Staphanos makes immediate impact

By Richard Edmunds

21 Dec 2022

Staphanos makes immediate impactPignan (Joe Doyle) credits Novara Park sire Staphanos with his first win as she scores easily at Tre

His own juvenile season may have featured only a 1600-metre maiden win three weeks before he turned three, but Staphanos has wasted no time in making an early impression at stud.
The son of Deep Impact was credited with his first winner when Pignan sprinted away from four rivals to win Saturday’s Kernow Construction 2YO at Trentham by three and a half lengths.
Trained by Lisa Latta for an ownership group that includes former All Blacks star Christian Cullen, Pignan had previously been the first raceday runner for Staphanos when she finished a creditable third in the 800-metre Wanganui scurry that opens New Zealand’s juvenile racing season. In her only other start, the talented filly had also run an unlucky third at Otaki on November 24.
Staphanos became the third member of the current crop of first-season sires to have a winner in New Zealand, following on from Embellish (Luberon) and Santos (Ulanova). With total earnings of $22,050, Staphanos now holds a narrow lead over those two rivals on the freshman sires’ premiership.
Luigi Muollo stands Staphanos at Novara Park in Cambridge, and the promising young stallion could be the latest in a string of successes for the Wellington-based breeder and stallion-master.
Muollo enjoyed an all-too-brief ride with Novara foundation sire Jakkalberry, who was restricted to four crops by his untimely death but has still produced nine black-type performers including Gr. 1 Australian Derby and South Australian Derby hero Explosive Jack. Another member of the Novara Park roster, Sweynesse, was New Zealand’s leading first-season sire in 2019-20.
Muollo has also bred a number of quality performers across recent seasons, including Derby winners Explosive Jack and Vin De Dance, both sourced from Muollo’s own ‘Explosive’ dam-line. He took special satisfaction from the breakthrough win on Saturday.
“Pignan was actually the very first Staphanos foal to be born, so it was really exciting that she became his first winner,” he said. “We’ve always known she was a good filly. She’d just missed the start in her previous race and then got a check, but she won well on Saturday.”
For Staphanos himself, a late-season maiden win was the highlight of an unremarkable three-start campaign as a two-year-old.
He won the 1600-metre Gr. 3 Fuji Stakes as a three-year-old, but it was as an older horse that he truly made his mark with a string of outstanding Group One performances over 2000 metres. He ran second in the Tenno Sho and Osaka Hai in Japan, along with Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup, and he also picked up third placings in the Tenno Sho and Hong Kong Cup.
“When you’re dealing with the Deep Impact breed, I’ve always believed that anything you get before April or May of the two-year-old season is a bonus,” Muollo said. “It’s all about getting them matured.
“I think the three-year-old season is when most of them will get there. Staphanos himself was invited to the Cox Plate (2040m) at the end of his three-year-old season, and then he really carried on with it as a four, five and six-year-old.
“With most of his progeny that I’ve got, I would say they’re Guineas or classic types next season, so I’m taking that approach with them. I don’t want to push them too hard, too early.”
Yearlings by Staphanos have been well-received at Karaka, including a pair of fillies who were picked up for $250,000 and $200,000 earlier this year by Chris Waller and David Ellis respectively.
“His first and second books of mares were very big,” Muollo said. “He dropped a bit in his third year, but has popped up again this year.
“He served 109 mares in his first crop and produced 77 live foals, so he’s going to get every chance. One that I sold to Te Akau from my Explosive family (named Brisance) was placed in a trial the other day. She’s gone out for a spell now and will be back to race in March or April.
“Chris Waller has one out of Extra Explosive, so they’re in very, very good hands. I tried to support the stallion with good numbers and quality mares, and hopefully that will pay off.”
Buyers will have access to a handful of yearlings by Staphanos at Karaka 2023, with eight of his progeny in the Book 2 catalogue.