Highgrove Stud

A magic draft from families on fire
Ron Gilbert’s Highgrove Stud, located on Queensland’s fertile Darling Downs is taking a remarkable draft of seven yearlings to the 2019 MMGC sale in January.

The mineral rich soils of the Darling Downs have sent forth a long line of Australian turf greats such as Bernborough, Tails, Eye Liner, Naturalism, Show A Heart and Boban to mention just a handful. Highgrove from its boutique broodmare band has over the last decade or so augmented this honour roll with Wanted, Jet Spur, Legally Bay (dam of Merchant Navy) and current stakes performers Noire, Thronum, Summer Passage, Excitable Boy, Beauty and Global Dream who were all offered by Highgrove or from families established at Highgrove.

The four colts and three fillies are remarkable not just for the quality of sires represented, but for the fact that they are virtually all related to current active stakes winners bred by Highgrove or from families established AT Highgrove.

It is this last group, the current and very recent stakes winners and placegetters that is writ large in the pedigrees of the 2019 Magic Millions offering. Three of the seven are from the Highgrove family that has produced 2YO Gr.1 winner and ATC Sires Produce runnerup Summer Passage, the recent Spring Carnival SW Beauty, Flemington SW Excitable Boy and several other stakes winners from the branch of the family tracing to the exceptional Lure mare Sequin who has distinguished herself for the farm, she being a half-sister to crack performers Shania Dane and Scintillation (10 wins $4.2m).

From this family Highgrove presents firstly Lot 114 a chestnut colt by multiple Magic Millions and Golden Slipper producing sire More Than Ready from the Lion Hunter mare Sequential who is a daughter of Sequin and is herself the dam of four winners including SW Excitable Boy. This colt is bred on the proven More Than Ready/Danehill cross to complete the package.
Next comes the Written Tycoon filly Lot 170 out of the winning Redoute’s Choice mare Sponsored another winner producing daughter of Sequin. Written Tycoon is clearly one of Australia’s best and most overachieving sires, his fillies as good
as his colts. Notably many of his best crosses are with mares by sons of Danehill with this particular cross over Redoute’s Choice mares producing stakes winners at more than double the stallion’s average.

Completing the Sequin descent trifecta is Lot 659 a chestnut filly by Star Witness, (whose daughters include MM Guineas runnerup and multiple Gr.1 winner Global Glamour) out of the winning All American mare Hollywood Mistress. This filly is her first foal and looks set fair to establish another branch of this excellent family once her racing career is complete. A winning career surely.
The Highgrove draft has more highlights with Lot 210 being a Snitzel colt who is a close blood relation of the Highgrove bred Gr.2 winner and Gr.1 placegetter Thronum (now at stud) out of the family of Street Cry and Shamardal. With an early August 8th foaling date, here surely is a MM 2YO contender and future stallion prospect.

Lot 617 is another colt by super 2YO sire More Than Ready out of the SP Highgrove bred Global Dream who is herself a ¾ sister to Gr.2 winner and $500K earner Noire, yet another current active Highgrove graduate.

Lot 728 is a bay colt by Australia’s multiple champion sire and best sire of sires Redoute’s Choice from the Hussonet mare Lady Antebellum who is from one of the great Highgrove families tracing to Antelliere, the dam of Gr.1 winner Porto Roca among others. Here is a colt bred on one of the strongest, most successful nicks in the business, for as remarkable as Redoute’s Choice’s 11% SW to runners is, it’s even better with Hussonet mares. The Redoute’s Choice/Hussonet cross is responsible for an amazing 40% SW to runners and significantly these include the crack 2YOs Pariah (now an Arrowfield stallion himself) and Honesty Prevails.

The Highgrove draft is rounded out with Lot 309 a filly by Not A Single Doubt, out of the SW mare A Brilliant Idea. Not A Single Doubt has emerged as one of Australia’s best sires, a crack sire of 2YOs including Magic Millions 2YO winning filly Karuta Queen and this youngster has an early 1st September foaling date to make her a most appealing prospect as an early comer.

Which particular (MM) yearling in recent years gave you the most pleasant surprise with the sale price and what did you put it down to afterwards?
My pleasant surprise actually occurred at MM in 2006 at a time when Bob Ingham’s Woodlands and trainer John Hawkes hadn’t been buying yearlings at our major sales. They bought my Encosta de Lago filly out of Anacarde for $600k which was considerably more than I expected, although to be fair, she was a lovely filly. Named Cajou she justified Woodland’s confidence giving them a runner straight away in the MM 2YO finishing 4th and going on to be stakes placed.

How has technology and IT affected your business?
Modern technology and IT is useful no doubt, but at the sales I still rely on the trusty notebook in my top pocket. Old school but dependable.

What are your top go to spots after a sales day?
My favourite is Glass at the Marina Mirage, where there is nothing better than sitting outside with a beautiful meal and a glass of wine overlooking the boats and the water on a nice summer’s night.

What’s your hidden talent?
I reckon I can cook pretty well. And I’m a dab hand at eating the results too.

If you could work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?
I’d love to have the time to attend every major broodmare sale in the world in a single year, to compare, contrast and perhaps to add to our broodmare band if the right opportunity presented itself. l