Novara Park rostered up for breeding season

By Dennis Ryan

15 Jun 2022

Novara Park rostered up for breeding seasonDragon Queen added her name to the list of stakes winners by Novara Park stallion Sweynesse when she

Novara Park principal Luigi Muollo has multiple reasons to be in optimistic frame of mind ahead of the 2022 breeding season.
The first four reasons are staring him in the face – a stallion roster comprising Sweynesse, Staphanos, King Of Comedy and What’s The Story. The fifth is perhaps less tangible, but likewise has the Wellington-based racing and breeding enthusiast feeling good about the next stage in his Cambridge nursery’s development.
“We’re very happy to be offering a range of stallions that between them represent the best sire-lines from both hemispheres,” Muollo says. “Sweynesse is a son of Lonhro, and What’s The Story is by another dominant influence in this part of the world in Savabeel.
“Real Impact, the sire of Staphanos, is one of the greats of world breeding, and then there’s King Of Comedy’s sire Kingman, another champion both on the track and at stud from a globally proven line.”
Underscoring Muollo’s position as both a breeder and developer of young racehorses is the red-hot market driven by investor confidence around record stakes levels in our major markets.
“We’ve never seen such a strong demand for our young proven horses, which is the result of continuing strong results as well as the massive prize-money on offer in Australia,” said Muollo. “There have also been stakes increases in Hong Kong and it was great to hear last week’s NZTR announcement of rises in our minimum stakes as well as our top-end races.
“The big surprise though is the strength of the market over the past couple of years for our fillies. It’s never been so good to sell a horse off the track, and that now includes fillies.”
Muollo’s first-hand experience of filly trading includes Only Words, a member of Sweynesse’s first crop in which he sold shares to Australian interests after she had won the 2020 Listed Wanganui Guineas. She added another three wins across the Tasman, including the Gr. 2 The Roses at last year’s Queensland winter carnival.
In his debut season Sweynesse headed the New Zealand first crop sires’ premiership with progeny that included Gr. 3 Taranaki 2YO Classic winner Bonita Aurelia. More recently one of his most consistent performers, Dragon Queen, was rewarded with victory in the Gr. 2 Westbury Classic at Ellerslie, while his son Lucky Sweynesse is one of the emerging stars of Hong Kong racing with four wins and a third from five starts.
What’s The Story, Savabeel’s New Zealand Derby runner-up and set to stand his first season at Novara Park, would not have been expected to stamp himself with first-crop progeny this season, but one of that number has already made an impression.
“Big Story won his only two trials at Cambridge and we had high hopes for his race debut, but he pulled up shin-sore,” Muollo said. “He’s been sold to the Mick Price/Michael Kent stable and I’ve kept a share, so we’re looking forward to the spring with him.
“The great thing about What’s The Story is that he’s leaving horses so typical of that Savabeel/Zabeel line, which in my mind means a very bright future.”
Staphanos, about to serve his fourth season at Novara, brings not only a great sire-line to the gene pool but also world-class performance. He earned the title of the highest stake-earner at stud in New Zealand with a career that spanned seven seasons competing against the best in Japan and Hong Kong.
At three years his wins included the Gr. 3 Fuji Stakes, while he also finished second in the Gr. 1 HKJC Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth 11 Cup, splitting Blazing Speed and Criterion. As a four-year-old he finished second to Lovely Day in the Gr. 1 Tenno Sho, the following season he was third in the Gr. 1 Hong Kong Cup to Maurice and again third behind his champion compatriot in the Gr. 1 Tenno Sho.
His best performance at six years was second to dual Japan Horse of the Year Kitasan Black in the Gr. Hanshin Osaka Hai, when he also finished fourth in the Hong Kong Cup.
“Japanese racing is possibly the truest test of a thoroughbred anywhere in the world,” says Muollo. “Those wide flat tracks bring out the best with pace on all the way and normally the best horses are there at the finish. You look at the time for the last Japan Derby – they ran the 2400 metres in 2:21.9 when in this part of the world we’d expect more like 2:28.
“Deep Impact has extraordinary statistics in Japan as well as the rest of the world. Japanese black type races make up just 1.4 per cent of their total number of races, while in Australia that figure is 3.1 and in the UK it’s 4.6, so that puts some context into what a stallion Deep Impact is with his number of black type winners.”
Muollo also sourced another dominant international bloodline when he secured King Of Comedy, a son of Kingman whose formline includes a second placing in the Gr. 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot to champion miler Circus Maximus.
“At one point he was rated the leading three-year-old in Europe, and to run second with the best sectionals in the St James’s Palace is an indication of the sort of horse he was. And it should be remembered there’s no other race that produces more Group One sires.”
Sweynesse heads the 2022 Novara Park roster at a fee of $9,000, King of Comedy and Staphanos will stand at $7,000 and What’s The Story at $4,000, with all fees plus GST.