November 17th, 2013 — Horse Racing, News
Things have been unpleasantly quiet lately but if there’s one lesson that racing teaches us it’s that luck always turns.
One winner in October plus Nashville drawing the outside barrier in the Emirates plus Rising Tide doing exactly the same in Saturday’s New Zealand Cup adds up to a fair dose of ill fortune, but today’s events at Riccarton did redress the balance somewhat.
Durham Town carried 59.5 kg to win the Group 3 Stewards Handicap, James McDonald piloting the Falkirk gelding perfectly. Later in the progamme Darryl Bradley produced a similar A+ ride to guide Ishimine to a convincing victory in a R85 1400 contest, a win that was even more meritorious as the daughter of Ishiguru upset herself in the barriers for some time before the field was sent on its way. Both winners were recommended yearling purchases by Cloughmore and Durham Town’s win was sweetened some more by the reflection that some clients and I own a small share of his half-sister.
Clearly, we’re praying for rain for Rising Tide on Saturday but the draw doesn’t make his task any easier. I’ve always wanted to win one of the traditional 3200 metre contests with a horse that I’ve been involved in breeding, but as recent events have underlined the chances of this happening are reducing all the time. I’m referring, of course,to the most significant bad news story of the year – the failure of any Kiwi bred horse to even make it to the start of the Melbourne Cup. Winning that particular event has always been a dream for New Zealand owners and breeders; all of us collectively failing to produce any more that one acceptor is a bitter pill indeed.
Perhaps when we’re putting in a good word for Rising Tide (and please feel free to do so – all help is gratefully accepted),we should add a request for Roc de Cambes or Nom du Jeu or Road to Rock or any other thoroughbred stallion to prove himself a worthy successor to Zabeel.
August 18th, 2013 — Breeding Theory, Horse Racing, News
Six winners in the last 13 days, culminating in Thy’s brilliant win in the Regal Roller Stakes at Caulfield yesterday has made it a memorable fortnight.
The O’Reilly – Star Affair mare, bred by Northland client Terry Archer and trained by Peter Moody, looked a forlorn hope on paper prior to the race, never having won over 1200 in any company – let alone in a Listed race on a turning track. However, the stunning black five year old had other ideas, rocketing home over the last 200 to record a stunning victory. Apparently she is now being targeted at the Toorak Handicap and Myer Stakes, both Group 1 events over 1600 metres.
The wistful tone of my headline also links to a quiet discussion I had with a prominent breeder recently. We were talking about the halcyon days of the mid – 1980s when the foal crop exceeded 6000 – and the argument used for some years now by studs that breeders should send mares to stud – by implication their stud – on the basis that the falling foal crop will place a premium on foals born the following year. My view was that there is a hole or two in that logic. For the law of supply and demand to work in this situation, the latter factor – demand – has to increase or at least stay the same. My fear is that demand by Kiwi investors looking to buy potential racehorses isn’t increasing in spite of strong efforts by trainers and syndicators. Moreover, demand by overseas buyers in particular focuses on the best quality individuals, the progeny of those mares which are being bred from; no Australian trainer is going to buy a NZ bred horse just for the sake of buying a NZ bred horse.
So what do we do? Do let me know your thoughts.
July 31st, 2013 — Choosing A Stallion, News
Just a few days after I had written an article on the aptly named He’s Remarkable, I took a call from a client enquiring as to how I rated another impressively named stallion, Highly Recommended. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that here was another excellent stalllion prospect. Also coincidentally, both stand at a more than reasonable $4000.
Any Group 2 winning son of super sire Fastnet Rock from a prolific black type producer would appeal as a stallion prospect but this horse has the advantage – again similarly to He’s Remarkable – of having a pedigree which should complement our most successful bloodlines.
Danehill crosses strongly with Sir Tristram, Sadler’s Wells and Snippets and there’s no shortage of these bloodlines hereabouts. I would not be at all worried about duplicating Sir Tristram as it has already worked in New Zealand via Fastnet Rock, as evidenced by the 2000 Guineas winner Rock ‘n’ Pop. Moreover, there are some very strong sources of Sadler’s Wells here: Montjeu (especially) and High Chaparral have been outstanding all over the planet and we also have some well credentialled Galileo daughters.
