Segenhoe, I Am Invincible a Group 1 match

6 min read
Voodoo Lad's success in the G1 Winterbottom S. cemented the strong link between Segenhoe Stud and I Am Invincible.

The link between the success of Segenhoe Stud and Yarraman Park's star stallion I Am Invincible was etched in Group 1 history on Saturday with Voodoo Lad's win in the G1 Winterbottom S. in Perth.

Voodoo Lad, now seven, became the first-ever Group 1 winner in Segenhoe's distinctive red and yellow colours, having been a favourite for Kevin and Lesley Maloney ever since he was bought as a yearling for just $36,000.

"The timeline ties in with the Maloney family when they first invested in Segenhoe (in 2010). He's obviously been in the family for a lot of that time and he is probably the horse that is closest to Kevin and Lesley's heart," Segenhoe Stud's General Manager Peter O'Brien told TDN AusNZ.

"It's well-documented he's been very unlucky in a lot of Group 1 races. If ever a horse deserves a Group 1 it was him. It’s funny, he's from the first crop of I am Invincible. Astutely picked out by Bill Mitchell at Scone for $36,000."

"Segenhoe's rise has been handcuffed to I Am Invincible in a way, both in the sales ring and at the racecourse." - Peter O'Brien

Mitchell, Segenhoe's racing manager, is the obvious connection between Segenhoe and I Am Invincible, given his brothers Arthur and Harry stand the stallion at Yarraman Park.

But the connection runs through Segenhoe's breeding and bloodstock businesses as well. In the past two years, Segenhoe have sold nine yearlings by I Am Invincible at the major sales, for an amazing average of $657,000, including two colts for over $1.6 million.

"Segenhoe's rise has been handcuffed to I Am Invincible in a way, both in the sales ring and at the racecourse," O'Brien said.

Gallery: Catch Me (I Am Invincible) sold to Yulong Investments for $625,000 from Segenhoe Stud, won the G3 Gimcrack S. on debut

Getting in early

Mitchell went to the 2013 Scone Select Yearling Sale looking to buy one of I Am Invincible's first crop and with instructions from Kevin Maloney to find a horse who would be suitable for the following year's Inglis 2YO Challenge.

"I wanted to buy an I Am Invincible and went to Scone and bought what I thought was the best looking one. It wasn't a great pedigree, but he was a very good type." - Bill Mitchell

"There were probably half a dozen I Am Invincibles in that sale at his first crop."

"Kevin wanted to buy a horse for the Scone race, so I figured that if we were going to buy a first- season sire, we were going to buy pure speed, which I saw I Am Invincible as being."

Prepared by Rod Northam, Voodoo Lad ticked his first box when he won that 2-year-old race at Scone at his third start.

Voodoo Lad

Change of plan

But after winning four and placing in four of his first eight starts, issues with his legs and feet saw him sidelined for 12 months and needing to find a new environment.

"He got that palmar chondral disease, which is essentially bruising at the base of the cannon bones. It’s very hard to treat and not easy to manage," Mitchell said.

"With Darren Weir's facilities at Warrnambool, in the soft sand and in the cold water all the time, we had to look at sending him there to give him his best chance."

"We knew how much ability the horse had. He always had great ability and he was well educated. But going around in circles on the country training tracks, it wasn't going to help him." - Bill Mitchell

"When you get a horse with ability, you have to do everything you can to get it out of him."

Weir took Voodoo Lad on and within six runs had elevated him to a stakes-winner. A couple of starts later, he was runner up in the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke S.

Weir has kept Voodoo Lad in top company ever since. Saturday was his tenth run at Group 1 level and his first win. He now has 13 wins overall and close to $2 million in prizemoney.

A link back to a previous era

He is one of the last connections to Maloney's initial five-year-plan with Segenhoe, which saw them very active at the sales looking to build up their breeding and racing stock.

"The business model at the start for the first few years, Kevin and Lesley had a first five-year plan to get the brand front and centre. A lot of that was buying and racing a lot of horses," O'Brien said.

Included among that early investment was Pornichet (Fr) (Vespone {Ire}), who was Maloney's first Group 1 winner as an owner, but who did not sport the Segenhoe colours.

"The next five-year plan is that we obviously have some beautiful mares. We’ve been selling pretty much everything for the last three years at the yearling sales.

"We are in the fortunate position that a lot of our mares have thrown stakes winners, so we are retaining a few of those fillies to continue the bloodlines." - Peter O'Brien

"Kevin and Lesley adore racing and it’s a big part of what we do and we will always have a presence on the racetrack. From a position of five years ago, where we had shares in 60 or 70 horses, I'm guessing it will be 20-25 in the coming years."

Segenhoe's impact as a breeder and a nursery of champions has been significant in recent years. Recent Group 1 graduates of the farm include Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock), Eagle Way (More Than Ready {USA}) who lines up in the Hong Kong International Races next Sunday, and Oohood (I Am Invincible).

Gallery: Recent Segenhoe stars

Invincible link runs strong

The I Am Invincible connection remains strong through the likes of G3 Gimcrack S. winner Catch Me, who was bred and sold to Yulong, while expectations are high for the filly out of multiple stakes-winner Set For Fame (Reset) which Segenhoe race through Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, called Hidden Talent.

They are also offering two I Am Invincibles at the 2019 Gold Coast Magic Millions and at least another two at the 2019 Australian Inglis Easter Sale, including Catch Me's brother.

"Not only does (I Am Invincible) get top-class horses, he is showing that as he gets better mares, the quality is improving also." - Peter O'Brien

"Every year we’ve sent on average six mares to him and we’ve obviously been paid handsomely for that," O'Brien said.

Meanwhile, Mitchell said he still feels there is still a lot more to come from Voodoo Lad.

"We'll have a look at some of those races in the autumn. There are some nice weight-for-age races going. I suppose he might end up in the TJ Smith. 1200m seems to be his best trip. We watched him run some great races up to 1400m, I think keeping him fresh to 1200m is his optimum," he said.