Karaka Analyses Now Available

It’s going to be really interesting to see how NZB’s new catalogue structure is going to pan out. What appears to have happened is that Book 1 has become even more attractive for the sort of buyers who constitute the major part of my client base – trainers who are keen to find value for money yearlings for their owners. However, I do suspect that yearlings which appear in Books 2 and 3 are going to struggle and that passings may well be quite high. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Making selections from Book 1 was the most challenging task I have had since beginning these analyses in 1997. As always, there is a range of lots which you quickly label as “too expensive for New Zealand racing”, but there are hundreds of yearlings with strong pedigrees which are very difficult to discriminate between.

For those of you who haven’t bought an analysis before, I rank yearlings on a value for money basis. A+ yearlings are those with pedigrees which, in my opinion, are significantly better than a quick perusal of the catalogue page would indicate; however, to be an A+, the yearling must also have a reasonable chance of being buyable for a sensible sum. This year there are three A+ Book 1 colts and seven fillies (a record number). If you’re looking for a filly with a strong chance of acquiring significant residual value, this is the year to buy.

Yearlings which gain an A rating are those whose pedigrees aren’t quite as impressive to my way of thinking, or which could possibly bring more money than they are worth. (Yes, there’s an awful lot of opinion involved here and valuing yearlings without actually seeing them is a challenging task). This year I have found 12 A colts and 15 A fillies.

As you’ll have got the point by now, you’ll understand how I select yearlings which I label B+. In the Book 1 catalogue, I’ve found 14 B+ colts and 23 B+ fillies. It’s also worth mentioning that I deliberately do not go to www.nzb.co.nz to see what the yearlings I have chosen actually look like and also that I exclude yearlings for which I have done the matings myself. This year there are three such Book 1 yearlings: Lots 568, 569 and 581.

I charge $450+GST for each of the Book 1 colts and fillies, $200 +GST for each of the Book 2 selections and $150+GST for each of the Book 3. Discounts are available for multiple purchases. Buyers of any analysis are entitled to any further advice they may want on that section of the sale. There’s no charge for such additional advice

All In Mana Shows His Class

It may only have a six-horse maiden event at the Waiarapa New Year picnic meeting but the way he dispatched his rivals indicated that the son of Rip Van Winkle and the Don Eduardo mare All In Black has potential considerably above average.

Times never tell the whole story but All In Mana’s 1:22.61 compared very favourably with the slightly slower time returned by Maltese Ruby when she was successful in the following event, a R75 contest. It’s also worth noting that the mare carried 4.5kg less than did All In Mana and that he spent most of the 1400 journey traveling three wide without cover.

All In Mana is nominated for both the Levin Classic and the NZ Derby in March. He may struggle to gain a start in the former event but he is a horse to keep in mind for the Ellerslie Group 1 contest – especially if the track is rain-affected. My theory is that whatever he achieves on a firm track, he has a strong chance of surpassing it on rain-affected going. Have a look at his trial wins and you will see what I mean.

Anyway, Ellerslie owes us. I really did think that another recommended mating, Fully Funded, was a huge chance in the Railway Handicap. When he drew a decent barrier, I was seriously confident. But there’s something inherently unreliable about Auckland, isn’t there? Think the perennial rugby under-achievers, the Blues (now there’s a well-named team!) – and if you need some more evidence, what about the ill-named Warriors? All that talent and zip to show for it.

Moving on to more cheerful thoughts, I can confirm that I have almost completed this year’s Karaka Yearling Sales analysis. Book One is very strong; Books Two and Three not so much. I’m clearly going to have to re-structure the pricing of the analyses. If you’re interested, do feel free to get in touch.

Hope Is A Wonderful Thing

There are two drivers which keep our industry going: money and optimism. Of the two, the latter is the more important because, without it, we’re never going to spend our hard-earned on the production and upkeep of animals capable of giving us the highest of highs (as well as the lowest of lows – must keep that journalistic balance).

Perhaps it’s appropriate that at this time of the year we celebrate the joys of breeding and racing. The yearling sales are coming closer and I’m sure that many of us are hard at work searching through catalogues to find THE HORSE, the animal which is going to change our lives. (Editor’s note: I’m about half-way through my annual process of analysing the pedigree of every catalogued yearling; it’s a procedure which sounds oh so boring to an industry outsider but absolutely fascinating to those who share our addiction).

