Breeding horses that suit WA

Scenic Lodge is gearing for the new breeding season after a series of ups and downs at Muchea.

General manager Jeremy Smith reflected on the fantastic success of Scenic Lodge champions Scenic (Ire) and Blackfriars while looking to the future with its current sires Universal Ruler and Snippetson.

“Universal Ruler is a great story,” Smith said in a recent interview with Milne Feeds. “We bred him ourselves and sold him as a yearling.  He’s a son of Scenic and had a great racing career so it was nice to get him back here to join our roster.

“To be fair, he’s a horse that probably hasn’t had many opportunities so we are just so proud of him.  He has really stepped up without high-quality mares and big numbers.

“For him to become Champion WA 2YO Sire is a huge achievement.  What’s more, it’s great timing with the passing of Blackfriars.  His winners-to-runners performance is another positive factor.

“He’s a WA bred and raced horse.  People know Universal Ruler.  He’s been successful on the tracks here and that’s a big thing to consider – breeding horses to suit the local environment.  I think that’s why we had such great success with Blackfriars.  His progeny were tough horses that were so well suited to the tracks and conditions here.

“We see so many stallions come here and their progeny fail to handle the conditions.  Our style of racing is quite different to that of the Eastern States.  Breeding horses that suit WA is a focus for us and that’s where we feel Universal Ruler has really come into his own.

“The death of Blackfriars was a huge loss to us and to the whole industry in Western Australia.  Fortunately, we have many well-bred mares by him to keep the bloodlines going.

“The great thing about Blackfriars is that his mares cross so well with Universal Ruler and with Snippetson (pictured), and that’s one of the main reasons we looked to secure Snippetson, as he’s a great cross with Danehill line mares.

“Snippetson was a speed horse.  He’s super tough and proven and throws lovely types.  That makes him a really commercial stallion.

“Many people have asked us if we are going to replace Blackfriars but it’s not quite that easy to replace a horse like him.  It’s a numbers game.  So many new stallions come in and only get small books.  That makes it very difficult for the horse to make it as a sire.

“When I think back to the early days, one of the best things that happened to boost Blackfriars was leasing Scenic back to the Eastern States for a season.  That meant Blackfriars got a huge book which had a roll-on effect of larger numbers and better-quality mares.

“We secured Snippetson from Widden Stud.  At that time, we were looking for another option to Blackfriars.  It had been frustrating because yearlings by Blackfriars did not always sell as well as they should, considering his dominance.

“That’s because they need a little bit of time and the market generally seems to want those fast, early types of horses.  We pin-pointed Snippetson as a proven sire of early runners that are excellent sales types.  It added a nice mix to our drafts to the Magic Millions.

“Snippetson is such a character and a great worker.  He’s is all business and knows his job, so he is great to handle with the mares.  He’s got plenty of personality and can be quite full-on but he’s a great doer, with an excellent constitution, and absolutely nothing fazes him.

“Universal Ruler is a different character.  He’s very laidback and can sometimes be a bit more shy with the mares, so takes his time.  He’s more active and light on his feet.  They’ve all got their little quirks, but they are both lovely natured horses.

“Obviously, in our field, growing strong, correct and sound horses is vital and we pay careful attention to the nutrition and health management of our mares and foals.   The nutritional support of Michelle from Milne and KER is an important part of our program.

“We’ve had good bookings and will foal down about 70 mares.  It will be busy but exciting and we’re looking forward to the season ahead.”