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Blight's faith in Sesar's future

6 min read
The man who bred Coolmore Stud S. contender Sesar (Sebring), thinks we are still a long way away from seeing the best of the 3-year-old colt.

Having spent months planning Sesar's (Sebring) pedigree and a year and a half rearing him from foal into a promising yearling, Howard Blight is still preaching the virtue of patience ahead of the colt's shot at one of Australia's most significant stallion-making races, the Coolmore Stud S. at Flemington.

Saturday could be a jackpot for Sesar's owners, who via Proven Thoroughbreds paid $160,000 for him in the 2017 Easter Sales. Coolmore Stud S winners invariably sign significant stud deals and with Aquis Farm already a shareholder, the pieces are already in place for the next stage of Sesar's career.

But in an industry seeking fast results, the colt's breeder continues to urge patience, saying he believes Sesar, who is trained by Steven O'Dea, is still short of his best in terms of experience and distance.

"He's in that and we've got our fingers crossed. I'm a little bit worried that he might be a horse that would go better over a distance," Blight told TDN AusNZ.

"I know the owners have decided to run him in the Coolmore. Whether that is going to be his go or not, I'm not really certain. I think they understand the fact that the 1200m won’t be his best go. He'll be a better horse over 1600m or even 2000m I reckon."

"He'll be a better horse over 1600m or even 2000m I reckon." - Howard Blight on Sesar

Blight is not coming from an uneducated place when it comes to Sesar, who won the G2 Roman Consul S. at his most recent start. Nobody has studied the colt's pedigree harder than he has.

His dam, Sarthemare (Street Cry {Ire}) was a Listed Black Opal S. winner as a 2-year-old before Blight bought her initially to race and then to breed from at the 2009 Easter Broodmare Sale.

"I had a look at a few horses there and she stood out to me. I was very keen on Street Cry and I don’t know if he was as popular back in those days. There wasn't a hell of a lot of competition for her," Blight said.

Sarthemare winning the Listed Black Opal Stakes

Blight paid $100,000 for Sarthemare, about $50,000 less than he was told to expect, and felt she still had potential to train on as race horse.

"I bought her as a broodmare, but we raced her a bit. She won a race in Brisbane for us before we put her to stud. She would have won more, but she was on a walker the morning of a big race up in Brisbane and trod on a shoe and tore the thing off the hoof," he said.

No Doubting the breed

Blight's faith in the longer-term future of Sesar as a racehorse is backed up by the recent performances of his 5-year-old half brother Doubt Defying (Not A Single Doubt).

Like Sesar, he is trained by Eagle Farm-based O'Dea and last week won the Listed Sale Cup, his eighth win in just 17 starts.

"Horses like those out of Sarthemare, they get better as they’ll go on. And Doubt Defying is a good example. He won a Listed race and he's going nicely now," he said.

"Horses like those out of Sarthemare, they get better as they’ll go on." - Howard Blight

"I think Sesar, if they don’t push him too far, will get better as time goes on."

Sarthemare's first foal, named Central Station (Manhattan Rain), also trained on and was a seven-time winner in Macau, having been placed in all four starts in Australia as a 3-year-old.

Patience required

Blight is a big advocate for taking time with horses, and he has also had to show his fair share of patience with his broodmare as well.

"She's one of these mares that would probably prefer to go into foal every second year. It’s been difficult to push foals out of her every year, and it hasn’t happened," he said of Sarthemare.

After only two foals from her first six seasons, she then foaled Sesar and then a Dawn Approach (Ire) filly called Birdy in consecutive years.

Sesar is by Widden stallion, Sebring

Having missed to Shooting To Win, she is due to foal to Your Song any day now, and all being well, she will then head back to Sebring.

"If everything is ok, she’ll go back again and hopefully give us a full sister or brother to Sesar." - Howard Blight

"If everything is ok, she’ll go back again and hopefully give us a full sister or brother to Sesar," he said.

But while matching Sarthemare back with Sebring makes considerable sense given Sesar's emergence as a Group 2 winning 3-year-old, the pairing is another result of considerable work from Blight on the pedigree.

He uses pedigree analysis tools, plus his own knowledge, to get the right match.

"There will always be a good reason for the cross. I spend months looking at the pedigree and studying the stallion before I send the mare away." - Howard Blight

"I use G1 Goldmine and other methods to look back through all of the horses in the pedigree, about five generations. I see if I find good horses in there that those crosses have produced," he said.

"You'll find that in most of the crosses I've got, there are good horses, but it might be the second sire that matches rather than the sire."

"There will always be a good reason for the cross. I spend months looking at the pedigree and studying the stallion before I send the mare away."

Sesar as a yearling

Sesar the best of Bendaree

Blight's Bendaree Park at Appin, south-west of Sydney, is not quite the hive of activity it was a few years ago. He has gone from 14 broodmares to around five as he simplifies things.

"Because our numbers are smaller, I don’t do the sale prep anymore and I send them up to the Hunter (Valley) and prep them up there," he said.

Sesar would be the best horse he has bred, but Bendaree Park alumni include G2 WA Oaks winner Superior Star (Nothin' Leica Dane) as well as multiple Hong Kong winner Flagship Shine (Tale of The Cat {USA}) and the promising Flying Murty (Murtajill) who won three of his four races in Victoria before being recently sold to Hong Kong.

But he also has a high opinion of Birdy, the Dawn Approach (Ire) filly sister to Sesar and Doubt Defying, who will be raced by Newhaven Park with Brad Widdup.

"I haven’t been able to keep a filly out of Sarthemare. I would have loved to be able to keep that Dawn Approach filly, but when you've only got a few horses every year to make your money out of it, it was necessary for me to sell her to keep paying the bills," he said.

"That pedigree is a marvellous pedigree. That should be a good racehorse because there are some wonderful crosses in that pedigree. She's a really lovely horse, I'd be surprised if she doesn’t do something at the racetrack as well."