“What gives us great confidence is that we see so many shuttle stallions that come to Australia and are a flash-in-the-pan, and they get a nice two-year-old and you never see them again. What I love about our horses is that they are a proper Australian product and have had great support on the way through,” Field said at the time.
The suggestion, less than three months after that comment, that Newgate would go out and source an imported weight-for-age horse as a stallion option for its syndicate members did point to a bit of a change of heart.
Asked about the prospective purchase at that time, Field said he couldn’t confirm anything.
The rumour hung in the air for a few months until State of Rest’s trainer Joseph O’Brien indicated that he would indeed race for new owners in 2022, for a partnership involving Newgate, several Australian and New Zealand breeders, and Rathbarry Stud in Ireland.
On Wednesday, in an impressive all-the-way win at Royal Ascot, State Of Rest carried the familiar China Horse Club colours, emblazoned with a Newgate logo across the front. The victory in the Group One Prince Of Wales’s Stakes confirmed him as one of the world’s premier 2000-metre horses.
In a fascinating piece of timing, it had been ten years since O’Brien, then a jockey, had guided New Zealand-bred Australian hero So You Think to victory in the same race in what was to prove that champion’s final racetrack start.
In fact, it was the success of So You Think, a Cox Plate winner turned star performer on the world stage, which had proven an inspiration for O’Brien, Field and the other connections ahead of State Of Rest’s 2022 campaign.
Now he is likely to try and emulate him in another way, with the strong possibility that O’Brien and his star performer will return to defend the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley this October.
So what of Field’s change of heart on imported bloodlines?
Firstly, he has an outstanding understanding of media and how it works and there is often a feeling as a journalist that he knows the headline before the journalist has even thought of the first question.
Secondly, he is a very smart operator who has surrounded himself with similarly very smart operators. He and his chief Newgate partners, Gavin Murphy, Tom Ryan and Matthew Sandblom, have utilised data in order to inform their stallion purchases, and in the case of the Cox Plate, they backed in the rating experts, namely Daniel O’Sullivan, and not media opinion, in deciding that State Of Rest was an option worth pursuing.
With third-placed Verry Elleegant coming out and winning the Melbourne Cup and then second-placed Anamoe adding to his reputation in the autumn with a 6.5-length Rosehill Guineas triumph, it was a decision which had been well justified, even before State Of Rest’s two Northern Hemisphere Group One wins this year.