Group One two decades in the making for Durrants

West Australian breeder Geoff Durrant will always be thankful for acting on the recommendation of bloodstock expert Jonathan D’Arcy.

It was D’Arcy, a prominent figure with famous thoroughbred auctioneer Inglis, who tipped the former trainer into buying a modestly performed daughter of Alquoz.  Rippling Echo had won twice in NSW before heading west to score a further five times for Durrant.

More than two decades later, that decision to take up D’Arcy’s advice has returned a Group One dividend with Come Play With Me claiming the $750,000 Metropolitan at Randwick.

Rippling Echo is Come Play With Me’s grand-dam and Durrant says he owes much to Darcy’s foresight.  “It just goes to show in this game that if you deal with top people like Jonathan, look what it gets you – a Group One winner 20 years later,” he told Aushorse.

Come Play With Me is the second foal from Rippling Echo’s daughter Russian Playmate, a mare by Dr Johnson, a son of Woodman who stood six seasons in WA.

Russian Playmate belied her diminutive stature to win six races for Durrant and his wife Vicki, including twice at Listed level at a mile and beyond.  She was a regular visitor to Blackfriars, a decision Durrant says was based on the sire’s record and his mare’s conformation.

“We always went to Blackfriars because he has horses with a bit of stamina and Russian Playmate was a small mare and he suited her,” he said.

Russian Playmate has a foal on the ground by Snippetson but like her son, she is also likely to head east.  “Our idea is to send her to a stallion in NSW.  We would really like to get a filly to keep the family going because it has been so good to us,” Durrant said.

Come Play With Me has emerged as an unlikely source of pride among the nation’s Group One stayers.  In winning the Metropolitan, he became the first Australian-bred winner of the $750,000 race in almost a decade.

The win also continued a spectacular start to the season for the WA breeding industry with Scales Of Justice, Black Heart Bart and Arcadia Queen winning important races in the Eastern States.

The Metropolitan has been dominated in recent seasons by European imports and to a lesser extent New Zealand-bred stayers.  Not since the Jeune gelding The Verminator’s win in 2011 had an Australian-bred collected the major prize for stayers during the Sydney spring carnival.

Come Play With Me’s gritty win over Gallic Chieftain confirmed there is no-post Winx hangover in Australia’s best stable.  It sealed a red-letter day for Waller who prepared the winners of the four Group One races run across Sydney and Melbourne during the afternoon.  He had six of the nine winners at Randwick as well as a double at Flemington.

Waller’s feat of four Group One wins at the elite level of racing was better than David Hayes who trained three Group One winners at Flemington on Victoria Derby day in 1990.

His late brother Peter trained Blackfriars to win the 1999 Victoria Derby for Robert Sangster.  He served 17 seasons at WA’s Scenic Lodge before his death in December, 2017, following complications from colic surgery.

Blackfriars was crowned WA’s champion sire for nine straight seasons with Come Play With Me joining last week’s Underwood Stakes winner Black Heart Bart and Playing God as recent Group One success stories.

COME PLAY WITH ME
Photo: Lisa Grimm / Aushorse