The broodmare sire I really like for Highly Recommended is Pins. As mentioned above, Snippets is one of the first influences you would look for if you were promoting any Danehill line horse, but I think that Pins could be something special in this regard. He’s got the Grey Sovereign line already duplicated in Highly Recommended’s dam and he also provides Star Kingdom via Kaoru Star. This is just what one would want to complement the Biscay duplication already present in Berkley Stud’s new stallion.
If more evidence was needed, then it’s worth noting that the best of all Suggestive’s notable progeny is by, you guessed it, Snippets.
Finally, two of our planet’s leading stallions – Mr Prospector and Halo – are absent from Highly Recommended’s pedigree. There’s nothing wrong with outcrossing and any mare featuring either or both these stallions also is worth seriously considering for Canterbury’s latest stallion acquisition.
July 22nd, 2013 — Breeding Theory, Choosing A Stallion
I mentioned in a recent article that studmasters should be commended for setting realistic fees in these difficult economic times; no stud fee is more realistic than that set for one of this season’s newcomers, He’s Remarkable.
A stunning individual and a genuine Group 1 performer – whatever the opinion of the WATC stewards – He’s Remarkable also has the pedigree of an outstanding stallion prospect. One of the factors pedigree analysts look for in assessing a stallion’s potential for success is how well he complements the broodmares of the country or area in which he is standing. Mapperley’s son of Pentire seems to do just that.
Firstly, Pentire has already shown an affinity with Sadler’s Wells, with Shoot Out being the prime example. This is no surprise, given his close relative Shirley Heights’ nick with the great son of Northern Dancer. Sadler’s Wells has an increasing presence in New Zealand and there are many well bred mares out there by High Chaparral, Montjeu and Galileo in particular.
The Danehill tribe should also be well suited by He’s Remarkable. In this respect, Zabeel may be especially influential. Danehill x Zabeel has been very successful, the deeds of Darci Brahma being a case in point. However, the Cambridge Stud icon is doing so well as a broodmare sire with a range of sirelines that it’s hard to over value his contribution to any pedigree.
And, yes, there’s more! Centaine has had a huge impact on thoroughbred breeding in New Zealand. Not only is he a factor for racing class but he is also one of those stallions whose influence is still being felt – and seen – when he gets back into the second and third generations of pedigrees. His affinity with Storm Cat in particular has been most impressive.
Finally, He’s Remarkable has two of my favourite crosses in his pedigree: Tudor Minstrel x Star Kingdom and Mill Reef x Riverman. These genetic packages can have a major upgrading effect on mares provided that they are built on strategically.
All in all, $4000 looks very reasonable indeed.
July 2nd, 2013 — Horse Racing, News, Winners
I don’t know what it is about June but it’s fast becoming my favourite month. Last year we had a record monthly total of 11 victories; this year, after five unremarkable months which produced a modest 13 winners, the advent of June has again signalled a change in fortune. This month we’ve had no fewer than 12 successes with both King Zeus and Candle In The Wind winning twice.
Both these Logan trained runners look exciting prospects and regular readers will appreciate that Candle In The Wind’s dominant victory at Ruakaka was especially rewarding. The Darci Brahma filly’s acceleration in the last 200 metres of her R65 event was most encouraging for future engagements.
Of equal interest in some ways was the recent return to form of Astralight, Magna Carta and Whistling Straits. All three gallopers have recently shown a level of racecourse ability not divulged in previous seasons; once again time has been owners’ greatest ally. You have to wonder how many thoroughbreds never have a real opportunity to show what they are capable of.
Nonetheless it’s not just a question of patience; so often it’s cost that’s the vital issue. The same is even more true of the breeding industry. At least, if you’re racing an animal that’s going to take time, the prospect of future prizemoney will encourage other enthusiasts to share the ongoing outgoings; after all, you can show off the horse in question and eloquently point out his superb conformation,and delightful temperament. It’s an awful lot harder to convince people to take a share in a breeding partnership when there’s not even a guarantee that a horse of any sort will eventuate.
