The quality of the yearlings coming off Ron and Debbie Gilbert’s boutique breeding farm, Highgrove Stud at Westbrook in the Toowoomba region of the Darling Downs, is of such a high grade that the stud has earned the respect of the best judges at the major yearling sales.

For instance Highgrove’s only two yearlings at the 2006 Easter sale in Sydney, colts by Redoute’s Choice, were sold to Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge Stud, NZ for $1,200,000, a record for a Queensland vendor, and to Hong Kong for $950,000.

Earlier in the year, the select sessions of the Magic Millions sale at the Gold Coast saw each of the stud’s five lots sell in the six figure bracket with the buyers being Woodlands, John O’Shea, Tim Martin (twice) and Luskin Park.

The Woodlands acquisition, an Encosta de Lago filly who cost $600,000, is the promising two year-old Cajou. She has earned prizemoney in all her four starts, including a win in Sydney and a fourth in the $1m Magic Millions 2YO Classic at the Gold Coast.

John O’Shea has also had a quick return on his investment of $260,000 for a Highgrove-bred Flying Spur filly, her four starts so far under the name of Esperante including a win and a second at Randwick.

A General Nediym filly, acquired by Tim Martin for $230,000, races as Behind and has shown exciting promise in Melbourne, her two tries, both at Caulfield, resulting in a half-head second in the Blue Diamond Preview-LR and a third in the Blue Diamond Prelude-Gr3.

The Highgrove consignment at the 2007 sale at the Gold Coast also got a good reception from some most astute big spenders, the four yearlings offered selling for $440,000 (for South Africa), $280,000 (Pedigree Dynamics), $200,000 (Gai Waterhouse) and $130,000 (Hong Kong).

The buyer response is a reaction to the superior quality of the Highgrove yearlings and the earlier good results achieved on the racetrack by products of the farm.

Highgrove-bred horses include Jet Spur (10 outings for three stakes wins, the MRC Caulfield Sprint-Gr2, VRC Rory’s Jester Stakes-Gr3 and STC Heritage Stakes-LR; also second AJC Brian Cowley Stakes-LR; third Canberra Black Opal Stakes-Gr3 and fourth STC Silver Slipper Stakes-Gr2) and Porto Roca (five wins, STC Coolmore Classic-Gr1, Queensland Tattersall’s Winter Stakes-Gr3; second SAJC Marsh Classic-Gr2, VRC Gateway Suites Quality Handicap-Gr3; thirdSAJC Australian Oaks-Gr1, MRC Futurity Stakes-Gr1, Invitation Stakes-Gr1 and fourth SAJCSouth Australian Oaks-Gr1).

Also Legally Bay (three wins Sydney including the STC Sweet Embrace Stakes-Gr3 and AJCBrian Cowley Stakes-LR; second AJC T.J. Smith Stakes-Gr2, Silver Shadow Stakes-Gr2 and thirdMRC Oakleigh Plate-Gr1, MVRC Australia Stakes-Gr1, Champagne Stakes-Gr2, STC Silver Slipper Stakes-Gr2 and AJC The Shore-Gr3), Pure Joy (six starts include two Melbourne wins, one of them the VRC The Vanity-Gr3) and Time Out (six wins, Illawarra 2YO Classic-Gr3, NSWTattersall’s Carrington Stakes; second AJC Razor Sharp Handicap-LR, Brian Cowley Stakes-LR and third STC Heritage Stakes-LR).

Others are Get to Work (five starts included a win in the SAJC Cinderella Stakes-LR, a second in the MVRC Victoria Trophy and third in the SAJC The Jansz-Gr3 and two Listed events) and Sir Success (four wins) including three in Brisbane; third BTC Champagne Classic-Gr3 and Tommy Smith Slipper-LR).

Considering Highgrove markets only a small number of yearlings each year, the stud has an enviable record for producing quality performers. This has good prospects of being enhanced by the five lots Highgrove will offer at the William Inglis 2007 Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

The draft comprises colts by Redoute’s Choice, Lonhro, Flying Spur and Falbrav (IRE) and a filly by the latter sire.

The Redoute’s Choice is bred on the same cross as Snitzel, the crack sprinter who started his stud career at Arrowfield last season on $33,000, both of them being by the same sire and from mares by Snippets.

In the yearling’s case, he is from Our Side Show, the dam of three winners including iron horse Omnitrader, a winner of 21 races, and a sister to stakes winners Cheval Place, Snippets Girl and Snippets’ Show.

The Flying Spur colt has had his residual value added to by the fact that he is brother to the earlier-mentioned Jet Spur, a horse who, in addition to his racing prowess, now has a very good opportunity to be a good sire.

He was retired to the Glenlogan Park Stud at Innesplain, Queensland last year and looked after a book of more than 140.

Super Smudge, a sister to Jet Spur and the yearling, has earned more than $100,000 in Sydney; and Critical List, a Danehill three-quarter brother, won Brisbane and was second in the VRCL’Oreal Paris Plate-Gr3.

They are all from Verocative, a Bletchingly Gr3 winner and AJC Light Fingers Stakes-Gr2 second out of a sister to the magnificent Australian racehorse and sire Zedative.

The Lonhro colt, an early September foal a lot like the sire, is half-brother to Cajou and is the second foal of the Anabaa Listed winner Arcade, while the Falbrav colt is a half-brother to Pure Joy and the filly half-sister to Get to Work.

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