We take a look at the remarkable season enjoyed by Yarraman Park’s I Am Invincible and at the young horse who may just well be his heir apparent.

As the race towards premiership honours nears its ending, Harry Mitchell recalls the first time he laid eyes upon Yarraman Park’s star resident I Am Invincible.

With just two weeks of the racing season to go, the in-form 17-year-old looks set for Champion Sire honours, at this stage boasting season earnings of $19,455,445 – just over $430,000 ahead of So You Think (NZ).

“He has a good year every year,” Mitchell said. “But this year has been a particularly good one!”

It was some 13 years ago that Mitchell took his first look at I Am Invincible, recalling that handsome bay’s owners, the Gall family, were keen for him to become a member of the Yarraman roster.

There was appeal for Yarraman, this horse being fast and classy, but at the time his sire Invincible Spirit (Ire) was not very well known in this part of the world and I Am Invincible’s biggest success had come in a Group 3 contest in Adelaide.

But Mitchell knew that the horse had plenty of raw talent and plenty of speed though it was I Am Invincible’s looks that sealed the deal.

“I had never seen a better-looking horse,” he enthused. “He is just one of those outstanding types who do not pop up too often.”

“His sire is not a very big horse and neither was his damsire Canny Lad, but he is an imposing 16.2hh and just has all the attributes you want in a stallion.”

All that was needed was for I Am Invincible to pass on his physical qualities and from day one he has been doing that – along with that much needed talent.

An impressive tally of winners

“A huge percentage of his progeny have ability,” Mitchell said. And the statistics well and truly back up that assertion – I Am Invincible boasting an impressive 78.2 per cent winners-to-runners strike rate and an 8.6 per cent stakes winner ratio.

Of his 716 individual winners, 80 are stakes winners (13 at the elite level), 60 are stakes placed and 228 are metropolitan winners. His progeny have amassed over $130 million in stakes and have won in Australia, New Zealand, America, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea and beyond!

I Am Invincible’s current season has been an exciting one, his 184 winners taking out 307 races – his 17 individual stakes winners winning 24 stakes races. And four won Group 1 races – Home Affairs (Coolmore Stud S., Lightning S.), Imperatriz (Levin Classic, NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ S.), Lombardo (The Goodwood H.) and Marabi (Oakleigh Plate).

Also proving their worth at stakes level were Blondeau, Cythera, In Secret, Najmaty, Festivity, Ebhaar, Nettuno, Madam Legend, Queen Of The Ball, Holyfield, Salateen, Vinco and Quantico.

I Am Invincible is also paving the way as the country’s leading sire of 3-year-olds; currently sitting over $270,000 ahead of Maurice (Jpn) with his 58 winners of that age winning 100 races.

Whilst his progeny tend to be at their best at three and beyond, he has also had a good season with his juveniles – five stakes winners including the dual Group 3 winner Queen Of The Ball. He has had the fourth most number of both 2-year-old winners and wins and the third most stakes winners behind Snitzel and Written Tycoon.

And overall he has had more individual winners and more wins than any other stallion in the country.

Making Yarraman proud

“We are so proud of him,” Harry Mitchell said, adding that, “it is all a bit surreal for us, considering where he has come from (an $11,000 first-year service fee).

“We are just a little stud, we have never stood a Champion Sire before, winning the title would be so great for everyone on the farm.”

Mitchell is also happy for the horse who he describes as such a lovely horse to work with.

And he is also delighted with the progress being made by the heir apparent – Yarraman’s G1 William Reid S.-winning Hellbent whose debut crop have been in flying form of late.

In the last 10 days represented by five individual 2-year-old winners, Hellbent – who raced just the once at two (winning a Canterbury maiden) – is really starting to make his mark with Mitchell confident that the best is still to come.

“We’d have to say that he is looking to be a very, very exciting prospect at this stage. There are still some very promising types coming through and you would expect that, like him, they are only going to be better at three.”

“We are very excited that he is heading in the right direction,” he said, happy to see Hellbent sire nine debut-crop winners with three of his progeny earning black type. Five are metropolitan winners, placing him in the thick of things in the leading first-season sire charts; third by number of winners, fourth by wins and fifth by earnings.

Exciting types for Hellbent include Warby who really caught the eye with a strong finishing G3 Black Opal S. debut second, the stakes-placed Bohemian Daisy who is showing good talent for the Annabel Neasham stable, the impressive recent Canterbury and Warwick Farm winners Hell I Am and Ammahell, the unbeaten Price and Kent Jnr-trained Hell Hound, the runaway Warwick Farm winner Luna Rocks and Tattenham who bolted in at Cranbourne 11 days ago.

A sire to look forward to

Consistently supported by good numbers at each of his four years at stud, Hellbent is a horse with plenty of upside. And what a good racehorse he was too, winning seven races and amassing in excess of $900,000 in stakes.

Put away after his impressive debut victory as favourite for the Kurt Goldman stable, the good-looking bay with a definite look of his sire was, in the spring of 2015, a first-up winner over the future triple Group 1 winner Le Romain (Hard Spun {USA}) at Rosehill.

Finding plenty of trouble when arguably a good thing, he was beaten in the Listed Brian Crowley S. second-up. Hellbent then, at just his fourth start, took on the big guns in the G1 Coolmore Stud S. but again had little luck.

At his next outing only just beaten in the Inglis Sprint, Hellbent then proved a class above his rivals in the Inglis Dash at Flemington in what was to be his second-last run for Goldman, the horse transferred to Darren Weir.

Performing consistently for that trainer, he was able to see out his career in Group 1 fashion – at his penultimate start going close in the G1 Oakleigh Plate won by Russian Revolution and at his finale charging home to take out the G1 William Reid S. at Moonee Valley.

And so he outperformed his sire (though he was a gallant second to Takeover Target in the G1 The Goodwood H.) on the track. He has a while to go to emulate his soon-to-be Champion sire’s deeds at stud but the early signs are certainly positive.

Copy: Kristen Manning, Thoroughbred Daily News Aus NZ