The Stallion Register is Shrinking!!

Many of us will recently have received a copy of the NZTBA’s excellent “Register of Thoroughbred Stallions of New Zealand 2017”. It’s a great reference volume but it’s certainly a concern that the range of stallions available to Kiwi breeders reduces on an annual basis.

This is not a complaint about our stallion owners. It takes a significant degree of financial courage to stand a horse at stud and there are very few stallions in the Register which are overpriced. In fact, the reverse is true. Darci Brahma is an absolute steal, as are Pentire and Keeper. Of the up and coming types, Shocking, Showcasing, Zacinto and Highly Recommended are examples of stallions which are well worth their advertised fees.

Clearly, the annual exodus of mares over the Tasman to visit Australian-based stallions makes a lot of sense for our breeders. We operate in an increasingly global industry and it’s unfair to blame breeders for making informed financial decisions, especially as some Australian operations offer significant inducements to attract New Zealand mares. However, it is equally true that every dollar spent by our breeders over there is one dollar less available to our stallion owners for re-investment.

Having said that, this year offers nine first-season stallions, compared to seven last year and five in 2014. In both 2013 and 2015 we also had nine new horses. So, in my view, our studs are doing their very best to maintain a supply of fresh bloodlines. The reason why fewer mares are being mated every year is the staggering level of production costs. I’m sure there are many small breeders like myself who structure their activities around their own small landholding; moving to town would mean the end of our breeding activities.

Anyway, from a personal point of view, the number of enquiries I’ve had for mating advice is very heartening. Clients are understandably motivated by getting value for money and it’s really important that the industry supports its members by offering a range of payment plans for service fees. Breeders have long memories and a good deal offered in one year will often lead to that wonderful phenomenon of repeat business.

La Nouvelle Vague Sets New Figures For 2600 Metres

Invercargill’s Ascot Park may have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent years but there is no doubt that the Southland Racing Club Committee deserve great credit for fixing their distinctively-shaped piece of real estate.

It’s hard to believe that a 17.1 hand thoroughbred could navigate his way around such a tight course in record time but that’s exactly what happened on Saturday. The giant son of St Reims La Nouvelle Vague outfinished the gallant Oor Wullie by three-quarters of a length in an impressive 2:39.67, beating Sea Swift’s 1986 mark of 2:40.51 by some 0.84 seconds. It’s also worth noting that La Nouvelle Vague’s impost of 57 kg was 6kg more than the weight carried by the previous record holder.

What’s really remarkable is that I can find no record of any other thoroughbred in Australia or New Zealand breaking the 2:40 barrier. The distance is not uncommon at Randwick in Sydney; the record there was set by Balciano in the Group 1 Metropolitan H. in 1987 when he carried 50.5 kg to finish in 2:40.8.

La Nouvelle Vague doesn’t look very fast but he has a huge stride and considerable reserves of stamina. He also has that wonderful quality in a racehorse – an aversion to getting beaten. Leah Hemi again rode him superbly, ensuring that he never lost momentum and getting him into a position to win the $40,000 feature. The grandson of Zabeel has not always been the easiest horse to train but Graham and Michael Eade must be well pleased that their efforts have been well rewarded over the last fortnight.

Now we have a problem which many owners would envy. What do we aim at now? Do we chase the New Zealand two-mile Cups or do we have a crack over the Tasman?

Karaka Sale Series A Buyers’ Benefit

Most predictions concerning this year’s yearling sales were that there would be a “readjustment” in values and those predictions turned out to be pretty much spot on. However, one could argue that this year’s catalogues were clearly inferior to the 2016 versions and that therefore the results weren’t that bad at all. Things can always get worse.

Anyway, in the lead-up to sales week I had found it extraordinarily difficult to sell copies of my Buyers’ Guide – an analysis which identified yearlings which could well be undervalued, given the strength of their pedigrees. Most long-standing clients had the same “I don’t think we’ll be buying this year” message. Some did end up staying at home or keeping their hands in their pockets but others nonetheless helped me equal my record of seven yearlings bought by proud owners of the Buyers’ Guide.

