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High impact for industry - Queensland History of Racing

Queensland History of Racing

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High impact for industry


high syce

We all are aware of the impact that Queensland breeding has had on the Australian thoroughbred. Horses like Lion, Hunter, Celestial Dancer, Sequalo and even Smokey Eyes some years back have been critical to the evolution of the breed. But if we delve even further into the history of the thoroughbred in Australia, we see that Queensland has played a dominant role in Australian racing for a long time.

Two of Queensland’s best thoroughbreds were High Syce and Highland who have probably now been relegated to distant memories. It would be a shame for Queensland racing and breeding if their exploits were forgotten.

Highland was born in 1921, a son of the Canning Downs stallion, Highfield. Highfield had been imported to Queensland by Canning Downs’ owner, Mr J.H.S. Barnes, who was also a QTC committee member during the 1930s. The stallion was a son of William The Third, who in turn was by the great St Simon. Importantly Highfield was out of a mare called Meadow Rue by Sainfoin, who was a half-sister to the excellent stallion, Valais by Cicero. He went on to produce 13 Stakes winners.

Highland won the first two-year-old race of the season in the QTC Hopeful Stakes, but rather surprisingly never won another Black Type race until 1925 when he won the Stradbroke, a feat he was to accomplish again the following year. Highland went south, and in 1928 won the Cantala Stakes, October Stakes, Underwood and Cox Plate. The following year he won the Toorak and Memsie Stakes before repeating his Underwood success of the previous year.

Highland was a son of an Australian bred mare called Regulator, by the imported NZ stallion, Havoc. Regulator also had a daughter called Regular Hours who produced another Hopeful Stakes winner in Regular Bachelor, and also Hourly who won the 1928 Queensland Guineas.

If we were to look at the pedigree of Highland, we would see that the most interesting feature is six lines of the important stallion, Stockwell within the first six generations of his pedigree.

High Syce was perhaps the best of Highland’s progeny. As a two-year-old, he won the QTC Sires’ Produce before going on to win the Queensland Derby as a three-year-old. In all, High Syce won 10 Stakes races in Queensland during 1927 and 1928 before venturing to Victoria.

During 1929, High Syce won the Caulfield Stakes, October Stakes, Melbourne Stakes, and his biggest victory, the Caulfield Cup. High Syce actually set the race and track record during this victory. High Syce started among the favourites for the Melbourne Cup which was won by Nightmarch with the immortal Phar Lap running third.

The pedigree of High Syce shows four lines of Stockwell, but this is overshadowed by the close duplication of St Simon in the third and fourth generations. We also see that Highfield’s fourth dam is a mare called Hamptonia, by Hampton out of Feronia. High Syce’s damsire is a stallion called Syce who in turn has a stallion called Ayrshire as his own damsire. Ayshire is important in the case of High Syce in that he is a three quarter brother to Hamptonia.

Highfield can still be found in modern pedigrees, although his influence is now relegated well back. Given his local Queensland heritage, it comes as no surprise to see Highfield present in the pedigrees of such good local gallopers as Bulldog Yeats and two of Sequalo’s stakes winners in full siblings, Shysu and Sequallan. Highfield also appears in the female line of another good Queensland bred galloper in Foolish, by Iglesia.

Interestingly, we also see Highfield’s making an impact in Singapore where he appears in the pedigree of their good stakes winner, Lim’s Classic.

Syce, who we saw was the damsire of High Syce, is a critical influence in Queensland breeding. Standing not all that far from Canning Downs at nearby Lyndhurst Stud, Syce was a son of the classic stallion, Cyllene.

Syce was noted as a prolific sire of winners and was also renowned as a good sire of two-year-olds. He was also considered important at the time for introducing the bloodlines of the leading female Parrafin into Australia.

In total, Syce sired 16 Stakes winners. Perhaps his best were Had I Wist who won eight Stakes races in Brisbane, Molly’s Robe who won the Queensland Guineas as well as a VRC Newmarket and Oakleigh Plate, and a filly called Lyndhurst Lady who was regarded by many as the best two-year-old in Australia in spite of her winning only one Stakes race.

Molly’s Robe went on to become an outstanding broodmare producing four Stakes winners including the scintillating Mollison. Mollison won 12 Stakes races commencing with the VATC Debutante Stakes over four furlongs as a two-year-old. He followed this up with victory in the Maribyrnong Plate and VRC Sires’ Produce before heading to NSW for the autumn two-year-old races. He was victorious in two legs of the Triple Crown in the Champagne Stakes and AJC Sires’ Produce.

As a three-year-old, Mollison won the Hobartville Stakes and Rosehill Guineas, and trained on as an older horse winning a Chelmsford Stakes, Futurity and All Aged Stakes.

Most notably we see that Syce appears in the pedigree of the good racemare Duk Duk, who has produced the excellent runner Masked Assassin.

Syce can also be found in the pedigree of the good two-year-old Down The Wicket by Over.

Mollison was a son of Seremond, a stallion that also stood at Lyndhurst Stud.

Seremond was, like Highfield, a grandson of St Simon. He was by Desmond who was a full-sister to the excellent broodmare Festa who produced four Stakes winners.

Seremond had been placed third in the St Leger in England. At Lyndhurst, Seremond became known as the sire of good two-year-olds, of which Mollison was no doubt the stand out.

In total Seremond sired 29 Stakes winners, including such youngsters as Burlesque, Ladamond, Serelot, Gay Galah, Taupo, Gold Frock, Budgerigar, Sage Bird, Nigra Avis, and Lady Bino.

Most critically perhaps was the presence of Seremond as the damsire of Spear Chief, the son of Spearfelt who won two Brisbane Cups as well as a QTC Sires’ Produce, Guineas and Queensland Derby. He is also the damsire of another stallion called Katanga who produced a mare called Dolled Up. When mated with Dalray, the mare produced Hall of Fame galloper, Tails.

An interesting note to Tails’ pedigree is also the presence of Molly’s Robe as his fourth dam. Seremond is regularly found in modern pedigrees, and notably through Tahnee’s Pride, the dam of Shogun Lodge and grand dam of Lashed.

Queensland breeding has introduced some wonderful enduring influences to the Australian thoroughbred. These stallions and racehorses are just some of the wonderful examples that has made Queensland such an important part of the Australian thoroughbred.

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One of Queensland's best thoroughbreds Highland won 7 Group 1's including the 1928 Cox Plate.

Canning Downs

J.H.S. Barnes purchased Canning Downs in 1917. Part of the appeal of Canning Downs to J.H.S. Barnes was its long association with thoroughbreds and the reputation of the Darling Downs as top breeding country. From J.H.S's second crop at Canning Downs, he produced Rivoli who won the 1922 AJC Derby.