The Blue Riband Session, which debuted in 2013, focuses on classic and staying types of horses, and is proving exceptionally popular,writes Renée Geelen.
Holding it in Victoria takes advantage of the prized distance races such as the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, and Cox Plate, and both breeders and buyers have responded with vigour.
In 2015, then Inglis Victorian director Peter Heagney said, "Despite the fact that many people want a sprinter or an early-coming 2-year-old, the big prize money is in our staying and Classic races. Comes Spring Carnival time, everybody asks, 'Where are our Classic horses? Where are our stayers?' We're not breeding them. So we thought by having this Blue Riband session, we're going to expose those horses that were bred that way to the market place and encourage people to participate and buy this sort of horse, give them a little bit of time and have them running so we've got Australian-bred horses running in our Classics and our cups."
His prediction has come full circle, proving the Blue Riband concept is an excellent initiative. By providing greater support to breeders of classic types, stud masters have, in return, responded to the demand created by the sale. Victorian-based stud farms have invested in this concept with an increase in the stamina options for breeders since the launch of the Blue Riband session.
Inglis Melbourne Premier graduate Jameka is flying the flag for the Australian-bred stayer with her victories in the Caulfield Cup, VRC Oaks and the BMW Stakes, while South African Champion galloper Igugu also excelled over classic distances. Other classic graduates from the Melbourne Premier Sale include Pinker Pinker, Fields of Omagh, Littorio, and Hollow Bullet. Of course, this sale also produces amazing sprinters, such as Black Caviar, Starspangledbanner, Weekend Hussler, Sacred Kingdom, Reward for Effort, Hey Doc, Pasadena Girl, and Hong Kong star Lucky Bubbles.
Many success stories have come from the Blue Riband session, and these graduates are even more impressive, given that most years this session has included only fifty yearlings. Gr1 winners Alboran Sea and Mac de Lago are both Blue Riband graduates. Alboran Sea (Rock of Gibraltar) won a juvenile Gr1 in South Africa at only her second start, and carried that form on as a 3YO winning dual sprint Gr1 races against the older horses. Mac de Lago (Encosta de Lago) won the Gr1 Greyville Gold Challenge over a mile, and ran third to fellow Australian bred The Conglomerate in the 2000m Gr1 Durban July of 2016.
Also from the Blue Riband session are group winners Last Bullet, Sensible Lover, and stakes-winners Charlevoix, Chevauchee and Grand Chancellor.
This season’s 3YO graduates from the 2016 Blue Riband session include promising gallopers Black Sail, and Evil Cry. Black Sail (Savabeel) won his maiden as an August 3YO, and most recently ran third in the Gr2 Sandown Guineas, while Evil Cry (Street Cry) has always shown promise. The chestnut colt debuted in the Inglis 2YO Premier, and this season has placed third in the Listed Taj Rossi Series Final H. Other stakes-placed graduates of the Blue Riband session include Gloryland, Royal Standing, Gold Ambition, New Tipperary, Astro Fame, Princess Varunya, and Mr Sneaky.
With such incredible prizemoney on offer in Victoria for our middle distance and staying races, it is no wonder that Inglis, breeders, and stud masters have responded to a demand for these horses. The Melbourne Premier Sale and its innovative stand-alone inclusion, the Blue Riband session, are proving to be ground breakers.
And they're here to stay – in more ways than one.