Already offering massive prizemoney, The Showdown could soon be rewarded with the standing many believe it deserves with support growing to give the race Listed status.
The key race in the annual Victorian Owners and Breeders Race Day at Caulfield in April, The VOBIS Sires Showdown for VOBIS sires-nominated two-year-olds was launched in 2019 with $1 million in prizemoney.
The race needs three editions before becoming eligible for Listed status, a move that Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager of racing, Greg Carpenter supports.
Carpenter said Racing Victoria was happy with the way The VOBIS Sires Showdown had evolved and supports its promotion as a Listed race, along with the VOBIS Sires Guineas for three-year-olds.
“Because it’s a restricted race it can only ever be a restricted Listed race but we would be very hopeful that both it and the three-year-old race would in time become restricted Listed races,” Carpenter said.
“The races have to be run three times and have a good quality of field, but certainly what The Showdown has achieved in its first two runnings is very positive
“Prince of Sussex was a really good winner in the first year,” he said.
“He was third in his first two starts in Hong Kong in the last racing season. He then came out and won that race for John Size.
“It was a really good result the first year and Khoekhoe, the second winner, coming out and winning on Saturday was great as well.”
The Ellerton-Zahra-trainer River Night finished a narrow second to Khoekhoe in The Showdown after going into the race as a Listed winner of the Redoute’s Choice Stakes.
Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria president James O’Brien said the quality of horses that have competed in the first two editions of The Showdown reinforces his opinion that the race deserves higher recognition.
The inaugural running of the race was won by the Matt Laurie-trained Prince of Sussex (Toronado) which was then sold to Hong Kong for a reported $1 million and now races as Lucky Express. The four-year-old gelding won at Sha Tin last week.
Three other runners in the first The Showdown – Hightail (Written Tycoon), Sartorial Splendor (Brazen Beau) and Sisstar (Zoustar) – have since gone onto win Group 3 races.
Hightail finished second to Prince of Sussex and has now won $882,740 in prize money.
And this year’s winner Khoekhoe (Turffontein) pulled off a betting plunge last Saturday to win the Listed Super Impose Stakes (1800m) for trainer Matt Cumani at Flemington.
The three-year-old colt, bought for $50,000 at the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale and offered by Hollylodge, has had seven starts.
O’Brien said with three Group 3 winners out of the 2019 edition, it was good to see Khoekhoe take the next step in his career to win a Listed race.
“The race certainly brings the quality to the forefront which is ideal and what the race was designed to do – showcase and celebrate good Victorian bred horses,” he said.
“To see Khoekhoe go on and succeed after The Showdown is magnificent.
“We are seeing that quality of horses are targeting the race.”
O’Brien said he believes the race deserves black type status.
“You need to have three editions of the race and they all have to perform consistently subsequently,” he said.
O’Brien said that while a horse like Prince of Sussex was a loss to local racing, he certainly recognises and appreciates that the Hong Kong market rates Victorian bred horses so highly.
Bred by Liverpool Farm and foaled down at Hollylodge Thoroughbreds, Khoekhoe’s victory was another plus for Phil Campbell who stands Turffontein at his Blue Gum Farm at Euroa for $6600.
Despite Khoekhoe’s big victories and continual winners by Turffontein, Campbell doesn’t expect the stallion’s book to increase this season from his recent average of 30 to 40 mares.
“He usually has got one going around which is above average,” Campbell said.
“He doesn’t cover a lot of mares but can always take more. He has got a syndicate behind him who look after him pretty well and we sell some nominations and send some mares to him ourselves.
“I have got Personal Ensign due to foal to him pretty soon and so is Inkster, so we still send some nice mares to him.
“But every year the big boys are bringing in new horses with bells and whistles and you don’t know whether they can get runners or not and they are very hard to compete with for horses like Turffy. But he keeps proving his worth to the industry, that’s for sure.”
Personal Ensign is the dam of dual Group winning mare Fontiton and Group 3 winner Sartorial Splendor.
Campbell said it would be wonderful if The VOBIS Sires Showdown was given black types status and described the Victorian Owners and Breeders’ Day at Caulfield as phenomenal.
Blue Gum Farm also had more success at Flemington on Saturday when September Run picked up her third Listed win with victory in the Poseidon Stakes (1100m).
“We sold her and she was the equal second highest priced ($380,000) filly of her year,” Campbell said.
“She has won three Stakes races, including the last two up the straight at Flemington and she has given us something to cheer about as well.”
There’s never been a shortage of cheers at Blue Gum.