April 23, 2011
mare like a fine wine
By Andrew Garvey
For her breeder Ken Williams, last Saturday's
Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Choice is a classic example of what you see is
not necessarily what you get.
Williams, who owns Tarcoola Stud on the
Mornington Peninsula, would have been quite happy to race the daughter of
Choisir but could not find any industry expert to give him a thumbs up.
After breeding several average winners from
Sacred Habit, a three-quarter sister to Golden Slipper-winner Marauding,
Williams elected to have a mating done through British company Thoroughbred
''They found she was terribly inbred and
recommended outbreeding to a prepotent inbred sire and strongly suggested
Choisir,'' Williams explained.
Not wanting to spend a lot of money on her,
Williams entered into a foal-share arrangement for Sacred Choice with Coolmore
Stud, the home of Choisir.
The result was a nice filly who did not have
a lot of strength. Williams said she was initially not accepted into the Magic
Millions yearling sale in 2007 before the company begrudgingly allowed her to
be substituted for another of his horses that developed issues and could not
At the sale Williams asked four trainers to
have a look at the filly but ''to a man they all said she was too weak and to
let her go''.
Foal shares normally stipulate that a horse
must be sold at auction, so it was just a matter of how much the Choisir filly
''There were no bidders apart from Coolmore
and us who were trying to bid each other up without being left with her and in
the end she was Coolmore's for $40,000,'' Williams said..
She was eventually sold to clients of
Anthony Cummings and Williams kept in contact with the trainer to see how she
progressed as he was weighing up whether to sell Sacred Habit.
The reports from the trainer were far from
glowing and when Sacred Choice developed a knee problem that meant she would
be off the scene for a long time with just one win on her CV, Williams decided
it was time for Sacred Habit to go. The mare had also failed to get in foal
the previous two seasons.
''Once I heard that Sacred Choice would need
a long spell she [Sacred Habit] was sent to an Inglis broodmare sale where she
fetched the princely sum of $2000 in foal to Dubai Destination,'' he said.
'Not too long afterwards, Sacred Choice,
having been transferred to Warwick Farm trainer Joseph Pride, resumed racing
and kept improving with every run.
On the back of a third placing in last
year's group 1 Epsom Handicap she headed to the group 1 Myer Classic on Derby
day at Flemington. On her preferred wet ground she proved too strong for
Typhoon Tracy and a strong field of mares.
While he was pleased to have bred a group 1
winner, Williams was still scratching his head after the race.
He says that in a conversation with a
leading trainer after the race it came up that he had bred Sacred Choice.
''He said, 'She's a magnificent horse. Why
didn't you ask me to look at her?'
''I didn't have the the heart to tell him
that he had and had told me not to keep her,'' Williams said, adding that he
had looked at her in the mounting yard before the race and thought she looked
much like she had as a yearling.
It sounds like a take of woe for Williams
but having bought Sacred Habit in foal for $62,500 and selling the resultant
foal for $70,000, along with several other reasonable results in the sale
ring, she more than paid for herself and there is more to come.
''I think I get a trophy from the NSW
Breeders for breeding the Doncaster winner. It's probably worth $50,''
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