In deepest Gloucestershire, on a freezing cold January morning, the future has arrived at Tweenhills Stud.
As the sheep nonchalantly graze in the paddock next to the gates, a small dog patters casually around the yard.
Overlooking this scene are six young stallions, set to take Qatar Bloodstock and Tweenhills Stud to the next level.
“I have to pinch myself every morning,” says David Redvers, Qatar Racing Manager and Owner and Manager of Tweenhills.
“We are so lucky to have two new stallions who can potentially shape the future of the bloodstock industry.”
Those two stallions are the Australian sensation Zoustar and the 2018 Cartier Horse Of The Year, Roaring Lion.
Accompanying the pair are the newly-arrived Sussex Stakes winner Lightning Spear and the already established trio of Charm Spirit, Havana Gold and Hot Streak.
Having such talent at Tweenhills is the stuff of dreams, no wonder David feels like pinching himself.
The Stud Farm, based in glorious Gloucestershire countryside, is located just outside the village of Hartpury, a few miles north of Gloucester.
It has been in the Redvers family for generations; where David’s grandmother, Nell Pennell, gained a reputation for breeding ponies and award-winning Guernsey cattle.
David’s interest in bloodstock and racing, saw him gain valuable industry experience, spending time at Mark Johnston Racing and Russell Baldwin & Bright auctioneers. He also travelled the globe, picking up invaluable experience and working as an assistant to agents at Tattersalls and Keeneland Sales.
Tweenhills was launched as a Thoroughbred farm and stud in 1995, when the first stallion to stand there was that fine Reg Hollinshead-trained hurdler Afzal.
Among his successful progeny were From Dawn To Dusk, Billygoat Gruff and Cavalero.
“Afzal won the Grade One juvenile hurdle at Aintree, in 1984,” David recalls.
“He was a lovely horse but sadly suffered from a neck injury from his racing days, which affected his balance and ended his stud career prematurely.”
An early – and significant success for David as an agent, came when he bought the yearling Lady Rebecca, for just 400 guineas, in 1993.
Under the tutelage of Venetia Williams, Lady Rebecca, the race mare, became an institution in the late Nineties and at the turn of the Century, winning 13 races, including three Grade Ones and amassing over £160,000 in prize money.
David was delighted when the mare retired and eventually came “home” to Tweenhills, where she lived out her days, before passing at the age of 21, in 2013.
At the time, he reflected: “She certainly helped my career and to get Tweenhills up and running. “I’m not even sure if she hadn’t done what she did we wouldn’t be here today. What people loved about her was her rags-to-riches story. It didn’t matter how much she cost or how small she was. She had such a huge heart.”
By then of course, the die was very much cast and Tweenhills was growing in stature.
In 2010, the Qatari Royal Family had begun its significant interest in horse racing and breeding and that year saw David appointed as Racing and Bloodstock Advisor to Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and his brothers.
Tweenhills became the base for their bloodstock operation.
David soon demonstrated why he was the perfect choice to work for the Al Thani family, purchasing Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden and the Group One winning filly Lightening Pearl.
Qatar Racing was keen to establish itself as a force in the bloodstock industry and David purchased the 2010 2,000 Guineas winner, Makfi.
The French-trained colt stood at Tweenhills for six seasons siring Classic winners in both northern and southern hemispheres before being sold to stand in Japan.
On the racing front, Just The Judge won the 2013 Irish 1,000 Guineas, while Havana Gold proved a smart colt, winning the Group Three Somerville Tattersalls Stakes at two – and in 2013, landing the Group One Prix Jean Prat.
Both horses remain very much part of the Qatar Bloodstock operation, with Havana Gold still standing at Tweenhills. His best progeny to date is the top class sprinter Havana Grey, who has made a big impression at two and three.
As Havana Gold was making his mark at three, Hot Streak came along and proved a sharp two year-old, winning the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes and placing in the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes and the Group One Middle Park Stakes, where he gave Astaire a real race.
In 2014, Hot Streak landed the Group Two Temple Stakes at Haydock Park, beating Kingsgate Native and Pearl Secret. He later placed in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes and the Group Three Palace House Stakes.
2015 saw the distaff side of Qatar Racing come to the fore, as the Ralph Beckett trained Simple Verse, went through the season improving. Her year culminated in Classic success in the St Leger at Doncaster.
Charm Spirit proved a top class miler for Freddy Head. He ran well in a strong 2,000 Guineas in 2014, finishing fifth, just behind Night Of Thunder, Kingman and Australia.
The son of Invincible Spirit was never beaten again, landing four straight wins, culminating in Group One successes in the Prix Jean Prat, Prix du Moulin and the Queen Elizabeth IInd Stakes.
His first crop of runners arrived on the racecourse in 2018 and proved high class.
Horses such as Kick On, Charming Kid and the filly Youtimeisnow, all demonstrated that Charm Spirit is going to be a stallion of some stature in the years to come.
Joining the Tweenhills roster in 2019, is the Sussex Stakes winner Lightning Spear.
This handsome chesnut ran for several seasons and appeared destined to be the eternal bridesmaid in Group One company, particularly after getting agonisingly touched off by Rohododendron, in the 2018 Lockinge Stakes.
But the two-time winner of the Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood, finally broke his duck at the same track, when beating Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Expert Eye, by 1 ½ lengths, in 2018.
Qatar Bloodstock’s patience and faith were repaid in spades that day and it was delightful to learn that there was a place for this popular horse at Tweenhills.
