It was no great surprise that Half Hennessy supplied the first group I classic win for his sire in the $500,000 (Australian funds) Queensland Derby (Aust-I) on June 7. It was the manner in which he dispatched his 13 rivals that provided the shock.
Hennessy's strapping second-crop son took Brisbane's Derby superbly, the conservatively adjudged 6-length margin barely conveying the colt's superiority over the 2,400 meters of the spacious Eagle Farm oval.
Scott Seamer placed him fifth at the rail and the 9-2 shot iced the result in a few strides with a powerful burst of acceleration 300 meters out.
Schumpeter and King of Them All rounded out the placings in this one-horse race, just ahead of New Zealand filly The Jewel. Although 2 1/2 seconds outside the race record the 2:27.7 was mainly due to the soft track.
Half Hennessy had come within a short head of group I delivery in the Champagne Stakes at two last April. Victory might have seen Hennessy invited back for a sixth season at Coolmore's Australian base.
The Storm Cat son hasn't worked in the south since 2001, after his single season in the rotation at Japan's East Stud. His first southern group I win came via Grand Armee in the $2.5 million Doncaster Handicap in the fall. His sizable first three Australian crops have yielded six group winners.
Hennessy's first classic winner was Distilled in the Illinois Derby (gr.II). His best son, Johannesburg, commutes from Ashford to Coolmore South next month.
Half Hennessy had been beset by of problems at three, frustrating his handler Bede Murray. The country horseman is no stranger to that. He prepared Universal Prince to win the 2001 Australian Derby. Six months later the colt was a controversial withdrawal from the Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) by stewards on veterinary advice.
Universal Prince (by Scenic) is newly rostered at the Inverness Stud of John and Sue Woolridge. The medical duo bred Half Hennessy and sold him to Murray for $65,000 as a yearling at the 2001 Sydney Classic. The Woolridge's own Sunline's dam, Songline.
The Derby was Half Hennessy's fourth graded success and sixth overall. From 22 starts the colt has contributed $900,000 to his sire's southern earnings of $5.5 million. Now Bede Murray and his platoon of co-owners are thinking Cups in Melbourne again.