The Grey Panel


The win of in the BTC Cup at Doomben was great news for Yarraman Park Stud, home of that game sprinter's sire . The weekend then became even more successful for the beautiful Hunter Valley nursery when landed the following day's Krisflyer International Sprint in Singapore - although sadly in this case the glory was of academic interest only, Green Birdie's sire having died at Yarraman Park three years ago, writes John Berry.

Green Birdie's victory has squared the ledger as regards Catbird's results as a sire, putting right an anomaly that, although he was a very fast horse in his racing days and he subsequently became the sire of many fast horses, his top-level results had previously misrepresented him as being much more a source of stamina than of speed. The truth is that, like all good sires, Catbird was capable of passing on both qualities - and now that he has been represented by a Group One-winning sprinter, he can be recognized as such.

Catbird's principal claim to fame as a racehorse was that he won the race which has arguably done more to identify brilliance than any other in Australia: the Golden Slipper. Born in 1996, Catbird went into training as a yearling in the autumn of 1998 when his sire was already at the height of popularity, having sired the Golden Slipper winners , and , members of his first three crops and victorious in 1994, '95 and '96 respectively. Being a strong colt with a pedigree suggesting both speed and precocity, Catbird was an obvious Slipper prospect, but he headed into training in neither Melbourne nor Sydney, the destinations of the majority of promising youngsters, but to Canberra, into the care of Queanbeyan trainer Frank Cleary.

Catbird's owner, Guam-based businessman Ken Jones, had already come close in one Golden Slipper. Through the summer and autumn of 1992, the Cleary-trained had been Australia's boom juvenile, carrying Jones' pale blue, black and yellow silks to victory in the Magic Millions at the Gold Coast and, to massive local delight, the Black Opal in Canberra. He'd very nearly won the Slipper too, succumbing only in the dying strides to the late thrust of the filly . Clan O'Sullivan was a magnificent front-running two-year-old, at which age he won eight of his 10 starts - even if his subsequent career proved rather an anti-climax. He truly whetted Jones' appetite for two-year-old racing, and it wasn't long before Catbird began to show signs that he might provide his owner with further excitement.

Catbird won an early-season two-year-old trial in Canberra in September 1998, prompting Cleary to send him to Melbourne for the Debutant Stakes early in the Spring Carnival - and prompting punters to send him off favourite for this traditional test of precocity. He couldn't measure up, though, finishing fifth of the eight runners. Cleary then gave him a short let-up before he stepped out two months later in another Canberra trial in December. Again he won the trial easily and again he was sent to town - on this occasion to Sydney, where he started favourite in a two-year-old maiden at Warwick Farm just after Christmas. Again he was beaten. However, undaunted, Cleary sent him back to Sydney in January and he broke his maiden on his third start. Ridden for the first time by veteran jockey Mark De Montfort, Catbird won at Randwick by a length and a half, thus beginning a run of five consecutive victories. De Montfort was in the saddle for each win, and each time Catbird improved on his previous performance. After two wins in Sydney, he was sent off the odds-on favourite for the Black Opal Preview at the end of February. His 5.5-length winning margin there ensured that he was sent off the $1.35 favourite for the Black Opal, in which he duly emulated Clan O'Sullivan's victory, winning by just over a length. Three weeks later the colt went one better than Clan O'Sullivan by landing the Golden Slipper, beating and to become the first (and to date only) two-year-old to complete the Black Opal/Golden Slipper double.

Sadly, that Golden Slipper victory proved to be Catbird's final success. Spelled after the race, he resumed at the end of winter, but proved unable to recapture his former brilliance. Seven races yielded merely one minor placing (when second of five runners in a 1000m handicap in Canberra the following summer) and he was retired after finishing second last - as a 30/1 outsider - behind in the Group Two Challenge Stakes at Randwick in February 2000. He duly began covering at Yarraman Park Stud the following spring.

Despite having failed to "train on", Catbird was clearly an exciting stallion prospect. Like any son of Danehill who had shown top-class form at two, he was made welcome by Australian breeders, and he came with the added bonus of coming from a family which regularly produced high-class youngsters. In fact, he had merely followed a family tradition in excelling in the Black Opal. Not only had his dam finished third behind in the race in 1993, but another member of the family, (a full-brother to Fitting) had won the 1987 Black Opal in a two-year-old season in which he also won the AJC Breeders' Plate and the STC Silver Slipper. Maizcay went on to become a decent stallion, the horses he produced prior to his export to Asia including the excellent , who was top-class at both two and three. Furthermore, , a Listed-winning half-sister to Maizcay and Fitting, produced the Black Opal runner-up to that pair's sire – while , a half-sister to Catbird's second dam , won the Black Opal in 1982.

