Vinnie and Hellbent serving Yarraman’s cream of the crop

12 min read
Yarraman Park stands two exciting sires, one established and one on the rise, and we caught up with General Manager Matt Scown to hear about a choice few mares on their way to that pair this spring.

For a very long time, over 100 years in fact, Yarraman Park has been at the helm of Australian breeding. In its earliest days, the property turned out Posinatus (Fortunatus {GB}), who won the Melbourne Cup of 1913, and Eurythmic, the dramatic 29-time stakes winner.

In the hands of the Mitchell family since 1968, today’s Yarraman Park has as good a hold on bloodstock as it ever did. The farm is home to the peerless stallion I Am Invincible and his son, Hellbent, while its broodmare band is among the finest in the industry.

This spring, Yarraman Park kicked off its breeding season in equally good fettle.

Its two stallions were fully booked early, while its broodmare group has been bolstered by the addition of some high-profile names. Among them is Taste Of Heaven (Encosta De Lago), who was plucked out of the Magic Millions National Sale this year for $1.6 million.

Yarraman will breed around 70 of its own mares this season, all owned either outright by the Mitchell family or in partnership. Most will head to Hellbent or I Am Invincible, but a number will patron outside stallions like Zoustar at Widden, Wootton Bassett (GB) at Coolmore and Capitalist at Newgate Farm.

Hellbent on success

Hellbent is nine years old at Yarraman Park this spring, and the stallion has entered his fourth season at stud with just a single crop to race.

His numbers have been consistently excellent, the horse covering 182 mares in his first book, 156 in his second and 154 in his third. The stud has capped him at 155 this year, and Matt Scown, Yarraman’s general manager, said Hellbent had sold out early.

“Being a Group 1-winning son of the mighty I Am Invincible, he’s been well-received,” Scown said. “He was electric as a racehorse, and he’s been heavily supported by a lot of reputable breeders around Australia. Yarraman Park has also got behind him heavily in previous years, and we’re doing the same this year.”

Hellbent | Standing at Yarraman Park

Scown wasn’t surprised that the book closed so early to Hellbent.

“Off the back of his yearlings selling extremely well, he was booked out rather early,” he said. “The trainers are really liking his progeny, so he’ll do another 155 this year, and that’s what we’ve capped him at. He’s got a lovely book of mares to follow up these 2-year-olds running, so we’re really pleased with the support that’s come.”

When it comes to choosing broodmares for the G1 William Reid-winning Hellbent, Scown said it got easier as the foal crops arrived.

“Off the back of his yearlings selling extremely well, he (Hellbent) was booked out rather early.” - Matt Scown

“You work out what style of mare to send your stallion after you’ve seen the first foals,” he said. “Harry and Arthur, and a lot of breeders around the states, worked out the best physical types to send to Hellbent, so this group of foals we’ve got are exceptional.

"They are really good quality from the right types of mares that suit him, and he’s had a lot of 2-year-old speed mares sent to him, the dams of stakes winners included.”

Setting a stallion alight

Yarraman Park has supported Hellbent from the beginning with between 25 and 30 of its own choice mares. This season, it’s been no different.

Top of the list is the young mare Casadiva (Fastnet Rock), who was a $1.15 million yearling at the 2017 Inglis Easter Sale, sold by Newgate Farm to Cloud 9 Thoroughbreds.

Casadiva | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Casadiva is a half-sister to the stakes winner Zamzam (Redoute’s Choice), who in turn produced Zambezi River (I Am Invincible). The latter horse, a smart 2-year-old colt for trainer Chris Waller in the colours of James Harron, was second to Sejardan (Sebring) in last weekend’s G3 Breeders’ Plate at Randwick.

“Casadiva is a beautiful mare,” Scown said. “Million-dollar yearlings tend to be really nice-quality horses with good pedigrees, and she’s an exceptional style of mare with a great pedigree.”

“Million-dollar yearlings tend to be really nice-quality horses with good pedigrees, and she’s (Casadiva) an exceptional style of mare with a great pedigree.” - Matt Scown

Casadiva was a maiden mare last year, and she was purchased by Mitchell Bloodstock for Yarraman Park for $230,000 at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale. She foaled a Capitalist foal, a filly, on September 12, which Scown said was a good style of horse.