The honour roll was as follows:


Darci Brahma – Surreptitiously colt (Lot 437) $105,000


Reliable Man – Run to the Bank filly (987) $40,000

Pins – Seven Schillings filly (1012) $55,000

Super Easy – The Quarewan filly (1090) $20,000


Super Easy – Arctic Heights colt (1128) $10,000

Super Easy – Astrogal colt (1132) $90,000

Iffraaj – Designacat colt (1180) $14,000

Our Cloughmore Racing Partnership has bought a minority share in both 1128 and 1180. The former is an absolute stunner who had the misfortune to be a mid-November foal. To be more accurate, this misfortune was for his breeder as it certainly won’t stop him running. As you will deduce, I am very positive about Super Easy at this stage of his career – provided that the individual isn’t inbred to Danehill. Given the number of times this inbreeding appears in Australian sales catalogues and the number of times it is absent from the pedigrees of Group winners, there is only one conclusion which can safely be drawn.

La Nouvelle Vague Dominant in Dunedin Gold Cup

Just occasionally in racing all those dear little ducklings assemble in a beautiful straight line. We had just enough rating points to make the field in the $50,000 Listed event, trainers Graham and Michael Eade had our son of St Reims in the form of his life, and Leah Hemi rode him to perfection. However, behind that deceptively simple summary lies a complex narrative.

Bred by our father and son combination, officially known as PD and PD Jeffreys, the son of Danelove mare Balladane did not distinguish himself early in life. He was capable of displays of bad temper and was never Highden Park’s Libby Bleakley’s favourite yearling, We sent him down to Invercargill to be broken in after our attempts to sell him in the paddock proved fruitless; after two people spent some time in hospital during the breaking-in process he entered the Riverton stable of Graham Eade where, at times, he proved to be less than co-operative.

In his first preparation, he got up to the stage of a gentle canter and showed an utter lack of co-ordination and a complete inability to move in a straight line. Several months later we tried again. Before we could assess his improvement he began suffering from cellulitis. More lengthy paddock rest. As a late 4YO he eventually got to the races. Graham warned father and son that we shouldn’t expect too much of him at his first start but that he did have some level of ability. Not for the first time, Graham was right on both counts. LNV’s debut in a maiden 1600 at Winton was memorable only for the distance by which he got beaten but just seven days later he turned a 17-length hiding into a comprehensive 4-length victory over 2147 at Riverton.

Before this victory we had taken long-term associates Vaughan Cronin and Fred Gianone into our racing partnership and it was then decided to widen our ownership base (code for let’s reduce the outgoings). We were joined by the White Flash Syndicate and the Savoy Syndicate. Racing our horse with these enthusiasts has been a lot of fun. Long may it continue.

Maybe Miami Becomes Cloughmore’s 25th Stakeswinner

Those of us who have been involved in the racing industry for any length of time will be well aware of the outrageous swings of fortune that are inescapable.

The day after our promising 3YO Highway to Heaven was withdrawn from Derby contention due to his inability to win a strong maiden on a firm track we received the devastating news that our Auckland Cup hope Candle in the Wind had suffered a significant tendon injury. After her unlucky second in the City of Auckland Cup, she carried the hopes of a number of her owners that she could give them their first Group 1 victory.

And yet it was on this very same day that the Iffraaj gelding Maybe Miami deservedly won the Listed Timaru Stakes at Riccarton. Plagued by unsuitable tracks and bad draws in his previous attempts at black type events, the Kevin Hughes trained 5YO was too strong for a competitive field in an impressive 1:21.92 for the 1400 metres – in spite of the unsuitably rock-hard Riccarton track and yet another bad draw. Maybe Miami was a $20,000 purchase at the 2013 Horses in Training sale and has now won $138,485 from his seven victories to date.

There’s a lot to be said for having small shares in a number of horses. In even the worst of times, it’s generally the case that at least one of them is either racing well or promising to do so. Highway to Heaven, for example, is one of four 3YOs our Cloughmore Racing Partnership has minority shares in. The other three are Dee and Gee, a Darci Brahma filly racing at Whakatane on Monday, Rikki Tikki Tavi, a Tavistock filly with a strong trials placing at the end of her previous preparation and an unnamed Mastercraftsman – Plain Jill filly trained by Ilone Kelly. This latter filly ran a good third at the recent Foxton trials.

Best wishes to all for the Karaka Sales.

