Lady Hamana provides further international joy for Yulong

A timely reminder of Australia’s sprinting prowess was on show at Sandown Park on Saturday, as 3YO filly Lady Hamana claimed her first stakes success. Bred in Australia by Yulong and retained to race, TDN Aus NZ chatted to our own Harry King and BBA Ireland’s Michael Donohoe to find out more about the progressive sprinter.

Almost a year after becoming I Am Invincible’s first-ever winner in Great Britain, talented filly Lady Hamana provided Australia’s reigning Champion Sire with another important milestone on Saturday when running away with the Listed Scurry S. at Sandown Park.

Bred and raised in the paddocks at Nagambie before making her way to the Northern Hemisphere and into the stable of Karl Burke, Lady Hamana required just two attempts to break her maiden last year before ending her first preparation with a trio of creditable efforts in stakes company.

The February-born foal returned to action earlier this year and hadn’t set the world alight in two runs at Listed level prior to Saturday’s contest, but after being given some more time to adjust to her new surroundings, a key gear change and a drop back to the minimum trip has helped the filly deliver on her abundant early promise.

“She came up in great condition, was working well and showing plenty, and she had a couple of promising runs last year,” recalled BBA Ireland’s Michael Donohoe, who manages the racing and breeding interests of Yulong in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Then she just started to change a little bit. I think it’s hard for those horses making the adjustment. You can get away with it for the first couple of weeks and then nature takes over.

“She took a little bit of time then to acclimatise, but she’s come back this season a lot stronger and Karl was very confident going into the race. Her work had been very good.

“Hats off to Shane Foley, Mr Zhang’s retained rider. He rode her in the Listed race at Chelmsford and his advice to us was to drop her back to five furlongs and put some headgear on. She’s not an ingenuine filly, but she just needs that little bit of help to focus her mind and those cheekpieces made all the difference today.”

Plans remain fluid for Lady Hamana following Saturday’s commanding 1.25l victory over the previously unbeaten Tajalla (Ire) (Kessaar {Ire}), and Donohoe is optimistic that the daughter of Yarraman Park stallion I Am Invincible can handle a step up in class should connections opt to pitch her back into Group company on her next outing.

“There’s a couple of Group 2s and Group 3s in France over the minimum distance on those flat tracks that we think she’ll like, so we might look at those,” he said. “On that performance you’d imagine that she could perform in Group races.

“She’d want good ground, and at the end of the year you rarely get that, but you could even take a shot at the Prix de l’Abbaye. A quick five on the flat track at Longchamp would suit her, but that’s a long way off.

“We’ll take it step by step and try and find a Group 3 or Group 2 for her next, but she has the full black type there now.

“She is a proper, genuinely fast sprinting mare and a very good-looking mare, so I imagine she will make a very lovely addition to Mr Zhang’s already exceptional broodmare band in time.”

Years in the making

Lady Hamana’s graduation to stakes class will undoubtedly provide a huge sense of pride for Mr Zhang and the Yulong team, and the successful execution of such an audacious plan is a fine example of Yulong’s ever-growing international presence.

The seeds of said plan can be traced as far back as 2016, when Mr Zhang purchased Lady Hamana’s regally bred dam, Lake Hamana (GB) (Shamardal {USA}), from fellow global powerhouse Godolphin for 210,000gns (AU$411,300) in conjunction with Sheamus Mills Bloodstock (FBAA) at the Tattersalls July Sale.

Within a year, Lake Hamana’s year-younger half-sister by Dubawi (Ire), named Sobetsu (GB), had landed the G1 Prix Saint-Alary at Deauville, providing an already illustrious family that included dual Derby winner Generous (Ire) (Caerleon {USA}), blue hen mare Imagine (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells {USA}) and six-time Group 1 heroine Moonlight Cloud (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) with a glowing update.

Sent to Juddmonte Farms’ all-conquering stallion Frankel (GB) for her maiden cover, Lake Hamana’s first foal headed to the Land of the Rising Sun after she was snapped up by owner Isao Yamazumi for $500,000 at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in 2020, a result that came as no surprise given that she also shares a pedigree page with the likes of Japanese Group 1 winners Tower Of London (Jpn) and Dee Majesty (Jpn).