Joining Lightning Spear was one of the giants of the 2018 turf season in Europe, Cartier Horse of the Year, Roaring Lion.
The John Gosden-trained grey, had proved top class as a juvenile, landing the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes, before narrowly losing to Saxon Warrior, in the Group One Racing Post Trophy, having seemed destined to win, before wandering off a true line.
In 2018, Roaring Lion took time to come to himself, running third to Masar in the Craven Stakes and fifth in the Guineas behind old rival Saxon Warrior. That horse would prove a key ingredient in Roaring Lion’s future and the grey never lost to the Guineas winner again, in a memorably rivalry that help to light up the 2018 flat season.
Roaring Lion looked a different proposition when he stepped up to 1 ¼ miles in the Dante Stakes and whilst Gosden expressed doubts that the son of Kitten’s Joy would stay the Derby trip, he took his chance at Epsom, running well to finish third to Masar, with Saxon Warrior behind him for the first time.
Roaring Lion was next seen at Sandown Park in the Coral Eclipse Stakes in July, where he made the score two-two in his head to heads with Saxon Warrior, after a terrific scrap.
After a break, he returned to action in the Group One Juddmonte International Stakes, returning to York, the scene of his Dante Stakes victory.
An outstanding renewal saw Roaring Lion take on multiple Group One winners and he proved much the best, slamming the King George winner Poet’s Word by 3 ¼ lengths, with Thundering Blue, Saxon Warrior, Benbatl and Irish Derby winner Latrobe, no match for the flying grey.
In September, Roaring Lion consolidated his position as one of the year’s outstanding performers, with a hard fought victory over Saxon Warrior, in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
It was the sixth and final meeting between the old adversaries, as Saxon Warrior sustained a career-ending injury. The two three year olds pulled clear of a class field which included Prix du Jockey Club Stakes winner Study Of Man and the filly Rhododendron.
In October, Roaring Lion dropped down to a mile for the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The colt was taking on specialist milers for the first time since the 2,000 Guineas and was held up before finishing late to land the race from I Can Fly, with top class horses like Recoletos, Laurens and Lightning Spear behind him.
That confirmed Roaring Lion’s special talent and place at the head of the three year olds.
One more race at the Breeders’ Cup, on dirt, failed to yield the Grand Slam finish but it mattered not, Roaring Lion’s racing career had a glow to it which could not be diluted and he rightly earned the Cartier Award.
The four year-old has settled into life at Tweenhills well and will be covering Just The Judge and Simple Verse in 2019, as his stallion campaign aims to underline his versatility.
Having Roaring Lion arrive at Tweenhills would be excitement enough.
But a real coup was being delivered in the background, which has brought Australian sensation, Zoustar, to Gloucester, for a season covering in the Northern Hemisphere.
Record breaking first season sire Zoustar, is part-owned by Qatar Racing and was shuttled from Widden Stud, Australia in December.
The Champion First Season Sire in Australia stands for £25,000 (Oct 1st SLF), which could prove a tremendous bargain, given his 2018 results.
Zoustar is the highest earning Australasian first season sire in history, with total racecourse earnings to date of over AU$5.7 million; his progeny continue to make racing headlines including a 1-2-3 in 2018’s Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes, while his unbeaten son Zoustyle won a stakes race in December, quickly followed by a win for his son, Sun City, in the Group 3 B.J. McLachlan Stakes at Doomben.
That brought Zoustar’s tally of individual stakes winners from his first crop, to a sensational seven.
Commercially, Zoustar’s progreny have proved all the rage.
At the recent Magic Millions Gold Coast Book One Yearling Sale, one of his yearlings, lot 320, a colt out of Acouplamas (AUS) (Al Maher), broke the seven-figure barrier for the first time, selling for AU$1,075,000 to Yu Long Investments Pty Ltd/RIFA Mustang.
A further sixteen of ZOUSTAR’s progeny sold for AU$300,000 or more, whilst a total of 39 sold for six-figure sums, with impressive sales results such as; AU$900,000 for lot 117, a colt out of a mare by Freud, AU$750,000 for lot 675, a filly out of a mare by Denman and AU$700,000 for lot 440, a colt out of a mare by Black Minnaloushe. The 40 lots sold averaged AU$320,375.
David Redvers is understandably excited by the newest arrival at Tweenhills:
“We are hugely honoured to be entrusted with a stallion of ZOUSTAR’s profile by his owners as he is one of the most exciting stallions to have come out of Australia in recent years. A record breaking first season sire, he has followed this up with an even more impressive set of results with his first three year olds and his popularity has been further illustrated by his stunning sales results at the recent Magic Millions.
“At £25,000 Oct 1st SLF he represents outstanding value as his fee looks set to more than double from last season’s AU$66,000 in Australia on his return. He is regarded as a genuine breed shaper in the Southern Hemisphere.
“ZOUSTAR offers breeders a remarkable opportunity to use a sensational proven horse at a first season sire price. It is no surprise that he has been oversubscribed.”
2019 stud fees for Qatar Racing stallions:
Charm Spirit £17,500 Oct 1st SLF
Havana Gold £15,000 Oct 1st SLF
Hot Streak £7,000 Oct 1st SLF
Lightning Spear £8,500 Oct 1st SLF
Roaring Lion £40,000 Oct 1st SLF
Zoustar £25,000 Oct 1st SLF
For more information on Qatar Bloodstock and Tweenhills Stud, please visit: https://tweenhills.com/