Bren O’Brien



Pinarello stays in black and gold as Hong Kong offers are rebuffed

Pinarello will not be following the same path to Hong Kong as previous winners of the Queensland Derby after Cambridge Stud rejected multiple offers, determined he will fly the flag in its black and gold colours in Australia's best races.

That Cambridge Stud CEO Henry Plumptre’s phone was kept busy by potential suitors after Pinarello’s hard-fought victory at Eagle Farm on Saturday should be no surprise. Three of the previous five winners of the Queensland Derby have headed to Hong Kong in the aftermath, as well as a host of others who have contested the race in recent years.

Plumptre, who represents Cambridge Stud owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay in their bloodstock dealings, has received two significant offers for Pinarello, both well into the seven-figure range but said the ‘not for sale’ sign was firmly up.

“It’s a pretty short conversation,” Plumptre said of the offers. “We have got plenty of that family, with (half-sisters) Vernazza and Bavella as well. They are a bit like the Royal Family at Cambridge and you don’t sell members of the Royal Family.

“He’s a bit like Probabeel, they are absolute sacred cows. He’s a Group One homebred horse and he’ll never be sold. I don’t think we will sell anything out of (his dam) Zonza.”

When it comes to their best horses on the track, there are more important strategies at play than securing short-term commercial gain for the Lindsays, who took over ownership of the legendary New Zealand stud in 2018.

“One of the most important things about the rebuild on Cambridge under a different ownership has been the gold and black colours going around Australian racetracks and being successful. That is what it is all about in terms of rebuilding that brand,” Plumptre said.

“These horses are such fragile creatures that if you get one that is good enough to be a Melbourne Cup horse or a Cox Plate horse, you want to keep them. Those are aspirational races for Brendan and Jo and the stud.

“It improves families, it gets these colours out there on a big raceday and it keeps everybody engaged on the farm as well.”


Pinarello as a foal alongside his dam Zonza. (Photo by Cambridge Stud)

Zonza is a mare very close to the Lindsays’ heart. Trained by Roger James, the co-trainer with Robert Wellwood of her now Group One-winning son, she won a Group Three race at Caulfield in the same colours.

She has now produced three stakes winners, with Pinarello elevating the pedigree page even further with his Group One win on Saturday.

Pinarello could have been purchased two years ago at the Karaka yearling sales, but the son of late Cambridge Stud stallion Tavistock was retained by the Lindsays after failing to reach his reserve.

“He was quite a lanky Tavistock, and he still is. But he was a very athletic, good moving horse. We put a reserve of $300,000 at the sales and he didn’t get there,” Plumptre said.

Plumptre described Pinarello as a ‘bit backward’ a yearling, but James took a shine to him and the team were happy to entrust the then colt to the Cambridge-based trainer and his partner, Wellwood.

His yearling half-sister by Cambridge Stud resident Almanzor was to be offered at the recent Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, but the promise that Pinarello was showing in his three-year-old campaign convinced the Lindsays to go all in on the family, and withdraw her.

With Cambridge owning all four of Zonza’s daughters, a possible new-era Cambridge dynasty awaits, built off a horse awash with the influence of the previous Cambridge-Stud era, being by Tavistock out of a Zabeel mare. 

With Pinarello out of reach of Hong Kong buyers, it puts more focus on those who finished behind him on Saturday.

Chris Waller, who has had several Queensland Derby competitors sold to Hong Kong over the years, trained the second and third horses, Paternal and Caboche.

As with Pinarello, it will come down to the owners. Paternal is owned by Hong Kong-based investment company Orbis, who regularly do bloodstock deals between the two jurisdictions. Orbis don’t tend to publicise negotiations, so it is unclear in which country Paternal’s future lies.

Third-placed Caboche is part-owned by Neville Morgan, who had Kukaracha win the Derby last year. Morgan rejected offers to get that horse to Hong Kong last year and it will be interesting to see if he is less reluctant this time around.

Dark Destroyer, who finished fourth, won the Group Three Rough Habit Plate this campaign, and would loom as an ideal Hong Kong Derby prospect, but Asian Racing Report believes he too is not for sale and his owner keen to race on.

With at least two of those who finished ahead of him out of reach, fifth-placed Southern Stock, trained by Chris Munce, and like Pinarello, by one-time champion Hong Kong sire Tavistock, is also likely to find himself in the sights of Hong Kong owners.

Queensland Derby winner Eagle Way winning the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin. (Photo by HKJC)

While there are some concerns about the spiralling costs of private purchases from Hong Kong buyers, the appetite for Hong Kong Derby horses is certainly there.

Group One South Australian Derby winner Jungle Magnate was recently purchased for owners by agent George Moore, while promising three-year-olds Harleymoven and Bon’s A Pearla are also headed to Hong Kong.

The latter name is the most surprising as she is a filly, which is a rarity in Hong Kong. The Group Two winner will join the stables of David Hayes, who prepared the most recent filly to win a Hong Kong Derby, Elegant Fashion, in 2003.    

Four horses from last year’s Queensland Derby were purchased to go to Hong Kong, including the runner-up Senor Toba, a subsequent Group Three winner for Caspar Fownes.

There was no Queensland Derby staged in 2020, and just the one horse from the 2019 renewal ended up in Hong Kong. However, the 2018 edition saw five of the field, including the winner Dark Dream, subsequently relocate to Hong Kong while a further three ended up in Singapore.

2017 winner Ruthven and 2016 winner Eagle Way also continued their careers in Hong Kong, while 2015 Queensland Derby runner-up Werther would transform himself into a dual Group One winning star in his new home.



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