Ward Living the Dream With Starman

Starman will stand his first season at Tally-Ho Stud | Racingfotos.com


When the affable David Ward bought a Montjeu (Ire) yearling filly at Goffs Orby through SackvilleDonald for €50,000 in 2011, he could not have envisaged the journey she would take he and his family on over the next 10 years.

Named Northern Star (Ire), she was no world-beater on the track, winning a maiden at Bath as a 3-year-old; however, her record as a broodmare was impeccable before her untimely death after delivering just three foals. Her second foal was Starman (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}), who carried Ward's colours to victory in the G1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket last year and who is about to embark on his second career as a stallion at Tally-Ho Stud. Northern Star, who represented Ward's first foray into racehorse ownership, had initially produced Sunday Star (GB) (Kodiac {GB}), who was a dual winner and a solid stakes performer before being retired to join Ward's select broodmare band at the Player family's Whatton Manor Stud.

Although Ward's main business activity of running a major family owned recycling and waste management company takes up plenty of his time, he has also committed significant time and resources into ensuring that Starman receives the best possible start to his new career.

“My racing interests have sort of been split up into two parts at the moment,” Ward explained. “There are the current horses that are in training and there are the horses bought under the Northern Star Bloodstock banner that have been purchased to promote Starman's stallion career. Some will be covered by Starman and then offered for sale late this year, and others will be covered with the intention of racing the stock.”

Ward made quite a splash at Goffs November, where his purchases included the Aga Khan-bred Ediyva (Ire) (Kingman {GB}) for €300,000 and the G3 Sweet Solera S. winner Muraaqaba (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) from Shadwell for €160,000. The mares are carrying foals by Siyouni (Fr) and Dark Angel (Ire), and Ward said he is keeping an open mind about future plans for those imminent arrivals.

“They are two very nice covers but it depends on how commercial I go with the whole thing,” he said. “I am going to have to be seen to be selling certain progeny, so the most likely scenario is that the Dark Angel and Siyouni will be sold as my focus is really on Starman and getting him going. The mares will then be definitely bred to Starman and I will be aiming to keep the majority of that resulting progeny to race for myself.”

Ward was also busy at Tattersalls, coming away with five mares, but a slightly different approach is being adopted with these.

“These are a more commercial bunch in that I will probably sell a few in foal to Starman just to get his name out there at the sales. It's not set in stone but there is the guts of a plan there; we'll just finalise things as we go along. Ultimately I need to sell nice horses that will give Starman the best chance of success.”

Ward's new stallion is in good company in Tally-Ho, standing alongside the ever-dependable Kodiac (GB), rising star Mehmas (Ire), champion first-crop sire Cotai Glory (GB), Group 1 producer Galileo Gold (GB) and the soon-to-be-tested Kessaar (Ire) and Inns Of Court (Ire). The farm's record at starting off young stallions from relatively inexpensive covering fees is excellent and the partnership makes a lot of sense to Ward.

“I had a relationship with Tally-Ho already having used Kodiac and they expressed an interest in standing Starman. Having taken all the other factors into account we were more than happy to forge an alliance,” Ward said. “He's definitely in the right hands and it's a situation I am very happy about. There has been plenty of interest in the horse from breeders in Ireland and England; if he could go on to mirror the success of Kodiac or Mehmas that would be amazing. Tally-Ho also have a significant broodmare band and will be supporting Starman with their own mares, so he really is going to get every chance.”

Although he reached the pinnacle of the sport by winning a July Cup, 2021 wasn't all about Starman in the Ward stable as he was also represented by the smart filly Primo Bacio (Ire) (Awtaad {Ire}). The 4-year-old, who is also in the care of Ed Walker, won a listed race at York last May but her form tapered off slightly when upped in grade later in the season. Despite that, she still boasts a rating of 112 and Ward is keen to give her another crack at the big time this season.

“Primo Bacio is back in training and we're hoping she might win another stakes race this year. She is not over-raced and she deserves another season of racing before she retires to stud. Obviously Starman will feature in her plans when she does retire so she will be another nice mare for him.”

Ward also has some 2-year-olds to look forward to this year having been active at the yearling sales last autumn.

“I think we have seven 2-year-olds this year, all bought at Tattersalls and Goffs last year except two homebred fillies and the majority are with Ed [Walker]. We bought a lovely Mehmas filly off Tally-Ho Stud at Book 1 and I have a well-bred Lope De Vega (Ire) filly as well. I also picked up a very nice colt by Wootton Bassett (GB), so hopefully we have plenty of ammunition to give us an exciting summer.”

On the matings front, Ward is also launching the breeding career of Starman's older sister Sunday Star, whose first cover had been delayed due to a problem with an ovary. With that issue rectified, the 6-year-old will visit the mighty Frankel (GB). Northern Star's third and final produce was a daughter of Kingman (GB) called Lodestar (GB) who, despite showing promise in training, was fast-tracked for a breeding career when Starman began scaling the heights last year. She is due to Dutch Art (GB) this year and will be covered by Kodiac (GB) after that.

While cognisant of his general good fortune with his horses since he got involved a decade ago, Ward still rues what might have been had Northern Star not met a premature end to her life.

“It's just a tragedy she only had three foals, she would certainly be going to some nice stallions if she was still around given what she achieved in a short space of time,” he said. “I just feel lucky that I still have two young fillies from her that will hopefully allow me to develop the family further over time.”

In a sport often dominated by superpowers and with barriers to entry that can be perceived as being extortionate, Ward's success in racing should give those thinking of getting involved inspiration.

“A healthy dose of good luck goes a long way but it's also very important to align yourself with good people who can help you make the best decisions,” Ward said. “I've got a great, patient trainer in Ed Walker and Ed Player and his family do a great job at rearing the stock while another Ed–Mr. Sackville–is my main advisor at the sales. I'm very happy with the team I have in all aspects of the operation.”

Ward concluded, “Last year was fantastic and I may never get to experience something like that again and I feel so fortunate that it did happen, but for me the next best thing will be watching Starman's progeny winning at the races for me and for others, and that's something we can hopefully look forward to in the next few years.”

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