Best On Breeding

Mark Smith - Thursday October 29

Cherry Tortoni will carry the Tait family's famous red with white cap silks in the feature $2 million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday, while earlier in the day a sales-topper from the family synonymous with the Taits will be out to earn a maiden stakes success.

He is the Phillip Stokes-trained gelding Octane, a direct descendant of the wonder mare Dark Jewel.

Octane winning down the straight at Flemington (Racing Photos)

A daughter of Star Kingdom out of the Excitement mare Red Lace, Dark Jewel sold for 1,200 guineas at the 1955 Easter yearling sales. She won three races from 25 starts for Fill Alotta before she went through the ring again.

Her trainer made the winning bid of 550 guineas on behalf of the Taits.

She produced eleven foals, of whom ten raced, for nine winners. They included five stakes winners, Heirloom (VATC 1000 Guineas), Betelgeuse (AJC The Shorts), Cabochon (AJC Epsom Handicap QTC Stradbroke Handicap), Birthright (VRC Maribyrnong Plate) and the champion Baguette (2yo Triple Crown - Golden Slipper, AJC Sires' Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes, VRC Newmarket Handicap, BATC Doomben 10,000, AJC George Main Stakes).

The final foal of Dark Jewel was Briolette (King of Babylon). A three-time winner in Sydney, Briolette produced Jewel of Light (Kaoru Star) a smart 2yo who was runner-up to Ma Chiquita in the Group III Magic Night Stakes.

Jewel of Light had just three foals, which included the unraced Century mare Dawn Arrival who, in turn, had 10 winners from 12 named foals.

They included the Brief Truce (IRE) filly Suraya who caught the eye of trainer Robbie Griffith and agent, Peter Ford, at the 1998 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale.

Purchased on behalf of Gilgai Farms Ric Jamieson, Suraya won over 1000m in Melbourne at two and placed in the Group II SAJC Angas Brut Classic and Listed MRC Quezette Stakes at three.

She had six named foals including the Listed winner Spinning Jenny (Hard Spun), the stakes-placed Philda (Secret Savings), a grand money-spinner who won 12 races, and the lightly raced Rory's Jester mare Jestemma who is the dam of 3-time Listed stakes-winner Grande Rosso (Written Tycoon).

Another of Suraya's winners was the Encosta De Lago filly Soorena.

Trained by Lee Hope, Soorena made just one start, a three and a half-length win under Blake Shinn at Echuca over 1000m at two.

Soorena has been a shining light at Gilgai ever since.

Her first foal was the seven-time winner in Ra Ikane (Invincible Spirit). He was followed by The Rude Warrior (Kepinsky) a stakes-placed winner of five races in Singapore. 

Then came Philippi (Host) who carried the all-black Gilgai silks to victory in the Group II ATC Tulloch Stakes, Group II MVRC Alister Clark Stakes and Listed VRC UCI Stakes.

Philipp wins the Tullcoh Stakes (Mark Smith)

Following a second to the champion Dundeel in the ATC Australian Derby, Phillipi was sold to Hong Kong where he raced successfully as Vanilla.

Soorena hit the big-time with her fourth foal, The Quarterback.

Sold to Robbie Griffith for $120,000 at the 2012 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, the son of Street Boss (USA) would bank over $1.5 million with nine wins including the Group 1 VRC Newmarket Handicap.

The Quarterback (Grant Courtney)

So, by the time Soorena's seventh foal strutted into the sales ring at the 2017 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, the score was on the board. And it did not hurt that the handsome bay was a son of the all-conquering I Am Invincible.

Ciaron Maher silenced the arena with a winning bid of $1.4 million, which was more than double that of the next highest lot.

Octane was no instant success story.

He was beaten into second at his debut at Cranbourne before a comfortable win in a 1100m maiden at Wangaratta.

It was downhill from there and, after four unplaced runs, the son of I Am Invincible had a change of scenery.

He was sent to Phillip Stokes for whom he reeled off three consecutive wins at Murray Bridge and twice at Morphettville.  

The winning sequence was broken when fourth at Morphettville on June 20 before rattling off another three wins at Gawler, Morphettville and Flemington.

Octane had his first taste at stakes company at his most recent stat in the Group II Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield.

Despite making the turn like a crab, the son of I Am Invincible did not shirk his task.

He was beaten less than half a length when third behind Dirty Work and Diamond Effort with next start Group 1 Manikato Stakes winner Hey Doc in fourth.

Octane drops from 58kgs to 54kgs in Saturdays Group II Linlithgow Stakes (1200m) where he has the services of the in-form Jamie Kah.


ena's sale ring success did not stop with Octane.

A year later John Hawkes also outlaid $1.4 million for Octane's brother, Born A Warrior, at the 2018 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

At his career debut Born A Warrior was third behind Time To Reign and Tassort in the Group II Silver Slipper Stakes at Rosehill. He followed that up with a second to Cosmic Force in the Group III Pago Pago Stakes. But it took him nine starts to break his maiden. That came at his most recent start over 1200m at Kembla Grange on October 10.

Born A Warrior has the same high head carriage and the erratic tendencies off his brother; however, he has undoubted ability and hopefully, he has found a taste for winning.  

The now 18yo Soorena has been an every other year producer for the past eight seasons.

She has a 2yo Sebring filly named Shanksalot in the stables of Anthony and Sam Freedman and on September 8 foaled a Written Tycoon colt.

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