Interestingly, studs not previously noted for their reasonableness in setting fees are becoming much more breeder friendly. It’s the cost of agistment and of raising young stock that’s killing us.
June 15th, 2013 — Horse Racing, News, Winners
The 2011 yearling sales series promised to offer value for buyers so, in order to develop the business, I had the idea of forming a small partnership to buy into some yearlings. Five of us jointly purchased a 10% holding in each of three youngsters, all of which I had identifed on pedigree and all of which were signed for by Northland trainer Donna Logan.
Things did not start well. A Thorn Park colt which I had rated as having the best pedigree in the entire sales series and which had sold for an unbelievably low price of $7500 broke down badly in the early stages of his first preparation. The other two yearlings, fillies by Darci Brahma and Lucky Unicorn, looked like they would need time.
As it turned out, appearances were not deceptive. However, this was not all bad news. Our partners are patient people, the Lucky Unicorn filly turned out to be a half-sister to top sprinter Durham Town and the total cost of both fillies had been only $3500 so $70 per partner per share in two fillies didn’t seem too bad a deal.
Last Wednesday, the deal looked even better. Although the Lucky Unicorn is still at trialling stage, the Darci Brahma – Prefer Blondes filly had her second start at Whangarei and romped home. Candle in the Wind, as she is now called, had appealed strongly as a yearling because Darci Brahma looked to me as if he had a strong chance of making the grade and because I rated the total pedigree mix very highly.
Gentleman (ARG) hasn’t done much as a stallion but at least he has been a consistent sire of winners and I’ve always liked Prefer Blondes’ female family as it contains some pretty handy females such as Let’s Sgor and Torquay.
Anyway, Candle in the Wind’s owners are looking forward to her next start at Whangarei next month and I’m seriously considering setting up another racing partnership in January next year
March 16th, 2013 — Breeding Theory, Horse Racing, Winners
The O’Reilly mare’s all the way win in Sydney yesterday was a landmark victory in more ways than one.
The daughter of Star Affair’s tough effort in the Listed Aspiration Quality at Warwick Farm validated her Group 1 placing in last year’s ATC Oaks and meant that that she gained the all-important bold black type. As one of my recommended matings for Northland breeder Terry Archer, this was personally significant because the mare’s previous stakeswinner, Solid Billing, had no input from Cloughmore whatsoever. I had been consulted on the Galileo matings for Star Affair, the best result of which was the heartbreak horse Galileo’s Galaxy; his speciality was running close seconds in South African Group 1 events, so yesterday’s result was especially pleasing.
Interestingly, Solid Billing’s best performance was his third placing in the Sydney Cup and it appears that this 3200 metre event is also a target for Thy. After yesterday’s race a stable spokesperson was quoted that the mare will “stay all day”; the fact that she ran her last 600 in 34.44 might indicate that she also has the crucial ability to accelerate at the end of a Group 1 contest.
Another aspect of Thy’s win is that she is the offspring of another Cloughmore stakeswinner. As the Star Way – The Grin filly, Star Affair made $55,000 at the 2000 Premier Sale and was one of my top four filly selections of that sale. Trained by Frank Ritchie, she showed herself to be a very useful miler and, aided by an outstanding ride by Lance O’Sullivan, was successful in the 2003 renewal of the Group 2 Travis Stakes. Thy is thus yet another stakeswinner from the wonderful family developed by the Dennis brothers.
February 23rd, 2013 — Horse Racing, News, Winners
I’m the first to admit that 2013 has been more than disappointing – at least until 4.30 pm today. After last year’s successes, in terms of a record number of wins,
the New Year brought with it a near drought – in more ways than one.
However, today showed what a good horse Nashville is. After his Trentham disasters, I was wondering what other bad luck could befall him but no, today the gremlins and the forces of darkness were as soundly defeated as his opponents in the Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Otaki. The race attracted a top class field including the Cox Plate winner Ocean Park, the triple Group 1 winning mare Final Touch (doesn’t she just remind you of Show Gate ?) and the established weight for age star Veyron. Without wanting to rave excessively, the manner of his victory was as remarkable as the horses he beat. Until the 600 he cruised along three lengths behind the rest of the field; when Kelly Myers asked him to go he accelerated smoothly, ran up to the others and put his head in front. Veyron fought courageously as he always does, but Nashville was just too strong and was edging away on the line.