Fitting, Maizcay and Donna Cara were three of the nine winners bred by Corn, a daughter of the good English stallion . Corn's dam was exported to Australia carrying Corn; and in her new homeland Donna Nook went on to prove a splendid matriarch, responsible for numerous very fast horses. Her two high-class sons and both became good stallions (sires respectively of the top-class sprinters and ) while Corn's various half-sisters bred several very good horses, including the Queensland Derby winner .

It is, incidentally, remarkable that Donna Nook should have proved such an influential source of speed because she was a proper stayer herself. Trained in Newmarket by Bernad van Cutsem, she was unplaced on her only start as a back-end two-year-old in 1974 before breaking her maiden in a 14-furlong maiden race at Newmarket in May 1975, beating the subsequent Cesarewitch place-getter . She followed up by winning a 14-furlong handicap at Aintree before being covered by Hotfoot at Gazeley Stud to southern hemisphere time and exported in foal. That stamina was her strong suit might have made her seem an odd choice for export, but in her favour was her liking for firm ground (her win at Aintree came on going described as 'hard') and her pedigree. By the Derby winner from a daughter of the Derby winner , she came from an excellent family (which traces back to the great racemare and massively influential broodmare ): her unraced half-brother was already established as a respectable sire, and they came from the same family as the influential stallion , whose dam ranks was Donna Lydia's third dam. Of paramount importance, perhaps, was the fact that she was out of a daughter of Hyperion, and thus could provide the opportunity for interesting inbreeding to Australian stallions descending from Hyperion's prepotent grandson - stallions such as (to whom she bred both Beans and , the dam of Half Hennessy) and (to whom she bred Dieu D'Or), and also Biscay's champion son , who clicked so well with Corn and Donna Cara.

Catbird duly had his first runners in the 2003/'04 season, by which stage his pedigree had been further enhanced by the exploits of his full-brother , winner of the Group Two Pago Pago Stakes at Rosehill as a two-year-old in March 2003. Unsurprisingly, Catbird proved an immediate hit at stud, ending the season as Australia's leading first-season sire in terms of individual winners (of whom he was represented by 15). None of these 15 horses, admittedly, won a stakes races at two, but one of them - the Ken Jones-owned , who had broken his maiden on debut in the last month of his two-year-old season by winning at Canterbury - became Catbird's first black type winner by landing the Hawkesbury Guineas as the odds-on favourite in the summer of his second season. A second member of the crop, , gained black type by landing the Group Three Cameron Handicap at Newcastle, another sprint, as a four-year-old; and the same horse doubled his tally of stakes victories two months later by becoming Catbird's first metropolitan stakes winner, taking out the Group Three Frederick Clissold Stakes at Randwick. A third member of the crop would eventually become a stakes winner at the age of five when won the Group Three Craven Plate at Randwick in October 2006, three months before a fourth member, , broke through for her first stakes success by landing a Listed sprint in Brisbane.

Catbird's second crop included the sire's first Group One winner: . This son of the Zabeel mare , from a relatively stout NZ damline, proved untypical of his sire's stock by excelling beyond 2000m, winning the Group One WATC Derby in Perth as an autumn three-year-old - with subsequent dual Group One winner 1.25 lengths behind him in third. Cats Fun subsequently reaffirmed his stamina and proved his durability by posting a notable feature-race double at the Perth summer carnival as a five-year-old, landing a brace of Group Two races by winning the C. B. Cox Stakes over 2400m and the Perth Cup over 3200m.

While the stars of Catbird's first two crops had not proved among the sire's more precocious offspring, his third crop contained a swag of juvenile stakes winners. First off the mark was the Gai Waterhouse-trained , successful in the Canonbury Stakes at Randwick in December 2005. The following month saw the David Hayes-trained win the fillies' heat of the Blue Diamond Preview at Caulfield. Diego Garcia further enhanced his achievements by taking out the Group Two Todman Stakes at Rosehill in March 2006, while , trained like Jumlah by David Hayes, became Catbird's third juvenile stakes winner of the season when successful in the Keith Mackay Quality at Randwick in April - six days before another Hayes-trained youngster, , won the Oaklands Plate at the now defunct Victoria Park in Adelaide. These horses helped Catbird to end the 2005/'06 season as Australia's leading third-crop sire by individual winners (94).

The most distinguished member of Catbird's third crop, however, waited a while longer before showing his hand: recorded his first feature-race victory when taking the Hong Kong Derby Trial over 1800m at Sha Tin as a four-year-old in February 2008. He is now more established as a sprinter, in which role he recently underlined his merit with his Group One victory in Singapore. That success has been merely the latest of Catbird's several feature-race victories this year, which list also includes the Group One victory of in the WATC Derby, a Group Two win in Sydney over 1400m for and Group Three sprinting victories for in Hong Kong and for in Adelaide. All told, Catbird's recent successes have made it abundantly plain that his premature death at the age of 10 in June 2007 (from laminitis, the final setback in a run of problems which included a tendon infection and colic) was a major blow not just to Yarraman Park Stud, but to the Australian breeding industry in general.

