One horse dominated the Australian racing landscape last weekend, though he didn’t even run – it was Widden Stud stallion Zoustar. His progeny made the headlines in the Southern Hemisphere as he sired his second individual Group 1 winner and his second Group 1 quinella with five-year-old Zoutori defeating the front-running Indian Pacific in the six furlong Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicap.
Zoustar also sired the winners of the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes at Flemington with two-year-old Lightsaber, the Group 2 Yarraman Park Reisling Stakes at Randwick with juvenile Glistening, as well as the Group 3 Black Opal Stakes with Solar Winds on Sunday.
A winner three times at Group 2 level, the Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicap victor, Zoutori, was a a AUD$160,000 (US$123,000) purchase at the 2017 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. He was winning at the highest level for the first time on Saturday under jockey Luke Currie, who kept the gelding in the middle of the racetrack until 300 metres from the wire, before asking his willing partner, Zoutori, to make his move. He responded in style to storm past his front-running half-brother Indian Pacific to win the contest by a neck.
Zoutori, who finished fourth in the same race last year, is one of two winners out of the unraced Haradasun mare Atotori, who is herself a half-sister to South African Grade 3 winner Castlethorpe. In winning the Newmarket Handicap, Zoutori, with a record of eight wins and six placings in his career, emulated Zoustar’s superstar daughter Sunlight, who landed the Group 1 in 2019.
At Flemington, Lightsaber won the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes over 7 furlongs for trainer Peter Moody. A maiden winner at Sandown-Hillside in February, he followed up with another win at the Melbourne track later last month.
Ridden on Saturday by Luke Nolen, the colt, bought by Blueblood Thoroughbreds for AUD$100,000 (US$77,000) at the Inglis Ready 2 Race Sale in 2020, took up the running from the gate. He finished his race off strongly to beat Saif by a length and a half, with Micro a further nose back in third place. Now a winner of three of his four starts, he holds an interesting entry in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes over 7 furlongs at Randwick on 3 April.
“He’s got an unbelievable constitution. He’s just a real racehorse,” handler Peter Moody said of the first winner out of the unraced Dream Ahead mare Dream Cirque. “He just does enough at home to keep you happy without excelling. He just brings it to the races and puts it on the stage,” Moody added.
Zoustar’s impressive day almost got even better in the Group 1 Canterbury Stales (1300m) at Randwick, where Mizzy’s big late run just came up short of catching Savatiano, a son of Street Cry, by a short half head.
The James Cummings-trained winner, a six-time Group level victory prior to Saturday, gave Darley’s Street Cry his 24th elite level success when she edged out Mizzy – ironically trained by Cummings’ father Anthony.
“It was another pretty amazing day for Zoustar on Saturday,” Widden Stud owner, Antony Thompson, said of the son of Northern Meteor, who won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes as a three-year-old.
“We’ve always thought that the biggest day of his stud career was at Flemington a few years ago, when he sired the trifecta in the Coolmore (Sunlight, Zousain and Lean Mean Machine) with his first crop of 3-year-olds. He really announced himself that day, and that was certainly a very special moment in his stallion career. But in some ways, what he did yesterday had quite a similar feel to it,” explained Thompson.
Zoustar, who entered stud in Australia in 2014, is now the sire of 201 winners from 300 runners. He has been represented by 20 individual stakes winners, with the Group 1 pair of Sunlight and Zoutori ably supported by the Group 2 winners Madam Rouge, Mizzy, Haut Brion Her, Lean Mean Machine, Lightsaber, Zousain and Glistening.
Zoustar’s Australia stud fee was AUD$121,000 (US$93,000) in 2020 and he served a book of 161 mares, meaning he has covered 1,301 mares in his seven seasons at stud in Australia. He is the youngest stallion in the top-10 leading sires table by earnings, currently sitting in sixth place with earnings of over AUD$8m (US$6.165m). He has now returned to Tweenhills Farm and Stud in England, where he has been shuttling since 2019. He covered 149 mares that season and 124 in 2020. This season the sire will command a fee of £25,000 (US$34,000).
Another important Group 1 race at Flemington on Saturday was the TAB Australia Cup. Won by the Joseph Allen-bred, former Aidan O’Brien-trained Homesman, the seven year old gelded son of War Front gave trainers Anthony and Sam Freedman and 2020 Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams another success at the highest level. It was a poignant victory as the horse’s part-owner Michael Gudinski died in the days leading up to Saturday’s 2000m (1m 1f) race.
It was a second Group 1 for the former Irish-trained gelding who had claimed the 2018 Underwood Stakes over 1800m when previously trained in Australia by Liam Howley. The Jye McNeil-ridden horse beat Best Of Days and Chapada by a nose and a further length respectively, and is now a winner of seven of his 24 races and has amassed almost AUD$3m (US$2.313m) in prize-money.
Homesman, one of 23 Group/Grade 1 winners for War Front, is a former winner of the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes at The Curragh, Ireland, a race he was successful in four years ago when trained at Ballydoyle Stables, County Tipperary.
Contributer had his first Group 1 winner and second stakes winner when Lion’s Roar, a NZ$65,000 (US$46,562) purchase at Book 2 of the New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Book 2 Sale in 2019, won the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1 mile) on Saturday, for trainer John O’Shea and jockey Brendon Avdulla. Lion’s Roar achieved a length and a quarter victory over Mo’unga with Harmony Rose a further neck away in third. The win was a 29th career Group 1 for the handler and his first in four years.
Photo: Zoustar, Tweenhills Stallions, Sharon Lee Chapman