Matings mix: Musk Creek Farm

12 min read
After years of careful culling and rebuilding, Musk Creek Farm is on the brink this season of the fruits of its labours. We caught up with Scott Williamson, its manager, about what lies ahead this spring for some of its superb pedigrees.

If Musk Creek Farm is starting to look a little different, it’s because the David Kobritz-owned operation is trying to do just that. In a few months, it will have a new logo in what probably isn’t rebranding, but more a refresh of an already excellent product.

All of this is lining up nicely with the start of the new breeding season and, as Farm Manager Scott Williamson tells us, it’s the result of a few years’ worth of significant investment and restructure.

Scott Williamson | Image courtesy of Musk Creek Farm

“I’ve been with Musk Creek just over five years now, and we’ve had Craig Rounsefell of Boomer Bloodstock working with us for a similar length of time,” Williamson said.

“A number of years ago, he and I had sat down and looked at all the mares we had and where we wanted the farm to be, and it was good news and bad news when we presented the facts to David. For where we wanted the farm to be, we didn’t really have the mares to take us there.”

Musk Creek Farm sits on 140 acres of sloping land in the Mornington Peninsula. It has reared the likes of Pierro and G1 Epsom H. winner Rock Kingdom (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}), so it was no stranger to elite success. However, there was room for more.

Musk Creek Farm | Image courtesy of Musk Creek Farm

“To stay relevant, we need to be competing at the higher level of the sales to justify having the business,” said Williamson. “So we set about finding mares that fitted our criteria with regards to pedigree and performance, and I feel that over the last few years we’ve made significant investment in broodmares not just in Australia, but also in America and Europe.”

It was a far-sighted, years-long plan that is only just bearing fruit, according to Williamson. Slowly, the broodmare band was picked apart and rebuilt, two to three mares purchased each year with others sent to market.

“Like most things, developing your broodmare band takes time and you can’t afford to just replenish all your mares in one year,” Williamson said. “It’s not financially viable to do that, so we set ourselves goals to get two to three a year, and also assess our stock every year.”

“Like most things, developing your broodmare band takes time and you can’t afford to just replenish all your mares in one year. It’s not financially viable to do that, so we set ourselves goals to get two to three a year, and also assess our stock every year.” – Scott Williamson

This spring upcoming, Musk Creek Farm will breed between 22 and 24 mares. It’s not a huge variant on past years, with the farm breeding 25 last year, but the quality is markedly up.

“That gives us the right number for our crops to aim at those higher-end sales that we like to target,” Williamson said. “January on the Gold Coast at Magic Millions, the Inglis Premier Sale in Melbourne and possibly Easter too.

“We want to target those sales and not just be there as also-rans. We want to be making an impact and, over the next few years, I really think people are going to notice the quality of our stock.”

The Williamson-Boomer alliance has moved and shaken Musk Creek significantly.

Craig Rounsefell | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

In the first 18 months of Williamson arriving to the property, just over half of the broodmares were moved on. That amounted to nearly 20 mares in a short space of time, and it has taken time to replenish.

“We feel rejuvenated,” Williamson said. “We’ve livened up the logo and we want to push the ‘K’ brand out. We feel it’s a good time to do it given all our investment in the broodmares and the quality of stock coming through, and people will see what’s happening in the next few weeks and months as we lead up to Magic Millions in January.”

The Deep Field strategy

Some of the recent investment by Musk Creek Farm in its broodmare band includes the Reliable Man (GB) mare Aalaalune (NZ), a 6-year-old that is Group 1 placed.

This mare was offered in Westbury’s draft at the 2022 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale and Musk Creek, in partnership with Boomer Bloodstock (FBAA), picked her up for $750,000.

Aalaalune (NZ) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

It’s the same family that produced Osborne Bulls (Street Cry {Ire}) and the dual Group-winner Viridine (Poet’s Voice {GB}).

Also on the shopping list was Only Words (NZ), a now 5-year-old mare by Sweynesse that won the G2 The Roses at Doomben last year. Only Words was consigned by Glenesk Thoroughbreds to this year’s Inglis Chairman’s Sale where she sold to Musk Creek and Boomer for $200,000.

This pair alone represented nearly $1 million in broodmare investment this year, and they weren’t the only horses added to Musk Creek.

