Skilled Switches to Riverbank Farm

The up-and-coming Group One winning sire Skilled and the regally bred first season stallion Wayed Zain join the popular Redente (who served a terrific book of 103 mares last year) and Encosta de Lago's VRC Sires' Produce Stakes winning son Von Costa de Hero at the Benalla stud.

"We were not really on the hunt for two new stallions," Duddy said, "but the opportunity came to stand Skilled and Wayed Zain and we are delighted to get them."

One of the best two-year-olds of his year, Skilled performed consistently throughout a demanding juvenile campaign - racing six times, recording three victories.

At just his second start an easy winner at Randwick, Skilled progressed through the classes to win the Listed Baillieu Stakes and the Group One Champagne Stakes.

He was certainly deserving of that win having at his previous start only just been beaten in the Group One ATC Sires' Produce Stakes - splitting Yosei and Hinchinbrook.

Continuing to perform consistently in elite company at three, Skilled was second to Ilovethiscity in the Group One Randwick Guineas, also recording game placings in the Group Three Caulfield Guineas Prelude won by subsequent Caulfield Guineas winner Anacheeva, the Listed Gothic Stakes, the Group Two Royal Sovereign Stakes (gusty after racing wide) and the Group Three BTC Classic.

Retiring to stud as the winner of over $580,000 in stakes, Skilled has called Darley Victoria's base his home for the last few years. From there he has sired 12 smart winners from his first crop who are just three.

So Skilled is one to keep a close eye on, the South Australian galloper impressive winning two in a row at Morphettville in January,

Fellow South Australian Cayman Dayze has missed a placing only twice in seven starts whilst Tasmanian Little Elsa has been a similar model of consistency.

In Victoria the Matt Laurie trained Lady Skills has been shaping well whilst the John O'Shea trained Pecans also has plenty of talent.

Meanwhile Leishman and Undetected are showing good promise for the Mitchell Freedman stable whilst Skilled Hunter and Tradies Tea break are impressive last start winners with plenty more to offer. And then there is the Hong Kong based Empire Star who created a big impression flying home from a long way back to run second at his Happy Valley debut in mid-March.

Skilled is a son of the late Commands who, with his 72 stakes winners (including 11 Group One winners) and 70.3% winners-to-runners strike rate, has been one of the country's most reliable stallions.

Skilled is a son of the wonderful mare Dextrous, Sandown Guineas winning dam of the Group Two winners Sidestep and Ambidexter from a prolific black type family that produced one Australia's best ever mares, the champion Emancipation.

"Ever since we decided to stand Skilled we have been getting all these phone calls from breeders telling us how much they like him," Duddy said.

"So many people have a Skilled youngster who they really like and with that in mind we are confident that the best is ahead for him."

Due to serve his first book this spring, Wayed Zain boasts a pedigree to impress.

Not only is he by Sadler's Wells' seven times Group One winning son High Chaparral whose son So You Think is making such a great start to his stud career - but he is from a family that has produced two of the best stallions to have stood in Victoria.

For Wayed Zain is out of the Al Maher mare Zyoon, the only filly produced by the city winning Star Way mare Shoal Creek.

Who, of course, made her contribution to racing and breeding by producing the Group One winner Encosta de Lago - champion sire of 112 stakes winners; 27 Group One winners including Chautauqua, Sacred Kingdom, Racing To Win, Alinghi, Princess Coup and Manhattan Rain (sire of this year's Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign).

Shoal Creek's dam Rolls - who is proving herself an excellent line-breeding subject - also made her mark at stud with her wonderful son Flying Spur.

A triple Group One winner of the Golden Slipper, the Australian Guineas and the All-Aged Stakes, Flying Spur has been represented by 99 stakes winners with 13 of his sons and daughters being Group One winners including Mentality, Forensics, Casino Prince and Magnus.

The winner of two (both at metropolitan level in Sydney) of his five starts, Wayed Zain is bred on the highly successful High Chaparral (sire of 95 stakes winners, 18 Group One winners)/Danehill cross - one that has produced the big race winners Inference, Tivaci, Free Eagle, Charmont, Fenway and Pondarosa Miss.

Wayed Zain has as his fifth dam the influential matriarch Fanfreluche, arguably the legendary Northern Dancer's finest daughter. The high class race mare produced 14 winners during a long and successful stud career and she is ancestress of many a topliner.

Including several racing in great form in Australia at the moment - the Myer Classic winner I Am A Star, the Galaxy winner Russian Revolution, the Wakeful Stakes winner Tiamo Grace and the Magic Night Stakes winner Tulip.

"He is such a beautiful big horse," Duddy enthused, adding that Wayed Zain possesses a great temperament with plenty of presence.

Wayed Zain makes his stud debut at a fee of $2200 whilst Skilled stands for $3300. Von Costa de Hero - whose first crop are running at a 60% strike rate - remains at $2200 whilst the popular Redente (who on Wednesday was represented by impressive maiden winner Reddour) will stand at $3850. All service fees include the reproductive vet costs - a real bonus!

For further information contact Russell Osborne on 0423 768 155.