David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Soaring Redwood showing good growth in Hong Kong

The Westbury Stud stallion is enjoying a stellar season thanks to his sons Sharp ‘N’ Smart and Solidify, and Tuchel’s efforts are uplifting his hitherto low-key status in Hong Kong.

Small margins can make a big difference in horse racing. A mere short-head the other way at Sha Tin in March and Tuchel would be standing in his box at John Size’s stable as the Hong Kong Derby winner; and if that had been the case, he likely would not have been the winner of a 1600m Class 2 handicap at the same venue last Sunday.

That win was a fairly small margin too: a neck. But jockey Zac Purton is one of the best in the business at judging things precisely, and he steered the four-year-old through a closing run to nab the long-time leader Flaming Rabbit close-home. The performance bodes well for Tuchel’s future as he lugged 134lb – conceding 12lb to the second, a European G3 winner – and in doing so took his rating to triple figures.  

It also enhanced what is turning out to be a great season for his sire, Redwood, one of six stallions standing at Gerry Harvey’s Westbury Stud in New Zealand. The 17-year-old is also responsible this season for G1 Spring Champion Stakes and G1 New Zealand Derby hero Sharp ‘N’ Smart, G2 Auckland Cup winner Platinum Invador and the Listed-winning juvenile Solidify, who is set to contest the G2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes at Eagle Farm this weekend en route to the G1 J J Atkins.


Triple Group 1-winner Sharp 'N' Smart. (Photo by Trish Dunell)

Auckland Cup winner Platinum Invador is a son of Redwood. (Photo by Kirstin Ledington)

Redwood was a stock Group 2 runner in Europe for the late Prince Khalid Abdullah. After winning a Listed contest first-up at three to emerge as a 2009 Derby prospect, he was then well-beaten in the G2 Dante Stakes next start and was not seen again until the following spring when beaten a head behind Glass Harmonium in the G3 Gordon Richards Stakes.

Thereafter he was no match for the likes of Debussy at Chester or the imperious Harbinger at Royal Ascot, nor Sans Frontiere at Newmarket; but he bagged a Group 3 win over 2400m at Goodwood that summer and by the autumn he was a Group 1 winner, having travelled to Woodbine, Canada, for easier pickings in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, again at a mile and a half.  

At Sha Tin that December he rounded out his four-year-old campaign with second-place behind Mastery in the G1 Hong Kong Vase and three months later was runner-up to Rewilding in the 2011 running of the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic; there were no short margins there though.

Glass Harmonium defeats Redwood in the G3 Gordon Richards. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Having proved his quality as being just shy of the really elite cohort, Redwood was never going to be a stallion proposition for the mighty Juddmonte operation that produced him. But the son of High Chaparral’s Group 1 record and his deep, high-class pedigree, had caught the eye of Westbury Stud’s general manager Russell Warwick.

“High Chaparral stood in New Zealand to start with and he was a horse that was well-renowned down this part of the world; he had So You Think at stud and he was going very well; Dundeel was racing very well at the time, down here, so I saw after he won the Group 1 in Canada, I thought well this horse looks the part,” Warwick told Asian Racing Report.

Juddmonte responded to an enquiry with word that the horse would be sold but not until he had finished racing. When that time came, Warwick received a communication asking if Westbury Stud was still interested in acquiring the horse: he flew to England to see Redwood in the flesh and a deal was done.

“He’s from a very good European family,” Warwick continued, and noted that the second dam, the French classic-winning Jolypha, is a half-sister to the exceptional European champion Dancing Brave.

“He’s out of a Woodman mare and Woodman was a champion two-year-old and a good sire of two-year-olds himself, so Redwood has got a sharp bit of speed on the female line and being a European classic family, it gives you lots of options, dependent on the mare.”

Tuchel is the product of Redwood’s mating with Westbury’s Testa Rossa mare, Trista Rossa, a three-time minor winner in Australia for Harvey, at distances from 1200m to 1600m. Testa Rossa was a multiple G1-winning sprinter/miler.

Australian sprinter-miler Testa Rossa. (Photo by Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Tuchel’s third dam was the top-class New Zealand sprinter Alynda, whose sire Nassau was from the Hyperion line via that outstanding sire’s grandson, the Gimcrack Stakes winner and July Cup third – both at six furlongs – Star Kingdom, exported to Australia where he was champion sire multiple times out of Baramul Stud.  

“Tuchel probably gets his sharpness through Testa Rossa as well,” Warwick says. “His third dam won the G1 sprint in New Zealand and again it’s a family that is dependent on where you mate them: there’s a two-mile winner in the family and a 1200 metres Group 1 winner, so it’s a very versatile family that has combined well.”

That potential for speed is a large part of what attracted Merrick Staunton and Bill Wong of Simple Bloodstock Services to seal the winning bid for Tuchel as a yearling at the Karaka Book 2 in late January 2020, just as Covid’s first wave was beginning to impact Hong Kong.

“He was a very attractive yearling and made NZ$130,000 at that sale, which was probably one of the higher lots at that sale that year,” Warwick recalled.

Purchased for the David Price Bloodstock operation, the young bay was sent to Australia and was prepared as a PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin) for the Hong Kong market. He was therefore given time to mature through a training regime with Ben and JD Hayes that included two barrier trials over 1000 metres in the autumn of 2021. Tuchel arrived in Hong Kong as a PPG on January 25, 2022 and has been stabled at Size’s Sha Tin yard ever since.

He is one of ten sons of Redwood to have raced in Hong Kong; a small representation, likely due to the slant towards sprinter/milers rather than ‘stayers’ in that two-track jurisdiction of around 1,300 horses. Half of Redwood’s offspring there have at least won a race, and, up until Tuchel arrived, the best of them was another New Zealand export, the G1 Hong Kong Vase place-getter Columbus County.

Tuchel winning at Sha Tin in September. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

Columbus County wins at Happy Valley in 2020. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

Tuchel’s five wins in Hong Kong have given the stallion a more respectable ten percent winning rate there, which is no mean feat. And, despite Redwood himself being a mile and a half runner, his numbers overall suggest that he does indeed have the versatility as a stallion to produce winners of varying types at a range of distances.

In fact, around 24 percent of Redwood’s winners have scored at between 1201m and 1400m; about 25 percent of his offspring’s wins have been achieved at 1401m to 1600m; and 35 percent of wins have come at a mile and beyond, with approximately only 18 percent in the 2000m-plus distance range.   

Although Tuchel went so close in a Hong Kong Derby over 2000m, and stayed on strongly to win at the mile last time, suggesting a longer trip would be his optimum, it cannot be ignored that the first four of his five wins came at 1400m. That suggests that Redwood’s mix of European classic breeding with speedier Australian bloodlines is indeed capable of siring horses suitable for the Hong Kong market, which is such an important part of the New Zealand bloodstock ecosystem.

“Hong Kong is a very crucial market for New Zealand,” Warwick said. “It’s very much an export industry here with our horses and not only yearling-wise: the Hong Kong market still buys a substantial number of tried horses out of New Zealand too.

“We’ve got a very good barrier trial system where they can go to the trials before they race and a lot of horses are bought out of there to head to Hong Kong, and New Zealand-bred horses have had a lot of success up there. Hopefully Tuchel keeps winning and we can find another one out of the family.”

That might yet happen as Trista Rossa is in foal to Redwood again, having produced a full-sister that is now a two-year-old. With fillies being a rare thing in Hong Kong, a colt foal would be welcomed, no doubt. But when it comes to those outcomes, nature alone will determine the microscopic margins that shape that kind of destiny.




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