This is where life began for Australian sprint sensation Redkirk Warrior, dramatic winner of the five-furlong G1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.
The 7-year-old is a product of Lenore Peacock’s famed Manor House Stud in the small English market town of Middleham, North Yorkshire, and his last-gasp victory over hot favourite Redzel in one of the premier sprints in the Southern Hemisphere (see video below) means he could be headed back to Britain this summer for the first time since he was sold to race abroad three years ago.
Redkirk Warrior is out of the homebred mare Flag and was sold for 22,000gns at Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in 2012. His half-brothers, Azygous and Liberty Ship, and half-sister Twosheetstothewind, were all multiple winners in Britain.
His sire, the British-bred Eclipse and Juddmonte International Stakes winner Notnowcato, started his stallion career at Stanley House Stud in Newmarket. Flag was retired from breeding but Manor House Stud, which has nurtured quality families for eight decades, still maintains a handful of broodmares.
It has produced a series of high-class runners over the years, including three classic winners, most notably 1945 Epsom Derby winner Dante.
Redkirk Warrior was known simply as Redkirk when he raced for William Haggas as a 3-year-old in 2014. And he showed plenty of ability - although middle distances rather than a sprinting career seemed to be the agenda back then. He won his first two starts, both over a mile and a quarter, before being sold to race in Hong Kong, where he was beaten just a nose in the 2015 Hong Kong Classic Cup under Joao Moreira.
Transferred the following year to David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig in Australia (currently ranked 18 in the world trainers’ standings), the gelding has excelled since dropping back to sprint distances. His victories include last season’s six-furlong G1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, which he won at 30/1, becoming the first horse in 100 years to win the race without a recent prep run.
On Saturday, as then, he was ridden by TRC Emerging Talent Regan Bayliss, who brought him from last to first in the space of a furlong as he caught Redzel, considered Australia’s top sprinter after winning the A$10 million Everest last October, right on the line.
Trainer David Hayes said: “He ran down like a champion. He’s a big, scopey horse and all his moons come together when the big straight races come on.”
Redkirk Warrior will now be aimed for back-to-back wins in the Newmarket before connections consider a trip to Royal Ascot in the summer.