Stallion producing stellar progeny
Thorn Park is a stud showing his wares and producing winning progeny. Waikato Times racing editor Aidan Rodley talks with Windsor Park Stud manager Rodney Shick about Thorn Park and his development
IT IS AS though Thorn Park is fully aware of the modern digital era. It is not new for a newspaper to report on a stallion clinching premiership honours for the first time. But in the digital era, newspapers are relying on online video content to complement traditional print media to stimulate a new age of technologysavvy readers.
To satisfy that demand, Racing Times brought in staff videographer Mike Scott to shoot footage for an online article on the stallion.
And didn’t Thorn Park know it. He was the star and ready to strut his stuff.
Windsor Park Stud manager Rodney Schick and stallion handler Sam Roberts had the chestnut stallion glistening and with the interview and parades done, he knew exactly what would appeal to online viewers – a splash and a roll in the mud.
Schick said Thorn Park the performer is all part of a personality that has made him a favourite at the stud.
‘‘He’s very easy to have around,’’ Schick said. ‘‘His personality is much like Star Way’s. He’s a cheeky bugger. We love having him around. He’s a great breeder. He’s just an easy horse to manage.’’
But an endearing personality is not enough, a stallion needs to become a successful sire and Thorn Park is showing he has what it takes.
This season, his three-year-old son Jimmy Choux has been the dominant classic-age performer.
Nothing says proven stallion like a derby or guineas winner, and this season Jimmy Choux has given his sire’s profile a priceless boost on both sides of the Tasman.
Thorn Park has also been represented by Australian group one-placed Centennial Park and New Zealand group one winners The Party Stand, in the New Zealand Stakes, and Veyron, in the Easter Handicap.
It’s a great achievement for him and the stud,’’ Schick said. ‘‘It was absolutely fantastic to see Jimmy win the 2000 Guineas, then our Derby and then to go on to Australia and win the Rosehill Guineas was the icing on the cake.
‘‘He’s had three individual group one wins this season. He’s the only sire to do that in the southern hemisphere this year.’’
Thorn Park has also broken Volksraad’s season-earnings record with his progeny bankrolling $2.97m with a month to run.
Unbeaten in two starts at two, the Spinning World stallion advanced to dual group two winner and group one Australian Guineas’ placegetter at three, before adding to his three group wins as a four-year-old to a career-defining win in the group one Stradbroke Handicap at his final start.
The Stradbroke triumph was an incredible boost for Windsor Park, which had bought him prior to the race, believing he already had enough appeal to stand at stud without a group one success to his name.
‘‘The big thing we loved about him as a racehorse was he had a huge turn of foot,’’ Schick said. ‘‘ He could reel off some great sectionals. He could come from the back of the field and then win his races well.
‘‘He’s a magnificent looking horse. I remember myself and Mike [Moran, stud marketing manager] going to see him. He only had to stick his head over the box and we knew he was the horse we had to buy.
‘‘He was an exciting racehorse and it was really that sheer brilliance that we like to see in him and he’s thrown that in his progeny. He couldn’t handle the wet but obviously his progeny can handle both firm tracks and off tracks, which those good horses have shown.’’
A rising 12-year-old, Thorn Park’s oldest progeny are rising six-year-olds and Schick is confident his best years at stud are ahead.
‘‘He’s got some good horses with Jimmy Choux going on and Veyron is really only just getting started. And then you’ve got the likes of Magic Briar coming out and she’s a really exciting filly, and Centennial Park in Australia.
‘‘He’s got some really exciting horses and I think next season should be another good one for him.
‘‘He’s been well sought after. By having Jimmy go to Australia and win a group one there, and with Centennial Park being over there and being group one placed, we’ve got mares coming from Australia this year so he’ll serve a lovely book as well.’’
Hastings trainer John Bary has revealed A$3m aims for Jimmy Choux, himself a great stallion prospect now and likely to be the highest-rated three-year-old in Australasia this season.
Schick has also been buoyed by Thorn Park’s success in Hong Kong – last weekend his sons Delish and Gift As Gift combining to credit the stallion with a winning double at Sha Tin.
Windsor Park has set Thorn Park’s service fee for next season at $20,000 plus GST, a sharp rise from the $13,500 plus GST fee he commanded last year.
But Schick said the horse has truly justified the price increase and the move hasn’t put off breeders, who have been quick to book their mares to the hottest sire commodity of the moment.
‘‘We’ve been fortunate over the years. We’ve had some really successful stallions,’’ Schick said. ‘‘ Our relationship with Coolmore has allowed us to have some nice international flavour come in. We’ve had the likes of Star Way, Kaapstad, Montjeu, Volksraad, Tale Of The Cat, High Chaparral and now Thorn Park.
‘‘We’ve had some really nice stallions here and hopefully we’ve got some nice ones coming up.’’
Thorn Park: is proving himself to be a new-age stallion of some standing.