Q and A with Chris Watson of Mill Park Stud

Mill Park Stud is a 10,000 acre property on the limestone-based country of South Australia with 2000 acres dedicated to their successful thoroughbred operation. TDN AusNZ’s Paul Vettise chatted with Chris Watson about their thriving business.

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Paul Vettise: How many broodmares do you currently have on the farm, and what is the farm's approach to selecting stallions?

Chris Watson: We run about 80 mares for clients and ourselves. We look at all aspects involved when selecting stallions for mare bookings. Type, pedigree and commercial appeal are all important criteria when choosing a stallion for a mare.

PV: Any notable new mare additions to the 2018 line-up?

CW: G2 Doomben Roses winner Arabian Gold produced a lovely first foal, a colt (pictured below) by Snitzel and she is being covered again by Snitzel.

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Arabian Gold will be covered by Snitzel and has a colt foal by the same sire

"Type, pedigree and commercial appeal are all important criteria when choosing a stallion for a mare. " - Chris Watson, Mill Park Stud

Beluga Blue, winner of the Listed Hill Smith S., and second in the G2 Wakeful Stakes has produced a really nice colt foal by Snitzel and is to be covered by I Am Invincible.

G2 Wakeful S., runner-up Glam Guru, who is a half-sister to the Group 3 winner Gamblin’ Guru and out of a half-sister to Gold Guru, was retired this season and is going to be covered by American Pharaoh.

Gold Coast Magic Millions Mares winner I Am Zelady is a full-sister to Comprendre and she’s produced a lovely first foal filly by Snitzel and is being covered this season by Zoustar.

Mella Maria, winner of the G2 Turffontien Spring Fillies’ Challenge, produced a first foal by Golden Horn and is being covered by Not A Single Doubt.

PV: Who is involved in the mating decisions?

CW: This is usually a long, drawn-out process taking weeks and involves the whole family. A good few arguments and bottles of red are involved before a decision can be made!

PV: How much do sales trends inform your decision making?

CW: We try not to be influenced by sale trends as we feel this is being reactive to historical market occurrences. We try to be proactive and focus on racetrack results and what we believe will be the next success stories in the stallion ranks.

We feel it’s important to go out onto the farms and look at the first couple of crops of foals on the ground of new stallions to get a guide on what types the stallion is throwing and what style of mare will mostly likely suit the stallion.

"We try to be proactive and focus on racetrack results and what we believe will be the next success stories in the stallion ranks." - Chris Watson, Mill Park Stud

PV: What about first-season stallions, how do you assess them and which stallions do you look to target?

CW: We don’t tend to trade too much so we aren’t heavily influenced by first season sires. As our clients and ourselves tend to try and buy quality blue chip mares, we therefore generally target proven stallions.

Of the first season stallions we do use, we are suckers for a deep pedigree, a quality type and proven ability on the track showing a bit of brilliance.

"We are suckers for a deep pedigree, a quality type and proven ability on the track showing a bit of brilliance." Chris Watson

PV: Where are some of your higher profile mares going this year?

CW: Dane Belltar, the dam of Fawkner is going to Sebring;

Go Indy Go’s dam Elegant Eagle is going to American Pharaoh;

Noondie, the dam of Booker, will be covered by Written Tycoon

and Divine Maddona's three-quarter sister The Good Wife will be covered by Zoustar.

Written Tycoon will cover Noondie, to produce a full sibling to Booker

PV: Do you race many horses?

CW: Generally, each year around a dozen yearlings are kept to race between us and clients. A few clients race all their stock and some, like us, retain fillies to race to possibly add to the broodmare band if successful on the track.

PV: Can you give us a couple of youngsters to keep an eye on?

CW: Lonhro’s daughter Secretly Discreet, the first foal out of the G1 Oaks winner Maybe Discreet. A filly trained by Phillip Stokes which will be one to keep an eye on in the autumn. Has needed some time but showing raw talent at this stage.

Galahad Guru, a Camelot colt, who is a half-brother to Glam Guru and a colt that Leon Macdonald has a bit of an opinion.

Raised and sold by Mill Park horses to watch this season include Booker and Crown Towers, a Camelot colt in South Africa that the Snaith Team think is of Group 1 ability.

Group 2 winner Booker

PV: Mill Park enjoyed another successful season in 2017-18, what were your highlights?

