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Clarken Racing | Clarken Racing News 56834 You Couldnt Ask For A Better Start Yulong Stallions On Fire As Alabama Express Train Rolls On

‘You couldn’t ask for a better start’: Yulong stallions on fire as Alabama Express train rolls on

‘You couldn’t ask for a better start’: Yulong stallions on fire as Alabama Express train rolls on
A good week turned into a great week for Yulong on Saturday when another of their first-crop stallions, Alabama Express, sired his second winner from as many runners. Yulong’s Chief Operating Officer, Sam Fairgray, spoke to The Thoroughbred Report about exciting Kirkham Plate winner Shangri La Express and his sire’s dream start to life at stud.

Not to be outdone by his Yulong barnmate Pierata, whose first-crop son Coleman was a most impressive winner of the Listed Debutant S. at Caulfield on Wednesday, Alabama Express looks to have unearthed another promising juvenile for the imperious Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott team in the shape of Shangri La Express, who ran his rivals ragged in Saturday’s Kirkham Plate at Royal Randwick.

Rated perfectly out in front by Regan Bayliss, Shangri La Express was made to work by the small but select field before eventually crossing over to the rail, where he travelled strongly and quickened clear at the top of the straight to record a dominant 2.5l success over previous trial winner Miss Judas (Microphone).

It was a victory that showed all the hallmarks of a quality animal according to Fairgray, who told TTR AusNZ that Shangri La Express has been held in high regard from the word go by his red-hot trainers.

“Gai and Adrian have always had a good opinion of him and he came out today and proved their assumption of him right,” he said.

“He’d only had the one trial, but he’s a very sensible colt with a good brain on him, so they weren’t afraid to take him to the races.

“He worked very sharp on Tuesday morning and that gave them a lot of confidence on how he was going to run. Like all of Gai and Adrian’s horses, he is very well-educated and had the turn of foot to put that field away.

“He had to work to get there (lead), but when he got there he switched off and came back underneath the rider. Once they straightened up he quickened up again, and it’s a sign of a nice horse when you can ride a 2-year-old like that, where you’ve got to push the button on them early to use them, then they can come back, relax and finish the race off.”

Having sold Shangri La Express to his trainers and Bruce Slade’s Kestrel Thoroughbreds for $220,000 at the this year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, Yulong opted to retain a share in the talented colt, a move which could well pay a handsome dividend should he go on to land the $1 million Golden Gift at Rosehill Gardens on November 11.

“He was a really nice colt, so we were happy to stay in him and keep a share - it’s a great result all round,” Fairgray added.

“We’ll wait and see how he comes through this, but obviously there is the Golden Gift in a couple of weeks’ time, which is a good possibility.

A proven formula

Shangri La Express’ impressive debut was sweet in more ways than one for Yulong, who bred the colt having purchased his dam Sent From Above (Lonhro) for $125,000 at the Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale back in 2020.

Out of the dual Group 3-winning mare Gamble Me (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}), who is also owned by Yulong, Sent From Above is a daughter of the recently retired Darley stalwart Lonhro, whose son Pierro has nicked particularly well with mares by Alabama Express’ sire Redoute’s Choice, most notably through Group 1 winners Arcadia Queen, Regal Power and Levendi.

That potent combination of bloodlines is one of the main reasons Fairgray was so keen to secure Sent From Above with a view to sending her to Alabama Express, whose first winner - the Richard and Chantelle Jolly-trained Karavas - is out of a mare by Pierro.

“She is a good-looking Lonhro mare and from memory we bought her online during COVID at the Inglis Broodmare Sale,” Fairgray said of Sent From Above.

“She’s from a nice family and obviously the cross with Lonhro and Redoute’s, and also with Lonhro and Encosta De Lago, has worked well, so she was a no-brainer as far as mating her to Alabama Express was concerned.

“Obviously his father has worked very well with Pierro, and both of his winners now have had that similar cross. There’s a lot of that bloodline here in Australia, and any of those people that have mares by Lonhro or Pierro certainly won’t be afraid to go to Alabama Express.

