Thompson’s faith in Shocking vindicated

By Dennis Ryan

13 Oct 2021

Thompson’s faith in Shocking vindicatedI’m Thunderstruck notches another Group One win for his sire Shocking with victory in the Toorak H

More than six years between Group One winners might test any stallion master’s patience, but in the case of Rich Hill Stud principal John Thompson, his belief in Shocking has never waned.
Fanatic, winner of the Gr. 1 New Zealand Oaks in the autumn of 2016, was one of six stakes winners from Shocking’s first crop conceived in 2011. On Saturday at Caulfield, I’m Thunderstruck became his sire’s second Group One winner when he lived up to the favourite’s tag with victory in the Toorak Handicap.
Carrying the familiar hooped colours of OTI Racing, the four-year-old had been an unlucky third in his previous start, the Gr. 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, and ran right up to that form in the 1600m feature with a three-quarter-length win over another Kiwi-bred, multiple Group One winner Tofane. Even after factoring in I’m Thunderstruck’s six-kilogram weight advantage over the Ocean Park mare, it was hard to deny the winner in what was just his eighth start.
His career had begun as a trial winner for Matamata trainer Dan Miller when still in the ownership of his breeders, Cambridge couple Tony Forlong and Jennifer Jones. That debut caught the eye of bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo, who ran the baldy-faced gelding past long-time client Terry Henderson of OTI and once the deal was done, I’m Thunderstruck was transferred to the Melbourne stable of Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr.
His eight starts since have produced five wins and two placings, the only unplaced result being fifth in the Gr. 2 Autumn Stakes at Caulfield earlier this year at just his second appearance. I’m Thunderstruck is now scheduled to head to Sydney as the favourite for the A$7.5 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill on October 30.
Shocking’s trajectory at Rich Hill has followed a not unfamiliar path, particularly as a stamina-indexed stallion. In that context it’s not hard to draw a comparison with the horse that put the Matamata stud on the map, former outstanding European stayer Pentire.
During a stud career that lasted an amazing 21 seasons at Rich Hill, the size of Pentire’s books ranged from a low of just 20 mares in his fifth year to a high of 147 in 2010, in year 14. His resurgence and continuing popularity was an understandable dynamic, off the back of progeny such as Xcellent, Mufhasa, Rangirangdoo, Recurring, Xtravagant and Prince Of Penzance. That sample group won elite races across the full distance range, from 1200 to 3200m.
When Shocking arrived at Rich Hill, he was famous as the winner of the 2009 Melbourne Cup. What was perhaps less recognised was his ability at far shorter distances, as illustrated by his wins in the Gr. 2 Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600m, and in his final start, the Gr. 1 Australian Cup, also at weight-for-age, over 2000m.
That performance range is now reflected just as graphically in Shocking’s progeny record, which is headed by his first-crop daughter Fanatic and now I’m Thunderstruck. Fanatic’s New Zealand Oaks win over 2400m was followed by further successes in the Gr. 2 Adelaide Cup and Listed Sandown Cup, both at 3200m, whereas I’m Thunderstruck has made his mark at 1600m and less.
Others in Shocking’s list of stayers are another Adelaide Cup winner in Surprise Baby, Gr. 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) winner Chocante, Gr. 3 Wellington Cup (3200m) winner Soleseifei, Gr. 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) winner Dragon Storm, Gr. 3 Trentham Stakes (2100m) winner Camino Rocoso and Melbourne Cup aspirant Defibrillate, a dual Listed middle-distance winner in Melbourne who has been successful up to 2500m.
I’m Thunderstruck is not alone on Shocking’s list of major performers at lesser distances. Minor cult hero Elephant also started in the Toorak after winning the Gr. 3 Sandown Stakes over 1500m and finishing second in the Gr. 2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley, while Ticket To Ride’s wins include the Gr. 3 Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes over 1400m at Riccarton Park and another daughter, Pure Pride, is the winner of the Listed Paris Lane Stakes over the same distance at Flemington.
“What we’ve been seeing more recently is what Shocking can do over your speedier type mares,” reasons Thompson. “There’s probably no better example than Elephant, whose dam Ticklish was a brilliant galloper, quick enough to win over 1000 metres at Moonee Valley.
“Shocking had a few quiet years after that initial burst, but the four-year-olds out there performing now are the result of the big book he had in 2016 after his first crop had done so well. He’s certainly captured the attention of breeders just lately and at the rate the bookings are coming in, it looks like he’s going to get back to around the 100-mare mark this year.”
One phone call that Thompson was especially pleased to receive was from Canterbury horsewoman Karen Parsons to book her quality sprinter-miler Kiwi Ida, the winner of 14 races up to Group Two and a placegetter at Group One. “Karen rang me after she had seen I’m Thunderstruck run that unlucky third in the Rupert Clarke, so it’s great to see Shocking recognised like that.”