Sunlight win calls for interstate celebrations

Sunlight win calls for interstate celebrations


Phillip Bate analyses news from the Queensland racing scene.


QUEENSLAND calls itself the ‘Sunshine State’ but Victoria now has a strong case to be called the ‘Sunlight State’ following the gritty win by the filly Sunlight in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington, Melbourne, on Saturday, November 3 – the first day of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival.

Indeed, four states – Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia – had reason to share the celebrations at Flemington  on Saturday, with  Zoustar's daughter Sunlight (first) and sons Zousain (second) and Lean Mean Machine (third) running the trifecta in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes for 3YOs followed by Written Tycoon’s son Written By running fourth.

Prior to scoring her first Group 1 victory, Sunlight initially came to prominence when winning the Magic Millions 2YO Classic at the Gold Coast in January – one of eight wins for trainer Tony McEvoy who has stables in Adelaide and Melbourne. Zousain and Lean Mean Machine are part of the three eastern states racing operation directed by Sydney-based Chris Waller while Written By is trained by Victorian Grahame Begg for his Sydney-based Hall of Fame father Neville Begg.

There are two Queensland families involved in the all-female syndicate that owns Sunlight – Loretta Fung from Aquis Stud, Canungra, and Emerald-based Rae Fletcher and daughters Jordan and Shannon.

Aquis also appears as the co-owner of Queensland-bred dual Group 2 winner Lean Mean Machine – a genuine Glenlogan Park product as both he and his dam She’s Meaner by Falvelon were bred on the property. Glenlogan Park is also a co-owner of Coolmore runner-up and Group 2 winner Zousain – a $400,000 Magic Millions yearling whose dam Pasar Silbano (Ire) was a Group 3 winner in the US and is listed in the Australian Stud Book as being owned by Beaudesert-based Element Hill owned by the Hutchins family.

The Fletcher connection with Sunlight occurs because Rae’s husband Dan Fletcher is listed as a co-breeder after he joined up with Widden Stud in a mare ownership venture that includes Sunlight’s dam – the Group 3 winning Charge Forward mare Solar Charged. Consequently, when the filly sold for $300,000 at last year’s Magic Millions yearling sale the Fletcher family decided to retain an interest.

To top off a massive Magic Millions week for the Fletcher family, Sunlight’s full sister was sold the day before the Magic Millions race day through the draft of Widden Stud for $600,000 to Tony McEvoy with the majority of Sunlight's owners (including the Fletchers)  participating in the purchase.

Named Sisstar, the filly ran fourth in her debut start in the Group 3 Bumble Stakes for 2YO fillies at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day.

 All smiles after 3YO filly Sunlight won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington were the Fletcher family from Emerald. Pictured (from left) are Rae, Shannon and Dan Fletcher. Rae is Dan’s wife and Shannon is their daughter. Rae and Shannon (along with other daughter Jordan) are part owners in an all-ladies syndicate in Sunlight while Dan is her co-breeder.

All smiles after 3YO filly Sunlight won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington were the Fletcher family from Emerald. Pictured (from left) are Rae, Shannon and Dan Fletcher. Rae is Dan’s wife and Shannon is their daughter. Rae and Shannon (along with other daughter Jordan) are part owners in an all-ladies syndicate in Sunlight while Dan is her co-breeder.

While Sunlight was conceived at Widden Stud in 2014, Sisstar was conceived the following season at Woodside Park in Victoria through an interstate shuttle stallion arrangement  between Widden Stud in NSW and Woodside Park in Victoria to stand Zoustar for alternate seasons. The dual Group1 winning sprinter stood seasons 1 (2014) and 3 (2016) at Widden Stud and seasons 2 (2015) and 4 (2017) at Woodside Park. That arrangement has now ended with Widden Stud the outright owner.

Common links

IN fact, Zoustar and Written Tycoon have common links – both are Queensland-bred and more specifically both spent time at an Innisplain property near Beaudesert that has seen numerous name changes. Zoustar was foaled there in 2010 when the property was called Racetree while Written Tycoon stood the 2012 season there under the banner of Eliza Park International (now known as Sun Stud).

That was his sole season in Queensland. Having begun his stud career in Victoria at Eliza Park, Written Tycoon was sold for an undisclosed figure in 2013 and re-located to Victoria’s Woodside Park.

The Innisplain property has now undergone a further name change to Telemon Thoroughbreds with Dan Fletcher expanding his Thoroughbred interests by acquiring the property in late 2016 and taking over operations when the lease to previous occupier Sun Stud expired in June this year.

Zoustar was sold twice as a youngster through Magic Millions. Originally bought by Kulani Park for $85,000 at the 2011 National Weanling Sale, he was later on-sold to a syndicate headed by Sheriff Iskander for $140,000 at the 2012 Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sale.  Coincidently, Iskander also raced Written Tycoon after buying him out of the Grahame Begg stable.

The Coolmore is actually developing into a real family affair for the Widden Stud resident, with Zoustar himself triumphing in the race in 2013 and his own sire, Northern Meteor, winning the race in 2008. The family success goes back a further generation as Northern Meteor’s sire, the recently deceased Encosta De Lago, won the equivalent race – the Group 2 Ascot Vale Stakes – in 1996.

Derby winner by Queensland-based sire

VICTORIA Derby winner Extra Brut has become the fifth Group 1 winner for his Queensland-based sire Domesday now standing his third season at Aquis Farm, Canungra on the Gold Coast hinterland having covered books of 104 mares in 2016 and 141 mares in 2017.

