Racing and breeding sparkles with stories of twists of fate and happenstance that turn people’s lives.
In the late 19th century, a young man named Robert Clyde “RC” Packer, enduring a rotten day at the track in his native Tasmania, found ten shillings on the ground, stuck it on something’s nose at 12-1 – and gaw bless its heart – the thing got up. He spent the cash on a boat trip to Melbourne, and began a newspaper empire that was later rather enlarged by his son Sir Frank Packer (of Group 3 Plate fame), and then, in turn, by his son, the also quite-fond-of-a-punt, Kerry.
Around the same time as RC’s escapade, a swagman named Jack Cassidy bought a ticket – for just one penny – in a nationwide sweep for the 1896 Melbourne Cup.
It happened to be a momentous edition. A Frenchman named Marius Sestier went to Flemington that day and shot the first motion footage ever recorded in Australia (you can see it online). It was also momentous for Cassidy, for when the 40,000 sweep entrants were pared down to the final 25, he was among them, and ended up with the winner. Cassidy spent his £5,000 windfall buying a farm east of Young and named it after the horse responsible – Newhaven – which later became the dynastic thoroughbred stud we know today.
Around 30 years ago, Johannes Risseeuw and Tony Kynaston, a couple of 20-something mates working at oil company Shell in Melbourne, went to Crown Casino after work, stuck some coins in a poker machine and were soon jumping around like lunatics. They hit a jackpot, well into the thousands, and decided to buy into a horse.
He was called Kojak, a son of Irish stallion Kreisler (Northern Baby) and, trained by David Hall, he won three races at Geelong and Bendigo from 16 starts, earning $35,000. The two mates’ journey in thoroughbreds had begun.
In time they would form a breeding partnership, largely launched by the purchase of a 2005 mare by another Irish-bred, Rock Of Gibraltar (Danehill). Risseeuw and Kynaston named her for the phrase most often associated with that impregnable British outpost – Conquered By No Enemy – shortening it to fit with racing’s length rules to Conquered By None.
And on Saturday, Caste, a three-year-old filly by one more Irish stallion in Sir Prancealot (Tamayuz), bred and part-raced under the stirringly confident sounding banner of Conquered By None Breeding & Racing, became a stakes winner in taking Morphettville’s Nitschke Stakes (Listed, 1400m).
Here’s the best bit: she carries the partnership’s silks, of purple and old gold.
“They were the colours of that poker machine that started everything,” Risseeuw tells It’s In The Blood. “We did hit a pretty big jackpot. I can’t really remember how much it was, but horses were a bit cheaper back then. We bought into good old Kojak, and he did pretty well for us, and away we went.”
A few years later, the pair enjoyed success racing the David Hayes-trained Electric General (General Nediym), who won the Hareeba Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Mornington in 2007, after a Perth mission a few months earlier to take the Reeves Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) and run second in the Winterbottom Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m).
His $400,000-plus earnings helped propel Risseeuw and Kynaston further, leading to their venture into breeding, with Conquered By None one of their first broodmares.
They were part-owners, with Longwood Farm’s Michael Christian, of multiple stakes winner Fuhryk (Star Witness), who repeated Electric General’s trick with a second in the Winterbottom, made more agonising by its adjusted Group 1 status. And they now breed with that mare, selling in partnership with Christian her Written Tycoon (Iglesia) colt to Anthony Freedman and Julian Blaxland for $450,000 at this year’s Magic Millions.
Risseeuw, who these days owns tech firm Damstra Technology, and heavyweight share market investor Kynaston, also owned part of the Christian-bred Bella Nipotina (Pride Of Dubai) early in her career. They lament selling out before she hit her peak, but now have a decent slice of her year-younger half-sister Bella Sorellina (Capitalist), who’s won three from ten so far for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
The pair also part-owned Cape Of Good Hope (Galileo), the Irish import who won the Caulfield Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) in 2019 for David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig. The new incarnation of that Lindsay Park stable – Ben and JD Hayes – are tipping Caste to become the best of the many Conquered By None have raced with them down the years.
Caste is the eighth named foal out of Boat Quay (Belong To Me), who won three city races for Lindsay Park 15 years ago, one at Moonee Valley and two at Adelaide’s old Cheltenham course.