CW: These are the stakes-horses produced off Mill Park pastures in the last year or so:

Waging War (Rebel Raider-Fartoo Flashy by Galileo}), won the G3 SAJC Chairman's S.;

Heart Of A Lion (Lion Heart-Madame Flurry by Perugino) won the Listed Oakbank S.; Booker (Written Tycoon-Noondie by Flying Spur) won the G2 Thousand Guineas Prelude and the G3 McNeil S.;

Gogo Grace (New Approach-Starmon by Monolith) won the G3 Bow Mistress S.;

Pretty Punk (Rebel Raider-Reliability by Kurofone) won the G3 Hobart Cup;

All Too Huiying (All Too Hard-Madame Flurry by Perugino) won the Listed Batman S.;

Glam Guru (Medaglia d'Oro-Glory Guru by Fusaichi Pegasus) finished runner-up in both the G2 Wakeful S., and the Listed Hill Smith S;

It’s A Myth (Sepoy-The Good Wife by Redoute's Choice) placed in the G3 National S., and the Listed Queen Adelaide S;

Naafer (Lonhro-Very Discreet by Exceed and Excel) was second in the G1 Turffontein South African Nursery;

Danish Twist (Dane Shadow-Madame Flurry by Perugino) ran third in the G1 Coolmore Classic

and Guard Of Honour (Northern Meteor-Victory Cry by General Nediym) was runner-up in the G3 Eskimo Prince S.

Best On Breeding - Approach Discreet

On a day that features nine stakes races across Australia, Saturday’s Super Vobis 3-Y-O Hcp (1500m) at Moonee Valley carries no black-type and may get lost in the scheme of things, but it will go a long way in determining the classic aspirations of several of the runners.

Not the least of those is the nominal favourite Approach Discreet.

The Darren Weir-trained son of Dawn Approach (IRE) is coming off an eight and a half-length romp over 1508 metres at Morphettville on August 25.


On that occasion, he looked to be struggling on the turn when his stablemate Reward For Silence set up a commanding lead. That quickly changed in the straight when Approach Discreet needed little more than a hand ride by Mitch Aiken to dominate his rivals.

With Aiken’s allowance, he carried just 54.5kgs that day but will be asked to carry 4.5kgs more on Saturday in a considerable stronger race.

But he does look a progressive type and the stable has stated the Victoria Derby is the goal this spring. He improved from a career debut third over 1200 metres at Cranbourne on July 26 to a comfortable win over 1300 metres at Sandown three weeks later.

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Another from that amazing stakes producing factory at Mill Park, Approach Discreet (pictured as a yearling above) was purchased by D Weir / John Foote Bloodstock for $360,000 at the 2017 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.

A year later at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, Godolphin outlaid $450,000 for his full brother.

That makes them the top two most expensive yearlings by the 4-time Group 1 winner Dawn Approach (IRE) to be sold in Australia.

But that is nothing new for Approach Discreet’s 4-time stakes-winning dam Very Discreet whose son Naafer was the most expensive yearling by champion sire Lonhro sold in 2016 when he was knocked down to Shadwell Stud for $560,000 at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.

Trained in South Africa by Mike de Kock, Naafer (pictured below) was runner-up in the Group 1 South African Nursery but has not been seen out since finishing runner-up in the Group II Merchants Stakes at Turffontein back in November last year.


This is the famed ‘Discreet’ family of South Australian breeder David Peacock.

A daughter of Exceed And Excel, Very Discreet was not just a star on the track she is also very well-related.

She is a three-quarter sister to Group III Edward Manifold Stakes winner Serenely Discreet and Group III SAJC Spring Stakes winner Just Discreet and a half-sister to Listed winner Forever Discreet (Bernardini) and dual Listed winner and multiple Group placed I’m Discreet (Elusive Quality).

David Peacock obviously has an affinity with Darley stallions as he sent Very Discreet to visit Frosted (USA) last spring after she had foaled her first filly, a daughter of Street Boss (USA).

Exceed And Excel is starting to make his mark as a broodmare sire.

His daughters have produced the outstanding Medaglia d’Oro colt Astern and Sepoy’s top-class daughter Alizee as well as Lonhro’s star filly Bounding who was purchased by Stonestreet Thoroughbreds for $1.9 million at the 2016 Magic Millions National Broodmare sale.

