Opulence Goes for Gold Down Under!
When Tyndrum Gold struck gold first time on a racecourse, turning over an odds-on favourite in good style on a November evening at Kempton in 2022, a feeling prevailed that he could be something special.
And although, under the expert tutelage of Roger Varian and team, the son of Muhaarar confirmed that promise by winning twice more from four starts, no one could have imagined quite what would come next.
Because Tyndrum Gold has become standard bearer for the next stage of the development of Opulence Thoroughbreds as it seeks to become an international player, going in search of the monster prizemoney pots available around the globe.
The horse has left Newmarket and is being prepared to go into training in Australia with British-born rising star Annabel Neasham. Hopefully he’ll be the first of many around the world.
The Neasham operation liked the horse at the sales, but it was outside the ring that a deal was struck for him to race on Down Under, with a consortium of Annabel’s and Opulence’s clients (including a good number of the previous owners) going 50:50.
Quarantine regulations have been completed and the silks approved by the Aussie authorities, though the official description has been tinkered with, so the distinctive tassel on the jockey’s cap is now termed a pom pom.
Even more important, a possible long-term target for Tyndrum Gold has been mooted: the AUS$2m (£1m) Five Diamonds, centrepiece of the final day of Sydney’s Everest Carnival at Rosehill in November, won in 2023 by another British export, the ex-Ralph Beckett-trained Unspoken. Yes, £1m, and it’s not even a Group One.
As though the overseas expansion of Opulence Thoroughbreds isn’t thrilling enough – and there are irons in the fire in Dubai too – the link-up with the phenomenal Neasham operation only adds to the sense of excited anticipation.
Phenomenal is a word that’s often bandied about too much, but in this case it’s entirely justified.
Annabel was bitten by the ‘horsey bug’ as a youngster in Northamptonshire; however things really took off on what was meant to be a working holiday to Australia when she joined trainers Gai Waterhouse and then Ciaran Maher, ultimately taking over management of the New South Wales branch of the ever-burgeoning Maher empire.
It was as recently as August 2020 that she started training in her own right, soon proving the significance for a newbie of a headline-grabber when another purchase from British racing, Zaaki, racked up over £1m in prizemoney for her within a year of leaving Sir Michael Stoute for 150,000 Guineas, winning five races including the Group One Doomben Cup in Queensland.
Since then, the gelding has added six more victories worth a further £2.177m.
Having finished 118th in the trainers’ table that first season, with thirty winners from 164 runners and AUS$3.9m, the stable – now based in Brisbane and Melbourne as well as in Sydney – has literally never looked back, amassing 173 successes from 1050 runners during the 2022/23 campaign, and ending up banking a spectacular AUS$21.3m in winnings and achieving fourth-place in the national championship.
By anyone’s standards that’s a pretty staggering rate of growth, quite possibly unprecedented, in a country where the size of the purses provide a stark reflection of where the UK stands compared to other jurisdictions.
Team Neasham says that Australian horse racing and its rewards have never been better, and that a lot of its success has come by offering “effective communications and consistent feedback” to syndicates consisting of “owners from all walks of life” – remind you of anyone?
The fit with Opulence should be pure (Tyndrum) gold.