Twenty WA titles and counting for Scenic Lodge

Standing a champion stallion is the goal of any commercial studmaster.  In any jurisdiction.  Then do the math multiplying the degree of difficulty by 20 premierships without pause.

That’s the Scenic Lodge scorecard from 2002 to 2021 in Western Australia.  It’s foundation sire Scenic (Ire) won 9 local titles in a row and, in a seamless transition, Blackfriars took command and has added another 11 as of Saturday night.

Blackfriars (Danehill) died in December 2017 but he can make it an even dozen premierships this season even without a 2yo division.  “He was an amazing horse and we’re so proud of what he achieved,” Scenic Lodge general manager Jeremy Smith said on Monday.  “He has sired lots of classic winners in Perth but the majority peak as older horses like Black Heart Bart and God Has Spoken.”

Blackfriars won the 2020-21 WA Championship with earnings of $4,326,236.  Runner-up Snippetson is also based at Scenic Lodge and third-placed Playing God is a Group 1 winning son of Blackfriars based at Darling View Thoroughbreds.

Jeremy’s father David Smith bought the Muchea property in 1996 and named it Durham Lodge after his birthplace in north-east England.  It was a training complex and a very successful one at that for the wily owner-trainer team of Wally Hannah and Ted Hickling.

They raced Group 1 horses like Barossa Boy, Importune, Eastern Temple and Bungler at home and on the road east.  “We got to work transforming the property into a stud farm and then bought Scenic (Ire) from Lindsay Park as our foundation sire,” Smith recalled.  “It was a game-changer although it didn’t seem like that at the time.”

Scenic was a Group 1 winning son of Sadler’s Wells and already a proven stallion with classic winners like Blevic, Lochrae and Shame in Melbourne.  “There was a bit of resistance initially with people saying he sired wet trackers.  But then he took off in Sydney and Melbourne and Lindsay Park asked if they could lease him back.”

Scenic exploded at the turn of the century with Group 1 winners Universal Prince (AJC Australia Derby), Episode (SAJC Australasian Oaks), Lord Essex (STC George Ryder Stakes), Piavonic (MVRC Manikato Stakes) and Scenic Peak (VRC Emirates Stakes).

“At one stage Scenic was running third in the Australian sires’ premiership behind Danehill and Zabeel.  That’s something no other sire in WA has ever, or perhaps will ever, achieve.

“Sending him back to Lindsay Park for a season worked in perfectly for Blackfriars.  He was just starting out and covering so many good mares in his second book gave him every chance.  He had won the Victoria Derby for Swettenham Stud and we had to pay good money for a classic winning son of Danehill.”

Scenic returned to WA to sire Australian Horse of the Year Scenic Blast and his Group 1 winning stablemate Scenic Shot plus Perth Stakes winners Grand Nirvana, Idyllic Prince and Marasco.

His crowning glory arrived in 2008 when Viewed won a 12th Melbourne Cup for Bart Cummings.

“We consider ourselves so fortunate to have guided their careers at stud,” Smith said.  “It’s an incredible legacy and Dad was instrumental in sourcing both stallions and getting the stud off the ground.

“I developed a strong interest in the breeding side of the business which led to my first job out of school as a pedigree researcher for Goodwood Bloodstock.  That company was eventually purchased by Magic Millions.”

David Smith and his wife Dianne are still involved and a third generation is secure with Jeremy and Sarah’s son Lachlan.  Their other teenager Joshua will pursue a career outside the industry.

The Scenic Lodge staff is headed by Emily Johnson (Stud Manager) and Kristy Reynolds (Assistant Manager).  And the Smiths have gone with girl power again appointing Kelly Salgari as Broodmare Manager last month.

“The WA industry is going better than ever and the Westspeed Platinum bonuses means a horse can earn $88,000 for winning on a Saturday,” Smith added.  “Awesome Rock’s 2yo filly Searchin’ Roc’s banked near $250,000 for a Belmont hat-trick last month.

“There are some good young stallions emerging like Playing God, Rommel, I’m All The Talk and Awesome Rock.  We haven’t had that much depth and options for breeders for quite some time.  It’s been Blackfriars then daylight for the last decade.

“We brought in Snippetson from Widden Stud and he’s doing an amazing job as the leading active stallion in WA.  Hopefully, he can eventually take over from Blackfriars.  Our other sire Universal Ruler is a son of Scenic and he finished Top 10 last season.”

Scenic Lodge stands both Snippetson and Universal Ruler for $8,250 service fees alongside Dash For Cash ($2,200).  Jeremy Smith can be contacted for further information on (08) 9571 0155 or 0419 943 356.

Jeremy and David Smith with a portrait of Blackfriars / Photo: Caroline Gammage