HE is named after a popular brand of fishing lure – and should have been quite a “catch” at a Perth yearling sale! Instead, he was passed in at $16,000, later sold privately for $20,000 and is now firmly established in the “Top 5” of Australian racehorses. BLACK HEART BART is one of racing’s truly wonderful success stories – and it seems there are more chapters yet to come.
The now six-year-old’s victory in last Saturday’s Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield sent his career earnings crashing through the $3m barrier and not only continued his great affinity with that track, but cemented his Timeform rating at 126. The Australian ratings naturally have superstar Winx well ahead on 133, followed by Hartnell on 128 (the pair are scheduled to clash again at Randwick today in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes), Chautauqua and Coolmore Stakes winner Flying Artie (127), with Black Heart Bart and classy three-year-old Astern both on 126. “Black Heart Bart ran right up to his best in winning the Orr,” said Timeform’s highly respected Australian representative Gary Crispe.
“It was undoubtedly one of his best performances, along with his second to Winx in the Caulfield Stakes last spring. “He is a tough, genuine horse who gives his all and continues to compete so well at the highest level.”
Black Heart Bart’s Orr triumph lifted his record to 15 wins and 14 placings from 38 starts, with earnings of $3,119,580. It is indeed a tribute to his ability and resilience that 33 of those starts have been in black type company.
His black type record is:
GROUP 1 – 14 starts (4 wins, 5 placings);
GROUP 2 – 4 starts (1 win, 2 placings);
GROUP 3 – 4 starts (2 wins, 1 placing); and
LISTED – 11 starts (6 wins, 4 placings).
Yet remarkably it took the West Aussie nine starts to break through – and that was at a country track. He had been placed five times before winning a 1000m Maiden at Bunbury in October, 2014 at odds-on.
Chris Waller’s now retired seven-year-old Hawkspur also managed five placings before breaking through at his ninth start over 1850m at Newcastle in November, 2012 and later proving himself in Group 1 company and winning another seven races and earning nearly $1.4m before his career ended.
And what about the great stayer Reckless, who was winless in more than 30 starts but his trainer, Phar Lap’s legendary former strapper Tommy Woodcock, never lost faith. Reckless won the 1977 Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane Cups – the only horse to do so - before finishing second to Gold and Black in that year’s Melbourne Cup.
Black Heart Bart is a son of 1999 Victoria Derby winner Blackfriars (who stands at stud in Western Australia) and six-times Queensland winner Sister Theresa (who is a half-sister to dual Group 1 winner Savannah Success, the dam of 2004 Cox Plate winner and now successful stallion Savabeel).But he attracted little interest when he was offered at the final session of the 2012 Perth yearling sale.Enter Geraldton builder Kim Renner, who left his local watering hole and switched on the telecast of the sale upon his return home.
The striking bay colt caught his attention so much so that when he was passed in at $16,000, Renner made a telephone call and clinched a sale at $20,000. He brought in a few friends as racing partners and, being a keen marlin fisherman, named him after his favourite fishing lure (Black Bart lures are especially popular with big game fishermen). Renner gave him to Perth’s Vaughan Sigley to train, and he won two barrier trials (at 950m and 1450m) at Lark Hill either side of a debut fifth over 1000m at Ascot on December 7, 2013. Sigley won 10 races with Black Heart Bart before connections decided to send him east to give him an opportunity to prove himself on a bigger stage.
Renner’s initial approach to a leading Victorian trainer was aborted when he wasn’t happy with a contract clause. Sigley knew another leading trainer Darren Weir and recommended him to the gelding’s owners. Under the astute Weir’s guidance, Black Heart Bart has won another five races – including last year’s Goodwood Handicap at Morphettville and Memsie and Underwood Stakes at Caulfield. His record at the latter track is outstanding. He has won four of his five starts there; his only defeat being when he chased home Winx in last October’s Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Thus, it is no surprise that Black Heart Bart will have his next start there in the $500,000 Group 1 wfa Futurity Stakes (1400m) on Saturday week (Blue Diamond Stakes day). He has also been nominated for the $3m Group 1 Doncaster Mile and $4m Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 1 and 8 respectively during The Championships.