Golden double for Rich Hill Stud duo

By Dennis Ryan

14 Sep 2022

Golden double for Rich Hill Stud duoDark Destroyer (Lisa Allpress) lands the first leg of a Group One double for Rich Hill sires Proisir

A Group One victory is like gold for any thoroughbred stallion no matter where or when it is achieved, but a transtasman double in the first week of spring was a massive result for the Rich Hill Stud duo Proisir and Shocking.
Late Saturday afternoon at Hastings, Proisir four-year-old Dark Destroyer won the first Group One race of the New Zealand season, the Tarzino Trophy, and just half an hour later in Melbourne, Shocking five-year-old I’m Thunderstruck completed the golden double in the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington.
“That’s the sort of success you dream about but never really believe can happen,” Rich Hill principal John Thompson told RaceForm. “It’s great for the stud and its clients and also for New Zealand.
“They love Shocking in Melbourne – and why wouldn’t they? That’s where he made his mark as one of the very best racehorses of his generation and now he’s got a son leading the way there.”
I’m Thunderstruck had already been successful at Group One level, winning the Toorak Handicap during last year’s Victorian spring carnival before adding the Golden Eagle in Sydney at his next start. He had to settle for minor placings in his autumn campaign, the best of them seconds to Zaaki at level weights in the All-Stars Mile at Flemington and to Mr Bullbars when conceding 5.5kg to his fellow NZ-bred in the Doncaster Mile at Randwick.
The big bay’s spring campaign began with a half-length second to Snapdancer in last month’s Gr. 1 Memsie Stakes and last weekend he landed his first weight-for-age victory with a determined late finish to claim last-start Stradbroke Handicap winner Alligator Blood on the line.
Shocking’s race record was headed by his Melbourne Cup and Australian Cup successes, while he also won the Makybe Diva Stakes in 2010 when it was rated Group Two. As Thompson points out, it was due to Shocking and other quality winners that resulted in the Flemington 1600m being upgraded in 2013.
The Cox Plate now looms as an attractive target for I’m Thunderstruck, whose only start at Moonee Valley produced a win over 1600m on his way through the grades last year.
The Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown, which to date has been completed only once by Melody Belle, is an achievable target for Proisir gelding Dark Destroyer, who was having his first start since finishing fourth as favourite in the Queensland Derby.
Saturday’s Tarzino Trophy was billed as a match race between Imperatriz and La Crique, but the Lance O’Sullivan/Andrew Scott-trained Dark Destroyer had other ideas. In the hands of Lisa Allpress, he managed the testing track conditions like the genuine and classy galloper he is for a comfortable win.
Having proven himself at 1600m last season by winning the Gr. 2 Auckland Guineas and then at a middle-distance in the Gr. 3 Rough Habit Plate, Dark Destroyer ticks two important boxes for the second and third legs at Hastings, the Gr. 1 Arrowfield Plate (1600m) and Gr. 1 Livamol Classic (2040m).
He races in the same Archer Equine Investments colours as Rich Hill Stud graduate Mufhasa, whose 10 Group One wins included the first and second legs of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown. Dark Destroyer is the second elite winner by Proisir after Levante, whose Gr. 1 Telegraph and BCD Group Sprint wins earned the 2021-22 Sprinter of the Year title.
Other Proisir progeny with the potential to add to the young sire’s record include Pier, who stepped up from a debut maiden win to finish second to Karaka Million winner Dynastic in Saturday’s Listed El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy. Another of Proisir’s highly regarded three-year-olds is Legarto, who won her only start at two and looked on target for the spring with an impressive recent trial win. Like Dark Destroyer, she was bred by Bay of Plenty-based Warwick Jeffries.
“While he didn’t win at Group One, Proisir was still a very good racehorse,” says Thompson. “It’s fair to say that he upgrades his mares and the really exciting thing is that this year’s yearlings are the first crop from the higher quality mares he attracted once his first runners began to prove themselves.”