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Time for whiskey following stallion’s success

6 min read
A quick-fire Northern Hemisphere Group double for shuttle stallion Time Test (GB) sparked an impromptu early morning celebration at Little Avondale Stud on Friday.

Cover image courtesy of Little Avondale Stud

Time Test’s son Rocchigiani (GB) remained unbeaten when he won the G3 Baden-Baden Zukunftsrennen on Wednesday and 24 hours later his daughter Romantic Time (GB) claimed top honours in the G3 Salisbury Dick Poole S.

The Dubawi (Ire) stallion also has the Listed Newbury St Hugh’s S. winner Tardis (GB) from his first Northern Hemisphere crop, sired from his base at the English National Stud to currently boast a 15 per cent strike rate of stakes winners to runners.

Time Test has begun his fourth breeding season at Little Avondale and his progeny’s European exploits left studmaster Sam Williams burning the candle at both ends.

Time Test (GB) | Standing at Little Avondale Stud

“On Thursday night I foaled four mares in the paddock and it was interesting that after the second foal I knew that race in England wasn’t far away. I thought I might be able to get back home and watch it, or listen to it,” Williams said.

“The third one foaled and then the fourth and I got completely mislaid and forgot about it. I saw that I’d missed a phone call and I thought, who would be ringing me at this time of the morning.

“It was Tim Lane, the National Stud manager, so I rang him back and he said how’s that - Romantic Time won.”

Softly, softly

Williams said he got home at 3.40am on Friday morning and, mindful not to wake wife Catriona, quietly made a cup of tea.

“I sneaked in and was creeping around the kitchen and then Catriona yelled out and said she was worried about me as I’d been gone for so long.

“I told her that Romantic Time had won and she said get a bottle of champagne - I said I’m not drinking champagne at this time so she said go and get me a shot of whiskey.

“We were sitting in bed having a whiskey and Catriona rang Simon Marsh, who is on the National Stud board and recently gifted a nomination to Too Darn Hot to CatWalk.”

Sam Williams

CatWalk was founded in 2005 by Catriona Williams, formerly one of New Zealand’s leading international equestrian riders. Following a riding accident in 2002, she is now C6/C7 tetraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.

“Simon didn’t answer so she said let’s ring Mark Todd, he’s got three Time Tests and we’ve got to talk to someone. Anyway, the phone rang and it was Simon,” Williams said.

“They were chatting away for 15 to 20 minutes about Too Darn Hot and Time Test taking on Australasia. I said I’m going to sleep, I’ve got to get up in an hour so it was some morning. It was a pretty cool 24 hours for us.”

“I said I’m going to sleep, I’ve got to get up in an hour so it was some morning. It was a pretty cool 24 hours for us.” – Sam Williams

Time Test is on his fourth shuttle run to Little Avondale, who had no hesitation securing Southern Hemisphere rights when they were made aware of his availability by New Zealand Bloodstock’s Danny Roulston.

“He was one of the bloodlines we were after when he first came across our desk. We wanted one by Dubawi, Deep Impact or Snitzel, they were the three stallions on our radar,” Williams said.

Dubawi (Ire), sire of Time Test (GB) | Standing at Darley Europe

“Time Test is a 1400 to 2100-metre horse, but he had an amazing turn of foot and could really accelerate at the end of his races.

“The things we are always attracted to in a stallion is that you’ve got to have a good-looking horse with a very strong pedigree, but we’re not always going to get the race performance.

“You’ve got to have a good-looking horse with a very strong pedigree, but we’re not always going to get the race performance." - Sam Williams

“We can’t afford all of them though because the competition is too great. When I looked at Time Test I thought you’re not a Group 1 winner, but he had a very good pedigree and is an attractive horse.”

Time Test won six of his 14 starts, including two apiece at Group 2 and Group 3 level and was Group 1-placed in the Eclipse S. and in America in the Manhattan S. and the Fourstardave H.

“The other thing was that his mum (Passage Of Time) was a Group 1-winning 2-year-old and that sold it to me because of the Australian market, the hottest in the world for 2-year-olds,” Williams said.

Excitement mounting

The farm is eagerly awaiting Time Test’s first runners this season and a previous visit to England convinced Williams that he could leave early runners.

“When you look at Time Test, he wasn’t a 2-year-old and didn’t look as though he would leave 2-year-olds. I went up to see him, more to see what the mares were like and the type of foals they were leaving,” he said.

“The mares all had attractive heads and plenty of leg and very good hindquarters and hips. I thought then the stallion could leave precocious horses.

“When I took his first crop to the yearling sales I thought damn, he’s going to leave a few that go early and that looks like it will be the case.

“We’ve been learning every year with the horse and he stamps his mark, they are all browns and bays and have a bit of bling. They are good walkers, no doubt about it.

"We’ve been learning every year with the horse (Time Test) and he stamps his mark, they are all browns and bays and have a bit of bling." - Sam Williams

“He has Danehill coming through Dansili and obviously Dubawi with Sadler’s Wells. While the Danehill is a bit further back, he is quite an easy stallion to breed to.”

Time Test (GB) | Standing at Little Avondale Stud

Little Avondale is in the enviable position of having the no vacancy signs up on Time Test and Per Incanto (USA).

“A full book for Time Test in the Southern Hemisphere is 135 and that’s what he served last year and that’s what he will serve this year,” Williams said. “To do that in years three and four is phenomenal, it really is. He also covered a full book in England this year of 160 mares.

“It’s also only the second time we’ve shut Per Incanto off at his limit of 135 mares.”

Little Avondale Stud
Sam Williams
Catriona Williams
Time Test
Rocchigiani
Romantic Time
The National Stud