“We thought this is probably an A-class mare to send to Hellbent, to give him a real chance in his fourth season,” Scown said. “We love the I Am Invincible cross to this family, with Zambezi River out of Casadiva’s half-sister, and after seeing Casadiva’s first foal, we’re confident that she’s going to have a real top-quality Hellbent foal.”

Joining this mare is the neat Petty Cury (Not A Single Doubt), already the dam of Listed winner Solar Star (Zoustar).

Petty Cury won the G3 Darley Plate in Auckland in 2013, and she was bought by Mitchell Bloodstock for Yarraman Park at the 2019 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale for $260,000. The following year, Solar Star was plucked out of the same Sale for $450,000 by Spendthrift Australia.

Solar Star winning at Moonee Valley

Petty Cury, now 13 years old, was a six-time winner during an excellent track career and, when Yarraman bought her in 2019, she was carrying a filly by American Pharoah (USA). She is due to foal to I Am Invincible this spring before visiting Hellbent.

“She’s a stylish mare, low-slung and big-barrelled, and she carries foals well,” Scown said. “She’s a high-quality mare for Hellbent, and typical of the type of horse we want to send to him.”

Different to both Casadiva and Petty Cury, Scown said that Bonita Aurelia (NZ) (Sweynesse) would also visit Hellbent as a 4-year-old maiden mare.

She was raced exclusively in New Zealand until April, and she was a Group 3 winner of the 2-Year-Old Classic at Pukekura, and Group 2-placed in the Breeders’ S. at Matamata.

“She’s (Petty Cury) a high-quality mare for Hellbent, and typical of the type of horse we want to send to him.” - Matt Scown

Yarraman Park picked up the mare for $100,000 through the Inglis Digital June Sale this year, and Scown said this mating, in particular, showed the faith they have in Hellbent.

“She ticked every box for this mating,” he said. “She’s let down beautifully since we got her off the track, and she had a lot of speed as a 2-year-old. Those are mares that suit really well to Hellbent, and to set a stallion alight, you need to get those fast, speed mares to them. She’s certainly one of those.”

Looking after Vinnie

On the other end of the spectrum at Yarraman Park, I Am Invincible is 17 years old and in the throes of his twelfth season at stud. He’s a rare stallion, one so successful that the accolades are all but used up.

Last season, he set a new record for winners in a single season, siring 208 on the General Sires’ Table. Overall, he sat behind Written Tycoon on the financial side of things, but he was well clear in terms of winners (Written Tycoon had 193).

“He’s an incredible horse, a once in a lifetime horse, this guy,” Scown said. “You can send him any style of mare with any bloodline, and him being Danehill free, it opens the door on a lot of mares to suit him.

I Am Invincible | Standing at Yarraman Park

"If you go back through from his first season to now, his good horses have come out of all different styles of mares. That makes him an extremely easy horse to breed to.”

I Am Invincible is $220,000 (inc GST) this season. It isn’t the highest he’s stood for, but it’s up there. He will cover no more than 175 mares this spring, a conscious decision to cap his numbers based on his age.

“Him being a little bit older now, we try to keep him around that mark,” Scown said. “And he does that number with ease. He’s covering extremely well this season, and they’re coming up as positive scans so all is well with him.”

"If you go back through from his (I Am Invincible's) first season to now, his good horses have come out of all different styles of mares. That makes him an extremely easy horse to breed to.” - Matt Scown

Yarraman Park is looking after its number one stallion.

This year, the operation called time on I Am Invincible’s covering to Northern Hemisphere time. It wasn’t something the horse did in large numbers, and it wasn't advertised, but for the last handful of years he has covered a small number of mostly American mares to northern time.

“We’ve cancelled that now,” Scown said. “We decided to keep him on a restricted book for the Southern Hemisphere, just to look after him. His covers to Northern Hemisphere time weren’t something we ever announced, and it was just for a small number of people who were interested, mainly American clients.”

Heaven and Flippant

The runsheet heading to I Am Invincible is, no doubt, spectacular. Yarraman mare Taste Of Heaven is on it, the $1.6 million purchase from this year’s Magic Millions National Sale.

Taste Of Heaven, by Encosta De Lago, was the last foal from Shantha’s Choice (Canny Lad), a family that needs no introduction. The mare is a full sister to Manhattan Rain, and a half-sister to Sliding Cube (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}), Platinum Scissors and Redoute’s Choice.

