Twin Hills Stud’s Smart Missile consistently appears in Hong Kong form guides and it is little wonder, given his consistency when it comes to producing winners in the city.
Led by Group 3 placegetter Fat Turtle, who was a two-time Mudgee winner in Australia when named Butchoy, Smart Missile sits fourth by winners this season with 11 individual victors. He could even join Darci Brahma in equal third should the Dennis Yip-trained Jimson The Dragon break his maiden in tonight’s second race at Happy Valley.
“Hong Kong is a happy hunting ground for Smart Missile,” said Twin Hills principal Olly Tait. “I think that the programming of the races, with few two-year-old races, plays to his strengths. If his progeny aren’t rushed they reward you as they are genuine and consistent. Consequently, he’s right near the top in the sires table and his progeny will continue to be sought after by Hong Kong buyers.”
Also performing strongly is his fellow Twin Hills stallion Denman (Lonhro), who has had five individual winners led by top sprinter Hot King Prawn. Only Exceed And Excel and Smart Missile sit above him on the earnings standings in terms of active Australian stallions.
Smart Missile stands for $22,000 (inc GST) at the Cootamundra farm, while Denman is available at $8,800 (inc GST).
Led by the exploits of the now-retired two-time Hong Kong Sprint (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Mr Stunning, Exceed And Excel has produced 17 individual winners, earning between them almost HK$46 million across the 819 races run so far in the jurisdiction this season.
It is the most successful season by a sire in Hong Kong in a decade: no sire has had more than 16 individual winners in a single season since Encosta De Lago (Fairy King) recorded 18 winners in 2009-10, while only Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway) in 2014-15 had greater earnings by his progeny, spurred by champion Able Friend.
On earnings, Exceed And Excel clearly bested Teofilo (Galileo) and Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) – both second and third had a flagship horse that earned most of their prize-money with Exultant and Golden Sixty respectively.
This will be the second time he has earned the Hong Kong champion sire title, after topping the earnings standings in 2018.
On winners, Exceed And Excel eclipsed Savabeel (Zabeel), something of an old sparring partner, with 13 winners and Darci Brahma (Redoute’s Choice) with 12 winners. They filled the top three spots last term, although Savabeel held top spot.
It is his third time sitting atop those standings, after holding top spot in 2014/15 and 2013/14; he has not finished outside the top three since that first standout season.
“We are obviously delighted that Exceed And Excel has achieved yet another career milestone, becoming the champion sire in such a high quality racing jurisdiction as Hong Kong,” Darley’s Alastair Pulford told ANZ Bloodstock News yesterday. “Since the early part of the last decade, when Amber Sky first proved to be a world leading sprinter, trained out of Hong Kong, owners in Hong Kong have sought out Exceed And Excel’s stock and with great rewards.
“Mr Stunning has been his flagship horse in Hong Kong for the past few seasons but he is well backed up by a raft of high quality, durable sprinters that suit the competitive, high pressure environment that is Hong Kong racing. Success in Australia’s most valuable export market, as well as Exceed And Excel’s outstanding Australian run of late, confirms his position as one of the most important stallions there is in this part of the world.”
Exceed And Excel will stand for $132,000 (inc GST) at Darley’s Kelvinside this year.
Deep Field a superstar on the rise
Perhaps the greatest story of the season though, at least from a breeding perspective, has been the performance of Newgate Farm’s Deep Field (Northern Meteor), who has had five winners from ten runners.
What makes that performance so remarkable, though, is that he is still just a second season sire.
In a jurisdiction where age-restricted races are few and far between and horses generally don’t strike their best until their four-year-old year at the earliest, Deep Field has had ten three-year-olds step out, all against the older horses.
Five of them have won, while two have placed. Among his winners is the unbeaten Winning Dreamer, the consistent Californiadeepshot and last Sunday’s winner Sky Field, who – having only won a Class 4 race – looks destined for better things and shapes as a potential Group horse in time.
It is clearly the best performance by a southern hemisphere second season sire in Hong Kong in recent years.
Both Fastnet Rock and his son Smart Missile produced three Hong Kong winners as a second season sire, while Not A Single Doubt (Redoute’s Choice), Shocking (Street Cry) and Time Thief (Redoute’s Choice) all had two.
Exceed And Excel had one, as did Redoute’s Choice (Danehill) and Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice), while both Savabeel and Darci Brahma, who have firmly established themselves among the pick of sires for Hong Kong buyers, did not get on the board early.
Hong Kong buyers have quickly made Deep Field a popular target too, with 12 of the 20 most expensive yearlings of his sold at auction this year being bought by Hong Kong trainers or on behalf of Hong Kong owners.
“We are very proud of Deep Field and the job he is doing already and the exciting thing is, there is so much to be excited about going forward,” Newgate Farm’s director of stallions Bruce Slade told ANZ Bloodstock News. “What is so exciting for us is that he is doing all of this off a $20,000 service fee. We have noticed a marked difference this year at his $50,000 service fee with his book. The mares that are being booked in this year are the best mares owned by supporting breeders, whereas previously he might have received the young, unproven half-sister to their best mare.
“Also the data suggests Deep Field’s progeny will have more to offer again as four-year-olds, so we are looking forward to more of the same from Deep Field going forward.”
Slade added: “We are grateful to be involved with a horse like this and very grateful to so many different people. We are very grateful to his owners for entrusting him with us from the outset and we are very grateful for the support of Australian breeders through to now – every year he has pretty much been booked out, which probably speaks volumes for the accuracy of the market and the good results breeders are having with his stock. And we are very grateful to the trainers, owners and agents who have bid on and secured his stock both at public auction and via private treaty – hopefully results like this continue to prove them right.
“Of course, we are also very proud of our team for delivering on what we promised Deep Field’s owners. We promised that we’d give him every opportunity at stud, setting up his future all the way through from initial bookings. He’s been given that chance and he’s delivering in spades.”
Deep Field will stand for $55,000 (inc GST) at Newgate Farm this spring.
Hong Kong racing will resume on September 5.