Eckstein flying the flag for Redbank North

6 min read
Eckstein, bred from a $500 mare and to an $11,000 I Am Invincible service fee, passed the $1m prizemoney mark with her fourth stakes win on Saturday.

James Middleton and his family at Redbank North are no strangers to producing top-quality mares and Eckstein's (I Am Invincible) win in Saturday's G3 Southern Cross S. at Randwick is another cause for celebration for the farm based near Jugiong, on the South West Slopes of NSW.

Hot on the heels of the Group 1 winning deeds of Single Gaze (Not A Single Doubt), Eckstein has become the new flagbearer for Redbank North with Saturday's win her fourth at stakes-level, taking her career earnings to over $1 million.

The tough and talented mare, a winner of seven of 29 starts, was sold by Redbank North as a weanling for $50,000, with the buyer KP Thoroughbreds returning a nice profit when she was pinhooked for $165,000 at the 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

However, her subsequent owners have enjoyed an even a better run, with Goulburn-based trainer Kurt Goldman piloting a career which has gone from strength to strength.

That Eckstein has been able to graduate into such a consistent stakes level performer, including narrow defeat in the G1 Myer Classic, is no surprise to Middleton, who was told not to sell her as a foal.

"She was a lovely foal and we didn’t want to sell her, but at the time we needed some money in and we sold her." - James Middleton

"She is tough for sure. She's always had attitude," he told TDN AusNZ.

"She was a lovely foal and we didn’t want to sell her, but at the time we needed some money in and we sold her."

"The person who does a lot of my breeding work said you are mad, you have just sold the best horse you are ever going to have. He wasn't far wrong, she's one of the better ones."

"But we took her to the sale and in those days, $50,000 for an I Am Invincible foal was a lot of money."

Fiona and James Middleton

Numbers added up

You certainly couldn’t argue with the commercials. Middleton had paid just $500 for Eckstein's dam Comrie (Choisir) after he had bought one of the earlier foals by War Pass (USA) as a weanling for $8000 from an estate sale.

"They rang up and asked if we were interested in the broodmare. We said 'What are you doing with her? and they said they wanted $500 and we took her off their hands," Middleton said.

Having pinhooked that colt for $15,000 the following year, he couldn’t do much wrong, paying the $11,000 service fee for I Am Invincible in his third season.

"We saw a chance to get a double cross to Canny Lad, that's why we went there." - James Middleton

Eckstein as a yearling

"We saw a chance to get a double cross to Canny Lad, that's why we went there," he said.

When Eckstein was sold as a yearling in January 2015, I Am Invincible had just five stakes winners. When she won her first black-type race in December 2016, she was his 17th stakes-winner and now, two years and two months later, he has 43.

Accordingly, the value of Yarraman Park's star stallion has grown from year to year. His service for last season was $192,500.

$500 mare continues to give

As for Eckstein's dam Comrie, she has had one more foal to the track, the 2-year-old by another son of Invincible Spirit in Zebedee (GB) called Speedycom, who trialled impressively ahead of his debut for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott in the G3 Breeders' S., where he ran off on the turn and ran last.

Redbank North also have a Sooboog filly out of Comrie, foaled in August last year.

"I'll sell a percentage of her, keep half and race and breed from her. She won't go through the sales. I'll put 40 or 50 per cent up for sale and see if anyone is interested in breeding and racing her," Middleton said.

Comrie with her Sooboog filly who will be retained to race by the Middletons

Comrie is now in foal to I Am Invincible's son Hellbent and is one of a dozen active broodmares Redbank North has on the farm.

Restocking with pair of fillies

Middleton was busy at last week's Inglis Classic Sale looking for the next generation of broodmares, buying yearlings by All Too Hard and Star Witness.

The All Too Hard filly, sold as Lot 757 for $40,000 by Valiant Stud, is out of a three-quarter sister to Denman, while the Star Witness filly - Lot 766 bought for $37,500 - is out of That's Amore (More Than Ready {USA}), a half-sister to Angel Of Mercy from the family of the star mare Divine Madonna.

"We are going for fillies and hopefully something comes along for the track and into the breeding barn," Middleton said.

Gallery: Redbank North's Classic Sale purchases

Redbank North, which sold five yearlings at the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast, have another yearling for sale at the upcoming Adelaide Magic Millions, Lot 55 by Choisir, while Middleton said it would likely sell five or so weanlings later in the season.

He expects a similar breakdown of yearlings and weanlings at the sales for the 2020 season.

Owning your success

Redbank North also celebrated a couple of winners as an owner when the progressive Handle the Truth (Star Witness) won at Canterbury on resumption on Friday night and then Reliant (Dubleo {USA}) prevailed in a Class 2 at Tumut.

Handle The Truth has now won five of his eight starts for Canberra-based trainers Keith Dryden and Scott Gollings, who Redbank North have a strong relationship with.

"He'll go to the Country Championships at Goulburn at his next start and then it’s one step at a time for him," Middleton said.

Another one of their horses, Balansa (Helenus) ran fourth in the Highway race at Randwick on Saturday.

None of those are expected to quite reach the heights of Redbank North graduates like Single Gaze and Eckstein, but Middleton said it is all part of continuing to build the brand.

"The fact that there are a fair few winners off our farm, when people pull the yearlings out of the boxes, they are starting to look at our brand and appreciating that because they are winning on the track," he said.

"It opens up the brand to the market and the market is starting to appreciate the brand."