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Gust Of Wind in foal to Criterion

6 min read
On the week when Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) looks to win an unprecedented fourth Cox Plate, two of the key players from early in her career, Criterion (NZ) (Sebring) and Gust Of Wind (Nz) (Darci Brahma {Ire}) have marked their own rare milestone.

Gust Of Wind, famously the last horse to have beaten Winx in the 2015 Australian Oaks, has been confirmed in foal to Criterion, who was runner-up in the first of Winx's three Cox Plates.

While it doesn't quite measure up to the rarity of a 28-race winning streak, given Criterion's fertility issues at stud, it is something that Sir Owen Glenn and Go Bloodstock must be delighted with. They own both the stallion and the mare.

"Full credit to Sir Owen for backing the stallion and sending her to him. She's in foal to him which is brilliant." - Segenhoe's General Manager, Peter O'Brien

Criterion, winning the G1 Caulfield Guineas

Gust Of Wind resides on Segenhoe Stud in the Hunter Valley, having foaled for the first time to Snitzel early last month.

"Full credit to Sir Owen for backing the stallion and sending her to him. She's in foal to him which is brilliant," Segenhoe's General Manager Peter O'Brien said.

"She's a beautiful mare with a great temperament. She went straight in foal last year. Criterion, everybody knows has had fertility issues, but she is one of Sir Owen Glenn's best mares."

The Snitzel foal has already made an impression at Segenhoe.

"He is a beautiful colt. He's as good a first foal as you could ever wish for and she is a dote," O'Brien said.

Gust Of Wind

Fertility issues

Criterion's challenges at stud have been well-documented and Newgate's General Manager Bruce Slade said it’s a case now of taking whatever positives you can when it comes to his progeny.

"There's a lot of different factors that affect fertility, but essentially there is nothing further we can do." - Newgate's General Manager, Bruce Slade

"He's a rig. He stands his third season at Newgate this year. He is sub-fertile and essentially, his conception rate has made it difficult for him to be a resounding commercial success," he said.

"There's a lot of different factors that affect fertility, but essentially there is nothing further we can do. You just have got to get the mare as close to ovulation as possible and if she can do that and everything is perfect, he does have the ability to get mares in foal."

Criterion

"We expect him to have 20 foals across his first three crops, which statistically makes it very difficult for him to showcase his sire potential. But at the same time, Sir Owen Glenn and Go Bloodstock have supported him with some beautiful mares including the likes of Gust of Wind and many of that sort of ilk."

"We expect him to have 20 foals across his first three crops, which statistically makes it very difficult for him to showcase his sire potential." - Bruce Slade

Criterion's small first crop, of which there are 14, will hit the sales rings in 2019, and Slade said that they will make an impression.

"They are good foals. They are very good yearlings, headed towards their first yearling sales in 2019. You would say they are very athletic, lots of quality about them and very good movers," he said.

"He'll only have small numbers throughout his career, but I'm sure he's got all the ingredients there to suggest that he can still leave his mark on the Australian industry."

The Criterion x Up Against It weanling, sold at the 2018 Inglis Easter Weanling Sale for $50,000

A champion on the track

From one of the more successful families in Australasian racing, out of Mica's Pride, who has produced four stakes winners, including fellow Group 1 winner Comin' Through (Fastnet Rock), Criterion had a brilliant career on the track, winning over $7 million.

"He was nothing short of a rare commodity in terms of his racing career," Slade said. "That a horse like that can’t make a huge impact on the breeding industry, it hurts."

Watch: Criterion win the Queen Elizabeth S.

Precocious enough to finish sixth in a Golden Slipper, he won the G1 Rosehill Guineas and G1 Australian Derby at 3 and the Queen Elizabeth S. at 4 before campaigning in Hong Kong and Europe.

"He was nothing short of a rare commodity in terms of his racing career." - Bruce Slade

Returning for the spring in 2015, he won the G1 Caulfield S. before being beaten by Winx in her first Cox Plate. The margin was 4.75l, but he should have finished much closer having missed the start before being squeezed up against the rail at the 400m mark by the mare. The margin was too great for a protest.

He then ran third in a dramatic 2015 Melbourne Cup, where Gust of Wind was the unluckiest of sixths, having felt the backwash of interference caused by Frankie Dettori on Max Dynamite (Fr) (Great Journey {Jpn}).

Gust Of Wind winning the G1 ATC Oaks

The meeting of two stars

That was to be the first of their three meetings, the latter two in the breeding barn.

"That's where she got her eye on him. They’ve been writing to each other every since. They’ve only just taken the next step," O'Brien joked.

Gust Of Wind had gone to Criterion two years ago in both their first breeding seasons, but unsurprisingly given his issues, she missed.

"It's amazing how long her winning streak is, when you have a mare here who is in foal to her second foal and she is the last one to beat her." Peter O'Brien

Reflecting on her racing career, her Oaks victory gets more and more remarkable with every win that Winx racks up.

"We were just saying the other day, it's amazing how long her winning streak is, when you have a mare here who is in foal to her second foal and she is the last one to beat her," O'Brien said.

The other performance that sticks in the mind was when Gust of Wind came from stone motherless last to win her maiden at Scone six weeks' prior, described by O'Brien as 'the win of the century'.

An impossible maiden winner who was the last horse to beat Winx is now in foal to a sub-fertile stallion. She may not be the greatest mare in the country, but Gust of Wind is certainly something special.