Holyfield continues to repay Neasham's faith

5 min read
Since joining the training ranks, Annabel Neasham has enjoyed almost instant success and her CV already makes for impressive reading. Last Saturday she saddled the well-bred Holyfield (I Am Invincible) who stormed back into form in the Listed Eye Liner S. at Ipswich, a victory one senses Neasham also took a lot of pleasure from.

Cover image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

Neasham’s association with the son of I Am Invincible goes back right to the beginning of his career, which started with her former bosses Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.

Purchased by the trainers' major owners Aquis Farm - teaming up with Phoenix Thoroughbreds - for $800,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in 2019 from the draft of his breeders Segenhoe, Holyfield is out of G1 Myer Classic winner Hurtle Myrtle (Dane Shadow), making him a full brother to Listed-placed Vamos Bebe.

Holyfield as a yearling | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Holyfield looked a star in the making when winning the G3 Schweppervescence H. as a 2-year-old, before going on to win the G3 Ming Dynasty H. in the spring of his 3-year-old career and by the time autumn swung round the then colt had been relocated from Maher and Eustace to Neasham’s Warwick Farm stable.

Shrewd investment

After a few fruitless runs for Aquis Farm and their partners the decision was taken to sell the colt via the Inglis Digital Sale with Neasham securing him for $180,000 last July, a price tag which got the trainer worried she had spent too much.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for him and I remember when I bought him online on Inglis Digital I wondered at the time if I had overspent, but we sent him around the database and thankfully sold him in about five minutes,” she explained.

“There is a big demand of people wanting to jump on to proven Saturday-type horses and he has proved a pretty lucrative buy for them all. He won a Saturday race at Randwick, he just lost out in a photo-finish in the $1 million Magic Millions Cup, but he still picked up a lot of prizemoney.”

“There is a big demand of people wanting to jump on to proven Saturday-type horses and he (Holyfield) has proved a pretty lucrative buy for them all.” - Annabel Neasham

In eight starts for the new ownership group, Holyfield has earned $410,950 in prizemoney and he kicked off this preparation with a brace of fourth-place finishes including being narrowly defeated by 0.4l in the G2 BRC Sprint, a race in which subsequent G1 Stradbroke H. winner Alligator Blood (All Too Hard) finished second.

“His first two runs this prep were super, he was a bit unlucky in the BRC Sprint and I still wonder now that if he got into the Stradbroke what he would have done. He obviously has some good form with Alligator Blood and he would have snuck in with a light weight,” she said.

Thriving in Queensland

Neasham was not surprised to see the 4-year-old gelding get his head back in front in the Listed Eye Liner S. last weekend and she said he seems to be thriving in Queensland.

“It was no surprise to me that he did what he did the other day and he is just a horse that has good gate speed and he puts himself up on the speed, he absorbs pressure and he can kick off a hot tempo, so he has got all the right attributes and he seems to thrive in Queensland,” she explained.

“When he was entered on Inglis Digital I just thought he was the type of horse that still had lots of winning left in him and I also have a real soft spot for him and really didn’t want him to leave the stable.

Holyfield winning the Listed Eye Liner S. on Saturday | Image courtesy of Michael McInally

"In those scenarios, you just have to be brave and put your hand in your pocket and hope that other people will see what you see and invest in those sorts of horses.”

Before the season is out, the gelding will get the opportunity to add further kudos to his CV with the 4-year-old potentially set for a tilt at the Listed Glasshouse H. on July 2 and Neasham is hopeful, now that he is back in the winning groove, that he can continue to give the owners return on their investment.

“When he was sold online he had some really good form. He was a dual Group 3 winner, including one as a 2-year-old. He hadn’t raced yet as a gelding and I thought he would improve from being gelded and I didn’t think we could go too far wrong.

“Obviously, I was in the luxury position that I knew the horse and I knew he was very sound and straightforward. I think he is the sort of horse that should have longevity and hopefully he can keep on racing.”

Evolving business

With two stables across two states, Neasham’s burgeoning business is going from strength to strength and she has recently appointed her brother Zandy, who will be involved in all day-to-day running of the business, while after four years with Coolmore, Rob Archibald will take up the role as racing manager in July.

Gallery: The latest appointments to Annabel Neasham Racing, images courtesy of Annabel Neasham Racing

“He (Zandy) has come from a sporting background, and although he has never worked in racing, I thought it would be beneficial to have someone with different eyes come in and give a different point of view.

“I have a couple of different locations now and you have always got to look at innovative ideas to give owners the best possible experience, so he will come with different ideas for all different aspects of the business and it’s obviously exciting having him on board.”

Annabel Neasham
Eye Liner Stakes