Bounding’s dam Believe'n'Succeed is also the dam of the high-class Galileo colt Anthony Van Dyck who recently won the Group II Futurity Stakes at the Curragh and just last week, one of Europe’s highest rated 2yo’s Ten Sovereigns (No Nay Never) won the Group III Tower Stakes at the Curragh. He is out of Exceed And Excel’s daughter Seeking Solace.

Copy: Breednet

Group 1 Aim For Crown Towers

Making his debut on Saturday at Kenilworth for Snaith Racing, three-year-old colt Crown Towers impressed all, and further cemented the high regard held by his trainer, winning by three and a quarter lengths over 1200m.

A son of dual Group 1 Derby winner Camelot, Crown Towers is the second foal and second winner for the stakes performed Galileo mare Miss With Attitude, and many would suspect that a sprint trip would see the him running on at the finish, but not troubling the leader.

Starting the race favourite Crown Towers was jumped away well by jockey Richard Fourie to settle just off the leading division, which was headed by the Mike Stewart-trained Tintagel.

Working out of the pack with 400m to go, the classic-bred colt powered away from his opposition to take his maiden victory with ease, becoming one of four winners for the Snaith – Fourie combination on the nine-race card.

Crown Towers and Richard Fourie coasting to the line. Image: Bay Media

Crown Towers and Richard Fourie coasting to the line. Image: Bay Media

Bred by Mr Lelio Bibbo, the colt is raced by great Snaith Racing clients Mr Jonsson and Mr Mitchell.

Snaith Racing’s Jonathan Snaith gave the colt high praise after the impressive win.

“Crown Towers is an exciting individual who stamped himself as a serious Guineas and Derby contender,” stated Snaith.

“He’s the real deal and one to follow.”

Sold through the draft of Mill Park Stud at the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale to Heywood Bloodstock and Mayfair Speculators for $280,000, the colt headed to South Africa and the stable of Goodhope Racing’s Joey Ramsden.

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Due to circumstance outside the control of the Ramsden yard, the colt then headed to a recent Central Route Trading Mixed Sale where Snaith Racing were fortunate enough to purchase the 80% of the colt on offer for R1,7m - the rest is history so they say.

The current Snitzel two-year-old from the mare was sold to Darren Weir and John Foote Bloodstock at the 2018 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale for $450,000 and has been named Snittitude, while she has a Sebring yearling colt and is due to foal this season at American Pharoah.

Darrren Weir Excited By Mill Park Graduate Approach Discreet

While much of the hype in Darren Weir’s stable centres around his older horses leading into the spring, the master trainer is bullish about the prospects of one of emerging three-year-olds.

Dawn Approach colt Approach Discreet, underlined his talents with a dominant 8.5L win over 1500m at Morphettville on Saturday and will likely rise to Stakes grade in next month’s Listed Morphettville Guineas (1600m).


While he also holds an entry for the $2 million Caulfield Guineas (1600m), Weir said his best may come over 10 furlongs and beyond, indicating the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) could be his ultimate goal this spring.

“The opposition wasn’t great (on Saturday) but he is definitely a nice colt going forward,” Weir said.

“He is owned by Peter Law who buys a lot of horses with us and a lot of them go to Hong Kong he might be one that heads there but hopefully he can at least hang around for the spring.

Purchased from the draft of Mill Park Stud at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale for $360,000 by outstanding judge John Foote and trainer Darren Weir, Approach Discreet is out of the stakes-winning Exceed And Excel mare Very Discreet, from the prolific black-type producing family of Halo Again which also includes Gr3 SAJC Dermody Stakes winners She's Discreet & Be Discreet, Morphettville Guineas winner Forever Discreet, and Gr3 Bloodhorse Breeders' Stakes winner Gilded Angel.

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TRSA introduces Spring Series

TRSA has announced another fantastic incentive for owners and trainers to further the excitement of Spring Racing in South Australia.

Six individual race Series have been created, each named after iconic South Australian horses such as the outstanding mare Viddora, who has accumulated more than $2 million in prizemoney to date, and warhorse Riziz, whose strike rate was to be envied, to be held in September, October and November 2018.

Heats will be run at Metropolitan, Provincial and Country race meetings throughout South Australia, with a Final for each Series to be held at Morphettville during the Spring Carnival.