“On the back of Shangri La Express being such a good individual we sent the mare back to Alabama Express last year and she actually had a bay filly by him on Friday night.”

Sent From Above, who unsurprisingly will head back to Alabama Express again this season, was one of 78 mares to visit the G1 CF Orr S. winner last year, dropping from the 141 mares he covered during his first season at stud and 99 in year two.

Much to Fairgray’s delight, his book is looking significantly healthier this season and will feature a number of leading lights from Yulong’s very own star-studded broodmare band, with three-time Group 1 winner and $4.1 million Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale-topper Forbidden Love (All Too Hard) taking top billing.

“He’ll cover a really good book this year, he’ll cover about 140 mares,” Fairgray revealed.

“Off the back of the types that he’s thrown and the feedback that we’ve been getting from trainers, we have supported him with some really good mares this year.

“He is a really nice horse to mate to on paper, being by Redoute’s out of an Encosta De Lago mare. It’s easy to pick up a lot of those mares by Australian sires that have already worked with those stallions.

“The physical that he is leaving, he improves the quality of mares as well, which is an important thing for breeders to be able to breed a nice sales yearling.”

Tip of the iceberg

Alabama Express has proven his ability to produce a nice sales horse, having ended this year’s Inglis Premier Yearling Sale as the leading first-season sire by average, thanks in part to his highest-priced yearling to date, a colt out of the imported Shamardal (USA) mare Ghadaayer (Ire), who sold to Paul Moroney Bloodstock, Catheryne Bruggeman and Ballymore Stables for $400,000.

Now in training with Mike Moroney, who also masterminded the career of his sire, the colt is one of a number of Alabama Express’ progeny to be the subject of high praise, alongside a host of Yulong-owned 2-year-olds by the farm’s resident stallion in some of Australia’s leading stables on the Eastern Seaboard.

Alabama Express has also had some early joy at the trials over in New Zealand and came within an inch of making it an unblemished three winners from three runners at Eagle Farm on Saturday, where the Toby and Trent Edmonds-trained filly Accelar was pipped by fellow debutante Devine Force (Cosmic Force) in the shadows of the post.

“It would have been fantastic for him to have the perfect three from three, but she is obviously another one that has ability,” Fairgray said of Accelar.

“We know that there are others out there whose trainers have given us feedback that they really like them. The colt who we sold for $400,000, his sale-topper in Melbourne, is with Mike Moroney and Mike is really impressed with him.

“Last week in New Zealand he had a trial winner for Ken and Bev Kelso and another colt who ran second for Te Akau. Lindsay Park have got a nice one who they might run in the 2-year-old fillies’ stakes race over the Flemington Carnival, and we’ve got a couple more that we own ourselves that have shown plenty of promise with Sam and Anthony Freedman and Annabel Neasham.

“There’s plenty of positivity out there about Alabama. He’s certainly doing a fantastic job and you couldn’t ask for a better start so early on in the 2-year-old season.”

Given that he only had one start as a 2-year-old, albeit a winning one, Alabama Express’ lighting fast start to life at stud has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise for the Yulong team, and in light of his progeny’s apparent precociousness, Fairgray is anticipating further support for the son of Redoute’s Choice in the coming weeks.

“You probably wouldn’t have expected them to be pre-Christmas 2-year-olds, but all the indications that we’ve been getting from trainers have said that they will probably be up and going early,” Fairgray said of Alabama Express’ progeny.

“They have good brains and good actions, and that’s a big stepping stone for horses getting to the racetrack. At the races everybody is chatting about him and it’s very good for him to have had the start that he has.

“With his credentials, a lot of people have maybe been sitting on the fence, but now that they have seen that his progeny have got good ability, and being a son of Redoute’s Choice, people will be more than happy to breed to him.

“Redoute’s was a fantastic stallion and has been a great sire of sires. If Alabama can keep progressing, it would be great to see him join the likes of Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt as leading sons of Redoute’s Choice at stud.”

Story from TTR AusNZ

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