Powered by a pair of quality 3-year-old fillies, including Saturday's Listed Darby Munro S., winner Krone (Eurozone), syndicator Roll The Dice is enjoying quite the purple patch less than two months after losing what it saw as the biggest contributor to its previous success.
Darren Weir's shock and sudden disqualification in early February threatened to send an earthquake through the racing industry, with syndicators like Roll The Dice particularly vulnerable.
Steve Travaglia admits Roll The Dice lost its captain when Weir, who trained all of its horses, including the colt it built the business on, the dual Group 2 winner Mahuta (Flying Spur), departed.
"It was a disruption for four or five days. I've known Weiry for a long time and obviously there was some mixed feelings there," Travaglia told TDN AusNZ.
"It was a disruption for four or five days. I've known Weiry for a long time and obviously there was some mixed feelings there." - Steve Travaglia
"To his credit, he sat us down and said, let’s go through your horses, let's make sure they are all where they should be. He didn't have any prejudice for any trainer, he just rated them where they'd be best suited, whether they needed a beach, a paddock, or whether they could go in a box."
"That helped us out a lot. We’ve always been guided by Weiry, he's been the captain of us, and to lose him, we had to take control of things. The help he gave us when it all happened was really incredible. He made sure we weren't fluffing around and ensured that every horse that was racing was at the right place at the right time so we could continue on."
Two of Roll The Dice's most valuable horses, the fillies Anjana (Sepoy) and Krone, found their way to Mick Price and both have since tasted stakes-success. Anjana won the Listed Moomba Plate at Flemington earlier this month and Krone relished the wet Rosehill track to win the Darby Munro on Saturday.
When you add to that the win of Twitchy Frank (Choisir) in the G3 Vamos S at Launceston last month as well as four other individual winners in that time, it’s been quite an incredible transition to the post-Weir era. Travaglia says a lot of the credit for the success should go to the attitude of the trainers who have taken on Roll The Dice's horses.
"There is always a challenge in building relationships with people you don’t know. And every trainer has been magnificent from Trent Busuttin to Mick Price to Mitch Freedman, who has been great at Ballarat. Archie Alexander has been great too," he said.
Many homes for Krone
Perhaps Krone's ability to adapt to a new environment at Price's is owed the fact that she was sold three times as a younger horse, eventually landing at Roll The Dice after it paid $120,000 for her at the 2017 Magic Millions 2YOs in Training Sale.
She was selected by Jeremy Rogers, Weir's former right-hand man, who having subsequently worked with Waikato Stud, is now working as racing manager for Archie Alexander.
"Jeremy loved her and she was a really nice filly. She breezed up really good, in good time and did it really naturally," Travaglia said.
She didn’t want for pedigree either with her dam Soft Landing (Al Maher) a half-sister to champion 3-year-old Universal Prince (Scenic) and Group 1 winner Universal Queen (Scenic).
"We bid to $115,000 and they (the vendors - Rosemont) were steadfast they wanted $120,000. So I rang Mitho (Rosemont's Anthony Mithen) and said we'd give him $120,000, but asked them if they'd stay in as we have to syndicate on. So they stayed in for 30 per cent," he said.
With the deal done and having done pre-training at Rosemont, it didn't take long for positive reports to start emerging from the stable about Krone.
"We initially thought about having a crack at the 2-year-old Magic Millions race but Peter Moody took a look at her and said he thought she didn’t have enough back-end on her and we should give her a bit more time," he said.
She debuted with a narrow second at Moonee Valley last February and then broke her maiden with a stakes races success in the L. Cinderella S. at Morphettville in March last year. While she hadn't won again until Saturday, her subsequent eight runs were all in stakes company, finishing in the top four in seven of those races.
"Peter Moody took a look at her and said he thought she didn’t have enough back-end on her and we should give her a bit more time." - Steve Travaglia
Having finished fourth on her resumption against Anjana at Flemington, the fifth time the two Roll the Dice fillies have met, Price decided to apply the blinkers and send Krone to Sydney.
A day after Anjana won at Moonee Valley, Krone took on the boys in the Darby Munro S. and under a powerful ride from Damien Oliver, finished strongly along the inside to score an upset win, her second in a 12-start career. It's a win that not only underlines her future value as a broodmare but could put her on course for a possible shot at the $1m G2 Arrowfield 3YO Sprint on the second day of The Championships.
Anjana, meanwhile, is likely headed towards the G1 Robert Sangster S. In Adelaide in May after her win on Friday night.
Rogers leads buying strategy
Rogers also picked out Anjana, in her case, as a yearling, with Roll The Dice paying just $34,000 for her at the 2017 Inglis Classic Sale. She has now won nearly $280,000.
While the departure of Weir meant an obvious disruption to Roll the Dice's racing operations and a bit of a speed bump when it comes to selling them, in terms of the buying process, it has been business as usual with Rogers leading the way.
"He goes to the sales and we go around with him and pick out the horses. We also use John Foote in New Zealand. He doesn’t purchase for many different people and we are the only syndicators," Travaglia said.
"Nothing really changes from the purchasing side of things. We still stick to purchasing those $60,000 - $130,000 yearlings and we are really big on that. We know that some of our other trainers know like to spend a bit more on horses, but Mick (Price) is really happy. He knows Jeremy and knows he picks out good horses. We are just going to stick with that structure."
The run of success in the past couple of months won’t change the price bracket for Roll the Dice. Travaglia said the syndicator, which he runs along with Leigh Saville and Robbie Norton, remained committed to making ownership as accessible as possible for everyone.
"With Anjana we’ve got two young boys in their first horse and they are having the time of their life, and we've also got Ross Cooper, who is nearly 90 years old and is having the same experience," he said.
"If you can get the right price range for horses and get people to be patient and buy those 3-year-olds instead of 2-year-old types, it's a great experience."
"We are constantly amazed at the type of people that come into the horses."