These Series will be held over a range of distances to provide opportunities for as many horses as possible, with the following Series Finals:

  • Saturday 20 October $100,000 Rebel Raider Series Final (3yo), 1200 metres

  • Saturday 27 October $100,000 Viddora Series Final (Mares BM 80), 1300 metres

  • Saturday 3 November $100,000 Riziz Sprint Series Final (BM 75), 1100 metres

  • Tuesday 6 November $100,000 Skybeau Stayers Series Final (BM 75), 2000 metres

  • Saturday 10 November $100,000 Happy Trails Series Final (BM 7), 1400 metres

Happy Trails, sold for $11,000 at the Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale and returned $3.2m in prizemoney highlighted by three Group 1 wins.

Happy Trails, sold for $11,000 at the Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale and returned $3.2m in prizemoney highlighted by three Group 1 wins.

A sixth Series, the $100,000 Alcopop Series, will be held throughout November and December with the Final (a BM 75) over 1600 metres to be run on Boxing Day at Morphettville.

With a variety of distances, these Series are seen as a great initiative by TRSA to showcase South Australian Racing while coinciding with the excitement of the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

Details of all the heats will be published in The Races Magazine and TRSA website www.theracessa.com.au.

For further information contact David Thomas, Racing Operation Manager on 8179 9804 or dthomas@theracessa.com.au

Sydney Blue Salutes At Second Start

Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott will no doubt being thinking 'classic season' for exciting Sebring colt Sydney Blue who made up for an unlucky debut fifth when blocked for a run at Newcastle two weeks ago to charge home and win the 1400 metre juvenile maiden at Kembla on Saturday.

A touch slow to begin, he quickly mustered speed to improve to midfield and when angled to the outside at the top of the straight unwound a long sustained finishing burst to win by a length.

It was a performance that had budding stayer written all over it, as it should given he is a half-brother to Group 1 MRC Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner, a winner of over $3.8 million in prizemoney.

A $420,000 Inglis Easter purchase for his trainers from the Mill Park draft, Sydney Blue (pictured below as a yearling) runs for a big syndicate of stable clients and is the seventh winner from seven to race from stakes-winner Dane Belltar, whose other offspring also include $1.1 million earning Group 2 winner Tanby and Group 2 placed Viking Star.

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Snogging here to stay

Snogging might provide her stallion I Am Invincible with a new accolade following a comfortable win against fellow three-year-old fillies at Caulfield on Saturday.

I Am Invincible is one of Australia's super stallions with 31 individual winners, but only two - I Am A Star (Myer Classic, Sunline Stakes, Stocks Stakes) and Look To The Stars (Princess Stakes in Queensland) - have won stakes races at 1600 metres.


Snogging might be the first to earn black type at 2000 metres after impressing both her trainer Trent Busuttin and rider Damien Oliver with her dominant performance.

Busuttin said the filly, who was coming off a disappointing run in Adelaide, had always shown stakes ability as well as showing she could cope with a middle distance trip also.

"She's bred to run 1200 metres but she was never going to be that sharp," Busuttin said. "She handled the mile here easily today and I think she could get 2000 metres as she settled pretty well there and finished it off well."

Oliver sat back near the tail of the field before getting off the fence before the corner and then unleashing the filly down the outside. On the line, the $4 chance had two lengths over I'm Buxom ($9) with three quarters of a length to Princess Mia ($8.50) in third place.

Oliver said he was taken with the filly's ability to quicken. "She's shown stakes class potential – but she's not quite there yet – but I am sure there's a little stakes race in her."

Busuttin said he would look at running Snogging in the 1600-metre Adelaide Guineas in two weeks before setting his sights on Brisbane where she could run in the 1600-metre Queensland Guineas or take the step to 2000 metres in the Group 3 Doomben Roses on May 12.

Snogging was a $260,000 yearling purchase from the draft of Mill Park Stud at the 2016 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale.

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Waging War explodes at Caulfield

The Mill Park Raised Waging War missed his big chance at a Group 1 a year ago when he was scratched at the barriers in the South Australian Derby, but few who saw him win first-up on Saturday at Caulfield would doubt that more such chances lay in the horse's future.

Starting at $8.50, Waging War sat second-last in the field of seven in the VOBIS Gold Mile but then extended to run away from his rivals and have a three-length margin over the $3.50 favourite Widgee Turf, with Sword Of Light ($4.40) in third place.


