Guineas result crowns a classic breeding career

5 min read
Prominent Australian thoroughbred identity Bob Scarborough has a long and decorated career as a breeder, but his lengthy list of achievements was surpassed when Magna Grecia (Ire) (Invincible Spirit) demolished his rivals in the G1 English 2000 Guineas.

A former Moonee Valley Racing Club Chairman, Australian Bob Scarborough has a boutique band of broodmares based at Norelands Stud in County Kilkenny in Ireland.

Among them is the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt’s mother Cabaret (Ire) (Galileo {Ire).

“I’ve bred or raced 14 Group 1 winners so I’ve had plenty of highlights, but I reckon breeding an English 2000 Guineas winner would have to top them all,” Bob Scarborough said.

“I stayed up until 12.35am Australian time and I don’t normally stay up that late anymore,” he said. “It was very, very exciting and he absolutely bolted in. It was a serious win of a high-class horse.”

Breeder Bob Scarborough

Scarborough purchased Magna Grecia’s mother Cabaret (Ire) for 600,000 guineas at the 2011 Tatts December Mares’ Sale. She was the winner of two races, including the G3 Silver Flash S. and is also the dam of the multiple winner Invincible Ryker (Invincible Spirit {Ire}).

“It was very, very exciting and he absolutely bolted in. It was a serious win of a high-class horse.” – Bob Scarborough.

Cabaret is a half-sister to the G3 Solario S. winner Drumfire (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) and the Listed Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup winner Ho Choi (GB) (Pivotal {GB}).

Magna Grecia was subsequently sold through Norelands Stud’s draft at the 2016 Tatts December Foals’ Sale to MV Magnier, Peter and Ross Doyle and Mayfair Speculators for 340,000 guineas.

And it was the Magna Grecia that made Scarborough think better of selling the mare, admitting he came close to parting ways with Cabaret.

“I was getting a little bit frustrated. The only hope was this colt who I’d sold and he was an absolute cracker,” he said.

“The only hope was this colt who I’d sold and he was an absolute cracker.” – Bob Scarborough.

“I had some rotten luck and the first foal split a pastern and she did go on and race. I’d sold her for a lot of money, she was a Danehill Dancer filly and went to the Niarchos family for 525,000 guineas.

“I pretty much got myself out of the mare so it wasn’t a disaster. She had a few more foals and I was beginning to panic a bit.

“I thought she was still commercial to someone and thought I’d stick her back in the ring and try my luck with something else.

“Then Magna Grecia came out and won what used to be called the Racing Post Trophy so I withdrew her from the sale.”

“She’s at Norelands, a lovely, lovely farm. I’ve got five mares there.” - Bob Scarborough.

Cabaret now has yearling colt and a foal by Siyouni (Fr) and is in foal to Invincible Spirit (Ire).

“She’s at Norelands, a lovely, lovely farm. I’ve got five mares there,” Scarborough said.

Magna Grecia has now won three of his four starts and his Guineas triumph took O’Brien’s tally in the race into double figures.

It is 21 years since the Irishman first won the colts' Classic with King Of Kings (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells {USA}) and he is also the first to train three successive winners with Churchill (Ire) (Galileo {Ire) and Saxon Warrior (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) preceding Magna Grecia.

Ridden by O’Brien’s son Donnacha, Magna Grecia was one of only three horses to race on the stand side when the field split and he strode clear to win by two and a-half lengths.

"I'm delighted. He is a lovely, straightforward horse and he has done well over the winter,” Aidan O’Brien said.

“He is a lovely, straightforward horse and he has done well over the winter.” - Aidan O’Brien.

“He has got very pacey. He is a strong traveller now and is very uncomplicated. We were a little bit worried as he was over there by himself and all the fancied runners were over on the other side. Donnacha gave him a lovely ride, had him in a lovely position and in a lovely rhythm."

O'Brien confirmed Magna Grecia was likely to remain at a mile for the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien

Scarborough and wife Rosemary owned the historic Wood Nook Farm near Nagambie for more than 20 years with Group 1 winners including Gallica (Redoute’s Choice), Hit the Roof (NZ) (Maroof {USA}), Leica Guv (NZ) (Deputy Governor {USA}), Light Fantastic (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), Marble Halls (NZ) (Nassipour {USA}), Sleek Chassis (Flying Spur) and Stella Cadente (Centaine) coming off the 122-hectare property.

“My real focus are the mares I’ve got in Europe and selling into the European market.” – Bob Scarborough.

They sold it in 2017 to Rob and Sylvie Crabtree, who operate under their Dorrington Farm banner to concentrate their European breeding efforts, although they still have a small presence in Australia.

“I’ve got a Street Cry mare called Barchetta, who is in foal to So You Think and St Swithuns, a Fastnet Rock mare who won a few races,” Scarborough said.

“She’s got a Written Tycoon foal and is back in foal to him. I’ve just got my toe in the water and will probably race these ones. My real focus are the mares I’ve got in Europe and selling into the European market.”