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The specialness of Seachange

It's two days after Seachange's brilliant third Group One win, in Saturday's Stoney Bridge-sponsored Horlicks Challenge Stakes, and Rick Williams is still buzzing with the "tremendous reception" the crowd at Hastings gave her, and runner-up Darci Brahma, after the race.

He's also amazed by the mare's quick recovery. "She's very tough and has just bounced through it. Three weeks between races is probably too long for her. You give her an extraordinary amount of work and she wants more."

Rick confirmed that Seachange (Cape Cross-Just Cruising by Broad Reach) would definitely head to the Kelt Capital-sponsored Ormond Memorial S. G1 on 7 October, and after that to Australia for the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, or the Empire Rose Stakes and the Cantala Stakes at Flemington during Melbourne Cup Week. So what makes this particular dark brown mare, with the most famous bad legs in the country, extra-special?

Rick is the right person to ask, because he's not only general manager of The Oaks Stud near Cambridge, but also the bloodstock adviser to Seachange's owner-breeder, Darci Brahma's part-owner and the Stud's owner, Australian businessman Dick Karreman. Rick has a connection with Seachange's antecedents that began some time before Dick purchased The Oaks four years ago. The stud's previous owner, Terry Jarvis, also employed Rick Williams to manage his bloodstock, including the stallion Yachtie, and his full sister Just Cruising, bought for $A47,000 in 1998.
Handsome sire YACHTIE, half-brother to the dam of Seachange, photographed at The Oaks, Cambridge about three years ago.
PHOTO: Courtesy of The Oaks
Says Rick, "Yachtie is a really good-looking horse and Just Cruising is very similar, a female version of him."

"Seachange is pretty much like her dam, with the family's Arab-type head. Her size is deceptive because she races low to the ground, and she's hugely powerful behind. Her brother [Group One-placed] Korau Road is more like Cape Cross – his best racing is still in front of him."

Without referring to the details of his mating analysis, Rick says he was keen on sending the family to Danzig-line horses, and liked the multiple presences of the Bruce Lowe No. 6 family, notably Hyperion and his half-sister All Moonshine, in Just Cruising's pedigree.

That thinking was behind Just Cruising's two visits to Cape Cross (by Danzig's son Green Desert), and her three visits to Danehill's son Keeper at Cambridge Stud. The eldest of these was sold to Lloyd Williams as a yearling and won two trials as a two-year-old in Melbourne. Now a three-year-old gelding named Fairhaven, he's since been bought back by Dick Karreman and will return to work soon after recovering from a pelvis injury.

Two-year-old filly Keepa Cruisin is in training with Stephen McKee, and her lovely sister arrived last week in Australia, where Just Cruising will return to Cape Cross.

JUST CRUISING, dam of triple G1 winner Seachange, with her 2006 filly by Keeper, foaled in Australia on
21 September.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Oaks Stud
Comparisons between Seachange and Cape Cross' champion European daughter Ouija Board are inevitable, but Rick isn't quite ready to make them. "Ouija Board is one hell of a mare. She's a slightly different shape from Seachange, and is more like Cape Cross." Rick is very familiar with the Group One-winning son of Green Desert, having travelled to Europe with Sir Patrick Hogan to inspect him, and Stravinsky in 2000. "We've supported both horses from the start and have had a lot of luck with Cape Cross."

"He's not a 'Wow' horse to look at and I think he'll go very well in Australia where he should get mares with more strength and muscle." While looking forward to seeing Seachange line up over 2000 metres for the first time in the Ormond Memorial, Rick is also bullish about Darci Brahma's prospects in Australia.

"He's better this year than he's ever been and if he gets a good track and a reasonable run he'll win the Toorak."


- Susan Archer