Hermitage Thoroughbreds Gunning for More Group I Success

Media Release - Monday February 22

For the second year running, Hermitage Thoroughbreds has a three-year-old with a huge chance to win the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m).

Rocket Spade is on tack for the G1 New Zealand Derby - Trish Dunell.

Rocket Spade confirmed his spot at the head of the male classic crop with a tough victory in the Gr.2 AJC Avondale Guineas (2100m), hitting the line strongly to defeat Jason Belltree and On Display.

In doing so, Rocket Spade followed the path of Dragon Leap, who like Rocket Spade had also won the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) on New Year’s Day.

Both are trained by Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott and raced by Hermitage Thoroughbreds, a racing and breeding operation owned by Hong Kong businessman Eugene Chuang.

A retired banker and financier, Chuang and his wife Karen devote much of their time tophilanthropic pursuits, particularly in the area of childhood development andeducation.

“They deserve every success,” O’Sullivan said. “They have put a bit of money into racing, in Australia as well as New Zealand, so it’s great to see them getting the rewards.”

Hermitage Thoroughbreds is probably best-known in Australia for racing the multiple Group One-winning colt The Autumn Sun, in addition to Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) winner Egg Tart and Gr.1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) winner September Run – all trained by Chris Waller.


2020 G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes winner September Run is another Hermitage Thoroughbreds star performer.

But O’Sullivan and Scott have also enjoyed good success with the Hermitage colours (dark green with red chevrons), boasting Group One victories with Willie Cazals and Summer Passage, in addition to multiple elite level placings with Group Three winner Spring Heat.

Unlike last season’s pre-post Derby favourite Dragon Leap, Rocket Spade raced between his Auckland and Avondale Guineas triumphs, finishing second in an open handicap against older horses at Te Rapa in early February, which O’Sullivan said reflected the different natures of the two horses.

“They’re two totally different sorts of horses. We’re thinking Dragon Leap is probably a miler now, whereas Rocket Spade is more dour,” O’Sullivan said.

“He’s still got to run 2400m. You don’t know until you actually try them, but we think he will. Certainly his style of racing suggests he would get further.”

Rocket Spade is currently second favourite for this year’s Derby with TAB bookmakers behind the filly Amarelinha, who has yet to be nominated for the race.

Dragon Leap went on to finish fourth in the Derby, failing to stay the 2400m after hitting the lead 400m out in a taxing contest.

He hasn’t raced since finishing eighth of 11 in the Gr.2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick last September, suffering a minor injury which stopped his spring campaign.

“He’s probably done about 10 weeks of rehab with us so he’s probably not far away from picking up in his work. He has another scan this week, and if we have the all-clear, we can speed him up. He should be racing again this season.”

Rocket Spade wasn’t the only winner for Hermitage Thoroughbreds at Ellerslie, with Cha Siu Bao winning a rating 74 event over 1600m.

Cha Siu Bao wasn’t far off the best three-year-olds four seasons ago, finishing fourth in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Gr.2 Great Northern Guineas (1600m), and the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m). He’s found it hard to bridge the gap to the top horses since then, and Saturday’s victory was his fifth from 34 starts.

“He’s got above average talent, but he mixes his form and he’s got to want it. We were fortunate to have Opie (Bosson, jockey) on board on Saturday.”

Ellerslie wasn’t the only place O’Sullivan had success last Saturday, as he is one of the owners of Defibrillate, winner of the Listed Neds Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield.

O’Sullivan is a close friend of fellow Matamata trainer Graham Richardson, the main owner of Defibrillate. Richardson prepared Defibrillate to win two of his three New Zealand starts before sending him to Victorian trainer Patrick Payne.

“I’m just a small shareholder but it’s certainly a lot of fun being involved,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s really exciting for Richie. He’s won nine from 13 now, and he’s running in good company.” – NZ Racing Desk

Stallion Parade
More Reading...
Flying Artie Colt Wins G1 Blue Diamond
Outstanding colt Flying Artie was a fast finishing second in the 2016 Group I MRC Blue Diamond Stakes behind Extreme Choice after drawing near the outside, but he got a measure of consolation for that defeat when his first crop son Artorius stormed to victory in the $1.5million juvenile classic at Caulfield on Saturday.
Winning Debut for $1million Redoute’s Choice Colt
The Hermitage Thoroughbreds colours enjoyed phenomenal success when carried by glamour Redoute’s Choice colt The Autumn Sun and while Green Flash has a way to go to live up to that standard, the expensive son of Redoute’s Choice did make a winning debut at Newcastle on Friday.
Sires With Winners - Saturday March 6
Here is the full list of 121 stallions which had winners throughout Australasia today with winners and result details.
Marboosha Ambushes Them in the Incognitus Stakes
The three-year-old Dream Ahead (USA) filly Marboosha showed she will be competitive at the highest level this autumn following a barnstorming win in Saturday’s Listed Incognitus Stakes (1100m) at Flemington.
NZ Derby to be Run Sunday
The Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) meeting will take place at Ellerslie on Sunday after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced Auckland would drop to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 at 6am on Sunday.
Widden Stud Expand into Victoria
The world’s oldest family-owned and run thoroughbred stud farm, Widden Stud is set to write a new chapter in 2021 with a well-considered expansion plan into the Victorian marketplace.
Star Savabeel Filly Looks to Extend NZB Filly Series Lead
Standout filly Amarelinha (NZ) (Savabeel) tops the 2020-21 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series table, and a trip to Ellerslie for Sunday’s $70,000 Group Three McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) gives her the chance to add to her advantage. 
Who Were Australia’s Busiest Sires in 2020?
The Australian Studbook have today released updated statistics on the busiest sires in Australia in 2020 and despite the prevailing doom and gloom that cast a pall over last spring due to the worldwide pandemic and ensuing economic uncertainty, some 28 stallions still covered books of 150 or more mares, which was two more than in 2019.
Zoustar's Glistening Books Her Ticket to the Golden Slipper
Richard and Michael Freedman did not have long to reflect on the luckless fourth of Stay Inside in the Todman Stakes before the mood brightened considerably when the Zoustar filly Glistening held off a hard-charging Swift Witness in the Group II Yarraman Park Reisling Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.
First Season Sire Watch on Saturday
The first season sires division have been making news every Saturday and will have every opportunity to keep the ball rolling again today with loads of interesting runners around Australia.