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So long, Deep Impact

8 min read
The late Deep Impact (Jpn) was Champion Sire in Japan for seven consecutive seasons, and this week at Riverside marks the last hurrah for his yearlings in Australia, with Arrowfield’s Lot 461 the last of the progeny to enter the sale ring on Wednesday.

Cover image courtesy Bronwen Healy

Late on Wednesday afternoon at Riverside Stables, with only a handful of horses in the catalogue to sell, Lot 461 will trigger a changing of the guard in Australian breeding. The bay colt, on account of Arrowfield Stud, will be the last yearling by Deep Impact to sell in these parts, closing the curtain on a fascinating episode in intercontinental bloodstock.

“It’s a milestone event for Deep Impact,” said Jon Freyer, Bloodstock Manager for Arrowfield Stud. “We’ve had a wonderful association with this stallion, and with Japanese breeding because of him.”

Lot 461 is the first foal from G2 Silver Shadow S. winner Omei Sword (High Chaparral {Ire}), herself a daughter of the brilliant filly Irish Lights (Fastnet Rock). It’s a decorated page. Third dam Aspen Falls (USA) (Hennessy {USA}) is from the family of River Crossing (USA) (Affirmed {USA}), who was an unplaced half-sister to blue-hen producer Fall Aspen (USA) (Pretense {USA}).

Omei Sword was trained by Chris Waller through a 12-start career that promised everything in its early days. The filly was first on debut, then second in the G2 Magic Night S. After her Silver Shadow victory, she was second to Astern in the G1 Golden Rose, and then second again in the G2 Surround S. of 2017.

“She was a super filly,” Freyer said. “In my assessment, while she wasn’t a Group 1 winner, in terms of ability she was as good as most Group 1-winning mares, or better, and we just loved her.”

Omei Sword with Lot 461 as a foal | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Impact breeding

Omei Sword was a $675,000 Inglis Easter yearling in 2015, and a $1.7 million broodmare purchase at Magic Millions in the winter of 2018. Sold by Newgate, she was bought by Freyer and Dean Hawthorne on behalf of Arrowfield and Jonathan Munz’s GSA Bloodstock.

“We bought her with the view to sending her to Deep Impact,” Freyer said. “Both on pedigree and physically, we thought she was the perfect type for him. She is such a big, strong and imposing mare, and that was the type of mare that has traditionally worked well with Deep Impact.”

"She (Omei Sword) is such a big, strong and imposing mare, and that was the type of mare that has traditionally worked well with Deep Impact.” - Jon Freyer

Omei Sword headed north to Shadai Stallion Station in 2018, one of seven exceptional mares to visit Deep Impact from Australia that year. The logistics weren’t easy.

“Mares that went up there had to be maiden or barren mares,” Freyer said. “These days, the transport is a lot more expensive because there’s more rigmarole with getting to and from Japan. To be honest, the service fee was only half the exercise in getting them there and back, and it was a big commitment.”

Freyer said the faith was worth it because Arrowfield valued so highly the Deep Impact bloodline and the calibre of horse that he was.

“Apart from anything else,” he added, “we felt that Deep Impact would add significantly to those mares just by having the opportunity to visit a horse like him in their breeding careers.”

The late Deep Impact (Jpn)

The genesis of Japan at Arrowfield

Arrowfield has had the heaviest hand in the use of Deep Impact in Australia. Excluding this week’s Sale at Riverside, seven of the 11 yearlings by the stallion that have been sold in the Australian marketplace appeared on account of Messara’s stud.

“It goes back to his sire, Sunday Silence,” Freyer said. “Arrowfield did a joint venture to breed a number of mares to Sunday Silence 20-odd years ago, and that was the genesis of the relationship with Shadai and, more particularly, Katsumi Yoshida from Northern Farm, one of the brothers. Out of that venture there were mares like Sunday Joy (the dam of More Joyous) that were bred.”

