Kia Ora Stud’s historic return to standing its own stallions took a giant leap forward this week with foundation pair Farnan and Prague taking up residence in a brand new stallion barn ahead of their much-anticipated debut in the spring of 2021.

It is 105 years since Percy Miller first stood stallions on Kia Ora, dipping his toe into the water with an import called Flippant (GB), who cost 1000 gns, and served around 20 mares in his first season.

What followed was a breeding operation that would shape the Australian thoroughbred throughout the 20th century, starting with Magpie (GB), who followed Flippant into the breeding barn, Kia Ora stallions would become among the most revered in the country.

Champion stallions Midstream (GB) and Delville Wood (GB) would follow, while in the era after Miller’s passing, the likes of Gunsynd and Baguette stood on the property and like their illustrious forebears, were buried there upon their deaths.

After a significant period investing in stallions across other farms, and 21 years after Malaysian businessman Ananda Krishnan purchased Kia Ora, Golden Slipper S. winner Farnan and multiple Group winner Prague are set to extend the Kia Ora stallion legacy.

With such an amazing history, the respective sons of Not A Single Doubt and Redoute’s Choice are quite literally walking in the footsteps of giants.

Like Miller and his stud manager Bert Riddle a century before, the team at Kia Ora have grand ambitions for their stallions and have spared no expense to accommodate them, with Farnan and Prague familiarising themselves with their plush new surroundings in the stallion barn this week, a little over four weeks from beginning their duties.

“The boys moved in on Tuesday. We brought them over to the new complex. It’s very exciting. It’s good to see all the work coming together over the last couple of months. It’s been a phenomenal effort getting ready for the breeding season. We had that deadline there that had to be met,” Shane Wright, Kia Ora Stud’s bloodstock and breeding manager, said.


A spring deadline

Kia Ora confirmed its continued investment in the stallion market in August last year with the purchase firstly of Farnan, Australia’s Champion 2-Year-Old, and then Prague later that month. With the intention of launching its new stallion facility in 2021, construction began in December last year, with a firm deadline.

“We started Christmas week, that was when the site was opened. For what has been done in that time, we are extremely proud and the whole team has worked very well together to get where we are now,” Wright said.

“Like any farm, there’s always work to be done, but we are pretty much ready to go. The stallion barn is obviously done, and the covering barn is ready for operation, although we have always been in the ownership of many top stallions in the Hunter Valley, to have our own new complex operational really adds a very exciting dynamic for the whole team heading into this coming breeding season.

“The stallion barn is well done, nicely finished and a really functional barn. It keeps with Kia Ora’s model of being very naturally Australian and having top-class facilities, we are all very proud of it.”

Infrastructure is only as valuable as the horses that utilise it and the challenge for Kia Ora and its two new residents is to ensure they get every chance to succeed in the ultra-competitive environment of the Australian breeding industry.

To this point, the two colts, who have had several months to adjust to post-racing life, have done everything asked of them.

“They have really let down well. We have been able to have a handful of parades for local breeders that have been able to attend and who have been able to do so within the restriction guidelines. They’ve been very well-received,” Wright said.

“Farnan has been fully booked for a while now and Prague’s numbers are coming along nicely and he is going to get a very nice book as well this season.

“They are two very good horses to deal with, Farnan has that playfulness and presence about him, which is great to see and Prague is an absolute gentleman.”


A Golden opportunity

Farnan is the first Golden Slipper S. winner to retire to stud in Australia in four seasons, and as a son of Not A Single Doubt, brings a pedigree to match that race performance.

As well as being one of Australia’s leading sires of the past decade, Not A Single Doubt, now pensioned from duties at Arrowfield Stud, is also building a strong record as a sire of sires, with Newgate’s Extreme Choice set to claim honours as Australia’s Champion First Season Sire this season.

Farnan is one of three sons of Not A Single Doubt to head to stud this season, and by far the best-credentialled and he will stand at $55,000 (inc GST).

“To relaunch an operation with a horse like Farnan is just a dream. He’s got looks, he was such a precocious 2-year-old, a Champion of his season, and of course was a Golden Slipper winner. If you look across the years in Australia, they have been the ones that worked,” Wright said.

“We have seen Not A Single Doubt really take a step into being a sire of sires. It’s come together quite well for him and we couldn’t be happier about it.”

Farnan was initially purchased by Phoenix Thoroughbreds/Aquis for $550,000 through the Vinery draft on the first day of the 2019 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

Earlier that day, the same combination had gone to $1.6 million to secure a GSA Bloodstock-bred son of Redoute’s Choice from the draft of Bhima Thoroughbreds.


Born to be a stallion

That colt was a three-quarter brother to Group 1 winner and Widden Stud stallion Stratum Star and would be named Prague.

Twice a Group 3 winner, he would tackle the best horses throughout much of his career, running second in a G1 Inglis Sires’ as a 2-year-old and fourth against the older horses as a 3-year-old in both the G1 Newmarket H. and G1 All-Aged S.

At $16,500 (inc GST), Kia Ora feels he is the perfect horse to sit alongside Farnan on its new roster.

“In his price bracket, he is absolutely huge value. There are not many direct sons of Redoute’s Choice that are coming through the system. Redoute’s Choice is a Champion sire and a sire of Champion sires, so to have a young son of his coming through is great,” Wright said.

“He was a $1.6 million yearling, so I think that gives you an indication of the quality of horse he is when it comes to his physical.

“Then there is what he did on the racetrack. He was a phenomenal 2-year-old, dual Group winner, Group 1-placed and was very unlucky in the Sires’. He was very consistent as a 3-year-old and if you go back and look at his runs in the Newmarket and in the All-Aged, his runs were absolutely phenomenal.”

Wright is also confident in the physical compatibility of Prague as a stallion.

“He’s the sort of horse that will suit nearly any mare. He stands at 16.1. He’s got great balance, great athleticism and so much quality. He’s correct and a great mover,” he said.

“It sounds like you are describing the perfect horse, but he just about is in that regard. Anyone that has come here to see him has been really taken by him. Almost everyone who has come here to the farm has booked a mare in to him.

“They are good breeders who have decided to support him with really nice mares that can produce really good racehorses.”

The new breeding season has come up quickly for Kia Ora, and the significance of the milestone of getting Farnan and Prague settled into their new surroundings can not be undersold.

“It’s a sigh of relief that they have settled in. We are getting ready here for the first foals and not long after that we will be covering the first mares. It’s a hugely exciting time for the whole team here at Kia Ora,” Wright said.


Story courtesy of TDN AusNZ