Taste Of Heaven | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Taste Of Heaven was purchased by Mitchell Bloodstock in foal to I Am Invincible, but before that she had been in America, producing foals by Violence (USA), Curlin (USA) and Medaglia D’Oro (USA). Her 2017 filly, Heavenly Curlin (USA) (Curlin {USA}), was a Group 3 winner at Woodbine.

“She’s a beauty,” Scown said of the mare. “We paid a lot of money for her this year in foal to Vinnie, and she’s had an absolutely cracking colt, so she’ll be going back to him and hopefully we’ll get a filly next time that can carry on her outstanding family.”

Joining Taste Of Heaven is Flippant (Hinchinbrook), the four-time stakes-winning mare for Peter and Paul Snowden. She won six races during her super career, with a further five placings in stakes races.

Retired from the track in the autumn of 2018, Flippant has been bred to I Am Invincible each season since, producing a filly last spring and another this spring, the latter born on September 13.

Gallery: I Am Invincible x Flippant (filly) | Images courtesy of Galloping Group

“Flippant has been at Yarraman since the time she was purchased for us at the Gold Coast Yearling Sale by Johnny McKeever, who’s a great friend of Harry and Arthur, and everyone here at Yarraman,” Scown said.

“They’re a great bunch of guys with us in her ownership, and they were delighted that we wanted to breed from her instead of putting her through the ring when she retired. And she’s rewarded us with two Vinnie fillies that are outstanding.”

“They’re a great bunch of guys with us in her (Flippant's) ownership, and they were delighted that we wanted to breed from her instead of putting her through the ring." - Matt Scown

Scown said the ball was in the air when it came to the future of these first two Flippant foals. There is a strong likelihood they’ll be retained, and the decision about the 2020 yearling will be made in the next month.

Flippant herself cost Yarraman Park $220,000 (in partnership) as a 2014 yearling. McKeever picked her up from the draft of Bell River Thoroughbreds.

The lovely Noondie

Among the tally of horses booked to I Am Invincible, Noondie (Flying Spur) has to be one of the best. The 13-year-old mare is the dam of G1 Oakleigh Plate-winning filly Booker (Written Tycoon) and her Listed-winning full brother Banquo.

This is a happening family, with Banquo announced in recent months as the latest addition to the striking stallion roster at Waikato Stud. Booker, meanwhile, was sold to Tom Magnier at last year’s Inglis Chairman’s Sale for $1.6 million.

Booker winning the G1 Oakleigh Plate | Image courtesy of Yarraman Park

Noondie herself was cherry-picked by Bill and James Mitchell from the catalogue of the 2019 Inglis Chairman’s Sale. She was in foal to Written Tycoon, and Banquo was yet to make his mark on the racetrack.

Noondie herself was cherry-picked by Bill and James Mitchell from the catalogue of the 2019 Inglis Chairman’s Sale.

Mitchell Bloodstock went to $600,000 for her, which was a steal. As Booker went to Coolmore for $1.6 million, the following year Noondie’s Written Tycoon foal (now named Oriental Tycoon) sold at Inglis Easter for $620,000 to IRON and George Moore Bloodstock.

“Noondie is another of the great mares at Yarraman,” Scown said. “Her first foal was a Group 1 winner, which was a great start to her career, and we’re excited to see how Banquo goes at Waikato Stud.”

The mare foaled an I Am Invincible filly on August 26, and Scown was all praise.

Gallery: I Am Invincible x Noondie (filly) | Images courtesy of Galloping Group

“She’s top quality,” he said. “She’s athletic and exactly what you want to see by I Am Invincible out of a top mare like Noondie.”

Scown said the options to keep foals of this calibre were discussed heavily by the team and, when it came to I Am Invincible, age was a factor.

“With him getting a little bit older, we want to look at keeping fillies out of these mares that we really like,” he said. “The likes of the Noondie foal, she’s highly likely to be retained, raced and bred from in the future, but at the end of the day Yarraman Park is also known for breeding top-class horses and selling through the ring, so we do have to keep that in mind.”

CasadivaHellbentCapitalist
Petty CuryHellbentI Am InvincibleAmerican Pharoah
Bonita AureliaHellbent
Taste Of HeavenI Am InvincibleI Am Invincible
FlippantI Am InvincibleI Am InvincibleI Am Invincible
NoondieI Am InvincibleI Am InvincibleWritten Tycoon

Table: Some of Yarraman Park's matings for the 2021 season

Yarraman Park
breeding plans 2021
Matt Scown
Hellbent
I Am Invincible