Anyway, a story surfaced on Friday which gives us all a shot of hope. Highly Recommended, the Fastnet Rock stallion which has made such a strong start to his breeding career, has been relocated to Cambridge Stud. Berkley Stud will be retaining an interest in him and why wouldn’t they? It’s great to see a comparatively small operation based in the South Island make the big time and position itself to continue that success. This year Highly Recommended has covered around 140 mares: breeders and buyers of his progeny both have a chance to make a decent profit before his fee takes him out of the reach of most of us. As I’ve written before on this site, the really exciting thing about Highly Recommended’s stock is that when you look at the pedigrees of the best of his offspring, it’s not difficult to understand why they are as good as they are.

So, to quote “The Shawshank Redemption”, hope is indeed “the best of things”. You can’t achieve anything if there’s no reason to get out of bed every morning.

Best wishes to everyone for the Festive Season and the yearling sales.

Rikki Tikki Tavi Impresses At Ellerslie

Before we go any further, I need to make it very clear that I had nothing whatsoever to do with naming our daughter of Tavistock and the Volksraad mare Macinally. And I have to admit that I’m also on record as saying that if there were a competition for the worst named horse in the country, the TAB would be offering prohibitive odds on her success. That’s one of the few downsides of being a minority owner – the people with the biggest shares certainly have the biggest say in the choice of name. And that’s fair enough.

However, she’s certainly looking – if not sounding – an awful lot more attractive than she was six months ago. Her 3YO career featured a win over a weak maiden field at Whangarei followed by a couple of unimpressive efforts in R65 1600 events at the same venue. Hm, I said to myself, at least she’s a winner and she’s a Tavistock; recommending her to our racing partnership wasn’t the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever had.. But, as the Dee and Gee saga has instructed us, thoroughbreds can improve dramatically given that magic ingredient – time.

To be fair, the Logan-Gibbs training combination always had faith in her and that faith has been vindicated in RTT’s most recent two starts. Firstly, there was a facile first-up victory at Ruakaka when she was three wide all the way and then ran away from her R65 rivals over 1200. And then there was yesterday. She didn’t win easily but she fought to stave off several challenges in the last 100 metres. The 1200 distance now appears to be too short for her and I have hopes that her nomination for the $80,000 Dunstan event over 1500 on Boxing Day will prove to be realistic.

So much for names. It’s also worth commenting that two of the best named horses I’ve ever had anything to do with – Red Hot Pirate and Brief Encounter – have recently proved themselves to be entirely useless.

Fully Funded Too Good In Counties Bowl

That was impressive. Racing three wide for a good part of the journey and carrying 60kg against a useful field was not enough to stop the son of Fully Fledged from scoring his first black-type success in yesterday’s Counties Bowl. In doing so, he became Cloughmore’s 27th individual black-type winner and gave us our 60th stakes race victory.

Thinking back to when I advised successful breeder Kaye Sanders to send her Maroof mare Keshava to Fully Fledged, I recall that she told me that her mare was a one-paced but handy sprinter and we agreed that finding a stallion to impart a degree of class was clearly a priority. I had recently seen Fully Fledged (Align) at Fairdale Stud and had been impressed by his physique and his temperament. Racegoers will recall that as a 2YO he ran through the Trentham running rail and I suspect that many breeders remembered that incident and had doubts about using him as a stallion. The old prejudice against chestnuts also came to the fore, I’d imagine, together with the thought that possibly Align wasn’t entirely desirable as a sire of sires.

Anyway, I always had a soft spot for Align, having been associated with Donna Logan’s selection of the impressive but ill-fated Align to Infinity, and I had long-since developed a theory about breeding sprinters. As long as the dam was quick and came from a speedy family and provided that you didn’t lose that speed by selecting a stallion with significant and dominant stamina influences, you had a decent chance of producing a fast racehorse. How much class it had was another matter but, as always in breeding, you have to give yourself a chance.

Apart from the Northern Dancer duplications, the only significant cross which features in Fully Funded’s pedigree is the Grey Sovereign x Crepello nick, but it’s a cross for which I have a deep affection. As time has rolled on, these two stallions occur increasingly further back in pedigrees (obvious statement of the year), but when they turn up in the same pedigree page it always adds to the appeal of the animal concerned.

Let’s hope Fully Funded makes it to the Group 1 Railway Handicap on New Year’s Day and that he gets a decent draw.

The Road To Riccarton – Arrival Time

One of the great things about racing and breeding is that life is never boring. At times a sequence of disasters can test the most strong-minded of us, but we can seldom complain that nothing is happening.

Yesterday was the final day of the New Zealand Cup Carnival at Riccarton. Readers of this site will be well aware that our pride and joy, La Nouvelle Vague, had been targeted at the 3200 staying test and will also be aware that the dreams of owners and trainers had been dashed by a tendon injury. The fact that the classy Maybe Miami had not lined up in Wednesday’s Coupland’s Mile for a similar reason did little to raise the mood. To be honest, I was strongly tempted to miss the plane for Christchurch, but as I had contracted to take a couple of friends to Riccarton for the day it just wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.