Archived General News Stories

Bodemeister Shuttling for the First Time to Argentina Bloodhorse
Jump Start Garners 50th Stakes Winner Bloodhorse

Redzel Does It Again! Sporting Post
Winx weaves her magic again New Zealand Herald
Top Australian sire Encosta de Lago dies at 25 DRF
European Import Homesman Scores Underwood Stakes Win Bloodhorse all news
Winx Forever! Sporting Post
Menari to Stand at Newgate Farm in Australia Bloodhorse
Australia's Winx notches 26th consecutive win DRF
Arrowfield's Snitzel Earns Back-to-Back Sire Titles Bloodhorse

Emcee Sold, Heading to Brazil Bloodhorse

Sheikha Reika Reigns in E.P. Taylor Stakes Bloodhorse
Desert Encounter Victorious in Canadian International Bloodhorse
Oscar Performance Digs in for Woodbine Mile Rebound Bloodhorse
Positive Buzz Ahead of Canadian Yearling Sale Bloodhorse
Long On Value gives Cox repeat win in Highlander Stakes DRF
Wonder Gadot beats heat to win $1 million Queen's Plate New Zealand Herald

Verrazano Gets First Winner in Chile Bloodhorse
Frankel's First Winner Cunco to Enter Stud in Chile Bloodhorse

China Moves Toward Allowing Racing in Hainan Bloodhorse all news

Lawman to France's Haras de Grandcamp Bloodhorse all news
French racing hit by low Longchamp crowd for Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe Guardian
Laurens Earns Fifth Group 1 Win in Sun Chariot Bloodhorse all news
Enable joins horse racing greats with second Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe win Guardian
€470,000 Group-placed 2yo Insandi tops Arc Sale for Mandore and Sunderland T'internet
Andrea Atzeni judges pace to perfection as Ostilio wins Longchamp feature Guardian
Enable can rule supreme in Arc for Dettori Irish Independent
Ryan Moore on the Arc de Triomphe: Race up for grabs if Enable not at her best Betfair
French strengthen Arc challenge with Kitesurf and Waldgeist trial victories Guardian
Recoletos Takes Prix du Moulin at Longchamp Bloodhorse
Sea Of Class joins Enable at head of Arc betting after Yorkshire Oaks win Guardian
Siyouni & Anodin to the fore while figures readjust T'internet
Dubawi colt from Just the Judge commands €1,4 million from Ballylich T'internet
Pretty Pollyanna outlasts Signora Cabello to win thrilling Prix Morny Guardian
Signora Cabello to Try Group 1 Company in Prix Morny Bloodhorse all news

Hong Kong Jockey Club Hikes Purses Across the Board Bloodhorse all news
Pakistan Star stellar in Queen Elizabeth II Cup DRF
Ping Hai Star Rolls to Victory in Hong Kong Derby Bloodhorse

Romanet Re-Elected IFHA Chairman Bloodhorse all news
Winx Still Top-Ranked in Longines World Rankings Bloodhorse
International Authorities to Combat Gene Doping Bloodhorse
Winx Alone on Top in World's Best Racehorse Rankings Bloodhorse all news
Experts at ARC: Illegal Betting Enormous Threat Bloodhorse all news
Gene Doping Threat Discussed at Asian Racing Conference Bloodhorse all news

Record Price Of €3.2 Million Tops Phenomenal Goffs Orby Sale T'internet
Phoenix Outguns Coolmore for Top Lot at Goffs Orby Sale Bloodhorse
Unbeaten Ten Sovereigns Lands Middle Park Stakes Bloodhorse
O'Brien is hopeful Everest can reach new heights Irish Independent
Camacho filly tops the September Yearling Sale Part II T'internet
Three parts brother to Dubai World Cup winner Prince Bishop, tops Day 1 of the September Yearling Sale T'internet
Three parts brother to Dubai World Cup winner Prince Bishop, tops Day 1 of the September Yearling Sale T'internet
Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Pens Breeders' Cup Deal Bloodhorse all news
Caravaggio, Churchill Busiest New 2018 Sires in Europe Bloodhorse all news
Galileo Matches His Sire With 73rd G1 Winner Bloodhorse all news
Quorto Emulates Dubawi With National Stakes Win Bloodhorse all news
Alpha Centauri and Saxon Warrior Retired With Injuries Bloodhorse

