Milburn Creek breeding plan

5 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Having had two yearlings go through the sales ring for over $1.5 million earlier this year, it is little wonder that Milburn Creek's John Muir is approaching the upcoming breeding season with a spring in his step.

Muir admits that the boutique farm in NSW's Southern Highlands, which hosts around 30 broodmares of their own plus a dozen or so for select clients, has gone to a whole new level with significant help from farm manager Scott Holcombe.

"Since Scott has been with me, around five years, he's really lifted the Milburn Creek brand to a point I never knew it would get to," Muir said when speaking to TDN AusNZ.

That 'new level' saw Milburn Creek reach Top 10 for vendors in terms of aggregate sales in the 2018 sales season, and seventh in terms of average.

Key to that success was the two marquee colts, who were the sixth and seventh most expensive yearlings sold in 2018.

"She is just one of those mares that every yearling she puts on the ground is an outstanding type," Milburn Creek owner John Muir.

A colt by Snitzel (Aus) out of Admirelle (General Nediym {Aus}) went for $1.6 million at the Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale to a powerful combination of buyers, Phoenix Thoroughbreds, Aquis Farm and Ciaron Maher Racing.

Snitzel x Admirelle colt sold at Magic Millions 2018

Admirelle, who is also the dam of Newgate Stallion Sizzling (Snitzel), has been an astonishingly successful broodmare with her past three foals averaging over $1.5 million.

"To look at, she's just a very correct and average-sized mare, but she is just one of those mares that every yearling she puts on the ground is an outstanding type," Muir said about Admirelle.

"Whilst she only won one race and was stakes placed, she was galloped on in a race and we never saw the ability Admirelle had."

Muir said Admirelle is headed to Fastnet Rock (Aus) this season, having been to Exceed and Excel (Aus) and I Am Invincible (Aus) the past two years.

The other million-dollar baby from Milburn Creek was another Snitzel colt by Walk With Attitude (Hussonet {USA}) who went for $1.55m at the Sydney Easter Sales.

Snitzel x Walk With Attitude colt sold at Inglis Easter 2018, race name SPEND

Spendthrift was the buyer on that occasion and Muir was able to keep a share in the horse, who will race as Spend for Team Hawkes.

Walk With Attitude has a yearling colt by Written Tycoon (Aus) and is due to foal to I Am Invincible this spring.

Then it will be off again to Snitzel for Admirelle, with a view to getting another million-dollar result.

"It's a high service fee ($220,000 at Arrowfield) but when you can get that sort of money, I think you've got to take a punt again," Muir said.

The offspring of Group 1 winning mare Secret Admirer (Dubawi {Ire}) have also been a success for Milburn Creek at the sales in recent years, with her colt by I Am Invincible selling for $560,000 at Easter to Tim Martin, who races his older half brother Danawi (Exceed and Excel).

She will go the Coolmore's first-season shuttle stallion Churchill (Ire} this spring.

A filly by I Am Invincible out of Listed winner Queenstown (Stratum {Aus}) went for $700,000 at Easter and Muir is keen to reproduce that result by sending that mare back to I am Invincible again.

Muir also sees the value of first-season sires and this season will send Roses 'N' Wine (Broken Vow {USA}), the dam of stakeswinner and Spendthrift stallion Hampton Court, to Merchant Navy (Aus).

"Breeding is a great game of chance and it’s the hardest thing to get right." - John Muir

Also going to Merchant Navy is new addition Delphic (Street Cry {Ire}), while another recent arrival, Time Awaits (Nicconi {Aus}), will go to Hellbent (Aus).

He is also keen to support other first-season sires such as Pariah (Aus) and Russian Revolution (Aus

Sizzling with John Muir

While things are very busy at Milburn Creek, the philosophy of his team remains the same.

"We want to breed something that when you take it to the sales, it has buyer appeal," Muir said. "And at the end of the day, you have do your own thing. Breeding is a great game of chance and it’s the hardest thing to get right."

Muir says that while he generally looks for the right pedigree, Holcombe's expertise in finding the right physical match is just as important.

"Scott is wonderful at looking at the physiques of the mare and the stallion we might be choosing. He'll give his opinion on whether the stallion will suit our mare or won’t suit," Muir said.

"I guess it’s based upon getting the right matings and if you get the right mating, you hope you get the right physique of the foal on the ground."