On Thursday, our first-season sire Grunt (NZ) sired his first winner when the Tony and Calvin McEvoy-trained Veight banked his first victory on debut at Pakenham. TDN Australia New Zealand caught up with our COO Sam Fairgray to find out more about the exciting colt and also to discuss some of Grunt’s recent sales ring success.
When Veight came home 6l in front of his rivals it was a fine advert for his sire Grunt, a son of New Zealand breed-shaper O’Reilly (NZ), who entered the breeding barn a winner of five of his starts headed by victories in the G1 Australian Guineas and G1 Makybe Diva S.
Bred by Yulong, Veight is out of the dual Group 3-winning Fastnet Rock mare Neena Rock, who was purchased by Yulong for $500,000 at the Inglis Sydney Weanling and Broodmare Sale in 2015.
The colt was offered by Yulong at the Magic Millions National Weanling Sale in 2021 and he was snapped up by Sledmere Stud and Cangon for $100,000, before being purchased by his trainer, Tony McEvoy and Damon Gabbedy’s Belmont Bloodstock Agency (FBAA) for $220,000 the following year.
Fairgray told TDN AusNZ the colt was always a standout and they made the decision to offer him as a weanling to showcase the high-class types the stallion was able to produce.
“He was a strong, compact, good-looking weanling. He was one that we wanted to take into the marketplace to let people see what the Grunts were like,” explained Fairgray. “He sold very well as a weanling and then went on and sold very well as a yearling.”
“He was a very neat horse, with a good, strong shoulder and hindquarter on him. He was medium-sized, walked very well and had a great brain on him. He had a lot of those attributes then which made him popular at the sale, but he also looks like he’s got a motor, which is going to stand him in good stead.”
Like so many, Fairgray was taken by the manner of Veight’s win and said he had been getting good reports from trainers about the stallion’s progeny, but putting it all together on raceday is not always guaranteed.
“It was a great win. You never know what is going to happen, trainers can say they like them, but raceday is a different thing and the way he went about everything was great. His action and acceleration in the straight was very impressive.
“A great result for Grunt to get on the board and a very impressive way for him to be able to do that. Obviously, Veight was a nice yearling and sold extremely well. The expectation with Grunt is that people think they are more 3-year-olds, but we have had some fantastic feedback from some of the leading trainers about the Grunts.
“The trainers that have them are obviously very happy with them and for him to have a horse come out and perform like that is going to give people a lot of confidence. Tony told me on Derby Day, or around there, that he really liked the horse, but wasn’t going to push him and was going to let him furnish.”
Getting the progeny of a new stallion into the top stables in the country can be the difference between make or break and so Fairgray was buoyed to see some of the best trainers in the land secure progeny of the stallion at the recent sales.
At the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale last month, John O’Shea bought a filly by the sire for $220,000, while Matt Laurie, in conjunction with Justin Bahen, purchased another of the stallion’s daughters for $340,000.
Meanwhile, at the New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale, KPW Bloodstock, who were working on behalf of Ron and Judy Wanless, parted with NZ$380,000 for a filly by Grunt and she will join the powerhouse stable of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, while Simon Zahra Racing and Cameron Cooke Bloodstock paid NZ$100,000 for a son of the stallion.
The NZ$380,000 filly in New Zealand was bred by Trelawney’s Brent and Cherry Taylor, who also bred the stallion and Fairgray said it was a brilliant result for big supporters of the sire.
“It was a fantastic result for Brent and Cherry Taylor who supported Grunt and then were able to get a great result with a gorgeous filly like that,” he said.
“I sadly only saw the photos and videos, but talking to people about her they really, really liked her. She was obviously very popular at the sales. It just shows you that Grunt can get you a sales yearling and hopefully they are going to go on and perform on the track now.”
With Veight being out of a top-class dual Group 3 winner, is just testament to the support Yulong themselves were willing to give the stallion and Fairgray believes this instils confidence in outside breeders.
“We supported Grunt with some really nice mares in his first year and Neena Rock was one of the first high-priced mares that Mr Zhang purchased. It was great for Mr Zhang who was very happy to see a great result for the investment he made in her and also for Grunt himself. It was a great result for the stallion and great result for the farm,” he explained.
With the first winner in the bag, Fairgray is hoping the winners will begin to flow from the stallion, especially ahead of some of the biggest sales in Australia where he will be heavily represented, with four set to go under the hammer at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, while 17 will be offered at the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, with 13 of them catalogued by Yulong themselves.
“It is exciting times and it might be the right time for people to get in there and buy a Grunt because if it keeps going on this trajectory then he is going to be a very popular stallion,” said Fairgray.
“There have been another couple of jump-out winners by Grunt and I know there are a lot of trainers who have a high opinion of them and they have given them a bit of a break and will target the Brisbane carnival with them.”
With a broodmare band stacked full of some of the best mares in the world and standing alongside Grunt are young stallions such as Lucky Vega (Ire), Tagaloa and Alabama Express as well as former Champion Sire Written Tycoon it is an exciting time for Yulong.
“To have the farm in Victoria and be able to support each of our stallions with good quality mares. Grunt in his first year covered about 190 mares and that support wasn’t just with numbers, but also with quality. Alabama Express is the same and we’ve also done it with our younger stallions, Lucky Vega and Tagaloa, these are stallions that are going to get every opportunity and I think that will be one of the key things for them, the fact they will be serving nice books of mares and setting them on the right track to give them the chance of success as a stallion,” said Fairgray.
“When we select the stallions, we are looking at stallions we think are going to work with the Australian broodmare band and our broodmare band and going out and trying to find the horses that work and hopefully in a couple of years’ time that hard work can pay off.”
Article courtesy of TDN Australia New Zealand