The Conquered By None partnership bred her first six throws by five different sires for “nothing too special”, Risseeuw says, but better fortune was found on sending her to Sir Prancealot in his first season of shuttling to South Australia’s Cornerstone Stud.
That mating produced Princess Raffles, who was third in the Magic Millions Adelaide 2YO Classic (1200m) at Murray Bridge, before two fourths and a fifth in Adelaide stakes races. The second mating yielded Caste, who appears to have taken things up a notch. She won on debut at Ballarat in October, and is now unbeaten from two starts in her second racing preparation to make it three from five.
First-up at Sandown over 1300 metres, she beat Jennilala (Shalaa), who then won Adelaide’s Auraria Stakes (Gr 3, 1800m). And on Saturday in the Nitschke, Caste dug deep for a short-half-head win over the fast-finishing Royal Merchant (Merchant Navy), a dual Sydney city winner who was also a narrow second in the Angus Armanasco Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) at Sandown in February.
Caste, and thus Boat Quay – who died recently aged 18 – have provided Sir Prancelot with his first stakes winner from three running crops in Australia. To be fair, standing in the challenging stallion environment of South Australia, his pickings here have been slimmer than in the US, where he shuttles to California having previously stood in Ireland. He is the sire of 12 northern hemisphere-bred stakes winners, headed by Santa Anita American Oaks (Gr 1, 10f) victor Lady Prancealot.
But something about the blend of Boat Quay and Sir Prancealot has worked well, especially with Caste.
“We think she’s got some real upside. We’ve all owned a lot of horses in our lives, a couple of good ones along the way, and she might end up a really good one,” Risseeuw said. “Ben and JD are saying she might be the best we’ve ever had.”
Conquered By None admittedly own a stake in Sir Prancealot, but Risseeuw says the mating was attractive in and of itself. Caste already held residual appeal before Saturday’s black type success, in the fact she is completely Danehill-free. Sir Prancelot comes from the less-travelled Mr. Prospector (Raise A Native) line of Gulch-Nayef-Tamayuz.
And Boat Quay is by Danzig’s useful-but-not-quite-Danehill son, Belong To Me, who shuttled here from the US and is best known for dual Group 1 winner All Silent.
Boat Quay’s dam packed a punch. Speedy Bell (Brocco) won Randwick’s Gimcrack Stakes (Listed, 1000m) and threw eight winners, three of them stakes winners in Silverstream (Al Maher), Speedy Natalie (Al Maher) and Calanda (Snitzel).
“The mating came up well when we looked at the nicks,” Risseeuw says. “And looking at Sir Prancealot’s success in the northern hemisphere, it was mostly with Danehill-free mares.”
There are a few juicy crosses and duplications in Caste’s pedigree to back the mating. One of the first to catch the eye is the four appearances, through four different offspring, of the great British mare of the 1920s Mumtaz Mahal (The Tetrarch), at 9f, 9f x 9f, 9m.
And Boat Quay brings the proven combination of three key male members of Lowe’s No.7 family in her grandsire Danzig, and Bletchingly (Biscay) and Lunchtime (Silly Season), the latter pair being grandparents of Boat Quay’s second dam Celebration Bell (True Version).
Whatever else Sir Prancealot achieves in Australia, this mating looks to have worked well in producing Caste, who is now set to take on the older mares in Morphettville’s Queen Of The South Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) on Saturday week. Barring a possible late stab at Brisbane, she’ll most likely spell with a view to the spring and Flemington’s Matriarch Stakes (Gr 2, 2000m).
Extremely promising @SirPstallion filly Caste wins the Listed H C Nitschke Stakes @SAJockeyClub for @lindsayparkrace. Third win from five starts for the Tony Kyneston & Johannes Risseeuw bred filly consigned & sold by @CornerstoneStud for $90,000 @mmsnippets Adelaide. pic.twitter.com/W5TuFKzD5G
— Cornerstone Stud (@CornerstoneStud) April 22, 2023
Should she carry the purple and gold to conquer that target, you can bet there’ll be no sign of a poker face from Risseeuw and Kynaston.
By Trevor Marshallsea, ANZ Bloodstock News