By Bren O'Brien
An elite Group 1 galloper at his best, winning the 2011 Mackinnon S. before running second in the same race the subsequent year, Glass Harmonium's racing career was blighted by bad barrier manners and a headstrong attitude.
A complicated racehorse has turned into a complicated stallion, as those headstrong characteristics, combined with fertility issues, have made for slow progress for Blue Gum Farm.
But after the filly Glass Warrior broke through to become Glass Harmonium's first stakes-winner in Wednesday's Listed Launceston Guineas, things could be on the up for the striking grey stallion.
Glass Harmonium's quirks have meant some special treatment at Blue Gum but the stud's owner Phillip Campbell told TDN AusNZ, that those characteristics have endeared him to the staff.
"He's an interesting horse to be associated with. He's not straight forward, that's for sure. He's got some funny idiosyncrasies that he had at the race track, they continue here at the farm, but he's a real personality. We really like the horse," he said.
"He's a real personality. We really like the horse." - Blue Gum owner, Phillip Campbell
"He tends to be a little bit claustrophobic. When he was in the mounting yard at the races, he generally had two on him. He had a stallion chain and even here at the farm, if you take him out of his routine, he gets very unhappy, He doesn't like being out of routine and doesn’t like being restricted."
"But you just work around those things. Every stallion has idiosyncrasies you have to work around and this guy is no different. As such, he endears himself a little bit to us."
A complicated process
Compounding that is the fact Glass Harmonium only has one testicle, which has made breeding from him a complicated process.
"Every Glass Harmonium pregnancy is a bonus and we cheer loudly when it happens." - Phillip Campbell
"We are always dancing around fertility issues with him. He's a sub-fertile horse. He does get mares in foal, but we have to treat him differently in the breeding shed to your normal standard horse. Every Glass Harmonium pregnancy is a bonus and we cheer loudly when it happens," he said.
His fertility stats confirm that. During his first-season at stud, a test to assess his likely fertility, showed positive signs with 10 positive pregnancy tests from 10 mares, of which there were five live foals.
The next season he served 38 mares for 26 live foals and since then 30 for 19, 30 for 16 and then 11 for 8.
While he has only had 13 to the track, for five winners, Campbell said the quality is certainly there.
"He's not an easy one as far as his fertility is concerned, but he gets a really nice style of horse. They’ve sold well really, when you consider where he is at," he said.
"He's not an easy one as far as his fertility is concerned, but he gets a really nice style of horse." - Phillip Campbell
"We’ve got some nice horses this year that are going to the Melbourne Gold Yearling Sale. They have sold well in years gone past at yearling and Ready to Run sales and hopefully last night is a sign of things to come."
Warrior puts best forward
Glass Warrior, trained by John Blacker, was bred and is raced by Tasmanian Mandy Gunn, who has raced the likes of Banca Mo (Tough Speed) and Mandela Effect (Turffontein) in recent years.
Having her ninth start, Glass Warrior unleashed a powerful burst at the top of the straight and powered to a five-length victory which has her as one of the leading local hopes for the Listed Tasmanian Oaks at Launceston on February 24.
"She'd only broken her maiden the start before, but as they have got her out to a further trip, she seems to be coming into her own." - Phillip Campbell
"She'd only broken her maiden the start before, but as they have got her out to a further trip, she seems to be coming into her own. There was an odds-on pop in the race who punctured at the top of the straight and gee whiz, she was full of steam all the way to the line," Campbell said.
"I always rated Glass Harmonium as a good, fast middle distance horse himself. He placed at Group 1 level here as a 1400m horse and he was able to carry that speed out to 2000m and win a Mackinnon and just get beaten in another one."
"To see one like last night show that sort of ability over a bit more of a trip is encouraging for sure."
Campbell was also pleased for Gunn, who has been a terrific supporter of Blue Gum.
"Mandy has a great relationship with Chris Kent here at our farm. Mandy sends a number of mares to us for the season. She's a shareholder in Turffontein and she uses all the stallions here at Blue Gum and she sends mares over to us to walk out to other stallions," he said.
"To see her breed the horse and still be involved in the ownership is a fantastic result and we are absolutely tickled pink for her."