Written Tycoon’s unusual path to sire success
Written Tycoon: son of Iglesia's fee soared to A$49,500 this yearBreakthrough sire taking an unusual route to glory
By Martin Stevens 1:04PM 7 AUG 2016
Fame has come relatively late in life for Written Tycoon at the age of 14, and he is by the late Iglesia, an inexpensive and useful source of speed but hardly a prolific sire of sires.
From 11 starts over three seasons Written Tycoon won only twice, with his finest hour coming with victory in the Group 2 Todman Slipper Trial at two. At the end of his racing career he was sold by Inglis for A$625,000 to become a stallion – public auctions being an unusual route into a commercial breeding career for a colt.
He was crowned Australia's champion first-season sire for the 2010-11 season but had endured a relatively quiet time of it since, languishing in 56th place in the country's general sire standings by progeny earnings in 2012-13, 35th in 2013-14 and 20th in 2014-15, before rocketing to third in the past season thanks to three individual Group 1 winners led by Golden Slipper hero Capitalist.
Even Woodside Park Stud in Victoria, which bought a quarter share in Written Tycoon from Eliza Park Stud for A$750,000 (valuing the sire at A$3 million) three years ago, is a bit baffled by the sudden, sharp ascent of its stallion.
"We would love to say we always knew it was going to happen but realistically we are as surprised as everyone else, but nevertheless delighted that it's happened," says the operation's general manager Murray Tillett. "His dominant two-year-old crop is the most intriguing, as he has never been recognised as a leading juvenile sire despite being champion first-season sire in 2010-11."
Written Tycoon finished the last southern-hemisphere season as Australia's leading two-year-old sire by prize-money, and by a wide margin, with his ten winners from 24 runners earning A$4,337,706 (Capitalist accounting for A$3,508,700 of that), ahead of the next best Snitzel on 29 winners from 72 runners on A$2,469,790.
Tillett puts the success down to Written Tycoon's physical prowess and his ability to pass that on to his offspring.
"He's a great-looking, well conformed stallion with a moderate maternal family and reasonable juvenile race record, and was not really a high-profile stallion prospect," he says.
"In his early stud career he was well supported by his syndicate of owners with mare numbers but not with mares of any quality. It was the outstanding types he threw with his first foals that attracted attention to him."
Another element of Written Tycoon's success is the ease with which breeders can use him – in an Australian broodmare band saturated with Danehill blood, he is by a son of Last Tycoon out of a mare by Kenmare.
"The overriding factor in his success may be his pedigree, which is an outcross to the proliferation of Danehill blood, which has been so successful in Australia but has opened up massive opportunities for a stallion like him to breed from daughters of Danehill stallions," Tillett says.
"However, his success this year has been from a very diverse range of dam lines and there isn't a particular nick that we have been able to identify."
Of course it is impossible to pinpoint exactly why some stallions surpass expectations and some disappoint, but the evidence of Written Tycoon's success so far has left Tillett excited on one front.
"If he's able to upgrade the superior mares he is now attracting in the same way he has to date, then we are in for an exciting few years," he says.
Written Tycoon's fee has soared to A$49,500 from A$19,800 for the upcoming breeding season. He is set to cover an "outstanding" book limited to 175 mares plus any free returns from last season.
Among those in his book are Samantha Miss, a triple Group 1 winner and a record A$3.85 million broodmare purchase and Group 2 winner Fontiton, a recent A$1.1m purchase by Newgate Farm, along with numerous other Group winners and producers.
Written Tycoon has been a boon for Victoria and his stature has meant breeders there can save on travel, while breeders in the Hunter Valley – the hub of Australia's top stallions – are sending mares south across the state line.
"He's certainly reversing the trend this year," says Tillett. "Commercial breeders in Victoria have traditionally sent the majority of their mares to studs in the Hunter Valley but less so this year. We've enjoyed great support from Victorian breeders since we have stood him here and it's just the quality of mare that's been upgraded. Every major commercial stud in Australia is sending mares this year."
Was there any chance of Written Tycoon leaving Victoria for the Hunter Valley, the route taken by Encosta De Lago after he proved successful with his early crops and was purchased by Coolmore?
No, says Tillett. "Mark Rowsthorn [who took over the reins of the stud from his father Peter in 2013] is a passionate Victorian and his ambition has been to develop a stud that will encourage breeders to remain local and grow the Victorian breeding industry," he says.
"It's taken a long time for Victoria to recover from losing a stallion of Encosta De Lago's quality but, as evidenced by the recent strength of the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, it is rapidly improving."
He adds: "Prior to Capitalist winning the Golden Slipper we were presented with a very tempting offer from a major Hunter Valley farm. If it was purely a business decision he would have been sold, but Mark is committed to the farm and the local industry and didn't entertain it. A few shares in him have changed hands recently that reflect his current commercial value."
And the crunch question for European breeders, who would also welcome an outcross stallion who is a dab hand at supplying talented juveniles: any chance of him shuttling?
"There were a few discussions earlier this year that didn't go very far," says Tillett. "As he's 14 we're keen to limit his workload and hopefully extend his longevity. He's blessed with great fertility and libido and is capable of covering large books of mares for a number of years to come.
"Our northern-hemisphere connection will be through the progeny of mares we've bought at Tattersalls and Arqana. One mating we're looking forward to is Dutch Connection's sister Dutch Romance [bought for 85,000gns in 2014], who should leave a cracking type."
Written Tycoon has put Woodside Park Stud on the map and the farm's association with the stallion has been strengthened with his
Group 2-winning son Rich Enuff set to join him there in 2017. The father and son will stand alongside exciting dual Group 1 winner Zoustar.
Written Tycoon shows how fickle fortune can be for stallion masters, and how rich the rewards can be when it smiles on you.