Nicking tricks: what works with Vinnie?

10 min read
We take a deep dive into discovering the nicking trends that are working with key sirelines, and who better to kick off the series than with Australia’s newest Champion Sire – I Am Invincible.

Secured by trainer Toby Edmonds for $62,500 at the 2006 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, the colt, bred by International Thoroughbreds Bloodstock Investments, hails from the debut crop of Invincible Spirit (Ire) who stood just four seasons (at Chatswood Stud) in Australia.

Represented by just 249 live foals (six of those conceived overseas at later dates) at fees of $13,200 (inc GST) and $11,000 (inc GST) Invincible Spirit sired eight local stakes winners with the best performed of those being the triple Group 1-winning filly, Yosei.

Yosei winning the G1 Thousand Guineas | Image courtesy of Sportpix

Whilst he did not win at the elite level, I Am Invincible was a horse of Group 1 quality.

Sent out at double-figure odds at his Warwick Farm debut in early 2007, I Am Invincible was quickly in the lead and the closer he got to the line the further he was in front - his 5l victory leading to one form analyst declaring that, “He lived up to his name!”

Second-up he finished a close-up third behind the subsequent G1 Golden Slipper S. winner Forensics (Flying Spur) in the G3 Kindergarten S., then I Am Invincible was in a new stable at three, first-up for the Hawkes family leading throughout to claim a 1000-metre contest at Warwick Farm.

I Am Invincible winning at Warwick Farm | Image courtesy of Sportpix

With a third trainer - Peter Morgan - for his next campaign, I Am Invincible had seven more starts, winning three of those including the G3 DC McKay S. in which he was eased down late, winning by 1.5l. A brave G1 The Goodwood H. second to the Champion Takeover Target (Celtic Swing {GB}) was followed by a determined victory in the Listed Sir John Monash S.

He was ridden on that occasion by Darren Gauci, a big fan...

“If you were asked to paint a horse, he is the horse you would choose as the subject,” he said. “A lovely, masculine horse and one of only a few - Lonhro being another - I rode who you would sit on and straight away think, 'Wow.'”

“If you were asked to paint a horse, he (I Am Invincible) is the horse you would choose as the subject.” - Darren Gauci

“Unfortunately, he had a few issues so he never got to reach his full potential.”

On to stud duties

Retired to Yarraman as the winner of five of his 13 starts, I Am Invincible made his stud debut at a fee of $11,000. Many recognised that it was a good price for a fast and classy, well-bred horse and he was supported by 133 mares with 95 live foals the result.

I Am Invincible | Standing at Yarraman Park

Of those, 84 were named, 80 making it to the track with 70 of them winning 292 races. Ten per cent of his individual winners were stakes winners including the Group 1 winners Voodoo Lad and Brazen Beau who earned the title of Australian Champion 3-Year-Old Colt.

Of his 86 second-crop runners, 73 were winners including eight stakes winners with two of those proving themselves to be Group 1 horses - Viddora and Hellbent (who also now calls Yarraman home).

In his third crop, 74 of 93 runners were winners, seven of those being stakes winners including the Group 1 fillies Invincibella and I Am A Star. At his final season standing for $11,000 I Am Invincible had 91 winners from 105 runners including 11 stakes winners and by his fifth season his fee had risen to $27,500 (inc GST).

Gallery: Some of I Am Invincible's third crop Group 1 fillies

From his fifth crop of 126 runners, 108 were winners - his outstanding statistics continuing with nine stakes winners including the Group 1 winners Oohood and Media Sensation.

The next two seasons standing at $55,000 (inc GST), I Am Invincible had 101 winners from 123 runners out of his 2016 born crop - one which yielded 17 stakes winners including the Group 1 gallopers Lombardo, Loving Gaby and Marabi.

There are 111 winners from 126 runners amongst his current group of 5-year-olds, 10 of whom are stakes winners. With 74 winners amongst his 120 4-year-old runners including six stakes winners, two of whom - Home Affairs and Imperatriz - are dual Group 1 winners. From his first 21 winners who recently turned three, five are stakes winners.

Home Affairs | Standing at Coolmore

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Yarraman's Harry Mitchell has noted that very few of his progeny seem to lack ability!

By 2017 I Am Invincible's fee was $110,000, the following season rising to $192,500 then $247,500 and since then $209,000 and $220,000 - this year back to $247,500 (inc GST), making him (after Extreme Choice) Australia's second most expensive stallion.

Whilst I Am Invincible has not produced a Group 1 winner in every crop, the quality of his progeny has proven to be consistent as has his strike rate which "dipped" to 79.5 per cent for his third crop of runners, peaking at 88 per cent for his seventh. His stakes winner ratio at its lowest (7.9 per cent for those who have just turned five - a statistic likely to improve) is still enviable whilst his highest is a remarkable 13.8 per cent for his runners who are now six.