Declaration of War to Stand in Japan in 2019 Bloodhorse
Real Steel Retired, to Shadai Stallion Station for 2019 Bloodhorse

Willie Mullins´ Riven Light finishes tailed off last in Korea Cup Irish Independent

Racing: Shark attack causes a stir in Hastings sprint New Zealand Herald
Whanganui names its Horse of the Year New Zealand Herald
Favourite Tomelilla scores big in Karaka Classic New Zealand Herald
Racing: Peaceful wins the O'Leary Stakes in Wanganui New Zealand Herald
2000 Guineas the target for group one winner New Zealand Herald
Lazarus sold to North American syndicate New Zealand Herald

Proposed Saudi Arabian Race Could Rival Pegasus Purse Bloodhorse all news

Dynasty Son Legislate Back At Stud Sporting Post
Do It Again Is KZN Horse Of The Year Sporting Post
Dispersal Sale At Vaal Sporting Post

Dubai World Cup Purse Raised to $12 Million for 2019 Bloodhorse

Records as Tattersalls October Yearling Sale Book 2 Concludes T'internet
Siyouni Filly Heads Strong Second Day at Tattersalls October Book 2 T'internet
Kingman Colt Sells For 750,000 Guineas at Tatts October 2 T'internet
Too Darn Hot and Frankie Dettori strengthen 2,000 Guineas claims Guardian
14/1 shot Iridessa gives Joseph O´Brien his first Group One win in Britain as a trainer Irish Independent
Record Tattersalls October Book 1 Turnover for 7th Consecutive Year T'internet
3,500,000 Guineas Dubawi Colt is World´s Highest Priced Yearling in 2018 T'internet
Millions spent at bloodstock sale but fears grow over Brexit port delays Guardian
World's Highest Yearling Price in 2018 on Opening Day of Tattersalls October Book 1 T'internet
Cracksman Set for Champion Stakes Swansong Bloodhorse all news
Ten Sovereigns wins Middle Park Guardian
Gosden has Enable primed for Arc repeat Irish Independent
Sean Levey targets comeback in Sun Chariot Stakes on Billesdon Brook Guardian
Poet's Word Out for Remainder of Year Due to Injury Bloodhorse all news
Kew Gardens too good for Lord Lloyd Webber´s Lah Ti Dar in St Leger Guardian
Galtres Stakes winner Lah Ti Dar will run in the St Leger at Doncaster Guardian
Top Filly Maid Up Added to St Leger Field Bloodhorse all news
Trainers receive warning about use of drug which may contain steroids Guardian
Perfect Start for 2.6 Million Guinea Prince Eiji Bloodhorse all news

Invasor Flourishing Back Home in Uruguay Bloodhorse all news
Honour and Glory Dies in Uruguay Bloodhorse
Roman Rosso Scores in Latinoamericano Bloodhorse

Diversify Will Not Run in 2018 Breeders' Cup Bloodhorse
Gainesway Releases Full 2019 Stallion Roster Bloodhorse
WinStar Farm Keeps Pioneerof the Nile at $110,000 Bloodhorse
Claiborne Releases Stud Fees; War Front's Fee Unchanged Bloodhorse
Sea of Class to Pass on Breeders' Cup for Time Off Bloodhorse all news
Fourstar Crook Gets Her Grade 1 in Flower Bowl Stakes Bloodhorse
F-T November Offering Its First Mare In Foal to Dubawi Bloodhorse
Spendthrift Raises Into Mischief's Fee to $150,000 Bloodhorse
Champion West Coast to Lane's End for 2019 Bloodhorse
Phoenix Thoroughbreds Buys Graded Winner Axelrod Bloodhorse
Uncle Mo Colt Highlights Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Opener Bloodhorse
OBS October Yearling Supplemental Catalog Now Online Bloodhorse
Tapwrit Entering Stud at Gainesway Bloodhorse
Keeneland Closes Yearling Sale With Strong Gains Bloodhorse
Jockey Perry Ouzts Rides 7,000th Winner Bloodhorse
Champion Good Magic retired to stud at Hill 'n' Dale Farm DRF
Double-Digit Increases Continue at Keeneland Bloodhorse
Gulfstream Announces $29.079 Million Stakes Schedule Bloodhorse
Brisk Trade Carries On During Eighth Day at Keeneland Bloodhorse
American Gal Retired to Hill 'n' Dale Bloodhorse
Keeneland September: $420,000 Quality Road filly tops final day of Book 3 DRF
Pegasus World Cup divided into dirt and turf events DRF
Keeneland September Surpasses Last Year's Gross Sales Bloodhorse
Uncle Mo Colt Tops Strong Keeneland Day 6 Bloodhorse
hhh Bloodhorse

Spies Rules In Zimbabwe Sporting Post