Rich Hill principal gets 2022 off on the right foot

By Dennis Ryan

29 Dec 2021

Rich Hill principal gets 2022 off on the right footProgeny of Rich Hill Stud stallion Ace High are set to make their yearling sale debut

January 1 for Rich Hill Stud principal John Thompson means a lot more than a fresh New Year’s resolution.
It also marks the running of the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile on the quality-laden New Year’s Day programme at Ellerslie, representing the Walton nursery’s biggest single sponsorship commitment on the racing calendar.
The first day of 2022 will be the 18th year that the feature 1600m has been sponsored by Rich Hill Stud, which like so many other breeding industry entities includes in its marketing strategy significant financial support for racing. Current times are different to the norm, all based around the unpredictabilities of Covid, but that doesn’t mean any relent in commercial activities.
With the 2021 breeding season now behind the country’s thoroughbred studs, the focus is now on yearling sales, and even with the Covid-enforced postponement of the Karaka Sales from late January to early March, Rich Hill is amongst those already spruiking their product.
As well as offering progeny of their proven sires Shocking, Proisir, Vadamos and Satono Aladdin, Karaka 2022 marks the debut for the newest member of the Rich Hill roster, former star Australian galloper Ace High. The dual Group One-winning son of major influence High Chaparral has 15 yearlings in Book 1 at Karaka and 24 in Book 2.
As a member of High Chaparral’s penultimate crop, Ace High is a valuable member of Australasian stallion ranks. High Chaparral, the winner of the Epsom and Irish Derby in his haul of seven Group One races but sadly lost to colic at only 15 years, has left a massive legacy.
His progeny include dual-hemisphere star So You Think and champion three-year-old Dundeel amongst a list of 23 Group One winners, while that pair along with Toronado, Redwood, Contributer and Tivaci are already Group One-proven sire sons.
“It’s quite incredible what High Chaparral’s sons are doing at stud and naturally we’re pretty happy to have what could be described as his last outstanding performer here at Rich Hill,” John Thompson told RaceForm. “Ace High is best known for his wins in the VRC Derby and Spring Champion Stakes, but being out of a Redoute’s Choice mare, he was also a very precocious two-year-old.
“He finished second on debut in October, all up he had seven starts at two and as well as being a winner he finished fourth at Group One in the Champagne Stakes. His trainer David Payne has always said what a sound, tough and genuine horse he was through his two and three-year-old seasons.”
The quality of Ace High’s form through his classic season is indisputable, beginning with a hat-trick comprising the Gr. 3 Gloaming Stakes, Gr. 1 Spring Champion Stakes and Gr. 1 VRC Derby, and signing off with a photo-finish second in the Gr. 1 ATC Derby. He added one further win as a spring four-year-old in the Gr. 2 Hill Stakes at Randwick.
“He was well received when he took up duties in 2019 and it’s great to see around 40 of his yearlings set to go through the ring,” added Thompson. “We’re very happy with the quality of Ace High’s progeny and given the types he’s leaving along with his own ability at two, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some of them get up and go themselves.”
The past year has been a constant flow of winners by Rich Hill’s proven stallion complement. Perhaps the most exciting is Melbourne four-year-old I’m Thunderstruck, a son of Shocking who followed his Gr. 1 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield with victory in the Golden Eagle in Sydney. That took his record to six wins from nine starts and stakes in excess of A$5 million.
Another son of Shocking, Elephant, was also a spring star across the Tasman winning the Gr. 3 Sandown Stakes and placing in the Gr. 2 Feehan Stakes and Crystal Mile, while Dragon Storm and Defibrillate flew the flag in the staying ranks.
Proisir’s progeny list has continued to grow through class acts such as Levante, Group One Sydney galloper Riodini and quality three-year-old Dark Destroyer, as well as numerous emerging talents such as Gospodin, the winner of his last six starts, Kelly Coe, Tappy’s One, Super Pursuit and Soldier Boy.
Rich Hill’s shuttle pair of Vadamos and Satono Aladdin have also made impressive progress in the early stages of their careers. French-bred Vadamos has two New Zealand-sired stakes winners from his first two crops in Art De Triomphe and Grace’s Secret as well as the very promising La Crique and Rhinoceros amongst others.
Deep Impact’s Group One-winning son Satono Aladdin has his first New Zealand-bred runners on the track, including the stakes-placed Sacred Satono, while in Japan he has already sired 11 first-crop winners.
“The results our stallions have been getting have been very satisfying and of course great for business,” added Thompson. “They were all busy this spring and all up we covered something like 480 mares, which includes a smaller book for Satono Aladdin due to him having to depart early for Japan.”
“All in all we have to be happy, and it’s a good sign for the industry that people are willing to breed their mares to a range of stallions such as we have here.”