Anyway, it turned out to be not a bad day, even allowing for the easterly breeze and the bar prices. Sure, Dee and Gee’s victory in the R85 2500 was bitter-sweet (you might like to check out my earlier story about our Darci Brahma mare), but an each-way investment covered the day’s expenses and inspired my friends to invest on Gobstopper in the Cup.

The challenge we all face is to get these second-time racegoers involved more deeply in racing. The crowd at Riccarton was evidence that racing doesn’t just appeal to those of us who can remember the Holyoake years. The twentysomethings were out in force and clearly having a good time, but the really challenging market is the 30-40 age group; from my observation, they were almost totally absent. It’s understandable, of course, that if you’ve got small children and a mortgage, there isn’t going to be much discretionary income to invest in horseflesh.

So, here’s a challenge to those of us who describe ourselves as mature (at least in terms of age). Why don’t we select someone we know in our target demographic and just GIVE them a small share of something equine.

A Christmas present which requires zero wrapping and no expensive postage.

RTR Analysis Complete But It’s Been A Mixed Week

It’s always difficult to design a headline for an article with multiple purposes, so apologies for the above.

One of the good news items relates to the RTR catalogue. It seems to offer a range of well bred-types with attractive pedigrees; I had real difficulty sorting out my feature lots as the overall quality was impressive. I was especially taken by some of the fillies. As always, the Analysis is available for sale in its totality and also via commentaries on individual lots.

Under the heading of “Thank Goodness They Are Starting To Show Something” is the news on the recent form of the stock of Super Easy. We all know that Prom Queen is a freak but the support acts have been well hidden until the last few days. Last weekend Easy Does It won nicely in Singapore, the day after the very smart Easy Beast was again successful, this time in Adelaide. Yesterday Easy Eddie cruised home as a red-hot favourite at Wyong and Lisdoonvarna won a Class 1 event at Nowra treating her rivals with disdain. Easing down, she recorded just a tick over 1.09 for the 1200. On a personal note, Tuscany Rose foaled a stunning filly by Super Easy during the week so that cheered me a up not a little.

If that sounds a little emotional, we all know that racing is a story of highs and lows. Maybe we’re all manic-depressives to some extent. Anyway, the bad news is that La Nouvelle Vague broke down during the running of the Winton Cup; best case scenario is that he’s a mere 12 months away from his next start but, to be realistic, tendon injuries are never good news. Hm. Many of my fellow owners have been here before and we really feel for the Eade family who have spent so much time and effort getting our horse to black type level.

In the bitter-sweet success category was the win of our now leased out Darci Brahma mare in the R65 2100 event at Ashburton. I referred to the Dee and Gee narrative in my 16 September article, “A Cautionary Tale”, but I really didn’t think she was capable of winning a $22,500 event so easily. Oh well, at least we owners can congratulate ourselves on selecting a decent horse while we repeat to ourselves, “If your horse was foaled in December, you do have to give it time to show what it can do.”

On The Road to Riccarton – Part 2

All in all, last week didn’t go too badly, the star Cloughmore performer being Maybe Miami, the dominant victor in the Open 1400 event at Riccarton. He’s now the second equal top-rated entrant for the Group 2 Coupland’s Mile, programed for 15 November, the middle day of the Cup Carnival. On current ratings, both Nashville and La Diosa will also comfortably make the field.

Pins filly Hot Fuss fought gamely to be narrowly beaten by the impressive Fastnet Rock colt Age of Fire in the Inglewood Stud Guineas Trial. She’s now gained a 65 rating and should be able to gain a place in the $300,000 Group 1 1000 Guineas field. Although she may lack the finishing speed of some of her rivals, her front-running style will keep her in contention for a long way in the 18 November feature.

On the subject of 18 November, the next three days see a range of candidates for the Group 3 New Zealand Cup further their preparations. The highly regarded Bloodstream (92) runs in the Open 1600 event at Friday’s South Canterbury meeting. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he’s been very cleverly placed to minimise the risk of gaining too many more rating points. Saturday’s Egmont Cup at Hawera features Blathwayt (92), Sampson (91), Wait A Sec (91), Zentangle (89) and Gobstopper (80). The Hawera track is currently rated a Slow 9 and is notorious for being difficult to handle by otherwise highly reliable gallopers; I suspect that the form coming out of this event may not be overly reliable in terms of predicting Riccarton success, but it’s nonetheless going to be interesting to see how these Cup contenders perform.

