Last season’s Gr.1 VRC Australian Guineas (1600m) winner Grunt (O’Reilly x Ruqqaya) has returned to racing as a bigger, stronger horse this spring, relishing a return to Flemington last Saturday to record a comprehensive, two length win in the Gr.1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), defeating Caulfield Cup (2400m) favourite Kings Will Dream with Jon Snow another half-length back in third place.
Race time was 1:34.91 with the last 600 metres covered in 35.30.
With two Group One wins and three other successes from just eight starts Grunt looks to have ensured himself a place on the stallion roster of a leading stud next season, most probably in New Zealand given his pedigree.
Grunt’s program for the rest of the spring is to be decided but he may challenge Winx in the Cox Plate (2040m) on October 27, while the Emirates Stakes (registered as LKS Mackinnon) (2000m) at Flemington on November 10 may be a later target.
Bred at New Zealand’s famous Trelawney Stud, Grunt was bought by trainer Mick Price and Cameron Cooke Bloodstock for $220,000 at the 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale in 2016 and on pedigree represents New Zealand bloodstock royalty on both sides.
O’Reilly, was New Zealand’s Horse of the Year in 1996/97 and a three time Group One winner before retiring to Waikato Stud where he established himself as a truly outstanding sire and broodmare sire, heading the New Zealand list four times between 2007/08 and 2013/14.
While O’Reilly, out of champion filly Courtza, was himself a sprinter/miler he proved a versatile sire of major winners over a range of distances up to 2400 metres and his long list of stakes winners includes 12 other Group One winners in addition to Grunt in Alamosa (sire), Final Destination, Guyno, Maco’Reilly, Master O’Reilly, O’Marilyn, Sacred Falls (sire), Shamexpress (sire), Shamrocker, Silent Achiever, Swick and The Jewel.
Grunt’s dam Ruqqaya showed useful form racing in New Zealand and her two foals before Grunt are King’s Man winner of three races in Hong Kong, and the stakes placed filly Addison (Jimmy Choux), a Melbourne winner.
Her subsequent foals, both unnamed, are a 2015 filly by O’Reilly and a 2016 filly by Savabeel (Zabeel).
Ruqqaya, out of Sayyida (Zabeel), is a half-sister to promising Waikato Stud sire Ocean Park (Thorn Park), a five time Group One winner who was New Zealand’s Horse of the Year in 2012/13 and whose most memorable victory came in the 2012 Cox Plate in which he defeated crack three-year-olds All Too Hard and Pierro.
Overall, Grunt has a fascinating, well balanced pedigree which suggests he could become a prepotent sire, its key feature being a 3f x 5f duplication of former smart performer and outstanding producer Hunza (Pakistan II), second dam of O’Reilly and fifth dam of Grunt. Grunt’s third dam Eastern Princess (Pompeii Court) ranks as a three-parts sister to O’Reilly’s mother Courtza meaning that their sire Pompeii Court (Tell) is duplicated 3f x 4f in Grunt’s background.
This is a phenomenal family branching out from Hunza, one of the best two-year-old fillies of her generation in Melbourne and winner of the 1973 VRC Bloodhorse Breeders’ Plate (1400m). Hunza’s stud achievements far outstripped her deeds on the track as she became dam of five stakes winners ranging from the brilliant Courtza, winner of the Gr.1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) and Gr.1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) to that filly’s brother, Our Pompeii, whose staying performances were at the other end of the distance spectrum, twice winning the Gr.1 SAJC Adelaide Cup (3200m) and also winning the Gr.1 South Australian Derby (2500m).
Grunt carries four crosses of Northern Dancer via sons Try My Best, Storm Bird and Nureyev and daughter Cold Reply, a powerful genetic mix with its relatively rare female strain of the breed shaper. Three crosses of hardy, champion racehorse and sire Round Table in Grunt’s background, one coming through Sir Tristram, also strengthen Grunt’s pedigree as does the fact of Pompeii Court’s sire Tell being linebred to Round Table’s mother Knight’s Daughter. -ANZ Bloodstock News.