By Brad Gray
“How could you turn him down?”
Aquis Farm CEO Shane McGrath makes a compelling case as to why he wasted no time securing Trapeze Artist to run in their 2018 Everest slot.
“When you get the chance to lock in a horse like Trapeze Artist it was a very straightforward decision for us. It was a quick negotiation and it made sense, with the opportunity to not only enhance the Aquis brand but also Trapeze Artist’s record on the track,” McGrath said.
“In his last two starts he has stamped himself as the key three-year-old prospect in the land. He beat Redzel fair and square and has come out and won the All Aged Stakes since, breaking the track record. He’d already been dominant in winning the Golden Rose so every indicator is there that he is the dominant sprinter.”
The deal between Aquis and Trapeze Artist’s owner Bert Vieira is currently for The Everest only but Aquis will be at the front of the queue when it comes to discussing the Snitzel colt’s life after racing.
“The day Bert retires him the negotiations begin,” McGrath said.
“We have been chatting for a while with Bert from a stallion point of view and it has always been in the back of our mind that he wanted to race on and the logical target for the horse would be The Everest.
"You have a myriad of discussions when it comes to stallion negations and the fact we have an Everest slot was always part of that chat.
“Fair play to Bert. He is a racing man at heart and he could have taken the big dollars on offer but he chose to race on and I think that’s admirable. I’ve enjoyed our robust discussions and look forward to continuing those at the end of his racing career.”
It is early in the global racing season as far as rankings go but as it currently stands Trapeze Artist’s TJ Smith Stakes win on Day 1 of The Championships, has him Longine’s highest ranking sprinter in the world.
“Australian sprinters are dominant and he is the best we have so hats off to Bert – he bred the horse, stuck by him and will put him on the world stage,” McGrath said, referencing future plans for Trapeze Artist to run in Hong Kong and at Royal Ascot.
The $13 million purse is a lure for any slot holder, including Aquis, who is owned by the Hong Kong-based Fung family, but as McGrath was quick to point out, there are other factors at play.
“Last year, Houtzen, having won a Magic Millions, was the state’s pin up filly and given we started out in Queensland that was our way of endorsing what is happening with Queensland’s racing and breeding. She ran admirably but with Houtzen it was a different project in mind. This year the opportunity was there to race the best sprinter in the world, so how could you turn him down?” asked McGrath.
“As one of the relatively new players in the industry, we’ll continue to develop our brand and this is just a continuation of that.”
The Everest will be run on October 13 at Royal Randwick and the date can’t come quick enough now for McGrath, who also heaped praise on Trapeze Artist's trainer Gerald Ryan.
“He is in the hands of the master trainer of Snitzels and he’ll have him peaking on the big day. The trainer, owner and horse are all winners. Bert is adamant we’ll all be together for the big dance and we can’t wait,” McGrath said.