(Photo: Mungrup Stud)


The exploits of the emerging Australian sire, Oratorio, have captured the attentions of Australian racegoers to the degree that their premier racing monthly, Bluebloods, has devoted three A5 pages to him in their January 2010 issue.

The article kicks off “with the winners of more than $620 000 (just short of R4 million) including Gr.2 winner, Gold Rocks, the Mungrup Stud-based Oratorio was one of the success stories among first crop sires last season, and he’s continued the work this season, with two further Stakes winners”.

“Oratorio was easily the leading sire of Two-Year-Olds as well as the top Freshman sire in his home state of West Australia, and was also fourth on the national first crop list behind Charge Forward, putting him well ahead of the many high fee and high profile sires from the eastern states” (Editor: this is no mean achievement, given that he’s West Australian-based, where stakes are substantially lower, and his local competition includes the much-heralded Bletchley Park, one of the nation’s tried- and-tested juvenile stallions).

This season, his first crop, (now three), includes the good three-year-old filly Clueless Angel, winner of six of her ten starts including the West Australian Guineas and the Burgess Queen Stakes, and the exciting colt, Waratah’s Secret, unbeaten in his first four, including two Stakes events.

This is an auspicious beginning for the place-getters in what looked like a vintage renewal of one of Australia’s great “stallion makers”, the Blue Diamond Prelude (Gr.3,) where Way West proved too good for his quality competition.

Those that’ve visited Way West’s spectacular effort in this event on our website video (www.summerhill.co.za) will recall that it was a “gear from God” on the home bend that kicked him away from his field, following a mid-race stumble which might’ve ruined the prospects of a lesser mortal. Way West’s time in the race beat that of one of the great fillies of modern Australian history, Alinghi, Oratorio flew from behind to get within half length of Way West at the post, and when the timekeepers glanced at their clocks as the horses pulled up, they noted the shattering of the Stakes record.

Also known as the “Demolition Man” to his fans, Way West was tagged a stallion prospect in the making in the aftermath of the Prelude by no less an authority than Peter Keating. With the Blue Diamond (Gr.1) and the world’s richest juvenile event, the Golden Slipper(Gr.1) now in his sights, Way West’s form had Champion trainer, David Hayes contemplating a return from Hong Kong to assist with his mission, but it was not to be. We all know now that a career-crippling foot injury put an end to what would’ve made the son of Danehill a magnet to every Australian stud worth its salt.

As it happens, we can only conjecture at how good he could’ve been, given the chance, but in the end, it may be a blessing for South African breeders. He wouldn’t have been in this country if he’d fulfilled the expectations of his connections, and we must wait now for his first runners to make their debuts before the jury delivers. We’d have to say we fancy his chances a bit, knowing what we saw at the Emperors Palace Ready To Run.

Let’s see what happens at post time.