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Torryburn-breds on a tear in Hong Kong

6 min read
Torryburn Stud is represented in Hong Kong by recent Group 3 National Day Cup H. winner Hot King Prawn and the similarly progressive Perfect Glory. TDN AusNZ caught up with Brett Cornish.

In the lower third of a rough triangle formed by Newcastle Racecourse, Port Macquarie and Muswellbrook in northeastern New South Wales on the banks of the Allyn River sits Torryburn Stud, first settled nearly 200 years ago on land that was originally farmed for its “tobacco, timber and grapes while cattle grazed its pastures,” according to the stud’s website.

Converted to a thoroughbred facility following its purchase by Rob and Jenny Ferguson in the late 1980s, Torryburn campaigned 2001 G1 Golden Slipper S. winner Ha Ha (Aus) (Danehill) in partnership with Strawberry Hill Stud and the farm was acquired by John Cornish and family in 2002. Now managed by his son, Brett, in conjunction with Melissa Copelin, Torryburn has tasted much success, both at home and abroad, and is represented in Hong Kong by recent Group 3 National Day Cup H. winner Hot King Prawn (Aus) (Denman {Aus}) and the similarly progressive Perfect Glory (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), formerly raced as Spellology in Australia.

“He was an absolute standout out yearling. A beautifully balanced, flashy grey and just so athletic and light on his feet with a great attitude to boot.” - Brett Cornish on Hot King Prawn as a yearling

Hot King Prawn

A standout from the start

Both Hot King Prawn and Spellology were part of the Torryburn draft at the 2016 Inglis Sydney Classic Yearling Sale, and though he was the more inexpensive of the two at $90,000, Hot King Prawn has been a star from day one, Brett Cornish recalls.

“He was an absolute standout out yearling,” he said. “A beautifully balanced, flashy grey and just so athletic and light on his feet with a great attitude to boot.”

Torryburn bred Hot King Prawn from the Unbridled’s Song (USA) dam De Chorus, who was raced by John Cornish and partners to two wins from eight starts while under the care of John O’Shea before being retired to stud. The mare produced two winners from her first four to race, and was responsible for Siren’s Fury (Aus) (Myboycharlie {Ire}), who upset this year’s G3 Dark Jewel Classic at Scone this past May.

Cornish explained the decision to breed De Chorus to Denman in the winter of 2013.

“She was sent to Denman, as physically it was a good mating but crucially, on pedigree it also carried a double cross of Vain (Aus), which has produced many great sprinters including Black Caviar,” Cornish said. “Denman was one of the few stallions we had access to at the time that carried Vain as the dam sire of his mother.”

Hot King Prawn's Hong Kong appeal

As has been well-documented, it takes a special sort of animal to excel in Hong Kong, but Cornish seems not the least bit surprised that Hot King Prawn has done just that.

“His appeal was absolutely his athleticism,” Cornish said. “He also had such a relaxed demeanour as a foal which takes them a long way in Hong Kong.”

Hot King Prawn as a yearling

Trained by John Size, Hot King Prawn won each of his first five starts, all over the 1000 metres and all at long odds-on quotes, then suffered his lone career defeat when trying 1200m for the first time and spotting loads of weight carrying 133 pounds (60.3kgs) at the top of Class 2 in April. Victorious over the metric six furlongs at Happy Valley to close the season, he returned to action with a battling success in the National Day Cup back over the straight five.

“His appeal was absolutely his athleticism. He also had such a relaxed demeanour as a foal which takes them a long way in Hong Kong.” - Brett Cornish

Hot King Prawn will need to stretch back out in the lead-up to the Longines Hong Kong International Races, but Cornish sees that as no obstacle.

“On pedigree, the 1200 shouldn’t pose a problem and he looks to relax well in the run, so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t run the 1200 right out,” he offered.

High hopes for siblings

De Chorus is also the dam of the Torryburn-raced 3-year-old filly The Soloist (Aus) (Smart Missile {Aus}), a two-time winner from three starts for trainer Richard Freedman, and Cornish explains hopes are high for the mare’s 2-year-old colt Deauville (Aus) (Your Song {Aus}).

"You know they go OK when a breaker and pre-trainer of the calibre of Tim Boland calls to see if any shares are available, as was the case with this bloke!” - Brett Cornish on the half-brother to Hot King Prawn, Deauville

“He has been retained and will be trained by the Snowdens in Sydney,” Cornish reported. “We are hoping he might have what it takes. You know they go OK when a breaker and pre-trainer of the calibre of Tim Boland calls to see if any shares are available, as was the case with this bloke!”

De Chorus is due to foal soon to Capitalist (Aus) (Written Tycoon {Aus}).

“We are really excited about the Capitalist mating this year which also carries the elusive double cross of Vain,” Cornish said. “If it’s a colt, he will no doubt have much appeal in Asia and the mare will be visiting Capitalist again this year before a well-earned retirement.”

High quality yearlings

Spellology was by far the most expensive of the eight Torryburn consignees at the Classic Sale in 2016, fetching $220,000. He failed to meet his $250,000 reserve at Inglis’s Ready To Run Sale that October, but went three-for-three at home prior to being sold to Hong Kong. In his local debut, he defied odds of 17-1 with a slashing win in a 1200m Class 3 at Happy Valley Oct. 10.

“Wow. The hearts are certainly making waves in Hong Kong!” - Mel Copelin

Perfect Glory, formerly raced as Spellology

“He was a high-quality yearling with lots of scope and size for a Snitzel,” Cornish said. “He always looked like he would be better with time and had the physique of a miler/2000m horse. He was beautifully placed by Brad Widdup to win his first three starts in Australia but he looks like he’s gone to another level. We were pretty blown away with his win the other night, as he should be much more effective over further and on the bigger track at Sha Tin. With the way he quickened the other night, if he can stretch out to 2000m, you never know, he might be a sneaky Derby hope next year. In any case it looks like his owners are going to have a lot of fun with him!”

A small red heart hovers the ‘y’ on the Torryburn logo on the farm website, a testament to the effort and love it puts in to churning out the best possible product.

“Wow. The hearts are certainly making waves in Hong Kong!” says Mel Copelin.

And those Torryburn waters don’t figure to recede anytime soon.