All five Group 1 winners were conceived when Domesday was based at Darley in NSW. So too were Five To Midnight – winner of  the Listed Feilding Gold Cup (2100m) in New Zealand on Derby day – and Far North who won the inaugural Outback Racing Showcase series final (1400m) held at Richmond in north-west Queensland in June.

In fact, Aquis principal Tony Fong is such a big fan of Domesday he bought a controlling share in his son Extra Brut before the Derby which saw the 3YO colt race in the Aquis colours. Incredibly, the Derby winner was not only trainer Darren Weir’s first Victoria Derby winner, he was one of two first time Derby starters for Weir – the other being unplaced Savoie.

A $100,000 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale purchase by Spicer Thoroughbreds from the Grange Thoroughbreds draft, Extra Brut has now won four of his six starts, two of them at stakes level, for prize money earnings of $1,415,620. He was initially sold for $52,000 to Gary Mudgway from the Stonehouse Thoroughbreds draft at the 2015 Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale in Melbourne.

Extra Brut is one of two winners for the city-winning mare Dom Perion (Redoute’s Choice), who is a daughter of the unraced mare Chamnpagnecharlotte (Rahy) – herself a half-sister to Group 2 winners Esteemed Friend and Badouizm and Listed winner Red Monsoon. Owned by Andrew and Bec McDonald, Dom Perion had not produced a foal since Extra Brut, but foaled a brother to him on September 25. Extra Brut’s older half-sister, the Jamie Edwards-trained Fill The Flute (Statue Of Liberty), has won four of her eight starts including her past two over sprint distances at metropolitan level.

$18 million prize money increase for industry viability

RACING Queensland has delivered the first payment of $18 million – effective November 1 – as part of a deal between the State Government and a Thoroughbred alliance of trainers, jockeys, owners and breeders for  $26 million increased prizemoney for Thoroughbred racing.

A further $8 million will be delivered in six months’ time.

The deal was struck at a recent five hour Roundtable meeting chaired by independent racing identify Gary Pemberton and attended by the Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad, Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, and representatives of Racing Queensland and the Alliance.

RQ chairman Steve Wilson said the increase of $18 million would be a welcome boost for racing across Queensland with a particular focus on non-metropolitan racing to assist industry viability, competitiveness and participant cash flow.

“This prize money boost will address one of the biggest challenges facing racing in Queensland: its ongoing viability, long-term sustainability and competitiveness with other racing jurisdictions across Australia. I would again like to thank Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Treasurer Jackie Trad for their willingness to engage with Racing Queensland and industry participants on this important issue for the future of Queensland racing which contributes $1.2 billion annually to the state economy,” Mr Wilson said.

Mr Wilson said RQ and industry representatives from the harness and greyhound codes were in continued discussions about enduring funding for the viability and competitiveness of their codes.

CEO Brendan Parnell said RQ had worked to allocate the funding in a manner that would promote the viability of grassroots racing by paying fifth to tenth at all TAB races throughout Queensland, with a sliding structure of $1000 to $300 dependent on meeting status.

“Non-metropolitan (provincial) racing will be the major beneficiary, with $12.3 million allocated to provincial and country racing,” Mr Parnell said.

Provincial SEQ meetings at the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich will benefit from an increase of $6.9 million, while provincial meetings in Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns will benefit from the remaining $5.4 million. 

“The focus on un-placed stakes from fifth to 10th aims to defray costs for participants, while improving cash flows for trainers and for the owners who subsidise the industry.”

The majority of the remaining $5.7 million will be allocated to paying runners placed sixth to tenth at mid-week and Saturday metropolitan races. All listed races will also be raised to a minimum of $125,000.

“By allocating funds in this manner RQ aims to drive improved field sizes, especially at Provincial TAB meetings which have been under pressure for the past two years,” Mr Parnell said.

Highlights include:

Provincial SEQ meetings (Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich) – $6.9 million increase

  • Standard race stakes raised from $16,000 to $21,000 (+31.25pc).
  • Maiden race stakes raised from $15,000 to $21,000 (+40pc).
  • Introduction of prize money for fifth-placed runners.
  • Introduction of $400 payment for runners placed 6th to 10th.

Provincial Queensland meetings (inc. Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns) – $5.4 million increase

  • All races at Toowoomba Turf Club raised from $14,000 to $19,000 (+35.7pc).
  • Introduction of $19,000 races at weekly Northern Provincial Showcase meetings.
  • Remaining provincial stakes raised from $14,000 to $16,500 (+17.8pc). Introduction of prize money for fifth-placed runners. Introduction of $400 payment for runners placed 6th to 10th.
  • Country TAB stakes raised from $12,000 to $14,500 (+20.83 percent) at Kilcoy, Beaudesert, Warwick, Lockyer (Gatton), Dalby and Roma meetings.
  • Key Northern Cups and the Toowoomba Cup raised to $150,000 prize money.

Mid-week Metropolitan meetings – $2.4 million increase

  • Standard race stakes raised from $25,000 to $30,000 (+20 percent)
  • Maidens raised from $20,000 to $25,000 (+25 percent)
  • Introduction of $500 payment for runners placed 6th to 10th.

Saturday metropolitan meetings – $2.15 million increase

  • Standard race stakes raised from $70,000 to $75,000 (+7.1pc).
  • All races increased by $5000 to accommodate introduction of $1000 payment for runners placed 6th to 10th. 
  • Listed races to carry minimum stakes of $125,000 (+25pc).

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