Standout was a month old when owner/breeder George Altomonte saw him for the first time at Corumbene Stud. “I’d had a call from my Stud Manager Toby Frazer not long after he was foaled, to say he was an absolute standout”, recalled George. “I saw him a few weeks later and Standout was going to be his name from the outset, provided it was available. Thankfully it was”.
The colt’s rich chestnut colouring, flaxen mane and tail, white blaze and white hind stockings were features in themselves, but it didn’t end there. His conformation was faultless, he had the most finely chiselled head and great presence.
George Altomonte has followed the creed of many breeders by “selling the colts and keeping the fillies”, but this colt wasn’t going anywhere.
After all he was a brother to the brilliant Overreach winner of a Golden Slipper and $2,360,000 before going amiss, and a full sibling to Outreach who sustained a career ending hock injury in finishing second to Vancouver at his only start in the 2015 Canonbury Stakes.
Outreach’s speed, looks and pedigree earned him a place on the Widden Stud stallion roster where he commenced duties in 2016. High hopes are held for his first crop of two year olds which are on the track this season.
The obvious unsoundness factors with Overreach and Outreach convinced George that Standout should not be tried as a two year old. He went to the Gerald Ryan stable this time last year for a light preparation, but the experienced trainer loved what he saw. “He showed tremendous natural ability and moved like a good horse in the making”, said Gerald. “We might have given him a bit more to do, but he came down with a mild virus. We got him over the bug and turned him out immediately”.
Standout made his long awaited debut in a 3YO Gosford Maiden (1100 metres) on August 13th with Tommy Berry up. Seven scratchings reduced the field to five runners with Sir Rocket at a prohibitive $1.65. The favourite led from Well Known with Standout almost three lengths behind them in third spot approaching the turn. When Well Known “ran off” on the corner, Standout quickly picked up the leader and went to the line pricking his ears. He looked at everything in sight coming to the line.
Almost three weeks later Gerald lined him up in a BM64 3YO (1100m) on the Kenso track, with James Innes Jnr taking over from Berry. The Exceed And Excel colt was second last in the nine horse field turning for home, but moved stylishly when Innes angled him into the clear on straightening.
Looking as though he wasn’t quite sure why he was there, Standout let down with a lovely “daisy cutting” action and stormed past the leaders with ease. Again he started to prick the ears and stargaze in the closing stages, allowing Iskander to take a little ground off him.
Gerald Ryan was prepared to back his judgement in throwing the chestnut colt into the listed Heritage Stakes on Saturday, against pretty formidable opposition.
Two time winner Cosmic Force had started favourite in the Golden Slipper, Bellevue Hill is a Group 3 winner, Accession has won $872,000 while Dirty Work had been placed in a Group 3 at Caulfield. Pandemic from the Godolphin yard is carrying a quiet “wrap”, and Catch Me had contested the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper.
In a nutshell Standout was making a quantum leap in class, as evidenced by his starting quote of $11.00. “I know it was a pretty big ask, but I’ve got a real opinion of him and wanted to use the race as a learning curve”, said the trainer.
Tommy Berry gave the flashy colt every opportunity to handle the class rise. He had him in a sweet rhythm on the fence in fifth spot coming to the hometurn, where Zedward led from Dirty Work with Bellevue Hill enduring a nightmare run three wide. Heavily supported Cosmic Force had the run of the race on the outside of Standout.
Berry was gifted a little bit of luck when Bellevue Hill stopped quickly, enabling him to switch outside Dirty Work at the 300 metres. Standout was in the clear before Cosmic Force could close the gap and the moment of truth had arrived. “He wouldn’t let Cosmic Force get past him and did you see him prick his ears again in the last bit “, said Gerald. “There’s no better indication that a horse has a bit left in the tank”.
George Altomonte was at the races for the first time in many months and could be forgiven for feeling smug about the judgement he displayed in electing to retain the colt with the matinee idol looks. George has been quietly recovering from major hip surgery, but there was a definite spring in his step on Saturday.
Putting it all in perspective, it took a very promising horse to do what he did. He’s obviously a smart cookie who learns quickly, and the improvement from Gosford to Kensington to Rosehill Gardens was quite remarkable. He looked like a seasoned racehorse on Saturday as he raced in restricted space between Dirty Work and Cosmic Force for a short time.
Both owner and trainer are in no hurry to prove a point with this son of super sire Exceed And Excel and Bahia, a mare who has already left a Slipper winner. “His next assignment will be the $300,000 Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) on October 12th”, said Gerald. “It’s highly unlikely we’d be tempted to go on, even if he turns in another super run. He’s got a great motor and will get plenty of chances to use it next autumn”.
The emergence of Standout has been a timely consolation for Gerald and George, following the bitter disappointment of Menari’s second breakdown in May.
The Snitzel stallion showed tremendous ability in his eight start career winning three races including the Listed Rosebud Quality and the Gr 2 Run To The Rose before finishing third behind stablemate Trapeze Artist in a very strong Golden Rose. A suspensory ligament strain forced his premature retirement to Newgate Farm Stud.
He attracted a book of sixty mares in his first season, but only twenty returned positive tests. Following several encouraging scan results, George Altomonte made the decision to put the stallion back into work. Menari got as far as a couple of race day exhibition gallops, before the troublesome suspensory flared up again. He’ll resume stud duties this spring, but with a limited book.
Gerald Ryan is one trainer who knows what signs a potential top class horse needs to show. He recognized those characteristics in horses like Trapeze Artist, Snitzel, Clangalang, Melito, Hurricane Sky, Paint, Snitzerland, Arctic Scent, Racer’s Edge, Recurring, Ramyah and several others.
Gerald is not the kind of trainer to be throwing an inexperienced horse into the deep end as he did with Standout on Saturday. He had a pretty smug look on his face as the stunning colt walked into the winners circle after the Heritage Stakes.
(Banner image courtesy Steve Hart Photographics - Banner Shot - Standout handled the class rise to win The Heritage Stakes.)