'd love to get a few Zoffanys down here, they've done very well in Europe. I bought a horse by Champs Elysees called Diamond Geyser and he seems to be a stallion that's got a great chance of doing well in Australia and they'll always improve. You have to question why some sires' progeny do well in Europe, is it just the mares they're sent or is it the training?

What do you think is key to the success of European bloodstock in Australia?

They're horses that are bred for stamina but it's difficult to work out if that is the key or whether it's the handicapping system or whether it's way they're trained. I don't think there's a straight answer. Obviously Britain and Ireland have been breeding horses for quality and ability for centuries and that has to give them an advantage. You have to bear in mind that they've been bred for a certain type of racing and training when you bring them down here.

Which European horses would you like to have trained?

My father always talks about his favourite horse Falbrav and I'd love to have trained him, he was such a fantastic horse. I also love horses like The Grey Gatsby and Youmzain and I'd have loved to have a go at training them.

David Hayes, trainer

What do you look for in a European horse?

I look for a consistent horses that appears to be sound and has the potential to run in our major Cup races. Those are the three main things we go for.

How difficult is it sourcing the right horses from Europe?

Brexit helped! The currency crashed and all of a sudden I was able to afford Ventura Storm. It's still extremely competitive though; there are a lot of very wealthy Australians who are quick to buy horses, and there are people like us who are always in the market as well. We'd rather knock on people's doors for a horse but more often than not people don't want to sell. Ventura Storm was actually a bit of surprise.

What do you think is the key to the success of European bloodstock in Australia?

The lack of two-year-old stakes money in Europe is a huge incentive not to race at two. If you don't race at two, you've got more chance to develop into a good stayer.

Which European horses would you have liked to have trained?

Years ago I admired El Gran Senor, who was owned by Robert Sangster. I think he could have made a super middle-distance horse here. Generally, European Classic horses could be competitive anywhere in the world.

Michael Moroney, trainer

What do you look for in a European horse?

It's form to start with. My brother, Paul, has people in Europe who keep a lookout for us. We're mainly looking for stayers as we just lack the horses with middle-distance pedigrees down here. Anything that is capable of running from 2,000 meters [1m2f] upwards. New Zealand used to breed stayers but now they've gone down the same path as Australia and started breeding sprinters. If we want Cup horses we have to search Europe for them.

How difficult is it sourcing the right horses from Europe?

It was a tough year last year. We were still in the market to buy one more, we'd have liked to have bought another three-year-old that was going to progress but we didn't find the right horse. It's all well and good finding something you like but it really depends on whether or not it's for sale and whether it's a realistic price. The exchange rate helped, obviously. We actually buy six yearlings a year to race in Britain – Ed Vaughan is training most of them now.

What do you think is the key to the success of European bloodstock in Australia?

I think it's that a lot of the European-bred runners down here have been lightly raced, that's a big thing. That said, having watched them work they tend to work a fair bit harder than ours do at home. I think it's also their level of soundness and their staying ability too.

Which European horses would you have liked to have trained?

There's plenty of them! The main ones were the ones we chased, one was Erupt last year. We thought we were close to getting him but then it didn't happen. We're well aware we haven't got the clientele to be buying horses that win Group 1s but if we can get the ones on their way through that's great.

George Moore, Hong Kong bloodstock agent

What do you look for in a European horse?

We're looking for horses that for one fit the entry criteria for Hong Kong, and a lot of the owners are more specific about buying staying types from Europe. They have to be a nice size. One of the main things is they have to be correct in front, and we try and look for horses with form on good surfaces. We're wary about buying horses too early in the season from Europe as they can have a lot of wet track form, so we tend to wait until it has dried up a bit.

How difficult is it sourcing the right horses from Europe?

Now it's got a lot more difficult, you can be competing directly with the Arabs now who are very smart. I can't really target horses with big pedigrees because they're usually sold as stallions. If they're a gelding I've got more chance of buying them. The competition in Europe has been very, very tough, although the lack of prize-money in Europe can help to tempt owners to sell. Also the ratings ceiling has increased in Hong Kong so we now have to buy horses with an official rating of 87, when it used to be 80. Of course that increases the price quite a lot.

Which European sires progeny do you look out for?

I'm always trying to target Shamardals – we've had a lot of luck with Shamardal, although we've been out of luck securing them in Europe as the good ones have been outside of my budget. I target stallions that have done really well in Hong Kong, like Holy Roman Emperor and Exceed And Excel. I also bought a Dandy Man, who is quite an easy sell in Hong Kong because of what Peniaphobia has done. If you're selling to a new client it's better to sell them something by a proven stallion because they'll look it up on the Hong Kong Jockey Club's website search function and see what's been doing well.

Which European horses would you have liked to have trained?

I was looking at a horse called Almanzor, who's one of the best horses in Europe right now, he's a machine of a horse. We were looking to buy him but unfortunately on close inspection he didn't have the feet, which is a very important aspect for me in Hong Kong. He's one of the best-looking horses I've seen in France. I probably missed out on that one.

Julian Blaxland, bloodstock agent

What do you look for in a European horse?

It's generally breeding-stock I'd be looking for, so it's outcrosses for our Danehill lines. The mixture of Australian and European blood has been very successful over the years. A lot of the fillies off the track here have Danehill or Danzig in their pedigree.

How difficult is it sourcing the right horses from Europe?

It's always hard to purchase quality stock wherever you are in the world. It's very competitive and the market has been polarised towards the top end over the last few years, and I think that's set to continue.

Which European sires progeny do you look out for?

Frankel is very interesting to us. We haven't had any race here yet but we've looked on in awe from this side of the world at that horse and it'll be very interesting to see how the southern hemisphere Frankels will run. Woman, who is trained by Gai Waterhouse and from John Singleton's stud, looks like a promising horse. There's been some wonderful blood over the year's that's come to Australia from Europe and that's set to continue. I think there's a bit more speed emphasis in Europe now, which suits our racing.

What do you think is the key to the success of European bloodstock in Australia?

The people. The Irish and the British have a wealth of experience and I think they've got such great knowledge. So many young Australians have gone and learnt in Europe over the years and that's happening vice versa now. I spent a year working as assistant to Adrian Nicoll 11 years ago and I'm still putting into practice lessons I learned back then. That's the Europeans' greatest asset.

We were looking to buy Almanzor but unfortunately on close inspection he didn't have the feet, which is a very important aspect for me in Hong Kong.

    Read More at Racing Post Bloodstock

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