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Star born from faith in Witness

5 min read
Twice in three years, owner Alan Bell has won the G3 San Domenico S. with a Star Witness colt, with Graff's dominant win on Saturday following up from Star Turn's success in the race two years ago. TDN AusNZ's Bren O'Brien spoke to Bell about buying the exciting colt.

Owner Alan Bell has every reason to be a huge fan of Widden stallion Star Witness {Starcraft {NZ}).

Twice in three years Bell has won the G3 San Domenico S. with a Star Witness colt, with Graff's dominant win on Saturday following up from Star Turn's success in the race two years ago.

Graff is the horse on everyone's lips after his impressive victory with the G1 Golden Rose and possibly the G1 Caulfield Guineas on his agenda in the coming months.

"I think he has been tremendously under-rated, firstly by broodmare owners and secondly by the market," Alan Bell on Star Witness.

Star Witness

Having one of the most promising 3-year-olds in the land for the second time in three years is a reward for Bell believing in what Star Witness can produce.

"I think he (Star Witness) has been tremendously under-rated, firstly by broodmare owners and secondly by the market," Bell told TDN AusNZ.

"If you look at his profile, he won the Blue Diamond and the Coolmore (Stud Stakes). If you win the Blue Diamond and the Coolmore these days, you are worth tens of millions of dollars."

Star Witness' physical qualities as a racehorse are what appeals to Bell in terms of his ability as a stallion.

"When you look at him, in my mind's eye, he's the ideal Australian two-year-old type. The way he is muscled and coupled up and beautifully boned and balanced, his physicality says top Australian two year old and that's what he was," he said.

"He trained on at three. I think he's got everything, yet he stands at 30 grand! It amazes me when you look at the fees of some other horses who I don’t think can get a horse of that calibre."

Graff as a yearling

Bell was a fan of Graff as soon as he saw the Widden-bred colt ahead of the 2017 Magic Millions Yearling Sales, where he bought him for $200,000.

"He was just a great individual, he was just very powerful. He was very correct, and he was great boned horse. He moved very well and I liked his pedigree," Bell said.

Same sire, different colts

The San Domenico wins of Graff and now Vinery stallion Star Turn both impressed Bell greatly.

But while both have the qualities of their sire, he said that they were different types of racehorses.

"Star Turn was a pure sprinter, and John Hawkes ran him in the Run to the Rose and he just got touched off by Astern, and they gapped the rest," he said.

"He (Star Turn) really towelled the older horses in the Schillaci S. at 1100m." - Alan Bell

"Most people would have pressed on to the Golden Rose, but John said I'm not going to take him up to 1400m, I'm going to freshen him and run him in Melbourne and that turned out very, very well for us. He really towelled the older horses in the Schillaci S. at 1100m."

WATCH: Star Turn wins the 2016 G3 San Domenico S.

"This bloke (Graff), we are just itching to get him up in trip. If he can carry that speed and that powerful finish to a mile, he'll be pretty effective won’t he?"

Bell feels that pedigree from the dam side was a key point of difference between Star Turn and Graff racing distances.

"I like the way (Graff) is bred on the dam side. He's got some influences there that are coming out in the horse. Particularly the Sunday Silence, Sir Tristam influence, there's no distance limitation to those horses," he said.

Widden Stud

Stars born from the farm

Bell also loves the work of Widden, who have produced both Star Turn and Graff.

"The rearing there is fantastic. They’ve got 8000 acres. It's been going for 150 years so they must be doing something right!"

"They bought the mare with the specific intention of breed her to Star Witness. They've got two beauties." - Alan Bell

He said the emergence of Graff as a potential stallion was also a tribute to Widden's foresight.

"They bought the mare with the specific intention of breed her to Star Witness. They've got two beauties. The filly out of the mare was magnificent this year at the Gold Coast, they made $320,000 with her." he said.

"Obviously that's a mating that has worked for them. That's what you have to do to make stallions. You have to go and buy good racemares and breed them to your horses."

As for Star Witness, Bell will continue to look for the right yearlings, backing the success his faith in the sire has yielded.

"What I have found is that when I have found one of his I want to buy in the ring, they haven’t been cheap. That tells you that he can get that elite yearling, who can turn into an elite racehorse. That's what I go shopping for," he said.