Socks Nation Here To Stay

One of the last things an exasperated racehorse owner wants to hear from their trainer is that their sprinter/miler-bred horse needs more ground and that was true, for a time at least, for renowned bloodstock expert Suman Hedge.

Socks Nation was one of several fillies thought to be suited to distances up a 1600-metres he had purchased as yearlings in 2022 to race in partnership with Sherif Iskander.

The pair sought fast, athletic fillies that had future commercial appeal and when Hedge paid the $160,000 for Socks Nation, he thought she fitted the mould ideally.

“When I bought her, I certainly wasn’t thinking Oaks,” a delighted but still rather shocked Hedge admitted on Monday.

“I thought she’d be maybe a 1400-metre to miler type because she was very efficient with her movement and her pedigree was that of a miler.

“Ciaron (Maher) did the genetic testing of her early and she did come back as a stayer, so he’s had that in the back of his mind all the way through.

“Even when we were doubting whether she could even run a mile, he always had a lot of confidence in her and he programmed her accordingly.

“But we’re really still coming to terms with all of it because we certainly didn’t expect it.”

Hedge said the reality was that if she hadn’t been tested, that Group 1 honour, which Socks Nation grabbed in Queensland at the odds of $101, may never have been hers.

“It (genetic testing) certainly helps to give a bit of a guide on what they may be able to achieve,” he said.

“They (Maher stable) have obviously had success with it, as have others, and it certainly worked in this case as had we not done it, we may not have even tried her over a distance.

“I actually bought a bunch of fillies for Sherif (Iskander) that year and we wanted them to be fast and have athleticism and ideally be sprinter/milers for the commercial side of things.

“Yet, a couple have turned out to be stayers.”

Hedge found the super stallion Zoustar as a yearling but since developing his own thoroughbred business in 2018, he’d come close many times to G1 glory only to be nosed out.

“When it happens, it’s sort of like a kaleidoscope in your brain with all these different emotions and all the times you’ve failed,” he said.

“We obviously won G1s with Zoustar, but I’ve had five G1 seconds since I started this company, so I was starting to lose a bit of heart, thinking we are always going to be the bridesmaid.

“So, when you win all these things go through your mind. You’ve got to savour the wins because they are so hard to get and it’s so competitive and you don’t know if there will be a next one for you.”

Socks Nation is by the Scat Daddy stallion Sioux Nation, who only served one season in Australia when brought out by Adam Sangster’s Swettenham Stud in 2019.

The stallion served just 54 mares, of which there were just 27 named foals, with Socks Nation joining the now Hong Kong-based sprinter Archo Nacho as the two stakes winners.

“He was owned by Coolmore and stood at Swettenham by arrangement, but he didn’t seem to strike a cord with breeders,” Hedge said. “That was unfortunate because I know Adam (Sangster) loved the horse.

“He’s probably a bit of a missed opportunity for Victoria. Even though he’s only had very small numbers, he’s thrown some really smart horses.”


Share this article