Murrulla Stud offers Ellsberg at $11,000 for debut season

6 min read
In conjunction with his ownership group, Murrulla Stud on Sunday evening announced that Group 1 winner Ellsberg will be offered for $11,000 (inc GST) for the looming breeding season. We caught up with some of his many connections to find out more.

Cover image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

The most successful son of Spill The Beans, Ellsberg is something of a people’s horse. Highly consistent from his debut win at three all the way to a record-breaking Five Diamonds win 24 starts later, he will now look to carry the legacy of his own sire, who died within days of siring his first winner in October 2019.

The busiest sire in Australia in his own debut season, Spill The Beans produced 144 live foals from that 2016 season. One of those was the chestnut colt out of General Nediym mare Love Of Liberty, a sister to Group 3 winner Electric General, who would go on to be named Ellsberg.

However, it appears that Ellsberg will not be emulating his sire in numbers for his own debut season. Majority owner Maurice Sinclair, in whose orange silks Ellsberg competed, told TTR AusNZ that Ellsberg will receive plenty of support from his ownership group and Murrulla Stud but that they’re realistic about how close to the season their announcement comes for external breeders.

“The whole group is supporting him with mares, including the trainer,” Sinclair said. “The mares will be well-bred; I’m sending him a handful of mares related to stakes winners and one out of a Group 1 winner.

“We've got other mares that have just come off the track that are going to him too.”

That Gerald Ryan, Ellsberg’s co-trainer alongside Sterling Alexiou, will be supporting him in his debut season is, perhaps, predictable. Not only did Ryan train Spill The Beans to win the G2 QTC Cup, he also trained his father, Snitzel, who won the G1 Oakleigh Plate before beginning his sparkling career at Arrowfield Stud.

At the top of his game

Retiring as a 5-year-old, Ellsberg effectively put himself into serious contention as a stallion prospect in the space of just three runs last year. Only out of the placings five times in his career, he won nine races in total, and appeared to be improving with age.

His 3.19l win in the G3 Liverpool City Cup in February 2022 was the prelude to taking on some of Australia’s top sprinter/milers, and he put in a creditable performance a few months later when third to Cascadian (GB) (New Approach {Ire}) and Tofane (NZ) (Ocean Park {NZ}) in the G1 All Aged S.

It was third-up after he resumed at this term that provided one of the moment's of the season, not just for his connections but for racing fans also. In his fourth attempt at the elite level, he took on the G1 Epsom H. on a Heavy 8 at Randwick last October, and couldn’t be separated from Top Ranked (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) in a thrilling finish.

Gallery: Ellsberg's hat-trick in spring of 2022, images courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

Targeted at the inaugural Five Diamonds next, Ellsberg then justified favouritism in the Prelude (run over 1500 metres) before stepping up to 1800 metres for the first time in the $2 million feature. Shouldering top weight, he was able to see off Sibaaq (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) to post a track record time, and bring his five-week prizemoney haul past $2 million.

“His resume is exceptional, having been placed in 10 Group and Listed races, including winning the Epsom,” Sinclair added. “Therefore, as an entire, and a beautiful, strong, big, gentle-natured horse, he’s a very suitable candidate.

“His (Ellsberg) resume is exceptional, having been placed in 10 Group and Listed races, including winning the Epsom.” - Maurice Sinclair

“It was very unfortunate that his sire died so young, but hopefully Ellsberg can fulfil his legacy.”

A diverse mix

Prior to partnering with Alexiou, Ryan selected Ellsberg at the 2019 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale. There he forked out $280,000, and was duly approached by an assortment of existing owners who took shares.

One of those was Mervyn Wood, a businessman and former merchant banker. Another that will be sending Ellsberg mares, Wood revealed why the announcement has come so close to the breeding season.

“We were going to race him on, however, he got injured, and we decided we'd just put him away and get him better,” Wood told TTR AusNZ. “He came back and was going extremely well, and he got injured again.

Ellsberg as a yearling | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

“So, it was decided by the team, in fairness to the horse, that we had to stop.”

With a stud career now beckoning, and after one deal fell through, connections opted to offer Ellsberg via Inglis Digital. After he failed to meet his $1 million reserve at the end of March this year, the group contemplated retaining him themselves to stand.

One of their number, Tim Perram, who had an existing relationship with the stud, suggested they look to Murrulla. That’s ultimately what they did, and now a wide mix of people who joined forces back at Ellsberg’s yearling stage will be entering into the entirely new phase of ownership that is standing a stallion.

“It's a tremendous cross section of people, from clothing manufacturers to stud owners,” Wood said, adding that the whole group is excited for the next chapter.

“It's a tremendous cross section of people (within the new ownership of Ellsberg), from clothing manufacturers to stud owners.” - Mervyn Wood

“He deserves his chance because he's a Group 1-winning horse with huge potential and a beautiful-looking animal.

“Those people that know the horse will be going out of their way to send him mares because of his looks and, once he gets foals on the ground, we anticipate there to be a massive jump in mares that go to him.”

A fresh face for Murrulla

Tim Nolan, who runs Murrulla Stud with wife Celie, is no stranger to standing Group 1 winners. At the age of 21, he reports that The Galaxy H. winner Charge Forward is still attracting a selection of mares each year, but admits that the spotlight will now very much be on the latest recruit.

“We’re really excited about it,” he told TTR AusNZ. “The horse has won $3.3 million, he's Group 1 winner, Group 1-placed, and only out of the placings five times - that's pretty good going.

“The horse (Ellsberg) has won $3.3 million, he's Group 1 winner, Group 1-placed, and only out of the placings five times - that's pretty good going.” - Tim Nolan

“We thought, being a Group 1 winner, that he’d have been snapped up and gone.”

Nolan added that Murrulla looks forward to supporting Ellsberg with some of their own mares, and said that he represents good value at his pricepoint.

“He’s out of a General Nediym mare, there’s plenty of speed there, but he won over 1800 (metres) too, so he was pretty versatile.

“I would have thought he’d suit a variety of mares. He’s a big, scopey horse at 16.2hh. He is from the Danehill line being a grandson of Snitzel, but I suppose Danehill is four (generations) back, which gives breeders a few options.

“I think people can look to breed a nice racehorse with him; he was tough, he raced on, and he was top quality.”

Murrulla Stud
Tim Nolan
Celie Nolan
Mervyn Wood
Maurice Sinclair
Spill The Beans