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2019 Wrap-up: Yearling & Private Purchases

2019 was a standout year for gallopers selected by Andrew Williams Bloodstock (AWB) both at the yearling sales and through private purchases, with the Chris Waller-trained Kiwi import Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed {NZ}) undoubtedly the headline act following her brace of Group 1 wins, while also succeeding twice at Group 2 level. Syndicating shares in the G3 Maribyrnong Plate winner Hard Landing (All Too Hard) as a yearling amongst some great Lindsay Park clients was another key highlight for Williams. Other notable AWB yearling purchases to experience racetrack success in 2019 were Akari (Snitzel) and Dragon Leap (Pierro), both expensive Inglis Easter graduates who showed an abundance of ability in their first preparations and look to have exceptionally bright futures.

Verry Elleegant

Few overseas imports can rival the impact Verry Elleegant has had on Australian Racing. Since her trip across the Tasman just over a year ago, the quirky but ultra-talented mare has recorded five wins and two placings in Group company, highlighted by a quickfire Group 1 double in the Vinery Stud S. and ATC Oaks.

Verry Elleegant’s breakthrough Group 1 victory in the Vinery also marked the first top-flight success for AWB, who orchestrated her private purchase from New Zealand following a dominant Rating 65 win at Matamata in September 2018.

“She was a private purchase in New Zealand involving the Carter boys and Jomara Bloodstock. She’s obviously had a significant impact on the track in Australia, winning the Vinery Stud Stakes which was my first Group 1 which gave me a great thrill and then backing up two weeks later to win the Australian Oaks,” said Andrew Williams.

Following Verry Elleegant’s emphatic win in the ATC Oaks, trainer Chris Waller and regular rider James McDonald earmarked a possible Melbourne Cup campaign, buoyed by her staying bloodlines and ever-improving racing manners. However, the 4-year-old didn’t quite race up to expectations in the spring, with her preparation culminating with a disappointing run in the Cox Plate where very little went right after she left the gates awkwardly. Despite clearly not returning at the peak of her powers, Verry Elleegant still managed to claim the G2 Hill S. in her four-start spring campaign, a testament to the class of the promising mare.

Verry Elleegant remains one of the brightest rising stars in Australia’s staying ranks, and while a Melbourne Cup tilt is still on the long-term agenda, further Group success in the Sydney Autumn is the immediate focus.

“She has spelled particularly well and we are very excited to see what she can do in Sydney in the Autumn,” said Williams.



Beautifully-bred Snitzel filly Akari came with a hefty price tag at the 2018 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, with AWB combining with Brad Widdup, Werrett Bloodstock and Jadeskye Racing to secure the blueblood from the draft of Arrowfield Stud for $1.05 million. The Brad Widdup-prepared filly who was Listed-placed on debut, progressed through the grades rapidly in her second preparation during the spring, breaking her maiden at Wyong before stringing together back-to-back stakes wins in the Listed Reginald Allen at Randwick and the Listed Hong Kong Jockey Club S. at Flemington on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

While the substantial initial outlay for Akari brought with it increased pressure to perform on the track, Andrew Williams couldn’t fault her physically as a yearling, and that combined with her black-type-littered pedigree provided him with confidence that she would repay the faith of connections during her racing and stud career.

“She was an expensive yearling purchase from Sydney Easter, I teamed up with Brad Widdup and Neil Werrett and it was great to be able to purchase her. She’s got a fantastic pedigree, she’s an A+ physical and she’s now a multiple stakes winner, having won the Reginald Allen Quality and The Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes during the Cup week down in Melbourne,” Williams said.

Having already returned a sizeable portion of her purchase price to her owners in prizemoney, the pedigree of the Arrowfield Stud-bred filly suggests there is plenty more to come, with an abundance of Group winners close up on the page. Her dam Asterix (Jpn) (Neo Universe {Jpn}) is a half-sister to the two-time Group 3 winner Isle De France (Nureyev), the dam of former champion Japanese sprinter-miler and dual Group 1 winner Mikki Isle (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) who now stands at Arrowfield Stud. That makes Akari a half-sister to the G1 Tokyo Mile Cup winner Aerolithe (Jpn) (Kurofone {USA}), and Williams is hoping she can emulate her Japanese-based sibling with success at the elite level moving forward.

