A new Darley stallion is sure to spark plenty of interest during this year’s Ontrack Racing Hunter Valley Horse and Wine Tour.
The champion miler in Europe last season, Ribchester, will take up duties at Darley’s Kelvinside Stud.
The Ontrack horse and win tour takes place in October each year and Darley is one of six leading Hunter Valley studs on show during the annual tour.
Ribchester set a new track record for Ascot's straight mile when winning the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting in 2017. He had broken his maiden in the prestigious G2 Mill Reef Stakes over 1,200m as a two-year-old, before winning his first European title as a three-year-old, his Championship sealed with victory in an especially competitive running of the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
In 2017, Ribchester began his campaign to retain his crown with a wide-margin win in the G1 Lockinge. After his record-breaking win in the Queen Anne Stakes, a second successful trip to France saw him land the Prix du Moulin.
Ribchester is the best yet by Iffraaj, one of the world's top ten sires of G1 winners last year. Iffraaj has enjoyed huge success in the southern hemisphere, headlined by Classic winners Jon Snow, Gingernuts and Turn Me Loose. His first stallion son, Wootton Bassett, sired European Horse of the Year Almanzor in his first crop.
Bookings are now open for the Hunter Valley trip and Ontrack’s Grant Morgan said there’s been strong interest in the tour.
“Hunter Valley is the first tour each year, followed by New Zealand in November and Hong Kong in December.
“There’s been strong interest in the Hunter Valley trip this year and we already have a solid list of bookings locked in, so I’d urge anyone wanting to visit some of the world’s greatest thoroughbred studs to express their interest fairly promptly,” said Grant Morgan.
Hong Kong racing continues to get stronger and this weekend sees the Hong Kong Derby run as a burgeoning international event.
Ontrack Racing Tours takes an annual tour to the Longines International Hong Kong meeting each December featuring leading horses, trainers and jockeys from around the world, but the Hong Kong Derby is making significant progress as a significant event on the world racing stage.
International superstar jockeys Hugh Bowman and Ryan Moore have been booked to ride in Sunday’s $HK18 million classic.
Bowman rides former Queensland Derby winner Ruthven for trainer John Moore while Ryan Moore is booked to ride the John Size-trained Ping Hai Star.
But Bowman will need a clearance from a neurologist before he can head to Hong Kong for the Derby. The champion jockey won the 2016 Hong Kong Derby on Werther, and Ruthven has a very similar form profile to that horse.
Bowman suffered a concussion last Saturday when falling from a mount at Randwick when his mount suddenly veered sideways and caught the rider by surprise.
“I expect Bowman will ride on Saturday in Australia and will no doubt need to be cleared for that at the Sydney end.
So that also is a clearance to ride here but we will want an extra clearance from a neurologist to say that he is OK to fly,” Jockey Club chief steward Kim Kelly said.
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