Valachi Downs stud manager Jonathan Scully took a phone call that no thoroughbred owner wants to receive this morning.
Co-trainer Pam Gerard had the unenviable task of advising Scully that multiple Group 1 placegetter Savile Row had sustained a paddock injury overnight that would see him off the track for up to six months.
Scully spoke with owner Kevin Hickman and after contemplating the required recuperation period the decision was made to retire the good-looking Makfi entire.
“We were heading towards the Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa and were just trying to find a jockey,” Scully said.
“This morning Pam checked him in the paddock and he’s taken a bit of a knock to a joint that we don’t think we are going to be able to run him on. It’s probably going to take three to six months for him to come back.
“We’ve had to make a decision – do we geld him and run the risk of him possibly not even coming back?
“We were looking to go to stud with him this season anyway. We have had a fair bit of interest from a few people who have been making enquiries over the last couple of months.”
Touted as a future star after scoring on debut at Avondale as a two-year-old, Savile Row finished runner-up to Ugo Foscolo in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at just his fourth start.
A comfortable win over 1200m against the older horses at Ellerslie followed before the colt was denied his maiden Group 1 triumph by a bare nose when beaten into second behind Hall Of Fame in the Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham.
Savile Row again tackled the older horses in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa where once again he finished second, this time behind multiple Group One winner Volkstok’n’barrell. He rounded out his three-year-old season by finishing unplaced in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) won by Gingernuts.
Transferred to Michael Moroney’s Melbourne stable for his four-year-old spring campaign, Savile Row failed to settle in his new environment, finishing well back in three starts before returning home to Matamata.
Energised by the return to familiar haunts, he scored first-up at Listed level in the Hallmark Stud Handicap (1200m) before storming home for fifth in the Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) at his final career run.
Scully is confident the powerfully built entire will have the requisite backing to carve a successful stallion career in New Zealand.
“Kevin’s very positive on the horse, he’s a lovely looking animal and we know he was one of the best in his three-year-old year,” Scully said.
“He is prepared to back the horse and send him some of his best mares in his first year and I think we’ll see some cracking types at the sales in a couple of years.
“Makfi was a great loss to the New Zealand breeding industry when he was sold to Japan and Kevin made a substantial offer last year to try to prevent that from happening.
“A horse like this has to be quite an attractive stallion prospect.”
Scully was quick to label the attributes he believed would convince broodmare owners to support Savile Row’s stud career.
“He’s a very masculine, strong horse,” Scully said. “There is a lot of power about him, I think that’s where we’ve seen him have three starts over 1200m and he’s won all of them.
“He’s a horse that could leave anything. Just looking at him, he’s going to stamp some outstanding individuals.”
Hickman and Scully will now spend time considering where Savile Row will be best placed to commence his stallion duties.
“It’s a massive opportunity for someone to come along and talk with Kevin and I about the potential of where this horse stands and be supported with some high-quality mares,” Scully said