Young sires extending the Denise’s Joy influence

Brian Russell - 2 September 2009

DENISE’S JOY, one of the female giants of Australian racing of late last century and one of the most significant matriarches of the current one, is having her excellence transmitted further through two young sires whose offspring are bobbing up regularly in the winners’ stalls.

Both represented by first crop 4-year-olds, closely related through their dams and sharing the same paternal great grandsire, Northern Dancer, they are New Zealand based Thorn Park (by Spinning World; Windsor Park Stud) and Conatus (by the awesomely prepotent Danehill), a resident at Heather Pascoe’s Plaintree Farms stud close to the capital of Queensland’s famous Darling Downs, Toowoomba.

Thorn Park, a leading Australian sprinter whose nine wins included the QTC Stradbroke, AJC Hobartville Stakes and STC Premiere Stakes, includes among his offspring11 who have won or placed in stakes races with the honour board headed by Matamata Breeders’ Stakes winners Te Akau Rose and Te Akau Coup and Desert Gold Stakes winner Glamorous Girl.

He is one of nine successful at Group1 level among the 30 stakes winners descending to date from Denise’s Joy. Besides Thorn Park, the Group1 winners have been Euphoria, Bentley Biscuit, Joie Denise, Tuesday Joy, Sunday Joy, Miss Danehill, Joie de Grise (South Africa) and Arlington Road.

Another Group1 performer descending from Denise’s Joy has been Primus, a Flying spur placegetter in the Caulfield Guineas, Rosehill Guineas and Canterbury Guineas standing at the Chatswood stud at Seymour in Victoria. Now in his third season, he has had good quality books of 122 and 132.

Conatus, the Danehill descendant of Denise’s Joy at Plaintree Farms in Queensland, did not win at stakes level in an injury restricted career, but showed up as exciting sprint material. In fact his trainer John Hawkes told the horse’s breeder and part owner Gerry Harvey that he considered in short-sprint terms alone, Conatus would have been a rival for champion sprinter Exceed and Excel.

Unraced at two, Conatus followed up a dashing trial win at Warwick Farm with scintillating victories as an odds-on favourite at 1100m at Randwick (won by 3.3 lengths in class record time) and Gosford (by 1.5 lengths) at his first starts at three.

He also won twice at four before retirement to stud, again showing a lightning turn of foot, scoring by four lengths in class record time at Newcastle and by 1.8 lengths at Warwick Farm. In addition he won three more Sydney trials.

When Conatus arrived at Plaintree, he was extremely sore across his entire body and examination by Dr Glen Laws, a track specialist and equine manipulator from the Oakey Veterinary Hospital, found he was severely out through three vetebra, his right shoulder, wither and sacrum. Treatment by Laws saw Conatus become a very different horse, both physically and mentally and he had no problems in looking after 83 mares (over 90% fertility) in his first season and 109 in his second.

The extent of the Conatus injuries, sustained in a paddock accident at two, suggested it was amazing he got to the track, but his fleetness of foot was not surprising as he is one of the most brilliantly bred sons of Danehill. He is a brother to Blue Diamond Stakes placed World Peace and from the Rory’s Jester AJC Challenge Stakes winner Light Up The World, a half-sister to the dams of Thorn Park and Bentley Biscuit. In addition his grandam, Christmas Spirit, is by Bletchingly and from Joy and Fun, a mare by champion racehorse and sire Showdown and from Denise’s Joy.

Although Conatus got plenty of mares at the beginning of his stud career, including support from Gerry Harvey’s Baramul, the quality was very modest and in consequence the opportunity limited. The performances of his early runners, particularly those raced by Harvey, one of Australia’s biggest owners, however, have boosted his image. Harvey’s Sydney trainers and pre-trainers have given big wraps on the majority they have in work, five or six of their second crop 3-year-olds being looked on as stakes prospects.

As types, the Conatus progeny are big, tough horses with a lot of scope and bone. One of them, a big strapping bay daughter Equality, produce of a Royal Academy mare, won the 3YO Filly class on August 11 at the Brisbane Royal Show.

Overall, this Danehill scion of the Denise’s Joy family appears set for a formidable career as a sire. Gerry Harvey is so enthusiastic, he has boosted the quality of his support, including new acquisitions at recent sales at the Gold Coast and Melbourne.

The mares in his 2009 book include a number by each of Zabeel, Encosta de Lago,Testa Rossa, Strategic, Royal Academy, General Nediym, Marscay, Last Tycoon, Hussonet and Mossman and others by Sadler’s Wells, Tale of the Cat, Anabaa, Hellisio, Jade Robbery, Pins, Rory’s Jester, Success Express and Marauding.

back to top

You cannot love a car the way you do a horse. The horse brings out human feelings the way machines cannot do. Things like machines may develop or neglect things in people…. machines make our life impersonal and stultify elements in us and create an impersonal environment.

—Albert Einstein