Bren O’Brien



OPINION: State of bliss as Newgate’s pivot strikes paydirt

State Of Rest’s Royal Ascot win in Wednesday’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes was another feather in the cap of Newgate when it comes to making the right decisions, says Bren O’Brien.

When a rumour swirled in the weeks following his Cox Plate victory that a partnership involving Newgate had purchased State Of Rest, it was enough to raise a few eyebrows.

The Joseph O’Brien-trained star, who had won a dramatic renewal of the famous weight-for-age race, was certainly worthy of a stallion deal, and no-one in Australia had been busier in doing such deals in the preceding 12 months than Newgate.

However, to be blunt, he didn’t seem like a ‘Newgate’ horse. Coming off a season which saw their first-season sires, Extreme Choice, Capitalist and Flying Artie, claim a historic a trifecta in the freshman sires’ race, Newgate managing director Henry Field had come out saying their commitment to fast, Australian-bred horses had been vindicated. 


Extreme Choice wins the 2016 Moir Stakes. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

“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. 

State Of Rest wins the Cox Plate ahead of Anamoe and Verry Elleegant. (Scott Barbour/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

Field would have also foreseen the opening up of the world in 2022 as a great opportunity to have one of their horses, and a future stallion, on the global stage. 

So will State Of Rest work as a stallion in this part of the world?

He will certainly get every chance with Newgate and SF Bloodstock’s enviable broodmare band and as the only stallion of his profile in the barn.

He boasts a sireline very familiar to fans of both Royal Ascot and Australian breeding. Both his grandsire, Choisir, and his sire, Starspangledbanner, were winners at the carnival and both have made a considerable impact as global stallions.

The fact he is by Starspangledbanner makes him quite an intriguing prospect, given that sire is unlikely to return to Australia this season.

The quality of State Of Rest’s pedigree also extends through his damline. His third dam is It’s In The Air, a five-time Grade 1 winner in the United States in the 1970s, who is also an ancestress of Australian Group 1 winners Alverta and Glencadam Gold.

The natural comparison on performance profile for State Of Rest as a stallion prospect is again to So You Think. While that Coolmore stallion didn’t necessarily conform to the Australian predilection for fast and early horses, those who supported him have been rewarded for their patience.

Leading sire So You Think. (Photo by Coolmore)

So You Think recently notched a historic treble when three of his progeny won consecutive Group One races during The Championships at Randwick and he is currently second in the race to be crowned Australian Champion Sire.

He also promises to be a breed-shaper for Coolmore for many years to come, the perfect cross for that Australian speed and precocity.

Which is why State Of Rest, in many ways, made perfect sense for Newgate. This year they are adding four sprinters, highlighted by Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside, to a roster that is already stacked full of fast, sprinting talent.

It’s easy to think given all that Field and his team have achieved in 10 short years of existence, that Newgate has been built to grow quickly, but everything has been designed on the plan to make an impression which will last 50 years.

State Of Rest won’t likely deliver Newgate another freshman sires’ title when his first progeny hit the track – likely not to be until at least 2026 – but the decision to invest in a stallion of his class and global profile may be one that in decades to come, is regarded with great significance.       



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