Jockey Ben Allen said felt the horse was in for a big campaign as he too was surprised with the way he let down after turning for home.

"That was huge and to sprint away from a field like that shows he's in for a big prep," Allen said.

Waging War is bred to stay being by co-trainer Leon Macdonald's Victoria Derby winner Rebel Raider out of a Galileo mare. In 15 starts he has now won six times and Saturday's winning prize of $137,500 saw his earnings top $300,000.

Saddling up the four-year-old was Macdonald's former right-hand man Andrew Noblet, who trains in his own right at Caulfield.

He said the SA veteran had told him the horse was going well and that he had a good opinion of him as a stayer but was worried that the weight scale - which saw him carry the same weight as the likes of favourite Widgee Turf and So Si Bon - might play against him.

Madame Flurry a Belated Blue Hen

Anybody who owns a broodmare knows how hard it is to get one that leaves a stakes-winner, let alone four of them!.

The $100,000 Listed Oakbank Stakes on Easter Saturday was won by spritely eight year-old Heart of a Lion, who is prepared at Morphettville by Lloyd Kennewell.

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A $42,000 Magic Millions Adelaide purchase for his trainer from the Mill Park draft, Heart Of A Lion has been a good tough consistent sprinter for the stable since he won on debut at Balaklava back in November 2012.

Stakes placed twice earlier in his career, the son of former Coolmore shuttler Lion Heart (USA) dashed clear to win the 1100 metre Oakbank Stakes by a length and a quarter taking his overall record to 11 wins and 12 placings from 35 starts with prizemoney in excess of $400,000.

Bred by Brenton and Liz Parker and raised at Mill Park, Heart of a Lion is from outstanding producer Madame Flurry, who has had seven foals to race for six winners.

Her stellar list of offspring is headed by triple Group I winner and $3.2 million earner Happy Trails (Good Journey (USA), Group III winner Danish Twist (Dane Shadow), who was third in the Group I ATC Coolmore Classic last year and has won nearly $900,000 in prizemoney, this season’s stakes-winning three year-old All Too Huiying (All Too Hard)and now a fourth stakes-winner in Heart of a Lion.

A minor winner by Perugino (USA), Madame Flurry is a half-sister to stakes-winner Lake Villa and stakes-placed Flurry’s Autumn, who has also proven a stakes producer leaving Group III winner Royal Sash, the dam of Group winners Sabatini and Vivi Veloce.

This remarkable mare turns 18 this year and still has some unraced stock to come.

Her Sebring yearling filly was sold at Inglis Premier earlier this year by Mill Park for $210,000 to Kennewell Racing and she has a weanling filly by Shooting to Win.

Madame Flurry was covered again last spring by All too Huiying’s sire All Too Hard.

Eurozone Colt To Levi Kavanagh

Young Flemington trainer Levi Kavanagh struck on day one of his his former hometown Adelaide sale for a Eurozone (Northern Meteor) colt who is closely related to seven-time stakes winner, Catapulted (Catbird).

Consigned by Mill Park Stud as Lot 31, the colt is the second foal out of the winning mare Fast And Loose (Fastnet Rock), who is a half-sister to Catapulted, who was trained by Kavanagh’s father Mark.

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He also trained Fast And Loose, who won a Ballarat maiden from seven starts and was fourth in the Queen Adelaide Stakes (Listed, 1050m) as a juvenile at her second start.

Fast And Loose’s first foal, a filly by I Am Invincible, was bought by Malua Bloodstock, Spicer Thoroughbreds and Noorilim Park for $150,000 at the 2017 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale.

Levi Kavanagh told ANZ Bloodstock News the Eurozone colt looked a lot like Catapulted, who remains on the family farm near Melbourne in retirement.

“He looks very similar to Catapulted type wise and he is still out at our farm. He was a great racehorse and nearly got to $1,000,000 (in prize money) and he is part of the family down there and this horse likes like he might be able to run early,” Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh said the colt’s Newgate Farm-based stallion Eurozone, whose first crop two-year-olds include stakes winner Krone, was starting to make his mark and was not surprised the yearling made six figures.

“The sire is starting to do some good things, so it is a breed we are happy with,” he said.

“My father also trained his mum Fast And Loose who ran fourth in a Listed race, but she didn’t race for that long.

“We probably wouldn’t have gone any higher for him, but he is such a nice type he stood out, so he was always going to bring good money.”