Spirit Of Boom A Family Matter

Scott McAlpine with lot 392, Spirit of Boom colt | Kelsey Riley


GOLD COAST, Australia–At the midway juncture of the racing season in Australia, one stallion has pulled well out in front in the race for champion first-season sire honours: Eureka Stud's Spirit of Boom (Aus) (Sequalo {Aus}). The dual Group 1-winning sprinter has notched seven winners, three stakes winners and earnings of A$508,560. His next closest pursuers, Darley's Epaulette (Aus) and Dawn Approach (Aus), have two winners apiece.

Spirit of Boom's success is woven closely into the fabric of the McAlpine family's Eureka Stud in Queensland, which has been in the family since the 1940s. The McAlpines bought Spirit of Boom's third dam and bred and raced his second dam and his dam.

The McAlpines and Spirit of Boom are also closely integrated with the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale. Indeed, the sire himself was a A$90,000 graduate of this sale and Eureka last year sold his second stakes winner Ef Troop (Aus)–the second-favourite for Saturday's Magic Millions 2YO Classic–for A$70,000 and his stakes-winning filly Outback Barbie (Aus), who also runs Saturday, for A$210,000. Eureka bred both horses and offers siblings to both this week.

Of the success Spirit of Boom has so far enjoyed, the farm's current frontman Scott McAlpine said, “It's a long process, and in this industry in Australia it's hard to buy colts that are performers, for a little farm such as ourselves in competition with the big boys. We sold Spirit of Boom for A$90,000 at the Magic Millions and I retained 15% with the intention that if he was good enough as a racehorse and could stay a colt there was a possibility that it might fall into place to become a stallion. So far the plan has come to fruition.”

Spirit of Boom was an early 2-year-old himself, winning a trial for the Magic Millions 2YO Classic. He beat just two home in the main event but rebounded in the autumn with a pair of wins and a second in Group 2 company. He stayed in training until the age of six, and remarkably in his final season rewarded McAlpine with the top-level performances he needed to stand at Eureka. Spirit of Boom won the G1 William Reid S. over 1200 metres at Moonee Valley before taking Queensland's most important sprint, the G1 Doomben 10,000.

McAlpine said he syndicated the horse with 40 shareholders–many small Queensland breeders–to give Spirit of Boom the chance he needed to start his stud career.

“When he won the 10,000 and the William Reid, the big breeders probably didn't take a lot of notice of him,” he said. “His pedigree is strong enough against his performance, but his performance is what stood out. The group of shareholders are a great team of people. We're all battlers, all trying to make a dollar and hopefully now we're going to make a couple dollars.”

Spirit of Boom covered in the ballpark of 150 mares in his first three years at stud, and was helped by a 90% fertility rate. McAlpine said it was apparent early on that the horse was stamping his foals.

“His foals were very much like himself, he'd very much stamped them into a mold himself,” he said. “I thought that was a great attribute to have because he was a fast, sprinting horse himself and he put his backside and shoulders on to them and gave them his intelligence.”

Rather than resting on their laurels, however, the team at Eureka set out to get the Spirit of Booms in front of buyers and trainers across the country.

“Australia is a big country, so we set out to try to market those horses across the country,” McAlpine said. “We ended up taking four to South Australia, two to Victoria, four to New South Wales and I took two to New Zealand. The rest then stayed in Queensland to be sold.”

That Queensland haul included the aforementioned Ef Troop and Outback Barbie, as well as horses sold for A$110,000, A$150,000 and A$210,000. One of the colts sold in New Zealand has also shown promise and was unlucky to be beaten first-out.

“One of the two that I took to New Zealand came out and won a trial by 10 lengths,” McAlpine said. “New Zealand starts racing before Australia and he went in the first 2-year-old race in New Zealand. There were only three horses in it. He was drawn the outside barrier and the horse that was inside, they jumped together and went head-to-head the whole way and he got beaten by a nostril.”

“I think trainers realized these horses had some ability and the trials that followed in Australia showed us that,” he added. “Then when the first races started to come along we were in the money straight away. They were winning trials, everything was going right, and they're sound sensible horses and they've shown they can go on to do it. The horses that are running are performing across the board, and when this wave finishes the next wave will start. There are a lot of horses in work that will be ready to race from next week on, waiting for these Magic Millions horses to go out for spells and have a break.”

McAlpine acknowledged that winning a Magic Millions with a horse he bred and sold, by a stallion that is a fourth-generation homebred, would be special.

“We produced a Magic Millions winner in Sea Captain back in 1988 when there was a fillies' and a colts' race, so we know what the feeling is to win a Magic Millions when we own one,” he said. “This time we're going to have to breed the winner. And maybe we might even get a placegetter on top of that.”

Spirit of Boom will also be represented on Saturday by the stakes-winning Jonker (Aus).

“To have three runners in that race on its own is probably a feat for any stallion, especially when it comes from a Queensland-bred horse getting Queensland mares,” McAlpine said. “He's not getting the top line of mares. For that horse to produce racehorses that can get into that race and perform I think is a big attribute. You can't believe a horse would get a start like this and it will continue whether he wins the Magic Millions or not. There are horses out there ready to run in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in the next month to six weeks and if we're lucky enough to win a few races there, everyone will take even more notice.”

Eureka Stud has 15 to sell this week, five in Book 1 and 10 in Book 2 on Sunday. Those include a Pierro (Aus) half-sister to Outback Barbie (Aus) (lot 203), and a Spirit of Boom half-brother to the stakes-winning Tiyatrolani (Aus) (Captain Sonador {Aus}) (lot 392). Of that colt McAlpine said, “We have a nice Spirit of Boom colt out of an Encosta de Lago mare that won us three races and ran third in the Magic Millions Prelude the same year Spirit of Boom won. That mare's first foal is already a stakes winner and the second foal by Spirit of Boom is already placed. This is the third one.”

Eureka sells seven Spirit of Booms, also including a half-brother to Group 1 winner Southern Lord (Aus) (Stratum {Aus}) (lot 497).

“He is out of a Rory's Jester mare that has already produced a Group 1 winner in Southern Lord,” McAlpine said. “She has a 2-year-old in work with David Hayes who is a full-sister to this horse. He's a lovely colt–nice, balanced and sensible.”

Sunday's haul includes “a couple really nice fillies” as well as the full-brother to Ef Troop (lot 977). McAlpine said of Eureka's Book 2 horses, “The pedigrees aren't over the moon but they're good, racing pedigrees and winning families with a bit of black-type.”

McAlpine is deservedly enjoying the accolades coming Eureka's way with the success of Spirit of Boom.

“We've done it all our lives, I'm a third generation horseman and we're a family farm that's been operating since the late 1940s,” he said. “For a family farm to stay competitive in this very intense breeding world is very rewarding. My wife and myself have three sons and we've all gone the same way; once it's in your blood you can't get it out.”

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