Diamond glow as Cardinal shines

5 min read

By Bren O'Brien

While Godolphin was celebrating another 2-year-old feature win with Lyre (Lonhro) in the G1 Blue Diamond S on Saturday, there was also plenty of cheer for Australian Bloodstock, who own the filly's dam Erato (Street Cry {Ire}).

Saturday was one of those rollercoaster days at the track for Australian Bloodstock directors Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett, who went from despair to joy within the space of 90 minutes.

Murrell admitted there was a real hollow feeling after Brave Smash's (Jpn) (Tosen Phantom {Jpn}) luckless run in the G1 Futurity S. where he finished seventh beaten less than two lengths.

But after Lyre's success proved a substantial bonus for Australian Bloodstock's burgeoning breeding interests, imported stayer Red Cardinal (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}) delivered a long-awaited victory in the Listed Parramatta Cup at Rosehill in his first start for Kris Lees.

Money well spent

The $120,000 Murrell and Lovett paid for Erato in foal to Helmet at the 2017 Magic Millions Broodmare Sale looks to be money well spent. Ten days after they bought her, her half-brother Impending (Lonhro) won the G1 Stradbroke Hcp.

She delivered a Helmet colt later that spring, now a yearling and is currently in foal to Russian Revolution. The prospects of both have soared significantly after the final filly from Erato's time at Darley became a G1 Blue Diamond S. winner on Saturday.


It was already a pedigree laced with Group 1 winners, with Impending and Erato out of champion filly Mnemosyne (Encosta De Lago).

"It’s an amazing industry. Some days, you could line up all your horses and you’d sell them for 50 cents and then you have weekends like that. It was a fantastic result," - Luke Murrell

"It’s an amazing industry. Some days, you could line up all your horses and you’d sell them for 50 cents and then you have weekends like that. It was a fantastic result," Murrell told TDN AusNZ.

Red letter day for stayer

A relative newcomer to the broodmare space, Australian Bloodstock built its reputation on importing quality stayers from Europe, highlighted of course by its 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist (Ger) (Monsun {Ger}).

Inevitable comparisons to Protectionist flowed when Red Cardinal arrived in Australia ahead of the 2017 Melbourne Cup having won Group races in Germany and the USA over 3200m in impressive fashion.

What followed has been 'two years of torture' according to Murrell, with Red Cardinal managing just one placing in his seven Australian starts, the majority of them for Darren Weir.

"Basically from his time in Australia, it has been nothing but frustration and disappointment," Murrell said. "It wasn't anyone's fault, it’s just been two years of a bit of torture really."

"It was just stupid little things. He got his tongue over the bit in the Melbourne Cup, that's just a real kick in the guts. The year prior, he chipped a knee."

Red Cardinal

However, on Saturday that all turned around as Red Cardinal produced a brilliant first-up performance, charging home to win on debut for Lees over 1900m.

"Kris is one of the few trainers in Australia to go first-up at 1900m with the horse still big in condition," he said. "The boys at trackwork couldn't believe how good he felt and how well he was going."

Murrell said while the horse had form on both hard and soft tracks overseas, it was clear that he appreciated the cut out of the ground on Saturday.

"Everyone that has ever had anything to do with the horse, Red Cardinal, can’t believe his wind and how clean winded he actually is," he said.

The change in environment, moving from Victoria after Weir was disqualified, has also proven a turning point for both he and stablemate Big Duke (Ire) (Raven's Pass {USA}), who was also impressive in running second to Red Cardinal.

Trio set for Sydney Cup

Both horses are destined for the G1 Sydney Cup along with fellow Australian Bloodstock import Shraaoh (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), who showed enough on his Australian debut for Chris Waller on Saturday when ninth in a 1500m event.

Murrell said it appeared the key to Red Cardinal was probably keeping him fresh and as a result, he'd probably only have one more run, in the G3 Manion Cup at Rosehill on March 23 before heading to the Sydney Cup on April 13.

"Montjeus, they tell me in Europe, are mad fresh horses. Aidan O'Brien has been quoted as saying that too, the gap won't hurt that horse," Murrell said.

Big Duke would likely have an additional lead-up run, likely to be the G2 Chairman's Quality on the week prior to the Cup.

Meanwhile, Murrell said Brave Smash was now likely to head towards Dubai and the US$2m Al Quoz Sprint having missed his chance to make the All-Star Mile field. That being the case, the probable path would see him head on to Royal Ascot.

"I think Kris was going to see what weight he got in a Newmarket. We've got the Canterbury S. as an option too and I think Dubai is becoming a serious option now. If you went to Dubai, you’d probably go to Ascot," he said.