Quest set for success for Highgrove and Aquis

7 min read
Highgrove Stud's Ron Gilbert doesn't usually stay in the yearlings he sells but he made an exception when Aquis Farm wanted to keep the breeder involved with a More Than Ready (USA) colt called Global Quest.

Following in the footsteps of Highgrove Stud-bred stallions such as Wanted, Jet Spur and Thronum, Global Quest (More Than Ready {USA}) could have already secured himself a career in the breeding barn having won Saturday's G3 Arrowfield Breeders' Plate at Randwick.

The Breeders' Plate is the opening race for 2-year-old colts and geldings in Sydney and in the past 20 years it has proven a significant launching point for the racing careers of some of Australia's future star stallions.

Since Choisir's win in the 2001 edition, names like Charge Forward, Snitzel, Sebring, Pierro, Vancouver and Capitalist have adorned the honour roll of the race.

It augurs well for Global Quest, who races in the colours of Aquis Farm, who purchased him for $340,000 at this year's Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale and convinced Highgrove Stud owner Ron Gilbert to stay involved, against his usual policy.

Global Quest when selling at Magic Millions

"Aquis offered us to stay involved and I generally don’t stay in, because on a small farm you can’t stay in them all or it just doesn’t work. You have to keep the wheels ticking over," Gilbert told TDN AusNZ.

"I basically said 'Thanks but No Thanks' and then a couple of months later, we had stayed in touch because they had been really good supporters of the farm and had bought one of ours out of the June sale."

"I was talking to (Aquis CEO) Shane McGrath one day and he said 'you sure you don't want to stay in that colt'. I thought what the hell, 10 per cent won't hurt!"

"I was talking to Shane McGrath one day and he said 'you sure you don't want to stay in that colt'. I thought what the hell, 10 per cent won't hurt!" - Ron Gilbert

In its relatively short time in the Australian industry, Aquis has been renowned for its desire to partner with various breeders and share the opportunity.

In the case of Global Quest, it may be a substantial opportunity, with Gilbert feeling the colt's impressive win in the Breeders' Plate may be the start of something special.

"The exciting thing for me as a breeder is that I think there is so much improvement going forward in the next 12 months. He's not one of those babies that will do it for three months and fall off the face of the earth. I would expect him to be a really good 3-year-old over 1400 metres," he said.

Beyond that, Gilbert also has faith in his potential as a stallion, and with Aquis now standing stallions in three states, he should be afforded every opportunity when that day comes.

"He's a really good looking individual and he's got a great head. He's got scope and length and he's got precocity. The Golden Slipper has always been a stallion-making race and the Breeders' Plate is shaping up the same way," he said.

"He's a really good looking individual and he's got a great head. He's got scope and length and he's got precocity." - Ron Gilbert

"Essentially what the buying bench is really wanting is precocious looking runners. Breeders' Plate winners generally throw that into their foals as well and it’s what the Australian market domestically is looking for. Those horses seem to make it for that reason."

He doesn't want anything in the pedigree department either. He is the first colt by the legendary Vinery shuttler More Than Ready (USA) to win an Australian stakes race since Prized Icon in 2016, while he is out of a Fastnet Rock mare in Global Dream, who was precocious enough to be stakes-placed as a 2-year-old. She is a three-quarter sister to multiple stakes-winner Noire (Foxwedge).

More Than Ready (USA) | Standing at Vinery Stud

Dream decision

The fact that the Gilbert family retained Global Dream as a yearling is a story in itself.

"She wasn't perfect, she toed-in on the near front fetlock," Gilbert said. "We had her in a Magic Millions sales prep and we withdrew her because I didn’t think that she would be suitable for the sale.

"It was about the time when Fastnet Rock got Mosheen and Atlantic Jewel, so I then decided I would put her in the June sale for Magic Millions. We had a reserve of $140,000, we didn't quite make it. We were negotiating, but neither one of us could agree. We took her home and my wife bought her off the company and we raced her."

"We took her home and my wife bought her off the company and we raced her." - Ron Gilbert

Global Dream didn’t look an automatic 2-year-old candidate but Gilbert soon found out looks and actions can be two different things when he sent her to Tony Gollan.

"She kept doing everything right. She finished up getting into the Magic Millions 2YO Classic, where she drew off the track and ran a very good fourth. She finished up winning in Sydney before we retired her after she was injured," he said.

The winning connections of Global Quest including Ron Gilbert, right

Her breeding career so far has progressed very well, with her first foal, a colt by I Am Invincible, selling for $170,000 to Triple Crown Syndications. Named Invincible Dash, he has won one of four races for Peter and Paul Snowden.

Global Quest followed before Global Dream foaled a filly by Capitalist last year and another recently by Star Witness.

"She's got a Capitalist filly that is going to the Magic Millions (Sale in January) and she's a very nice filly. She's strong and athletic. She does look precocious, really precocious, we are excited with her," Gilbert said.

"She had a Star Witness filly a couple of weeks back and I haven’t totally made up my mind where she is going back to, but I'd say More Than Ready is high up on the list."

Global Quest foaled a Star Witness (pictured) filly a couple weeks ago

More Than Ready (USA) is currently in his 18th season at Vinery Stud, defying expectations that he would no longer shuttle in a significant bonus for the Australian breeding industry. Gilbert is keen to make the most of that, given it is not certain he will come back again in 2020.

Best yet to come

What excites Gilbert most about Global Quest is his capacity for improvement from Saturday's win, which was impressive enough in itself, as he overcome traffic to win running away by 1l.

"You don’t see many babies that can be boxed in, get a bit of a check when the gap starts to open and then pick themselves back up and come through and sprint away. It's a pretty impressive effort for any first starter, let alone against that top-level quality of 2-year-old," he said.

Global Quest improved immensely from the trial to Saturday's race

"When I saw him at the trials (on September 23), I thought he was still a way away. He wasn't there by a longshot, his coat wasn't there and he looked a little bit babyish still. Even mentally, when he was walking around, he was having a good look around and you could see that stargazing look about him.

"But when I saw him in the tie-ups at the races on Saturday, his coat had changed, he had put on a good bit of weight and then when he came into the theatre of the horse, he was completely different to what he was at the trials.

"I was quite confident that he would race really well on the back of how much he had improved in the space of 12 days."

It backed up what trainer Chris Waller had told him about the colt at the Aquis Queensland stallion parades eight weeks' ago.

"These babies that have a lot of talent, you get good reports from Day 1. Peter McMahon, who broke him in at Kolora Lodge, he said that he is up there with the best yearlings we have broken in. That was a good report," he said.

"Aquis, to their credit put him through the process and when he went down to Chris Wallers he was only down there ten or 12 days and the riders were saying he was a very smart colt.

"From day dot, he has been on the radar of anyone who has sat on him and had anything to do with him."