THREE WINNERS AT STAKE

DARLING Downs breeder Ron Gilbert will have his eyes on three states tomorrow as his Highgrove Stud operation steps into the big-race spotlight.

Gilbert bred Wanted and Morphettville first-starter Shrapnel from his Snippets mare Fragmentation. Gilbert also races Eagle Farm debutant Jet Surge, a recent Gold Coast trial winner.

At $800,000 Wanted was the most expensive first-crop yearling by Fastnet Rock and he was also the stallion’s first stakes winner. He has twice been Group 1 placed to be rated among Australia’s best three-year-olds, and Gilbert has taken great delight in his progress.

It justifies the effort you put in when they are foals and yearlings,” he said. “Everything is aimed at giving them the best possible chance to go on and win stakes races.”

Gilbert bought Fragmentation off the track from Lindsay Park. “We have had a lot of luck buying horses from David Hayes and Lindsay Park,” Gilbert said. “Angelic Belle (dam of Fravashi and Pure Joy) and Anacarde (dam of Cajou) were also bought that way.”

Ironically, Hayes will provide the stiffest opposition tomorrow in the shape of $3.25 favourite Nicconi. Gilbert feels Wanted has paid his dues and now deserves a Group 1 win. “He hasn’t been unlucky, but he’s run into a few outstanding horses – world class sprinters – in the Group 1 races,” he said. “His turn will come.”

Gilbert said Wanted was always a standout. “He is up there with the nicest colts we’ve bred at Highgrove,” he said. “Fragmentation’s foals are the most relaxed you will ever see. Wanted was so laid-back, we almost had to wake him up at times.”

In keeping with Fragmentation’s superb record, Shrapnel was the most expensive Charge Forward yearling sold last year.

The Mark Kavanagh-trained colt will kick start a Golden Slipper campaign in the Listed Queen Adelaide Stakes.

Blue Sky Thoroughbreds gave $450,000 for him as part of its 2009 Stallion Fund, which also includes current Blue Diamond favourite Beneteau. Gilbert is a shareholder in the fund.

Kavanagh’s high opinion of Shrapnel can be gauged by a purchase he made at Magic Millions last month. The Melbourne Cup-winning trainer paid $170,000 for a Jet Spur filly from Fragmentation’s daughter Scattered.

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