"Arrowfield did a joint venture to breed a number of mares to Sunday Silence 20-odd years ago, and that was the genesis of the relationship with Shadai and, more particularly, Katsumi Yoshida from Northern Farm, one of the brothers." - Jon Freyer

Sunday Silence (USA) passed away in 2002, the year Deep Impact was born. Arrowfield followed a similar path in committing to Deep Impact, which it felt was the best son of the wildly successful Sunday Silence.

“We’ve sent a number of high-class mares to Deep Impact over the years, and we’ve been delighted with the results so far,” Freyer said. “We haven’t had that many, but they’ve been excellent. It’s just a pity now we won’t be able to continue on.”

Deep Impact has three yearlings selling at Easter this week, one of which came from Segenhoe Stud (Lot 180). From the Japan-performed and two-time winning mare Admire Pink (Jpn), this first colt foal was sold to Bundall-based NXT Level Syndication for $350,000.

The remaining two Deep Impacts come from Arrowfield with, in addition to Lot 461, a filly from Abbey Marie (Redoute's Choice) selling to Dean Hawthorne for $900,000. Freyer said that while the buzz around them being the last of the Deep Impacts is present, it’s not coming from the local buying-bench.

“It’s a milestone event for Deep Impact,” he said, “and there’s been international interest in these horses for that reason. But it’s probably not something that the local market has focused on that much, and I’m not sure it will significantly impact on what these yearlings might bring.”

Freyer added that Redoute’s Choice is selling his final crop at Riverside this week too, and it's this fact that has perhaps resonated more with Australian buyers leading in to this Sale.

Quality, not quantity

Since 2010, Deep Impact has sold only 11 yearlings in the Australian marketplace, excluding this week’s Sale at Riverside. It’s a tiny number, one that reflects the difficulty in getting to the late stallion in Japan, and also his price tag.

In 2019, the year he died, Deep Impact was the most expensive (advertised) standing stallion in the world, with a fee of ¥40 million (close to AU$500,000). It explains why many of his Australian yearlings, especially fillies, are retained. Of the seven Australian mares that visited the stallion in his final season of 2018, only three resultant yearlings were sent to sell, and all three are at Riverside.

Of the 11 total yearlings by Deep Impact sold in the Australian marketplace before this week, the most expensive emerged from the Gold Coast in January 2020. The colt was from Honesty Prevails (Redoute’s Choice), and he fetched $1.9 million from construction magnate Ottavio Galletto.

Later named Profondo, the horse is a 2-year-old with Warwick Farm trainer Richard Litt.

Profondo as a yearling

The rest, excepting one in 2010, were sold at Inglis Easter, and it’s worth noting that four have been million dollar-plus purchases. They have grossed $9.16 million in the ring, with an average price of close to $850,000.

“They’re of a style and colouring that have traditionally been very typical of them,” Freyer said of the Deep Impact crops he has seen. “They’ve varied a little bit in terms of their size and shape, and we had a few early on that were more of the Sunday Silence ilk. The Omei Sword colt is a bit like that, a bigger, rangier type, while the Abbey Marie filly (Lot 178) is more like her, quality and feminine, and more medium-sized.”

Reputation rules

Omei Sword’s colt is among the last half-dozen of yearlings to sell on Wednesday evening. Immediately after him is Arrowfield’s Maurice (Jpn) colt from Only Roses (Redoute’s Choice). It’s a subtle changing of the guard.

“It’s an interesting one, isn’t it,” Freyer said. “Here we are saying farewell to Deep Impact while ushering in the era of Maurice. The market here has come to realise, probably because of Deep Impact, that Japanese bloodstock is as good as anything in the world, if not superior.”

Lot 462 - Maurice (Jpn) x Only Roses (colt)

Arrowfield backs that conviction.

Of its 47 yearlings at Riverside this week, 11 are by Japanese stallions, including four by shuttler Maurice, three by Just A Way (Jpn), one by Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) and one by Duramente (Jpn).

“We’ve got some yearlings here by Just A Way, and they’re impressive types,” Freyer said. “I think they’ll sell well because, while people don’t know a lot about Just A Way, they’ve accepted that Japanese bloodstock is on par with the best that you can find, and they’re prepared to accept that just on face value.”

Deep Impact
Arrowfield Stud
Japanese breeding