Gallery: Some of the recent mares investments by Musk Creek Farm

In December, Boomer and the farm paid 150,000gns (AU$280,000) for the young mare Tomorrow’s Dream (Fr) at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale, a striking, white-faced daughter of Oasis Dream (GB) from a daughter of the dual Group-winner and notable producer Irresistible Jewel (Ire) (Danehill {USA}).

Tomorrow’s Dream is six years old and she won three races in England, plus she was third in a Listed race at Newmarket. Musk Creek has booked her to Deep Field for her maiden mating this spring in a move that Williamson said will set her up nicely.

“Tomorrow’s Dream has just come off the plane this year and we felt Deep Field would get her off to a nice start,” the farm manager said. “He can throw quite a decent-sized horse and he’s getting very good results, not just over here but in Hong Kong too. He’s a very good horse to start a mare off with, we think.”

“Tomorrow’s Dream has just come off the plane this year and we felt Deep Field would get her off to a nice start... He’s a very good horse to start a mare off with, we think.” – Scott Williamson

This Deep Field strategy was one that Musk Creek also used with its other imported mare, Ascertain (USA) (Blame {USA}).

Ascertain arrived in Australia as a US$40,000 (AU$58,000) purchase from the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Sale, and Williamson sent her last spring to Deep Field. The result was a very fine colt.

“We were thrilled with that foal,” he said. “He’s now a yearling and he’s strong enough and forward enough to go to Magic Millions in January. Ascertain herself was a very fast and very forward mare on the track. She’s from a nice family and she has an outstanding physical. She’s a really beautiful mare.”

Deep Field | Standing at Newgate Farm

Ascertain is booked to Spirit Of Boom this season and Williamson has a lot of faith in the mating.

“Spirit Of Boom is having a great year,” he said. “I think he’s going to continue on, to be honest, because all this is coming off the back of those good mares he got after his first crop of 2-year-olds.”

The top of the tree

Among all these new additions, the jewel in Musk Creek’s crown might well be Personalised (Snitzel), the half-sister to the G1 VRC Oaks winner Personal.

Personalised is a daughter of Personify (Galileo {Ire}), who was an Adelaide Listed winner before her ambitious career as a broodmare.

Personalised | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

The foundation broodmare in this family is Procrastinate (Jade Hunter {USA}), whose five stakes winners include (in addition to Personify) the South African five-time Group 1 winner Laisserfaire (Danehill {USA}), the sires Foreplay and Time Thief, and the Group 3 winner A Time For Julia (Redoute’s Choice).

Personalised was a good buy for Musk Creek Farm in 2019. She was offered by Cressfield at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale and bought with Boomer Bloodstock for $525,000.

Her first foal was by Spirit Of Boom, a colt that fetched $575,000 when bought by Tony Gollan and John Foote Bloodstock (FBAA) on the Gold Coast in January 2021. Now named Spiritualised, the colt has just turned three and he’s had four starts for a win. In the remaining three races he’s been second.

Spiritualised as a yearling | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Personalised has since had a Dundeel (NZ) colt, and her filly by Zoustar is growing up at Musk Creek. She missed to Written Tycoon last spring, and this upcoming season she’s booked straight to the top with I Am Invincible.

“She’s already up in New South Wales right now,” Williamson said. “Our dry mares all left last week, and we’re hopeful of getting a nice, early cover to I Am Invincible. She tends to be a mare that goes slightly overdue with her pregnancies and we knew we’d have to give her a break at some point, so it was as good a year as any to do that.”

Williamson describes Personalised as 'an absolute queen'. She, along with the More Than Ready (USA) mare Anna Cecelia, are the foundation mares of Musk Creek Farm.

Anna Cecelia on arrival at Musk Creek Farm | Image courtesy of Musk Creek Farm

Anna Cecelia was purchased only last year at the Inglis Chairman’s Sale, offered by Lime Country Thoroughbreds and bought by Musk Creek and Boomer for $420,000. She is a daughter of the Commands mare Speedboat, making her a half-sister to the G1 Champagne S. winner and a sires son of Capitalist, Captivant.

Anna Cecilia has had just one foal to date, a colt by Ocean Park (NZ) that will head to the sales in 2023. She has a Snitzel foal on the way and, in an effort to replicate the Captivant cross, she will visit Written Tycoon this spring.

