Rich Hill boss reflects on bob-of-the-head weekend

By Dennis Ryan

8 Sep 2021

Rich Hill boss reflects on bob-of-the-head weekendRich Hill stallion Proisir notches another big result through his son Soldier Boy in the Wanganui Gu

Rich Hill Stud principal John Thompson is almost apologetic in describing last weekend as good without being great.
“It was good to see horses by our stallions performing so well across the board, but if a couple of heads had bobbed the other way it could have been a great day,” Thompson told RaceForm.
On the home front Proisir three-year-old Soldier Boy led the way with an auspicious career-first win in the Listed H S Dyke Wanganui Guineas, while across the Tasman fellow Proisir gelding Riodini was caught in the last stride in the Gr. 2 Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick and Shocking’s previously unbeaten son Elephant was likewise out-bobbed in the Gr. 2 Feehan Stakes at Moonee Valley.
Topping off the Rich Hill run, at Monday’s Ashburton meeting Proisir gelding Tappy’s One notched his seventh win since May in open 1600-metre grade and Art De Triomphe, a first-crop filly by shuttle sire Vadamos, signalled her three-year-old classic prospects with a super-impressive age-group win.
Any regret expressed by Thompson at getting so close, not once but twice, in two Australian weight-for-age 1600m features is balanced by his appreciation of the value the full range of results brings to the Rich Hill roster.
“It’s very satisfying, especially at this time of the year, to see our stallions kicking goals like that,” he said. “Proisir has made a great start to the season – after the first month he’s leading the New Zealand sires’ premiership.
“Shocking just keeps getting winners and to see horses like Elephant, I’m Thunderstruck and Inverell making headlines like they have over in Australia certainly keeps him in the spotlight. Looking at the way the bookings have been coming in for him he’s going to get the support he deserves.
“Proisir is really establishing himself as one of our best young sires. Riodini has already proven himself as a Group One horse, Soldier Boy has it all in front of him and a horse like Tappy’s One is a great advertisement for how tough and durable they are.
“We’ve had a lot of faith in Vadamos from the time he arrived here and that’s vindicated with a quality filly like Art De Triomphe. She really does look the goods.”
Likewise, Thompson enjoys the relationships involved in the breeding of various progeny of his stallion line-up. That’s especially so in the case of Riodini, who was bred by Rich Hill partner, Auckland Queen’s Counsel Alan Galbraith, and is raced by him in a family partnership.
“Alan is a big part of Rich Hill and it means a lot to him and everyone else here to get a horse like Riodini. It’s similar with people like Andrew Fowler, the breeder and co-owner of Elephant, and Gavin O’Dea, who is the co-breeder of Soldier Boy and still owns him.”
O’Dea also bred and raced Soldier Boy’s older sister Vancooga, who was runner-up in last year’s New Zealand Oaks to star filly Jennifer Eccles and in a neat segue will be served this spring by Vadamos.
In a similar theme, Elephant’s breeder Andrew Fowler has continued to back Rich Hill stallions by sending his star galloper’s half-sister Hot In Pink to Vadamos to get the promising three-year-old – and just as quirkily named – Rhinoceros. He accompanied his stablemate to Melbourne and after finishing second at his most recent start was fancied to win at Wednesday’s Sandown meeting.
There’s also a strong connection between Rich Hill and Art De Triomphe’s co-breeder, former renowned veterinarian Jim Marks. A former colleague of Thompson’s father Colin Thompson, Marks and partners Garry and Shirley Bluett bred the filly from their quality racemare Art Beat and sold her for $80,000 as a Karaka yearling to syndicators Go Racing.
Shocking, Proisir and Vadamos make up the proven sector of the Rich Hill stallion roster, while coming through behind them are the highly credentialed duo of Satono Aladdin and Ace High.
Japanese shuttle Satono Aladdin, a Group One-winning son of the hugely significant international stallion Deep Impact, is a welcome returnee after COVID complications ruled him out last year. His first-crop New Zealand yearlings were well-received earlier this year and the signs from his Japanese-sired debutants are very encouraging.
“He’s already had three winners and a number of placegetters in Japan, which is a great start given his profile and the types of horses he’s leaving,” said Thompson.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in Ace High too, given his record as a well-performed two-year-old then a Derby winner at three. Being by High Chaparral is a huge plus. His sire sons are really making their mark and it would be fair to say that Ace High is one of the best performed of them all.”