Invincible Spirit (Ire) | Standing at the Irish National Stud

Hailing from the Green Desert (USA) branch of the Danzig (USA) sireline, I Am Invincible is a son of the high-achieving G1 Haydock Sprint Cup winner Invincible Spirit who has been so well represented by 141 stakes winners amongst his 1227 winners, 20 of those being Group 1 winners.

Like his son, Invincible Spirit made his way up from initial low service fees. Although currently standing at Irish National Stud for €60,000 (AU$87,600), he is getting on as a 25-year-old and at one stage demanded double that.

Another 17 of Invincible Spirit's sons have sired stakes winners, five of those represented by Group 1 winners... Kingman (GB), Lawman (Fr), Shalaa (Ire), Mayson (GB) and Territories (Ire). Already, I Am Invincible is a grandsire of stakes winners with his first son to stud - Brazen Beau - siring 19 stakes winners including the Group 1 New Zealander On The Bubbles.

Meanwhile, Hellbent, Super One, Kobayashi and Overshare have all sired winners.

So is there a theme in regards to I Am Invincible's success, any shared traits amongst his best runners?


Chelandry (GB): we go back a bit here to the UK's top-rated 2-year-old filly of 1896, the following season's G1 1000 Guineas winner who made an indelible mark on the breed as a high-class broodmare whose descendants continue to breed on and I Am Invincible is one of those.

Not only a direct descendant of Chelandry, I Am Invincible carries another four strains with one of those being close up - his multiple Group 1-winning second dam sire Zoffany (Ire).

Chelandry (GB) | Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I Am Invincible is doing a fine job with mares who boast further Chelandry strains. Such as her wonderful descendant High Chaparral (Ire). Of I Am Invincible's six runners out of High Chaparral daughters, four are winners including the G1 NZ 1000 Guineas winner Media Sensation.

Or the very fast Zeditave - four winners from just five runners including the Group 2 speedster Illustrious Lad. Plus Viddora, Strasbourg, Prophet's Thumb and Houtzen all have Zeditave in their dam line and as does Brazen Beau's stakes-winning son Accession.

How about the job he is doing with Marwina, a horse who has only a handful of daughters at stud. Three runners bred on this cross - all winners including the G1 Oakleigh Plate winner Marabi and the triple Group winner Invincible Gem. Not only is Marwina a descendant of Chelandry, so is his second damsire Dignitas (USA).

Dignitas was not very well represented in this part of the world, yet he features in the pedigrees of another three I Am Invincible stakes winners.

Eight of the nine I Am Invincible runners out of mares by Anabaa (USA) are winners including the dual Group 3 and dual Listed winner California Zimbol.

California Zimbol | Image courtesy of Sportpix

The G1 French 2000 Guineas winner Klairon (Fr) is another purveyor of Chelandry genes, being a son of her descendant Clairon (Fr). I Am Invincible and Klairon have combined in the pedigrees of 22 stakes winners including the big-race winners Viddora, Imperatriz, Lombardo and Media Sensation.

Chelandry's descendants Shadeed (USA), Never Say Die (USA), Fresco (GB), Darling Boy (GB) and Forty Niner (USA) also feature in the pedigrees of I Am Invincible stakes winners.

Meanwhile, the dual Group 3 winner Invincible Star and the Listed winners Ebhaar and Festivity (NZ) are all direct descendants of Chelandry. As is the Listed winner Sundance whose grandam Countess Pedrille is also I Am Invincible's grandam.


Lalun (USA): the 1955 G1 Kentucky Oaks heroine has proven herself to be one of the great modern day line-breeding influences and her son Never Bend (USA) is the second damsire of Invincible Spirit's sire Green Desert.

Lalun (USA)

Each member of his sireline has fared well with strains of Never Bend's half-brother Bold Reason (USA) including I Am Invincible (and Brazen Beau) with 22 stakes winners including four Group 1 winners. In half of those stakes winners, Bold Reason appears via the mighty Sadler's Wells (USA), son of a Bold Reason mare; Barathea (Ire) and Galileo (Ire) popping up the most.

Meanwhile, Sadler's Wells' full brother Fairy King (USA) is the sire of Encosta De Lago whose daughters have produced seven I Am Invincible stakes winners including Lombardo. Another four have Encosta De Lago further back, including Imperatriz. Never Bend is a lovely horse to duplicate as well; 12 of I Am Invincible's stakes winners are line-bred to him as are four of Brazen Beau's.


