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The end begins for Shadwell and Yarraman's special relationship

8 min read
The final chapter of the 30-year relationship between Shadwell and Yarraman Park will begin to be written this week at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, as an elite dispersal of 12 yearlings is offered at the Riverside Stables.

Cover image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Yarraman Park's Mitchell brothers, Arthur and Harry, have had a long-term friendship with Angus Gold, who manages Shadwell's global thoroughbred interests for the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, and the Hunter Valley farm has been the base for a significant amount of Shadwell's Australian breeding operations since the 1990s.

However, Gold confirmed earlier this year that Shadwell would wind up its Australian arm and disperse its breeding stock, with its yearlings to be offered through Yarraman Park's draft of 21. The recent passing of Sheikh Hamdan has been felt at a global level, with Shadwell a huge investor and success story around the world.

While the presence of such a high-quality band of yearlings has boosted Yarraman's Easter offering in terms of quality and quantity, there is a sense of mourning for an end of an era by the Mitchells.

"I was always great friends of Hubie de Burgh and Angus Gold from back in England," Arthur Mitchell told TDN AusNZ.

"How Yarraman got involved was when Jeune went to stud at Lindsay Park. After a while they realised, as their broodmare band got a bit bigger, that the more commercial stallions were in the Hunter. They asked if we would take a couple of their mares, which we did, and it grew from there.

"We have always worked very closely with Angus, he's been a wonderful man to work with and obviously, Sheikh Hamdan has been a wonderful man for racing in general all over the world."

Angus Gold and the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid | Image courtesy of Tattersalls

While Shadwell primarily bred to race its own horses in Australia, the Mitchells played a key role in helping it build a strong foundation of success, working closely with Gold.

"We have had that strong relationship with Angus and Shadwell. We helped with the matings where we could on types and working through what the foals were like. The pedigrees were generally researched at Shadwell in England and we'd work in closely with Angus and his pedigree team," Arthur said.

"A lot of their yearlings would end up at Lindsay Park and quite a few went to South Africa to join the stables of Mike de Kock. We had a lot of success with that. A lot of stakes winners have been bred from Yarraman and raced in South Africa. It's been a very happy relationship.

"It's very sad to see it come to an end. It’s very sad we lost Sheikh Hamdan and so we have to have this dispersal sale."

Goodwill and trust power partnership

Mitchell sees the relationship between Shadwell and Yarraman, so often conducted from opposite sides of the world, as a tribute to the spirit of goodwill and trust between two highly professional operations.

"Both Harry and I have always had a close relationship with Angus for many years, so we are close friends. We pick up the phone, we talk. We've had a lot of Zoom meetings in the last year and that sort of thing. With the technology now, we send him a lot videos of his mares and foals. We are very involved in that way. It’s always been a very close relationship, I don’t think we have ever had a cross word," he said.

"They have really been wonderful people to deal with. They have bred to race, and it’s been a sad time to see that come to an end. Not only for us at Yarraman, but for Australian racing in general and for the world as well."

"It’s a sad time to see it come to an end. Not only for us at Yarraman, but for Australian racing in general and for the world as well." - Arthur Mitchell

The Australian yearling market has never had access to such quality from Shadwell as the dozen that will go on sale this week, with Mitchell paying tribute to Gold's approach to selecting fillies and developing them as broodmare prospects.

"Angus always bought in a very particular way. Whenever the fillies came off the track at Yarraman, they were always good looking and good sorts. He bought a lot of Redoute's Choice mares and the like that were outstanding individuals," Arthur said.

"They ended up with a very nice broodmare band. We were really starting to make progress in the past few years and with the broodmare band they have. It’s sad to see them dispersed.

"This is probably the best crop of yearlings they have ever had. We have got an outstanding crop of foals going to the Magic Millions National Sale as well. They will all be sold. They are for unreserved sale and so everyone gets a chance to buy into their nice families."

A draft of depth

Harry Mitchell has seen at close quarter the development of the 21 yearlings in Yarraman Stud's Easter draft. He concurs with his brother that the presence of Shadwell's dispersal has supercharged the offering to their best in a long time at Easter.

"It's probably the deepest draft we’ve had because we don’t usually have 20 at Easter," he said. "This is the best bunch of yearlings that have ever been bred at Yarraman, and they are now getting sold."

Asked to select some standouts from the Shadwell offering, Harry points to two colts, Lots 227 and 173, and two fillies, Lots 122 and 116.

Lot 227 is a colt by Snitzel out of the Listed-winning mare Bulbula (Shamardal {USA}), making him a half-brother to multiple stakes winner Aryaaf (Epaulette).

"He's the star colt. An average-sized horse out of a very good Shamardal mare, and he's a magnificent mover," Harry said.

Yarraman Stud's I Am Invincible features heavily among the Shadwell dozen, as the sire of five of them, including Lot 173, out of Zamzam (Redoute's Choice), who was a stakes-winning 2-year-old from an extended family which has produced G1 Australasian Oaks winner Tully Thunder (Thunder Gulch {USA}) and her G1 Australian Derby winning son, Levendi (Pierro).

Lot 406, a Vinnie colt out of another star juvenile in Madeenaty (Exceed And Excel) is also highly rated as is Lot 116, a filly by I Am Invincible out of Tameer (NZ) (General Nediym), the stakes-winning dam of the abovementioned Bulbula.

Minhaaj (Exceed And Excel) has been an excellent recent flagbearer in the Shadwell colours, winning at Group 3 level as well as at Caulfield last Saturday. Her full sister is Lot 122, with both out of Telaawa (Lonhro).

Stars abound across Yarraman draft

Outside of the Shadwell horses, Yarraman Park also have a host of outstanding prospects, including Lot 91, the sister to Group 1 winner Viddora (I Am Invincible), Lot 222, the Capitalist half-brother to Exceedance, and Lot 454, the brother to G1 Oakleigh Plate winner Booker (Written Tycoon).

"We’ve got some outstanding I Am Invincibles. We’ve got some very nice Snitzels and we have got a smattering of others as well," Harry said.

"We've got some nice horses of our own and a few clients, but the added interest in the Shadwell horses, a lot of these are from families that have never been on the market before. People want to come and look.

"We've got some nice horses of our own and a few clients, but the added interest in the Shadwell horses, a lot of these are from families that have never been on the market before. People want to come and look." - Harry Mitchell

"We've been as busy as we’ve ever been at an Easter Sale. On Sunday, we had to turn people away it was so busy."

If the pressure of selling such a high-profile batch of yearlings is being felt by the Mitchells, Harry is certainly not showing it.

"I find yearling sales are pretty simple. We present them the best we can and people work out whether they want to buy them.

"You put sensible reserves on them and you put them on the market. I think people over-complicate things sometimes," he said.

Yarraman Park
Easter Yearling Sale