Why the Aussie Bred Rules the Roost

Tara Madgwick - Monday August 3

Australian bred sires filled the first ten places on the Australian General Sires List this year giving rise to a pride filled Tweet from Aushorse highlighting this fact, but before you go all anti- shuttle, do have a thought on how those Australian stallions were made and consider a few facts on how tough it is for a shuttle stallion to succeed.

So let’s take a look at these heavy hitters and their origins.

Four of them – Snitzel, Fastnet Rock, Not a Single Doubt, and Exceed and Excel - are direct Danehill line sires and if anyone needs reminding, Danehill was the shuttle stallion that changed our world for the better.

He claimed nine general sire titles between 1995 and 2005, with the only other stallion to get a look in during that period being Kiwi bred Zabeel, who won two titles in 1998 and 1999, and continues to have a big influence through his champion great grand-son Pierro, who appears in the Top 10 at number three.


For the record, Zabeel was by Irish bred Sir Tristram from French bred Lady Giselle, so while the suffix says NZ, the pedigree says otherwise.



Invincible Spirit made his mark as a sire of sires first here in Australia with I Am Invincible.


I Am Invincible was sired by Invincible Spirit (IRE), a Group I winning son of Green Desert that shuttled to Victoria and stood for four seasons for fees of $13,200 and $11,000.

He achieved moderate success here with dual Group I winner Yosei his star performer, but is now one of the most influential sires in Europe standing at a fee of 100,000 euros and has no fewer than seven sons at stud here this spring.

Working down the list we come to Sebring, a Golden Slipper winning son of a dirt track sprinter in More Than Ready (USA), who has been one of the most successful shuttle sires outside of Danehill.

Zoustar and Rubick are grand-son and son of Encosta de Lago, a stallion that won the Australian General Sires title in 2008 and 2009. He was sired by Fairy King (USA), the full brother to Sadler’s Wells, who shuttled to Australia just twice with a gap of four years between his two visits.

Fairy King was largely underwhelming in this part of the world, but left a lot of very nice types and in Encosta de Lago gave us a game changer.

That leaves us with Written Tycoon, a grand-son of an outstanding shuttle sire in Last Tycoon (IRE), who won the Australian General Sires title in 1994, that was the year before Danehill started his reign.

We thought Last Tycoon was the ‘duck’s nuts’ at the time, but then Danehill came along and blew him right out of the water, which is why we now have one of his descendants in the Top 10 and yet seven of the Top 10 carry Danehill blood.

The legend of Danehill is what has in part made it so hard for all shuttle stallions that have followed because they can never live up to what he did and few are given the opportunity to really try.

Danehill won the Australian General Sires Title on nine occasions

If success is not immediate for a shuttle sire, it’s easier to say don’t come back, rather than to persevere and give a horse time to let his runners do the talking, while putting up with the indifference of breeders.

The most successful shuttle sires in recent times outside of those already mentioned have been Street Cry (IRE), High Chaparral (IRE), Medaglia D’Oro (USA) and Lope de Vega (IRE), four stallions with a middle distance profile that were afforded some time to make their mark and duly rewarded their supporters.

Teofilo (IRE), albeit more of a sprinting son of Galileo, could also be added to the list. 

None were particularly successful at the end of their first season of runners, but as their progeny matured we all saw the light and now we see their sons at stud with High Chaparral in particular making his mark through So You Think and Dundeel.

The success of the Australian thoroughbred is built on our unique access to the world’s best bloodlines from both Europe and North America and we would do well to remember that as we move towards a new breeding season.


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