“She’s a really exciting filly and we hope that she can get to the next level in the spring and potentially be a Group 1 filly,” said Williams.


Dragon Leap

Dragon Leap was another high-priced yearling acquisition for AWB, with the colt knocked down for $1.05 million to the bid of Hermitage Thoroughbreds, Wexford Stables and Williams. Bred by Greg and Barb Ingham’s GPI Racing, Dragon Leap was offered by Coolmore Stud at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale in the same year of Akari’s purchase, and he too wasted little time in vindicating his hefty price tag on the track.

The Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained gelding produced a scintillating debut performance at Te Rapa in October to win softly on the line from a seemingly impossible position at the top of the straight. Dragon Leap then cost himself a Listed win at his second start in the Trevor Eagle Memorial for 3-year-olds at Ellerslie, where he badly shifted outwards in the concluding stages.

“He won his maiden exceptionally well first up at Te Rapa and got a significantly high rating off that. He’s then come out and veered off the track in his second start in a stakes race at Ellerslie, which is a frustrating track for a lot of young horses, and he’s veered out considerably to be beaten on the line by a nose by a very promising horse in Two Illicit, who has come out and won a Group 2 since,” Williams said.

After being afforded just over four weeks by O’Sullivan & Scott to reflect on his narrow Listed miss, Dragon Leap atoned with an impressive G2 Auckland Guineas victory on New Year’s Day at Ellerslie, where he was partnered by in-form hoop James McDonald.

By Coolmore’s highly-promising sire Pierro, Dragon Leap is out of the multiple winner and Group 2 performer Pontiana (Redoute’s Choice), who has already left the the G1 Randwick Guineas winner and G1 Rosehill Guineas runner-up Inference (So You Think {NZ}).

While he was purchased with the long-term ambition of connections to run him in the Hong Kong Derby, further domestic success is the immediate focus, with the 3-year-old currently on a G1 New Zealand Derby path.

“Dragon Leap is a very exciting horse that will head towards the New Zealand Derby and potentially the Australian Derby in time, so hopefully another Group 1 horse on the radar,” said Williams.


Hard Landing

Lindsay Park Racing have proved to be at the forefront of 2-year-old training ranks in recent seasons, and 2019 was no exception, with Hard Landing one of two feature juvenile winners for the David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig partnership in the Melbourne Cup Carnival alone.

A $280,000 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale purchase for Lindsay Park and AWB out of Vinery Stud’s 2019 draft, Hard Landing was the ultimate professional down the Flemington straight on debut, beating home stablemate Baaqyah (NZ) (I Am Invincible) in the G3 Darley Maribyrnong Plate.

While there was a temptation to pursue Magic Millions riches at the Gold Coast in January, connections instead decided to give the promising colt a break and set him for a Blue Diamond S. campaign.

“Hard Landing was a 2019 Magic Millions purchase, syndicated up with some really good Lindsay Park clients. He’s a big strong horse and did everything on raw ability in his first preparation in winning the G3 Maribyrnong Plate. He’s a horse we could’ve pushed on and gone to the Magic Millions with, but we thought there was more upside in freshening him up and going towards a Blue Diamond campaign,” Williams said.

Bred by Steve McCann of Encompass Bloodstock and Neil Werrett who both remain in the ownership syndicate, he is a son of the Gerald Ryan-prepared G1 Lightning S. winner Snitzerland (Snitzel), who also notched a brace of Group 2 wins and three victories at Group 3 level in her decorated racing career. Snitzerland is a sister to the G3 Aurie’s Star winner and emerging Kitchwin Hills stallion Sooboog, with their dam Monte Rosa (Fraar {USA}) a sister to the G3 Adelaide Guineas winner and four-time Group 1 placegetter Nina Haraka.

With Hard Landing given time to mature and allow his terrific debut stakes win to sink in, Williams is quietly confident that the patient approach adopted by connections will pay dividends moving forward.

“The form out of the Maribyrnong Plate is exceptional, with those first five in the race going on and being stakes performed. He’s an exciting horse who has spelled at the right time of the year and he’s coming back to target that Blue Diamond campaign,” he said.

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