Ascot Park's Golden duo

6 min read
Leading the charge to defeat the Godolphin army in the G1 Golden Slipper S. will be two runners born and bred on Ascot Park's humble 75-acre property at Pitt Town, west of Sydney, with owner Bob Hannon in line for a possible $1m bonus.

As the expected huge crowd at Rosehill gets into position to watch Saturday's G1 Golden Slipper S, 40kms away at Ascot Park, the phone alarms of the farm staff will be sounding reminding them to head to the office and watch two youngsters from the Pitt Town stud contest the world's richest 2-year-old race.

Much has been made of Godolphin's enormous achievement to get six horses, five homebred, into Saturday's race. For a small operation like Ascot Park, with only 16 mares, having two in the fight for $3.5m is another impressive feat.

Making the day even more significant for Ascot Park owner Bob Hannon is that he retained ownership in those two horses, Cosmic Force (Deep Field) and Vincere Volare (I Am Invincible).

Bob Hannon will be eligible for a $1 million Inglis bonus should Cosmic Force win this weekend

And Hannon could be in for a massive payday, with Inglis to pay out a $1m bonus to him as vendor and breeder of Classic Sale graduate Cosmic Force should the colt win on Saturday.

Danny and Amy Kerr manage Ascot Park for Hannon and Danny said there is a real sense of pride among the staff to have both the colt Cosmic Force and the filly Vincere Volare in the race.

"We only send out 15-16 mares a year, so we are very small in the scheme of things, it's a pretty good result." Kerr told TDN AusNZ.

"Bob Hannon has kept a share in the both of them and it’s so cool for him to have that excitement and race with other trainers and other people. He's loving the fact that he's got two in the Golden Slipper and he's racing them with good people."

"We only send out 15-16 mares a year, so we are very small in the scheme of things, it's a pretty good result." - Ascot Park manager, Danny Kerr

For Kerr, there is particular pride in the emergence of Cosmic Force as a favourite for the race, having prepared the colt for sale by Ascot Park for last year's Inglis Classic Sale.

"He was not an early foal on the ground. It’s a great thing that he is in such an early race," he said.

"We're a bit shocked. But he never put a foot wrong, we prepped him as a yearling for the Classic Sale and through that prep, he got bigger and stronger and loved the prep all the way through."

Cosmic Force attracted the right type of buyer, going for $180,000 to Newgate/China Horse Club/WinStar and being sent to Peter and Paul Snowden to train.

"Obviously the Snowden team and the Newgate team saw that when they purchased him. They could see the strength in him going forward. Hats off to them for picking a good horse really," Kerr said.

Cosmic Force as a yearling

A thirst for improvement

Kerr never doubted that Cosmic Force would be a very good horse, but was concerned that his later development meant that his potential might not be seen by enough buyers.

"As the prep went on for us, he just got stronger and better." - Danny Kerr

"We were just worried that people wouldn't see him for what he was. But as the prep went on for us, he just got stronger and better. His mother (Little Zeta) (Commands) was a fast kind of horse too, so we knew that was there," he said.

That thirst for improvement has marked Cosmic Force's 2-year-old campaign. A winner of a Newcastle maiden on debut, he returned with a pair of seconds in the Listed Lonhro S. and G2 Skyline S., before hammering his rivals by 7.3l last week in the G3 Pago Pago S.

"We saw it as a yearling, so it's obviously carried on into his racing prep and the Snowden team have said all along that he just keeps improving. He gets better and better," he said.

The team at Ascot Park already have their alarms set to watch their graduates in the Golden Slipper

Filly ready made for speed

Vincere Volare is from the family of Hannon's former star 2-year-old Amelia's Dream (Redoute's Choice), so there was always an expectation as a daughter of I Am Invincible that she would make an ideal early-running type.

She went into the 2018 Inglis Easter Sale, where she was prepped by Yarraman Park.

"We are a very small farm and we only prepped the Classic horses that year because we were at Pitt Town," Kerr said.

"One of the owners of the dam Elimbari (Fastnet Rock) has a strong relationship with Yarraman Park, as does Bob Hannon. It was a good fit to send horses up to them to prep for us, for the likes of Magic Millions and Easter."

She was snapped up by another major player in Aquis Farm, who combined with Tony Gollan to pay $300,000 for her.

Vincere Volare as a yearling

She showed all the speed and precocity expected of her when she won by 4.75l on debut at Doomben in November and after returning with another easy win at the same track last month, finished third in the G2 Reisling S. two weeks' ago.

The Golden Slipper pair are part of what Kerr feels is a super crop of youngsters off the farm.

"The proof is in the pudding. We've had four 2-year olds to race and all of them have won and two are into the Golden Slipper." he said.

"We've had four 2-year olds to race and all of them have won and two are into the Golden Slipper." - Danny Kerr

With yearling preps for Easter in full swing for Danny and Amy and the team, there won’t be much time to soak in that achievement.

"We hope to get back up the office and watch it on the TV. Farm life usually gets in front of us and we usually lose track of time. I think we'll be putting the alarms on the phone to get us up there," he said.

Yearling preparation is in full swing at Ascot Park

Easter Sale debut the focus

While success on Saturday will be significant, success in the auction ring at Easter in what will be Ascot Park's first-ever draft at the iconic sale is the main priority.

There are four yearlings in the draft, including Vincere Volare's half-brother by Vancouver, Lot 435.

"He's fabulous. He's very much thrown to the Vancouver style so hopefully people can see that and appreciate it. We’ve got a good draft, and hopefully if the filly goes well, it looks better for us when we are presenting him," he said.

Also on offer will be a three-quarter brother by Wandjina, to Ascot Park's most famous graduate, the 2013 Cox Plate winner Shamus Award (Snitzel), catalogued as Lot 293.