When Colin McAlpine, owner with his son Scott of one of Queensland's leading studs, the Cambooya district located Eureka, imported the smart American bred Italian two-year-old Semipalatinsk as a new sire a quarter of a century ago, he suggested that although the name might be hard to pronounce, it was one well worth noting by breeders.
Pronunciation of the name was certainly no problem for most when this son of Nodouble, a grandson of Star Kingdom through the exported Australian bred champion Noholme, died at Eureka at the weekend at the ripe old age of 28 after 25 seasons of use including seven mares, five of which have tested in foal, in 2005.
Although he never stood above $5000, Semipalatinsk lays claim to being the most successful sire of quality performers to stand all his stud career in Queensland since Smokey Eyes ruled at the Lyndhurst Stud at Warwick in the1960-70s. Since he had his first runners in 1984-85, Semipalatinsk has had just under 500 winners, 66.9% of his 737 runners, of over 1700 races and $19.4million.
Contributors have included at least 45 stakes money earners including 21 winners, nine of which have been successful at Group level.This has been a very creditable achievement as the bulk of his runners have been in Queensland, a State which has not been strong for stakes level races.
In the process, Semipalatinsk has proved a remarkably versatile sire, supplying as expected many brilliant performers but at the same time becoming a leading source of stayers. For instance three of his progeny, Palatious (seven wins including the Perth Cup and C.B. Cox Stakes; second Western Australian Oaks), Easy Now (seven wins, Queensland Cup) and Evasion (six wins, Queensland Cup), have been successful at 3200 metres.
He also sired two of the best jumpers of their time in Australia inTennessee Blue (won the VRC Grand National Hurdle over 4800m) and Vowtinsk (VRC Grand National Steeple, 4700m). However the biggest star among his offspring was his first crop filly Just Now. Bred at Eureka and raced out of the Jim Atkins stables at Toowoomba, she was one of the best three-year-old fillies of her generation in Australia, winning 10 races all told including the AJC Oaks, VRC Turnbull Stakes and AJC Princess Handicap and finishing second in the Queensland Oaks.
Another of his fillies of national class was the Eureka bred Colin Hayes trained Memphis Blues, a winner also of 10 races and a leading classic performer. She was successful in the Group 2 SAJC Queen of the South Stakes twice, also a winner of the STC Queen of the Turf Stakes and runner up in the SAJC Australasian Oaks and MVRC Veuve Cliquot Stakes and third in four group events including the VRC Wakeful Stakes and Bloodhorse Breeders' Plate.
Eureka Jewel, another good Semipalatinsk filly, won the VRC A.V. Kewney Stakes and AJC Adrian Knox Stakes and was second in the AJC Australasian Oaks, while his best colt was Skalato, a horse now standing at the Eureka Stud. He was not far off being the top three-year-old of 2000-01, a year he was first past the post in the Caulfield Guineas but disqualifield after an irregularity appeared in a swab, successful in the Group 2 AAMI Vase at Moonee Valley and fourth in the Victoria Derby.
As a source of tough sound good performing racehorses from the Star Kingdom male line, Semipalatinsk is now one of the most respected broodmare sires in Australia. In 2003-04 for instance his daughters were represented by 75 winners of 137 races and $4,679,894 and the figures for 2004-05 were 76 winners of 129 races and $2,403,215.
One of his daughters, AJC Adrian Knox Stakes winner Alma Mater, is the dam of Savannah Success, the New Zealand Oaks and STC Ansett Australia Stakes winner who has gone on to produce Savabeel (won the Cox Plate and Spring Champion Stakes) and also of the Red Ransom colt which Gerry Harvey's Baramul Stud sold for a record high price of $1,550,000 at the current Magic Millions sale.
Harvey's outstanding broodmare band also includes Palatious, the Semipalatinsk Perth Cup winner who is the dam of the Danehill Blue Diamond Stakes winner Danelagh, in turn producer of Vengeance of Rain (Hong Kong champion) and Dizelle (won the AJC Australian Oaks and Moonee Valley Oaks).
One of the top performers from a Semipalatinsk mare is Private Steer, a Danehill Dancer product who won three Group1 races, the AJC Doncaster Handicap, All-Aged Stakes and QTC Stradbroke Handicap. She has been exported to America.