Having missed to Fastnet Rock the following season, the decision was made to have Lake Hamana covered by I Am Invincible to Northern Hemisphere time, and after spending her formative years at Yulong, the resultant foal was sent to the Northern Hemisphere to begin her racing career.

“It was a plan orchestrated by Mr Zhang and he thought it was worth sending her up to England,” Donohoe recalled.

“It’s a hard thing to do and it seems like they (Yulong) are thinking outside the box a bit, so hats off to them.

“Mr Zhang is a formidable man when he puts his mind to something.”

Donohoe’s sentiments were echoed by Harry King, nominations and sales at Yulong’s Nagambie base in Victoria, who was quick to commend Mr Zhang for his global vision.

“In such a short amount of time, it’s a great feather in Mr Zhang’s cap to have taken an Australian-bred filly by I Am Invincible, who is one of the leading Australian sires, up to Europe and win a Listed race,” King said.

“Everyone at Yulong is very proud to be a part of what’s happening. It’s great that we’ve now got tangible results, we’ve seen a Champion Australian 3-Year-Old that Mr Zhang has bred in utero and brought down, and we’ve got all these great fillies running around, the likes of My Whisper and Magical Lagoon.

“It’s great for Australia that Mr Zhang is putting in so much effort and he’s so keen to showcase the amazing speed and thoroughbred that we have here in Australia to the world.

“It’s a great milestone for the Mitchells and their stallion I Am Invincible too, and it’s great to be a part of that as well.”

Following the blueprint

With the decision to send Lady Hamana to race in the Northern Hemisphere being vindicated so early on in her career, her success could pave the way for more of Yulong’s Australian-bred horses to follow a similar path in the not too distant future.

A number of stallions on the farm’s seven-strong roster have covered mares to Northern Hemisphere time this year, including flagbearer Written Tycoon, whose dual Group 1-winning daughter Coolangatta will bid to advertise his credentials on the international stage when she lines up in the G1 King’s Stand S. at Royal Ascot on Tuesday.

“Mr Zhang is pretty keen on being a global stud farm and he’s certainly not worried about travelling them from hemisphere to hemisphere,” King said.

“Just this summer gone by we’ve been doing a few Northern Hemisphere covers with our stallions, the likes of Written Tycoon and Tagaloa, and Diatonic got a few as well. They’ll stay to be foaled in the Southern Hemisphere, and then taken up to the north to represent us up there.

“The example is if Coolangatta goes up there and wins a Group 1 now, you’ve got a commercial bunch of Written Tycoons that you can take to Europe, race them up there and try and make a dual-hemisphere stallion out of them.

“It’s certainly something that’s on the cards and I’d say we’ll be a bit more prevalent in doing it. Now we sit back, cross our fingers and cheer for Coolangatta as loud as we can.”

While Lady Hamana still has a fair way to go to match the achievements of a mare like Coolangatta, her breakthrough stakes success will come as welcome news to the Matt Laurie stable, who purchased her half-sister by Darley shuttler Too Darn Hot (GB) for just $80,000 at this year’s Inglis Premier Yearling Sale in Melbourne.

Lady Hamana’s dam, Lake Hamana, has a filly foal by Yulong stallion Tagaloa at foot and was again covered by the G1 Blue Diamond S. winner to Northern Hemisphere time earlier this year, a move which opens up plenty of doors for the global operation now that the immediate family has already tasted stakes success in Europe.

“She’s a nice foal and she’s a classic Tagaloa – quite strong and forward-looking with good bone and muscle,” King said of Lake Hamana’s filly foal by Tagaloa.

“We’ve been really happy with the Tagaloas and we are really excited to take them to the yearling sales next year.

“Although he’s from a Japanese sire-line, Tagaloa does have horses like Pivotal in his female-line, so again you wouldn’t rule out seeing that filly foal racing up in Europe, or keeping her in Australia and trying to win some black type down here with her.

“As we know, the racing industry and breeding industry are getting smaller by the day. People can now see what these bloodlines are doing and where they are from anywhere in the world.”

Article courtesy of TDN Aus NZ, written by Lewis Lesbirel