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Tapp's Travels: Hunter Valley

Back in New South Wales, the TrueNicks tour moved to the Hunter Valley, Australia's Thoroughbred breeding center. Here Byron and I visited a who's who of Australian stud farms, including Arrowfield, Coolmore, Darley, Patinack, Vinery, and Widden.

Arrowfield, the original home of breed-shaping stallion Danehill, now stands top Danehill sons Redoute's Choice, Flying Spur, and Danzero. Arrowfield is also home to champion Australian filly Miss Finland. A champion at 2 and 3, the daughter of Redoute's Choice won five group I races, including the Golden Slipper, Cadbury Guineas, and Crown Oaks.

Miss Finland won group I races from 1200 to 2500 meters.

Heading over to the stallion paddocks, we took some time to visit Redoute's Choice himself. He has been a consistent leader among Australian stallions over the past decade, siring 19 group I winners and being named champion sire in 2006 and 2010. His 2010 stud fee was A$176,000.

Redoute's Choice waits patiently as his rug is taken off.

Next we visited the beautiful Coolmore Stud, where I had the pleasure to see 2008-09 leading sire Encosta de Lago and a pair of Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) winners in Royal Academy and Spinning World. Continuing on the pedigree progression from above, I also paid a visit to the illustrious Canny Lad mare Shantha's Choice. Still looking well at age 19, she is the dam of Redoute's Choice and two other group I winners in Platinum Scissors and Manhattan Rain.

A great-granddaughter of Best in Show, Shantha's Choice is one of Australia's most successful producers.

After a fast-paced few days visiting several more stud farms, we wrapped up the Hunter Valley trip at Widden Stud, tucked away in a valley surrounded by rocky cliffs. Widden is home to Ascot Vale (gr. I) winner Northern Meteor (by Encosta de Lago) and Golden Slipper winners Sebring (by More Than Ready (TrueNicks,SRO)) and Stratum (by Redoute's Choice).

Stratum has sired Golden Slipper winner Crystal Lily, recently a game second to Black Caviar.

After a three-hour drive back to Sydney, we arrived at the Inglis Newmarket Stables to inspect yearlings for the upcoming Easter sale. We were pleased to hear positive feedback from several sale-goers about the complimentary TrueNicks Enhanced reports that we made available for all lots in the sale.

The Inglis Easter Yearling Sale will be held April 5-7.

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