Mowerina (GB): we head further back in time here with this 1843-born mare who is an ancestress of Invincible Spirit and his grandsire Danzig who hails from the same branch of this prolific family as Bletchingly (sire of I Am Invincible's damsire Canny Lad) and Rockefella (GB) to whom Invincible Spirit's dam is line-bred. I Am Invincible's first Group 1 winner Brazen Beau is a good case study here - he is 5 X 3 Danzig and 4 X 3 Bletchingly. Another 44 of I Am Invincible's stakes winners carry a Danzig cross whilst Hellbent is 3 X 3 Danzig's son Green Desert. And another 16 are line-bred to Bletchingly.

Bletchingly at Widden Stud

In regards to Danzig, obviously, in this part of the world, most strains come via Danehill (USA) and I Am Invincible has sired at least two stakes winners out of mares by Dane Shadow, Flying Spur, Exceed And Excel and Redoute's Choice. He does a particularly good job with Danehill Dancer (Ire) and his sons such as Choisir and Mastercraftsman (Ire), noting that Danehill Dancer and Invincible Spirit are bred on the same Danzig/Sharpen Up (GB) cross.

There are a number of other strengths to I Am Invincible's pedigree that he is picking up well on - such as his multiple strains of the Aloe (GB) (Son-In-Law {GB}), Lavendula II (Fr) (Pharos {GB}), Lady Josephine (GB) (Sundridge {GB}) and Pretty Polly (GB) (Gallinule {GB}) families.

And he displays a nice affinity with certain broodmare sires, namely Hussonet (USA), O'Reilly (NZ), Peintre Celebre (USA), Reset (son of a Zeditave mare) and Stravinsky (USA) - by each of those broodmare sires siring two stakes winners.

Maternal Grandsires of I Am Invincible Stakeswinners

Peintre Celebre (USA) 199440250%1,311,330Team Fortune
Barathea (IRE) 199040250%4,163,704Wishful Thinker
Shamardal (USA) 200221150%493,906Imperatriz
Secret Savings (USA) 199120150%338,685Santos
Dixieland Band (USA) 198021150%1,611,800I Am a Star
Volksraad (GB) 198821150%1,382,100Hellbent
Oratorio (IRE) 200220150%620,715Miss Invincible
Southern Halo (USA) 198320150%615,083Look to the Stars
Hurricane Sky (AUS) 199120150%320,655With a Promise
Reset (AUS) 200050240%2,777,449Houtzen
Ad Valorem (USA) 200230133%430,656I Am Immortal
Langfuhr (CAN) 199230133%218,070Always Sacred
Foreplay (AUS) 200130133%1,668,770Victorem
Viscount (AUS) 199830133%511,280She's All Class
Statoblest (IRE) 198630133%345,483Holy Blade
Holy Roman Emperor (IRE) 200430133%1,793,570King of Sparta
Domesday (AUS) 200230133%693,816La Mexicana
Stravinsky (USA) 199670228%3,363,963Dame Giselle
Dane Shadow (AUS) 200170228%1,504,496Holyfield
Choisir (AUS) 1999110327%2,191,412Eckstein
Galileo (IRE) 199881225%3,725,354Invincibella
Mastercraftsman (IRE) 200641125%2,397,442Loving Gaby
Northern Meteor (AUS) 200540125%426,920Najmaty
Zeditave (AUS) 198550120%2,002,052I Am Zelady
Encosta de Lago (AUS) 1993361719%7,142,380Libertini
Danehill Dancer (IRE) 1993160318%4,306,174Fiesta
O'Reilly (NZ) 1993110218%967,731Fuld's Bet
High Chaparral (IRE) 199961116%1,009,856Media Sensation
Hussonet (USA) 1991130215%1,999,296Convincible
Lonhro (AUS) 1998140214%1,574,886Capriccio
Flying Spur (AUS) 1992301413%5,856,725Home Affairs
Elusive Quality (USA) 199380112%1,689,418Victoriam
Anabaa (USA) 199290111%1,202,416California Zimbol
Fasliyev (USA) 199790111%963,038Whypeeo
Snaadee (USA) 198791111%2,276,151Brazen Beau
General Nediym (AUS) 1994100110%1,322,635On the Lead
Show a Heart (AUS) 1997100110%560,640Barbaric
Exceed and Excel (AUS) 200021029%1,794,625She's So High
Tale of the Cat (USA) 199411019%1,320,779Super One
Catbird (AUS) 199611019%1,369,130Invincible Star
Stratum (AUS) 200212018%547,171Festivity
Danehill (USA) 198612018%1,987,285Navy Cross
Snitzel (AUS) 200216016%1,845,542Enforcement - Harmony and Rich (H.K)
Fastnet Rock (AUS) 200134025%2,856,685Jazz Etude
More Than Ready (USA) 199719015%1,922,109Kinloch
Redoute's Choice (AUS) 199656023%4,534,680Muntaseera

I Am Invincible
Yarraman Park