Finally, we have the Winton meeting on Sunday. Top-weight in the small but select field is our homebred La Nouvelle Vague, with perennial big race contender Sureasyouwereborn also in the field. As there is likely to be a strong pace, both horses should get a good hit-out.

The excitement is building!

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

We all know that breeding thoroughbreds is an exercise in ongoing conjecture but it’s always an especially interesting time when stallions have their first-crop 3YOs in action.

Readers of this site will have been well aware of my enthusiasm for Highly Recommended but there are a couple of other stallions in this year-group which are also looking distinctly promising – Reliable Man and Burgundy.

Purchasers of this year’s edition of my Karaka Yearling Sales Buyers’ Guide will certainly have noticed my endorsement of Reliable Man – several of his yearlings rated very highly indeed and one, the grey filly ex Run To The Bank, was purchased by long-term client, Christchurch trainer Kevin Hughes who outlaid what now appears to be a bargain $40,000 for the upstanding youngster. Reliable Man has two live VRC Derby prospects – SW Main Stage (ex Kiri, a stakes winning Prized mare with a strong affection for wet tracks) and SP Sully, already Group 1 placed in the STC Spring Champion Stakes and out of a mare bred on the Casual Lies – Kaapstad cross.

The stallion I didn’t see coming was Burgundy. By Redoute’s Choice and thus a three-quarter brother to the highly successful racehorse and sire Darci Brahma, he always looked attractive on paper but I’ll admit that he just didn’t grab me. He tried hard in his races but always seemed to struggle against top-class opposition. Anyway, at the moment he has the equal-top rating colt in November’s 2000 Guineas (Hard Merchandize) and the second top-rating filly in the 1000 Guineas (Dijon Bleu). Whatever happens from here on in, that’s quite an achievement.

The current top-rating Guineas filly is the freakish Prom Queen and I must admit that I would be a much happier man if her sire, Super Easy, had a few more top-liners up and running. As you’ll imagine, I’m talking through my pocket as I have a share in a Super Easy 2YO and am the outright owner of a yearling and an about to be born foal by the same stallion.

Anyway, it’s still early days

The Road To Riccarton – Part 1

In this article, I am trying something a little different – previewing races which are highly likely to clarify various horses’ chances for the upcoming NZ Cup Carnival at Riccarton next month. I’ll be focusing mainly on horses I have had a connection with and will include some pedigree comments that I haven’t already made elsewhere on this site.

To begin with, this Saturday’s Riccarton meeting features several horses taking the next steps in their preparation for the November Carnival.

Race 3  sees the 2YO filly Anne make her racecourse debut in the five-runner juvenile event. She’s one of my selections from this year’s Karaka  yearling sale catalogue and has run promisingly in both her trials. Unfortunately both trial winners are also in the field so on the surface of it she will have a difficult task. On the bright side, she will have a heap of improvement in her. She doesn’t have her second birthday until 11 November so she’ll certainly improve with age. Her trainer tells me that she’s got a great attitude; nothing fazes her. I have to say that his is somewhat atypical for the stock of Super Easy. Another plus is that she has an impressive pedigree: she’s inbred to Danzig and is closely related to the impressive Kermadec, winner of close to A$3 million.

Race 5 is headed by Pat In Brackets, a recommended mating. I strongly suspect that this is a heartbreak horse as he seems to please himself as to when he puts in maximum effort. He’s down in grade and is ridden by the stable apprentice who has won on him before so if he feels like trying, he just might do so.

Race 6 is the Guineas Trial. The nine – horse field includes Hot Fuss, a recommended purchase from the Karaka Festival Sale a couple of years ago. As a $10,000 yearling she’s already a bargain, not least because she turned out to be a half-sister to the brilliant but ill-fated First Serve. Last start she was second in the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes and it’s going to be very interesting to see how she performs on what will hopefully be a decent track. She’s bred on the same Pins- Kaapstad cross which produced the freakish Aerovelocity, so she just might turn out to be a very useful animal.

Race 7 at features both Maybe Miami and La Diosa in the Coupland’s Mile Prelude. Maybe Miami is undoubtedly one of the best 1400 sprinters in New Zealand, especially on rain-affected tracks, but he is going to have his work cut out for him on Saturday. Even with his rider’s apprentice allowance he’s going to have to concede 5.5kg to the brilliant La Diosa. Although this will be her first start for the season, she has had a couple of quiet trials and is highly likely to be too classy for what is not at all a bad field.

All in all, quite an interesting day.

Race 8 is the open stayers’ race and includes some of LNV’s likely rivals in the NZ Cup. Imperium is highly likely to win. He ran third in the Cup last year but desperately needs rating points to be sure of making this year’s field. As a son of Melbourne Cup winner Ethereal, there’s nothing wrong with his pedigre