The partnership of Peter O'Brien, one of Australia's most recognized names in the Thoroughbred racing industry and the world-leading Segenhoe Stud, which is based in the heart of the Hunter Valley only means that everything associated with the Segenhoe name shouts 'top-quality'.
At the 2019 Gold Coast Yearling Sale, American thoroughbred powerhouse, WinStar Farm teamed up once again with Newgate Bloodstock and China Horse Club, to secure a colt by I Am Invincible for AU$900,000 ($649,350). The trio beat out the competition, which included top bloodstock agent and owner James Harron, to land the Segenhoe Stud Australia-consigned colt.
At the time, O'Brien has said in an interview with Bloodhorse, "The two brothers-in-law were bidding against each other—Henry Field and James Harron who are two highly respected judges, and I am delighted for the Newgate-WinStar partnership and wish them every chance of success. He's a beautiful colt who just keeps improving every day of the prep."
The Impacts speaks to Peter O'Brien about their 2020 draft for the Magic Millions' Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
Q: Segenhoe sold one of the most expensive horses at last year's edition of the Gold Coast Yearling Sale. Where is the horse now?
A: We sold a Redoute's Choice colt out of breakfast in bed for 1.4 million this year who is now named Kings Legacy and was bought by James Harron. He had two early trials with Peter Snowden and they have a very high opinion of him. I believe he will race post-Christmas and that he is more likely a 1400 to 1600 meter two-year-old.
Q: Once again you have a very high-quality draft. Could you tell us a bit more about the quality of your 2020 draft and also tell us a bit more about your highlight lots?
A: We have always been conscious of only taking horses we are sure will fit the sale they are in and consciously try and have our horses selling in the top 30 % which is why we average so highly annually. This year we have probably our most consistent draft of precocious animals with 17 of them by proven sires like Pierro, I am Invincible, Not a Single Doubt, Zoustar, Exceed and Excel.
Fastnet Rock as well as highly sought after young stallions like American Pharoah and Capitalist.
Lot 69 who is an I am Invincible colt out of Group winning Zabeel mare Adrift is a very special colt who has a wonderful presence and oozes quality and should sell well. The Pride Of Dubai filly out of Jezabba lot 423 is a stunning filly and her full sister(whom we sold this year on behalf of Sheik Khalifa ) came second in the Merson Cooper stakes last week on her first start so obviously, that is a big help. I am very fond of lot 647 The Medaglia Doro out of Precautions who is an obvious two-year-old and lot 703 is a Capitalist out of Rough Ride which is very much in the mould of his Dad.
Q: What is the kind of price benchmark you hope to exceed this yearling season?
A: We are always hoping to be in the top 3 by average at each sale we attend and this year will be no different with our aspirations.
Q: Among the yearling sales, which would you consider the top three to sell high-quality thoroughbreds?
A: In Australia, the premier sales companies are Magic Millions and Inglis and the top sales yearlings annually come out of these organisations with Inglis Easter their premier sale. Magic Millions have made huge inroads over the past few years and all you have to do is compare averages to see this. That said we have always had great results at both.
Q: What was the most expensive horse you have ever sold at this sale? And also please tell us about Segenhoe's most successful graduates from this sale?
A: We sold an I am Invincible out of Electric Dreams two years ago which was bought by James Harron. Unfortunately, he had a setback but I believe is now fine and hopefully, we will see him perform on the track this year.
Q: Have you ever considered breeding for specific races? Vow And Declare was obviously a wonderful anomaly because Australian bred horses are known for their speed. With this success, do you think, Australian breeders like yourself are encouraged to try breeding top quality stayers?
A: Curdled, Madeenaty, God Of Thunder, Usmanov, Enbihaar, Bella Rosa and highly promising Eddison. We also race Tunultous whom we bought at the sale who has won the 1 million stayers race two years in a row and is going for three in a row hopefully next year.
Q: Do you expect to see an impact from the awful bush fires which have affected the NSW area on either the quality of the catalogue itself or the quality of the buying bench?
A: I think there are unfortunately isolated cases of breeders who breed stayers now ( Harry Perks and Bob Peters ) unfortunately as the lure of early speed commercially has taken over. You just have to look at the stallion ranks to show the limited opportunity's.
However, there are stallion's like Pierro and So you Think about Coolmore and in fairness, Adam Sangster at Swettenham and John Messara at Arrowfield are doing their best to have this opportunity for breeders with the like of Highland Reel and the Japanese stallions as well as Dundeel at Arrowfield.
At Segenhoe we are simply trying to breed racehorses and are not interested in falling into the trap of just breeding for the sales ring. We rigorously spend time on mating's not only on pedigree but also type and I am sure we will breed well-staying horses in the near future as I know Kevin and Lesley Maloney who own the farm would love to win the Melbourne cup.
Thankfully we were nowhere near the bushfires but our heart goes out to people affected and also the animals affected and it is heartbreaking to see the harmless Koalas and what they have endured.
Q: What does your Chrismas movie list or book list look like?
A: Funnily enough I am looking forward top seeing the film The Irishman and my Christmas Booklist I generally take off the New York Times bestsellers.