Dual Cox Plate winning champion So You Think is at the centre of a bitter battle in New Zealand, co-breeders Cecile Smith and Mike Moran fighting in front of the courts for rights to his dam Triassic.
While the former Bart Cummings-trained So You Think, now under the preparation of Aiden O’Brien in Europe after being sold to racing giant Coolmore Stud late last year, seeks glory at Royal Ascot the drama over whom has sole ownership over his mother, Tights mare Triassic, has taken a terrible turn.
Last December Smith started dealings in New Zealand’s High Court at Hamilton seeking legal confirmation that she “holds the sole property and breeding rights associated with Triassic.”
While Moran and his wife Helen didn’t originally contest Smith’s possession rights over Triassic, they have since lodged a counterclaim declaring their prerogative over ownership and earnings on future Triassic offspring.
After So You Think’s blistering success on both Australian and now international turf, the son of High Chaparral having won close to $6 million in prize money to date, Triassic, now 20-years-old, has become one of the world’s most sought after and valuable broodmares.
Mike Moran and his co-breeders picked New Zealand Group 2 winner Triassic up in Sydney for a steal, paying just $16,000 for the mare at the 2005 Inglis Australian Easter Broodmare Sale.
So You Think was Triassic’s second foal, sold for $110,000 at the 2008 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale.
In a story that had all the makings of a fairy tale back in 2009 when So You Think won his first Cox Plate, becoming just the third horse in history along with Savabeel and Octagonal to win the lucrative weight-for-age spring showdown as a three-year-old, the Triassic tale has now become a rapidly souring saga.
While Moran made the Triassic purchase on behalf of Smith and her husband Alex, he then request and subsequently granted a 50 per cent ownership share of her by the Smiths.
Smith later opted to sell her half-share in Triassic’s first foal, Nuclear Freeze filly La Souvenir, and is now claiming that Moran elected to sell his 50 per cent ownership-share of Triassic in March of 2007.
“As I understand the defendants’ position, their case is that in fact there was no sale,” Justice Peters said in a summary made in February this year.
“The defendants contend they were willing to allow the Smiths to seek to breed a filly from Triassic, which the Smiths would own outright.
“This was to mitigate the fact that the Smiths had sold their 50 per cent share in La Souvenir, a sale which appeared increasingly likely to have been unwise.”
Now there is a younger full-brother to So You Think, a colt that both Smith and Moran are fighting for and that is set to be sold in January sure to attract one of the highest purchase price of any yearling in the southern hemisphere to date.
And the chance for Triassic to produce more potential star progeny is under threat as the ongoing legal proceedings have already stopped stallion Mastercraftsman serving her at stud.
After her date with High Chaparral, Triassic was sent to Elusive City for her third breeding session.
The encounter resulted in a smart colt that attracted $260,000 at the NZB Premier Yearling Sale back in 2009.
At present Triassic remains at Smith’s farm.