“There’s a bit of the Coolangatta factor about this one too,” Williamson said. “Written Tycoon out of a More Than Ready mare, it’s a cross that seems to work. Obviously, Written Tycoon through Capitalist with Captivant is something that might not just work on type, but it’s proven. It was a pretty easy option to go that way, to be honest.”

“There’s a bit of the Coolangatta factor about this one too. Written Tycoon out of a More Than Ready mare, it’s a cross that seems to work.” – Scott Williamson

Both I Am Invincible and Written Tycoon represent significant service-fee investment by Musk Creek Farm. However, particularly in the case of Personalised, it was justified.

“She’s a mare that you could confidently spend that level of money on and, as much as you can guarantee a nice product in the end, she hasn’t had a bad foal yet,” Williamson said.

Anna Cecelia with her Ocean Park (NZ) colt at Musk Creek Farm | Image courtesy of Musk Creek Farm

Making a Mockery

As Williamson planned the farm’s matings through the winter, in the wings he had a mare of his own called Mockery. This 6-year-old is a daughter of Verrazano (USA) from a Lonhro mare called Madoni.

On the track, Madoni had promised plenty but had failed to deliver on any of it and, when she retired in 2015, she was offered to Williamson for the bargain-basket price of $2000.

“The guy who owned her had no interest in breeding her, so he came up with this figure of $2000,” Williamson said. “So I purchased Madoni straight off the track because I’d spoken to the trainer and he said she’d had all sorts of ability but come raceday, she just wouldn’t do it.”

Through the broodmare Announce (Military Plume {NZ}), Madoni is closely related to the dam of Deep Field, Listen Here (Elusive Quality {USA}). It’s a quirky family, one that Williamson was familiar with when he worked with Listen Here at Edinglassie Stud.

Listen Here | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

“Listen Here was quirky when she raced, but she went on to produce Deep Field and Shooting To Win so I was confident to press on,” he said. “I gave her owner $2000 in cash and Madoni was mine.”

Madoni died in 2018 with just three foals to her name. The first was Mockery, the product of a mating with Verrazano which, Williamson admits, was just about the only service fee he could afford in 2015.

However, Mockery won a Listed race at Flemington as a 2-year-old in 2019, becoming her sire’s first stakes winner in Australia and one of only two stakes winners to date for the one-time American shuttler (the other is the Listed winner Superium).

Mockery has been at stud since last year. She produced a colt by American Pharoah (USA) last spring, and this year she is expecting to Written Tycoon. She is booked to visit the G1 Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside this season.

Mockery (black cap) when racing | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

“That sireline is incredible,” Williamson said. “Not A Single Doubt is no longer with us, and everyone is looking for the next one. Extreme Choice obviously has fertility issues, but hopefully Stay Inside can continue this sireline and I’m looking forward to seeing him at the upcoming open days.”

Stay Inside will cover his first book of mares at Newgate Farm for $77,000 (inc GST). He’ll be busy, with interest in him unprecedented. Is it the Golden Slipper factor?

“Slipper winners, as a rule, tend to be successful stallions,” Williamson said. “The industry is so dominated by speed and the likes of Not A Single Doubt, Extreme Choice and Stay Inside are the right types. They’re not overly big, they’re strong and they’re sound.

“They ticked all the boxes to be good, early, precocious horses, and they’re the ones that will produce you those early types.”

“Slipper winners, as a rule, tend to be successful stallions.” – Scott Williamson

A horse by Stay Inside from an early stakes winner like Mockery will fit nicely into a future Musk Creek yearling draft, which is important to Williamson. There will be plenty of pedigree and, all being well, plenty of type.

“It’s very exciting to have a mare like her in my name head to stallions like that,” he said. “I’m hopefully giving her every chance.”

Tomorrow's DreamOasis DreamDeep Field---
AscertainBlameSpirit Of Boom-Deep Field-
PersonalisedSnitzelI Am Invincible-ZoustarDundeel
Anna CeceliaMore Than ReadyWritten TycoonSnitzelOcean Park-
Notre DameExceed And ExcelMaurice--Street Boss
CardiacEncosta De LagoToronadoFarnanDundeelDundeel
MockeryVerrazanoStay InsideWritten TycoonAmerican Pharoah-

Table: Some of the matings Musk Creek is planning for the 2022 season

Matings Mix
Musk Creek Farm
Scott Williamson
David Kobritz