More Candles At Karaka?

Like the rest of her owners, I was thrilled with Candle In The Wind’s close second in yesterday’s $200,000 City of Auckland Cup. It was her first Group placing and a tribute to the training skills of Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs and the horsemanship of Cameron Lammas. She has now won over $200,000 – not a bad return for the little filly costing a mere $2500 at the Select Sale of her year.

Values have moved ahead in the last five years, with this year’s Weanling Sale being a case in point, but having just completed my annual analysis of all three catalogues, I seriously doubt whether this year’s Karaka event will continue the trend.

I would go so far as to say that this is the weakest Premier catalogue that I can recall reading. It is clear that many breeders are either retaining their stock or selling them somewhere offshore. This is bad news for NZ Bloodstock and bad news for many vendors as it is hard to imagine high levels of enthusiasm on the buying benches. K1 colts not meeting the expectations of their vendors can be recycled into Ready to Run 2YOs but fillies tend to sell poorly in November so I am anticipating some comparative bargains amongst this year’s K1 fillies.

The Select catalogue is big, very big. Many lots clearly deserve their place but when you read some pedigree pages you have to say, “Really?” Accordingly, I am predicting some more “Candle” opportunities for astute buyers. Buying yearlings is very much akin to long-distance running; the longer the race the harder it is to concentrate and there are times in any sale with a hefty catalogue when buyers long for a cool drink rather than check out that yearling in a faraway box. This is especially true when sale hits a flat patch and it seems likely that there will be several of these in the 2017 Select Sale.

And, once again, the Festival is where the bargains are. I had more trouble ranking the lots in this sale than in the other two. There are some very clever matings in the slim Festival catalogue but I seriously doubt whether this sale will maintain its upward trend – especially as far as fillies are concerned. I suspect that this catalogue is where the physically backward yearlings have found their place. As we all know, time equates to money and so these yearlings need a special type of buyer – people with experience, patience and a significant level of disposable income. From a breeders’ point of view, let’s hope I’m wrong.

La Diosa Dominant In 1000 Guineas

Group 1 contests are supposed to be closely contested affairs with high-class thoroughbreds stretching every sinew and finding the will to win when they are running on empty.

Today’s 44th New Zealand 1000 Guineas at Riccarton didn’t follow this script at all. So You Think filly La Diosa settled well back in the capacity field, was near last on the turn and then unleashed a devastating sprint to cruise past her rivals to record a facile victory that was much easier than the one and a half length margin suggested.

Her name is the Spanish equivalent of “goddess” and it’s fair to say that La Diosa is certainly a stunning filly, but it’s equally true that her ability also marks her as something very special. To cover the amount of ground that she did and to accelerate so effortlessly suggests that she may develop into a stellar performer.

From a pedigree point of view, her ability is no surprise. Her dam is the Star Way mare (A) Star Affair, a Group 2 winner over 2000 metres. A daughter of The Grin (Grosvenor), Star Affair was a little on the one-paced side and some of her progeny have also had this chink in their armour. However, the physical strength and ability to accelerate transmitted by La Diosa’s sireline have clearly been responsible for the creation of a superior equine athlete.

Today’s win is Cloughmore’s seventh Group 1 success but is also the most satisfying. Top class three year-old events are extraordinarily hard to win and it’s also a great thrill that this filly is the daughter of a filly purchased by long-term client Terry Archer on my recommendation.

As we all know, there are no certainties in racing but it is tempting to look forward to this outstanding filly’s career unfolding.

La Diosa And Maybe Miami Stake Riccarton Feature Race Claims

It’s been quite a week for Cloughmore Pedigrees. The promising Jimmy Choux filly Chambon won at Whangarei on Wednesday and the durable All In Luck was too strong for his Woodville opponents the following day. Two winners in a week has to be good news but for two exciting horses to win strong races just two days later really makes this a week to remember.

Today’s Ashburton meeting was very much a trial outing for many horses targeting the significant stakemoney offered at the forthcoming NZ Cup carnival. The Ashburton Cup featured southern sensation Stoker’s Rock and a number of other handy milers, including the progressive Iffraaj gelding Maybe Miami – the latter carrying topweight of 6Okg. Stoker’s Rock set the pace but could not hold out the finishing burst of the Kevin Hughes trained Maybe Miami, expertly ridden by Chris Johnson. Provided that the track is not rock hard, Maybe Miami seems to have a real chance of taking out the Couplands Mile.

