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As he’s watched the first foals by freakish grey import Puissance De Lune enter this world, Swettenham Stud principal Adam Sangster can’t help but look to the future with bold optimism.
Sangster has made it his mission in recent years to recruit stallion talent that could give him an edge in the breeding market, and in Puissance De Lune (Shamardal x Princess Serena), Toronado (High Chaparral x Wana Doo), and Trust In A Gust (Keep The Faith x Subtle Breeze), he has landed three stallions that give his stud a major point of difference.
“I don’t think you would find a more unique group of stallions anywhere in Australia,” Sangster said.
“When you look at the quality of Puissance De Lune’s first foals you know the horse is in for a big future. His sire Shamardal is a real force and he’s the only Group winning son at stud in Australia,” he said.
Establishing a strong stallion presence in Victoria at affordable service fees has been crucial for Swettenham Stud with Sangster, a director of Thoroughbred Breeder’s Victoria, acutely aware of the pressure felt by small-time breeders as a result of soaring service fees and rising costs of yearling preparation.
“The fact is that the foal crop in Australia is declining. Many small breeders are leaving their mares empty or getting out of the game altogether because it’s just too expensive to send their mares to a commercial stallion,” Sangster said.
“Well I want them to be able to compete and to be able to send their mares to a stallion that can get a return in the sales ring – last year yearlings by our stallions made 10 and 12 times their service fees, I reckon that’s a pretty good result.”
A coup for Swettenham has been Toronado, a world champion miler and son of High Chaparral, owned by Qatari based Al Shaqab Racing, but standing in Australia at Sangster’s farm.
“The reason why we’re able to stand a horse of his immense quality for $22,000 is because Al Shaqab understood that he would be strongly supported by Victorian breeders. He served 170 mares in his first season in 2015 so the proof is in the pudding,” Sangster said.
But it’s not just about European imports for Sangster, himself an import to Australia. Dual G1 winner Trust In A Gust is a colonial bred son of the legendary Sunday Silence sire line that retired to Swettenham after the G1 Rupert Clarke Stakes and Toorak Handicap.
“He’s got all the toughness and speed that local breeders want but has that rare Sunday Silence blood as well. Breeders saw him race and want that quality for their mares,” he said.
On Sunday, Sangster and his team will parade their six-strong team of stallions for breeders from 10am at their Nagambie base, and has plenty to crow about heading into the 2016 breeding season starting on September 1.
“Americain’s first runner in the northern hemisphere was a winner – this is a Melbourne Cup hero we’re talking about. Master Of Design is doing a great job after just a dozen runners so far, the sun is getting warm and the pastures are green and lush – it’s a great time of year.”