Rich Hill roll continues into summer

By Michelle Saba

14 Feb 2024

Rich Hill roll continues into summerLegarto (Ryan Elliot) headlined another big day for Rich Hill Stud with her Gr. 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes

It’s been an exciting mid-summer period for the team at Rich Hill Stud, initially with the reception afforded their stallions at the Karaka sales and topped off by further stunning results on the racetrack last weekend.
At Te Rapa last Saturday the stud’s part-owner and general manager John Thompson was on course to witness Proisir mare Legarto take out the Gr. 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes, and Molly Bloom, the daughter of Ace High, dominate in the Gr. 2 David and Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic.
On the support card, Mark Twain, a son of Shocking, was so impressive in the Rating 75 Peter Kelly Bayley’s Real Estate 2100-metre event that he became the new favourite for next month’s Gr. 2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup.
Molly Bloom’s win did have some special significance as the third consecutive winner of the prestigious race by a daughter of A Rich Hill stallion. the last three years the Fillies Classic has been won by a filly sired by a Rich Hill stallion.
In 2022 Shocking’s daughter Self Obsession won the race before going on to claim the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Title, last year it was Proisir’s Champion Middle Distance Horse of the Year Prowess and this year Molly Bloom, who now has a tight grip on the Filly of the Year title.
“Molly Bloom is a great advertisement for Ace High,” enthused Rich Hill Stud’s co-owner and manager John Thompson, who was on course at Te Rapa. “I know she may not race here again, but it would be a great achievement to get the Filly of the Year in his first crop.
“However, it looks like we will have a live chance in the Oaks though as Karl Mihaljevich, our nominations manager, bred and owns Lucid Sky (by Proisir) who ran third in the Fillies Classic and is now favourite for the Oaks.
“It’s pretty special to win the Fillies Classic again. It puts it into perspective the three high class fillies, initially with Self Obsession, good enough to be the Filly of the Year. Then last year we saw Prowess and we know how good she was. Then this year we have Molly Bloom doing it for Ace High.”
Molly Bloom was bred by Scott Eagleton’s Seaton Park and on Saturday recorded her fourth win at her eighth start. The Lance O’Sullivan/Andrew Scott-trained bay was already a major winner this season after taking out the Gr. 1 Barneswood Farm 1000 Guineas and the Gr. 2 Hallmark Stud Eight Carat Stakes, before running seventh in the TAB Karaka Million 3YO.
Prior to last weekend, prominent Victorian owner Ozzie Kheir purchased a 50 per cent share in Molly Bloom and while she is having a well-earned let-up, plans will be defined as to the next stage of her career. Australian black-type is her ultimate goal, with potential targets before the season including the Gr. 1 Vinery Stud Stakes in Sydney and the Gr. 1 Queensland Oaks in Brisbane.
As the daughter of an Australian classic-performed son of High Chaparral and with immense stamina as well on her distaff side, it’s anticipated that middle-distance racing will be Molly Bloom’s forte. There was already much anticipation surrounding Legarto’s first start beyond 1600m in Saturday’s Herbie Dyke Stakes.
“It was great to see Legarto bounce back after she ran so bravely at Ellerslie,” Thompson said, “she handled the step up in distance well.”
The Ken and Bev Kelso-trained mare did everything expected of her to decisively win the 2000-metre weight-for-age event. It was the four-year-old’s third win at Group One level, having followed her victory in the New Zealand 1000 Guineas with a jaw-dropping performance in the Australian Guineas at Flemington.
The plan now is to contest the Gr. 1 Bonecrusher Stakes at Ellerslie in early March and then return to Melbourne for another 2000-metre weight-for-age assignment, the Gr. 1 Australian Cup.
Perhaps one of the most satisfying wins last weekend for Rich Hill and other Kiwi connections was that of Proisir six-year-old Yonce when she took out the Gr. 3 Carlyon Cup at Caulfield, her third start in after a 20-month lay-off. With her all-the-way win in the 1600-metre event, she became her sire’s 17th individual stakes winner.
“Yonce won six races in a row in her first prep before running fourth in a Group One,” recalled Thompson. “To come back the way she did after nearly two years off is pretty impressive, we’re trhilled to see her back.
“It’s been a pretty exciting few weeks. As we saw at Karaka, Proisir has gone to a new commercial level, and to have a stallion with progeny selling for over a million dollars, that puts him in a different space.”
Complementing the sale-topping $1.6 million Proisir-Donna Marie sister to Prowess offered by Hallmark Stud was Rich Hill’s Satono Aladdin-Inthespotlight filly who made the next highest price at $900,000.
“It’s great for the profile of the farm and our stallions to get the two top prices, and even though we didn’t breed either of them, it was great for our clients,” Thompson said.