CAULFIELD Guineas favourite Royal Symphony has defied so many racing conventions.
His dam, Naturalist, was 22 when she foaled him and he was her 15th foal. Horses out of old mares aren’t meant to be any good.
Royal Symphony was rejected for the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale and his breeder, Joe Vella, suspects it was because of the old-age theory.
Royal Symphony is also the product of Vela’s adherence to inbreeding.
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“I believe in inbreeding and line breeding, which is an out-of-date theory, but I’m happy with our record of 92 per cent winners from starters,” he said.
Vella and his wife Daira run their business at Wingrove Park, near Mt Macedon.
He sent broodmare Naturalist to Domesday at Darley’s Seymour stud. Domesday hasn’t been a wild success and has since been relocated to Queensland.
The horse Vella identified to inbreed to was 1977 English Derby winner The Minstrel, a grandsire on the dam’s side and a great-grandsire on the stallion’s side.
Before Royal Symphony had raced, Naturalist had had 11 of her foals race for seven winners, Two — Hoodlum and Just Incredible — were city winners.
Vella said Royal Symphony was a “cracking colt” but bills had to be paid so he was entered for the Inglis yearling sales. Of five yearlings entered by the Vellas, he was the only one knocked back.
But Dwayne Dunn’s wife Amanda was inspecting the Wingrove Park draft at the yearling sales and Vella suggested she should look at a colt in his paddock.
Dunn said his wife bought horses capable of making it in the show ring after a racing career, and she was taken with Royal Symphony.
Dunn’s job in the partnership is to go through the pedigree, looking for horses he has ridden or about which he has extra knowledge.
“I liked his half-brother Hoodlum, although I didn’t ride him,” Dunn said.
Amanda Dunn has bought 19 horses since 2000 — nearly all at yearling sales — which she had syndicated.
They paid $ 20,000 for the Domesday colt and sent him to Tony McEvoy to train after he was broken in by Julien Welsh.
“We’ve never had a horse with Tony before — he was so keen on him early he tried to get me to go to Balaklava to ride him in a trial,” Dunn said.
Royal Symphony was meant to have been gelded but “somehow got through the system”.
Hong Kong buyers offered up to $ 4 million for him after he won his second start at Flemington, but the owners wanted to keep racing him.
Now he’s in Caulfield Guineas, the stallion-making race, after four wins from five starts.
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“If he wins then he can be sold later as a stallion,” said Dunn, who will ride him. “If he loses then he’s back to being just another horse.”
Vella said he would be the proudest man on course if Royal Symphony wins.
“At one stage we had 42 broodmares but now we are a boutique operation and we’re down to eight,” he said. “The breeder doesn’t get too much recognition but it’s our livelihood and we put our heart and soul into the operation.”
And there could yet be another Royal Symphony. Vela has decided to again breed with the 25-year-old mare Naturalist for the first time in three seasons. She will be served by Chatswood Stud Stallion All American this weekend.
“She’s capable of having more foals. She’s still got good size follicles,” Vella said.
Royal Symphony was Naturalist’s 15th foal.