Millionaire matings at Bhima

The dams of the two $1 million colts Bhima Thoroughbreds sold at this year’s major yearling sales are headed back to the same stallions this spring. TDN AusNZ talks to Mike Fleming about mating plans for some of the star Bhima residents.

The seven-figure results were a huge boost for Bhima’s Mike and Kate Fleming, who run a busy farm in the Hunter Valley with just over 100 broodmares permanently on the 740-acre property.

After a colt by Pierro out of Dance Card (Exceed and Excel) fetched $1.05m at Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale, a Snitzel colt out of Asscher (Stravinsky {USA}) then sold for $1.2m at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

“It was great, we had a $1 million yearling at Easter and a $1 million yearling on the Gold Coast,” Fleming told TDN AusNZ when asked to reflect on the year.

“We’re very encouraged with the quality of stock we are left to look after between our Australian and New Zealand clients. With the strength of the Australian industry and Australian racing, where else would you want to be?”

He revealed that Dance Card, who is already in foal to Pierro, will go back to the Coolmore stallion this year, while Asscher is set to foal to Redoute’s Choice (Aus) before heading back to Snitzel.

Dance Card is owned by one of Bhima’s biggest Australian clients, GSA Bloodstock, while Asscher is owned by Glentree Pastoral.

“It was great, we had a $1 million yearling at Easter and a $1 million yearling on the Gold Coast,” Mike Fleming

From the sales ring to the track

But producing quality yearlings is only part of the plan for Bhima. Mike and Kate are also immensely proud of their graduates’ achievements on the track.

Super Too (Hinchinbrook), I Am a Star (I Am Invincible) and Kaepernick (Fastnet Rock) were among former Bhima foals to win black-type last season.

Fleming is always pleased to see their best and brightest end up with the best trainers.

The $1.2m Snitzel-Asscher colt is with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, while the Pierro-Dance Card colt is with Peter and Paul Snowden. He is named Rome and has already had a jumpout as an early 2-year-old.

“A lot of the time, it’s not just the money you get for them as yearlings, it is where they end up,” Fleming said. “To give them every chance from the sales ring onto the racecourse, getting them into the right hands can mean so much.”

Busy times at Bhima

While Fleming only has a handful of the mares himself, there is an influx of 50-60 additional mares during the breeding season.

“They are generally mares out of New Zealand,” Fleming says. “We do a lot of the work for Pencarrow, Wentwood Grange and Cambridge Stud. A lot of their dry mares come over to breed and turn around and go back.”

The major clients, which also include the likes of Jamieson Park, Raffles Farm and JML Bloodstock, generally work out their own mating plans for their mares, but a couple of key clients work closely with Fleming in determining what direction they should go.

“I have a very good South Australian client, Kerry O’Brien, who I have quite a bit of input with in terms of his breeding plan. He’s got eight mares here, including Augusta Proud (More Than Ready {USA)) who won the Magic Millions 2YO,” Fleming said.

A filly by Snitzel out of Augusta Proud sold for $875,000 at this year’s Magic Million Sales. She is named Ajaayeb and will be trained by Team Hawkes.

“I think a lot of the physical match, you are trying to breed an athlete, not so much at how the horse will look on paper.” – Mike Fleming

Snitzel x Augusta Proud, now named Ajaayeb

Finding the right match

When working on a potential suitor for a mare like Augusta Proud, Fleming said he is looking for a strong physical match.

“I think a lot of the physical match, you are trying to breed an athlete, not so much at how the horse will look on paper,” he said.

“You are trying to imagine what the physical make-up of the yearling is going to be,” he said.

“Breeding by type is a bigger and bigger part of it. With the strength of the sales, you can have a very good horse that doesn’t have a great page but can still sell very well.”

Augusta’s Russian plans

Augusta Proud is due to foal to I Am Invincible in the next two weeks. Fleming intended on sending her to Hinchinbrook before the Yarraman Park stallion’s sudden death in July.

Instead she will visit a first-season sire at Newgate which Fleming is a big fan of.

“I really like what I’ve seen physically from Russian Revolution, ” he said.

“He surprised me a little bit with his size and strength. I think you can see a lot of his female line in him, a lot of the Stravinsky and Nureyev coming through in him.”

“Obviously, with the backing he’s got and the partners involved, he’s got a very good book of mares. He’s going to be fairly commercial in his first year.”

“He’s a man going into the breeding shed, moreso than a boy,” Fleming on Russian Revolution.

“The thing I like about him is that he raced on at four. A lot of these horses, as soon as they have had their three year-old-career they are off to the barn, and he raced on the extra year, so that’s got appeal.”

“He’s a man going into the breeding shed, more so than a boy.”

In terms of the first-season stallion offerings, Fleming is also a fan of Hellbent and Merchant Navy.

Writing by Bren O’Brien For TDN AusNZ

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