The Sunshine State of Queensland has undergone significant growth in recent times, quickly establishing itself as the most progressive harness racing jurisdiction in the Southern Hemisphere.
The likes of the rich QBRED scheme and Constellations Carnival have put ‘Down Under’ harness racing on notice, making the state the envy of its neighbours, and attracting interstate and overseas interest from trainers, owners, and breeders alike.
Now the state has caught the attention of North America, with the owners of the fifth-fastest stallion of all-time sending their champion son of Captaintreacherous to the Sunshine State.
After negotiating with multiple breeding farms in Australia, the exciting Ohio stallion Catch The Fire is set to become a dual hemisphere prospect and will spend his winters ‘Down Under’, breeding at Somerset Farms in Queensland.
Established and operational in 2012 by Pete and Chantal McMullen, Somerset Farms has quickly developed into one of the finest harness racing training centres in Queensland, situated perfectly in-between Brisbane and Toowoomba.
The McMullen name is synonymous with the harness racing, with both Pete and Chantal been raised in the industry, graduating from mini-trotting ranks to now being recognised as one of the leading husband-and-wife partnerships in the country.
Pete is the son of respected horseman John and grandson of Hall of Famer J.C ‘Hollywood’ McMullen, while Chantal is also the daughter of another respected trainer and current Albion Park track curator Tony Turpin.
Sugar Valley Farms, Ohio principal Joe McLead was over the moon at the opportunity for his resident stallion and where he was headed.
“We are excited to be able to do this venture with Somerset Farms, and we are very excited about the opportunity for Catch The Fire,” McLead said.
“It’s exciting what Peter McMullen is doing down there, and if he can continue in the breeding market with what he has done as a trainer and driver, I think it’s going to be a really successful endeavour.
“The stallion is a pleasure to have here on farm, he is really easy to handle, and his progeny are all very adept at being very intelligent and impressive individuals.”
Syndicate partner Greg Luther was equally excited about the opportunity.
“We worked out a phenomenal agreement to allow Catch The Fire to breed 150 mares in Australia and unlimited mares in New Zealand each year, while still breeding a full book of 140 in Ohio,” Luther said.
“Affectionately known as ‘Mr 1:46’, he is the only sire in recent memory to have an increased stud fee for each of his first three years standing at stud in Ohio. Now he gets to take his speed, heart, and Captaintreacherous pedigree ‘down under’ during our off-season here in the US.
“My partner Charlie Taylor and I are very excited about the massive amount of interest we’ve had in him down under and are thrilled he is heading to Somerset Farms.”
Catch The Fire was a unique prospect having raced successfully from the age of two to five. In his juvenile season, he won a leg and the final of the rich Kentucky Sires Stakes Series where he paced 1:49.4 to win the $250,000 feature whilst also finishing third in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Final.
At three he was the winner of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace where he took out the $375,000 final in an unbelievable time of 1:49.3 on a sloppy track. He was an outstanding winner of his elimination in the Little Brown Jug pacing the same time of 1:49.3 before finishing third in the final.
At four he was the winner of the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Hoosier Park where he became harness racing’s newest millionaire, stopping the clock in a sizzling 1:48.1. That same season he lowered his lifetime mark, winning his first Sam McKee Memorial at the Meadowlands in 1:47.2.
“He was always just an impressive individual on the racetrack who carried himself well and got better as time went on. Every year he got faster which is a trait of a horse with a desire to be good,” McLead said.
Catch The Fire was given an opportunity to come back as a five-year-old where he was afforded the chance to defend his crown in the $278,000 Sam McKee Memorial.
He defended the title in exhilarating fashion pacing 1:46.4 for the mile becoming the eighth equal fastest pacer of all time, making him the track record holder for entires at the world’s most famous track. The fact that he did this on the back of serving his second book of mares makes it even more phenomenal.
“The first year we had him (2021) when he bred and raced, we limited his book to 85 mares. Not many horses could assume stallion duties and race 19 times and hit the board in 14 of those starts winning $618,000,” McLead said.
“As we know, he raced again last year and took a record of 1:46.4 in one of his most impressive miles at the Meadowlands when he won the Sam McKee Memorial.
“He was a very versatile horse who could adapt to whatever situation was needed within a race. He shows it in his attitude as well. He is a very docile individual, and as he gets older, he really understands what he is doing in the shed.
“Breeders are going to love the way he looks. He is on the smaller side but has really furnished into a well-bodied stallion in the years I have had him here on the farm. He is a solid individual with great confirmation, and he really has the perfect package from a physical standpoint to be a huge success.
“The yearlings that we are offering at the sales this year from his first crop and even the babies who have been foaled this year by him all have a lot of leg under them. They are great-bodied and really carry on the confirmation traits of Catch A Fire himself and the Somebeachsomewhere and Captaintreacherous line which we have all come to expect.
“I am really confident about how he will be received in the fall when we offer his first crop at auction.”
Catch The Fire is bred on what all signs point to being the new ‘golden cross,’ being by the heir to the throne in Captaintreacherous, and out of the Bettor’s Delight mare Dream Out Loud 3, 1:55.4.
She is the dam of six foals for four winners with Catch A Fire the obvious stand out. She does however have two progeny race timed in 1:52 or better with both Captain’s Place (Captaintreacherous) and Absolute Intent (Well Said) being stakes performed six-figure earners.
Dream Out Loud’s half-sister Lifesliltreasure (by Life Sign) is the dam of a millionaire herself in Tara Hills Stud resident stallion Control The Moment (Well Said), with their own dam Treasure For Trish (Jate Lobell) being the dam of eight winners from 10 foals.
Astute pedigree buffs will note Treasure For Trish’s half-sister Summer Child (No Nukes) has also produced the tail lines of a current Grand Circuit performer juggling stud duties and racing much the same way as Catch The Fire did in Jimmy Freight (Sportswriter).
There is plenty to be excited about in the pedigree and performance that are the hallmarks of any great stallion prospect. And despite the fact that Catch The Fire will reside in Queensland, all ‘down under’ breeders looking to upgrade their bloodlines have an excellent opportunity to do so in this exceptional son of boom sire, Captaintreacherous.
Catch The Fire will be shipping overseas in July and will begin breeding year-round in both hemispheres.
“I think Queensland is going to be excited to have a stallion like this standing in the state. The jury is still out on what the sons of Captaintreacherous are going to be like, but this is a stallion line that has proven itself to extend in a very short space of time. I have little doubt from the reports I have heard about other sons of ‘the Captain’ that they are going to do a job also and what I have seen with my own eyes, I am really excited to see what Catch A Fire is going to do,” McLead said.
Catch The Fire will be standing for $5,500 including GST.
For all enquiries please contact Pete McMullen at Somerset Farms on 0423 858 487.
Source: Racing Queensland