However, the star of today’s show was undoubtedly the brilliant La Diosa. The imposing daughter of So You Think and the Group 2 winning Star Way mare Star Affair was just too good for an impressive lineup of 1000 and 2000 Guineas hopefuls. La Diosa jumped well but was restrained early as the leaders set a strong pace. Ashburton is a track which has historically favoured on-pace runners but La Diosa made a nonsense of this by coming from last to mow down the classy Heroic Valour and win easing down. It’s no surprise that she is now favourite for the 1000 Guineas and let’s hope she gets reasonable luck on the day to show what she can do over the 1600 trip.

Cloughmore client Terry Archer has an outstanding filly on his hands. He’s also shared our stellar week by breeding Chambon out of his Galileo mare Glam Girl. You have to wonder what the odds are of both fillies making the field for the New Zealand Oaks later in the season.

Hugely Impressive First Winner for Highly Recommended

In this business selecting successful stallions before their progeny are even conceived is a process that is fraught with danger. You have no idea whether the stallion is going to pass on his desirable genes and even if the first crop foals look just fine there’s no guarantee that they’ll have the temperaments to turn natural ability into results.

Readers of this website will be well aware that I’ve always rated Highly Recommended as an outstanding stallion prospect and today’s events at Tauherenikau, whilst not being in any way conclusive, gives me some hope that I’ve got it right. Highly Recommended’s strapping son, Waldorf, cruised to a facile victory in a 2YO event and will hopefully end up qualifying for the Karaka Million field.

Waldorf jumped on terms with the field, was positioned three-wide on the tight Waiarapa track and soon after straightening was urged to the lead by apprentice Tim Johnson. Under a hands and heels ride Waldorf lengthened stride smoothly for a comprehensive win.

I was especially pleased to note that today’s winner is out of a Pins mare. I had suggested to Berkley Stud that mares by the son of Snippets could well prove to offer an excellent genetic mix as well as being suitable physical types.

As an aside, I should also mention that I bred two mares to Highly Recommended in his first season: Malissimo (Howbaddouwantit) and Tuscany Rose (Tuscany Flyer). Both mares produced colts and although both have thrown to their dams in terms of physical type, they are both outstanding in terms of conformation and temperament. Another of my mares, Pronking, is currently in foal to the son of Fastnet Rock. On a good day Pronking can best be described as an evil-tempered baggage so it will be especially interesting to see how her foal develops.

Finally, wouldn’t it be exciting, if Highly Recommended does succeed, to have another South Island based stallion being keenly sought after? Last season Zacinto hit the headlines and let’s hope Highly Recommended follows in his hoofprints.

La Diosa Brilliant At Riccarton

Today’s clear winner of the CJC Canterbury Belle Stakes at Riccarton stamped herself very much as a future star. The daughter of So You Think and Group 2 winning mare Star Affair defeated a strong field, finishing off the 1200 metre event as though longer distances would pose no problems.

From a pedigree point of view this was no surprise. Star Affair (a Cloughmore recommended purchase at the 2000 yearling sales) has validated her own pedigree as both a racemare and a producer. Prior to today’s win she had left two stakeswinners, Solid Billing (Rock of Gibraltar) and the more brilliant Thy (O’Reilly), but as pedigree consultant to Star Affair’s owner Terry Archer I must confess that it has been a real challenge to find a stallion to provide size and strength in her progeny. In addition, some of her early foals had been distinctly one-paced – a problem which is always difficult to overcome.

High Chaparral appeared to be worthwhile prospect to achieve this latter goal, especially if Terry were fortunate enough to breed a colt out of the mare, but after one filly by High Chaparral, Coolmore informed Terry that the stallion had a full book. However, they offered him a service to his multiple Group 1 winning son So You Think instead. Keen to access the High Chaparral blood, Terry accepted the offer.

La Diosa will now be aimed at the Group 1 1000 Guineas in November but one would not be at all surprised if she becomes competitive at distances well in excess of 1600 metres. In the shorter term, she appears to be an excellent prospect for the Riccarton classic.