LONDON has been excited about the arrival of the new royal baby, Prince George, but in the Shoalhaven the arrival of another kind of royalty also has people talking.
The Bell View Park Stud, at the foot of Cambewarra Mountain, has welcomed into the world the first foal of champion So You Think.
The colt, out of Soft Landing, a half-sister to Bede Murray-trained Universal Prince and Universal Queen, is just over 10 days old and is already showing traits of his well-credentialled father.
So You Think came to prominence after winning the 2009 and 2010 Cox Plates, Australia’s premier weight-for-age race.
His second Cox Plate win came at just his 10th career start.
He started as favourite for the 2010 Melbourne Cup but finished third, in his first race past 2040 metres.
For business manager Adam Mackrell, who runs the stud at Meroo Meadow for his parents Garry and Judy, the colt has already captured a special place in his heart.
“He is the first So You Think foal and is already shaping up very well,” he said.
“We are really happy with him. He’s a nice leggy foal with plenty of body.
“He’s a great type, very much like his father.
“If we could get every foal like him we’d certainly be happy.”
Despite foaling a couple of weeks early (a horse gestation is usually just over 11 months), the colt weighed 58.5 kilograms and has already passed the 70kg mark.
“He’s doing all the right things and is thriving,” Mr Mackrell said.
“And Soft Landing is again proving to be a great mother.”
He said the Al Maher mare, who has now had three foals, has a history of delivering early and the team at the stud had been watching her closely for any movement on the new arrival.
“There was great excitement around the stud when she started to show signs of giving birth,” he said.
“From start to finish it took about 40 minutes and the actual birth side of it about 15 minutes. She did a great job.
“And she had quite an audience – everyone at the stud was there to watch the new arrival’s birth.”
The plan is to “grow the colt out” and “looking for him to be sold at either the Magic Millions or Inglis Easter yearling, depending on what type he’s going to be,” Mr Mackrell said.
“If he’s going to be an early forward type of horse he will go to the Magic Millions in 2015 or Easter at 2015.”
So You Think has just returned from the northern hemisphere, where he has also been standing at stud.
Bell View Park assistant manager Jonathan Scully said the stud had been inundated with interest in the colt.
“We’ve had a lot of interest through social media, people wanting to know what the first so You Think foal is like,” he said.
“We even had one chap who was staying in Berry and had heard the news, turn up at the stud. He wasn’t a big race follower, but just liked So You Think, heard about the foal, and wanted to come and have a look.”
There has also been worldwide interest with the birth reported on Racingpost.com, and in newspapers in the UK, Denmark and Argentina.
“The response has really been astounding,” Mr Scully said.
THE Mackrells bought Soft Landing as a yearling with partner Dr Michael Alexeeff, of Foote Street Investments.
Although showing promise on the track she injured her knee in her first outing and was retired for breeding.
This latest colt is her third foal, having previously had a filly to high Chaparral (So You Think’s sire) and a colt to More Than Ready.
The Mackrell family purchased the land on which the Bell View Park Stud stands in 2006 and their first horses arrived in 2010.
They have around 30 broodmares, including Queensland Derby winner Dariana, which is also due to foal to So You Think, Queensland Winter Stakes winner Russeting and Kiwi Group 1 winner Barinka.
“It is a good start for the stud. We are starting to produce some quality race horses like Equator that placed third in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes in the autumn,” Adam Mackrell said.