It’s aways a great thrill to have done the mating for a high class thoroughbred but it’s also sad to reflect that my client on this occasion, the late Bob Tait, missed out on seeing his pride and joy win such a presitigious event. It’s one thing for people like me to say, “Go to stallion A” or ” Stallion B appears to be excellent value at his current fee”; it’s quite a different matter for a breeder to take the advice and write out the service fee cheque – not to mention all the other cheques – and also to take all those risks which make eventual success all the more precious.
December 8th, 2012 — Horse Racing, News
Whistling Straits’ dashing finishing burst at Ellerslie today marked our 600th winner and – on a more personal note – my 61st birthday. So thanks to Donna Logan, Rory Hutchings and, of course, Whistling Straits himself.
Until the last event at Ellerslie, the day was looking very much like one of those “if only” days. Golden Miss had been desperately unlucky at Trentham and Durham Town had just failed to repeat last year’s Concorde victory, so it was great to see Whistling Straits bursting between runners for a narrow victory.
Other recent highlights have been Comanche Gold’s win last Sunday in the $15,000 Queenstown Cup at Cromwell and Nashville’s dominant performance in the rather more prestigious Group 2 Couplands Mile. The latter thus became our 22nd stakeswinner and the manner of his win suggested that a Group 1 success might not be beyond him.
A Group 1 event which really made the alarm bells ring was THE race, the same Melbourne Cup that New Zealander breeders used to regard as a reasonably predictable annual addition to the national trophy cabinet. Alas – no more. All four kiwi breds were by the marvellous Zabeel and the first seven placegetters were reportedly bred in Ireland. As I mentioned in my previous article on this website, we’ve got problems. When Zabeel passes on and Australian buyers forget the sound advice embedded in “Bart’s Book”, where will our breeding industry be?
I’ve made my small contribution to the greater good by sending Balladane ( a half-sister to Auckland Cup winner Bodie) to Roc de Cambes and I hope that other breeders have bred some of their staying-bred mares to stallions which have some chance of leaving progeny capable of winnning good races at 2400 metres and beyond.
October 22nd, 2012 — Horse Racing, News
It’s been a while since my last article. The winners have kept ticking over nicely enough with Saturday bringing up 60 (and Monday 61) for the calendar year to date but one does need a headline.
2012 has been notable for the number of stakes-placed performers. Since Durham Town was successful in the Darley Plate, Comanche Gold, Thy, The Jungle Boy, Zinko and Browne Sugar have all earned lower case black type – encouraging results but not earth-shattering.
However, Special Draw’s dashing win in the R75 1200 and Nashville’s last to first victory in the open sprint were both dominant enough to be worthy of mention. The former, a product of my yearling sales buyers’ guide, is yet another highly promising performer by Falkirk – and yet another bred on the Falkirk – Sir Tristram cross. Nashville was a recommended mating for the late Bob Tait. The Darci Brahma – Royal Kiss (Royal Academy) gelding has always looked top class and is now deservedly favourite for the CJC Couplands Mile. Our homebred Comanche Gold is also being targeted at the $230,000 but giving weight to a horse as good as Nashville is not something I’m looking forward to.
Getting back to Falkirk again, I note that he had yet another winner today (Monday) at Te Rapa. Kalevala scored easily in a strong maiden field and her nomination for the 1000 Guineas appears to be entirely justified. Interestingly, she’s inbred to Secretariat – a pattern which is turning up increasingly often in the pedigrees of Group 1 winners.
Saturday also featured the latest renewal of the Caulfield Cup, an event notable mainly for the almost complete absence of New Zealand bred competitors. As Australia is our biggest market and as Australians come here to buy stayers, one has to be worried about the future – especially as Zabeel and Pentire won’t be here forever.