Darci The Common Factor In Cloughmore Double

The CJC Canterbury Gold Cup is a race I’ve always wanted to win and, although it’s not the same as owning or breeding the winner, doing the mating for him has to be the next best thing.

Nashville was clearly in a class of his own in today’s Group 3 WFA event but he did have to combat a heavy track and the 2000 metre distance, two factors that he had been unable to overcome in the past. On the other hand, he was re-united with Jonathan Riddell with whom he has an excellent association. Riddell’s decision to take the longer, but slightly firmer, route around the rest of the field proved to be the winning of the race.

Twenty minutes later another of Darci Brahma’s progeny, the four year old mare Candle In The Wind, romped home in a $25,000 R75 event at Ellerslie. Part-owned by the Cloughmore Racing Partnership, the mare had shown significant promise last autumn and the dead track suited her admirably. Back and wide throughout, the mare unleashed a devastating turn of foot in the straight to win by a widening 2.4 lengths. Long may this sort of form continue!

Incidentally, our only other runner on the day, the Kevin Hughes trained Umshimi Wami, ran a meritorious second in the final race on the Riccarton card. The Pentire gelding is much improved and is well worth following on tracks that are better than today’s heavy conditions.

NASHVILLE WINS HIS SECOND HAUNUI FARM CLASSIC

There haven’t been too many runners lately with Cloughmore connections and it’s also fair to say that those which have faced the starter haven’t exactly been overburdened with good fortune.

However, today it all changed. Nashville, confidently ridden by Jonathan Riddell, tracked the leaders in a slowly run Group 1 1600 event, hit the front soon after turning for home and then accelerated away for a comprehensive victory.

Clearly, the change of tactics to have the son of Darci Brahma much closer to the speed paid off significantly. Now that he doesn’t have to tail off in his races, it will no doubt make planning his future racing career an awful lot more straightforward for his owners.

The ease with which he dealt to several Group 1 winners raises the question of how good he is. It’s always somewhat ridiculous to make predictions of this sort but I can say that if you saw today’s race you wouldn’t be at all surprised if more Group 1 victories were in store.

Finally, I know I’ve written about this before but you’d have to be worried about the quality of our stayers. Apart from Mark Oulaghan’s Who Shot Thebarman, the current draft appear to be of very modest quality. Our breeding industry have achieved something which once would have been thought impossible – the destruction of the niche market which underpinned our profitability.

KARAKA EXCITEMENT BUILDS

There’s always much hype surrounding our national yearling sales but I really wouldn’t be at all surprised if the dream turned into reality this year.

Yearling parades appear to have been very well attended and the standard of the catalogues compares more than favourably with those of past years. The Select sale appears to be especially strong: the process I go through every year of trying to identify yearlings with superior pedigrees has been more challenging than I can remember. Trying to rank yearlings according to their likely value for money is never easy, but it’s especially difficult when pedigree page after pedigree page has significant appeal.

One comment I would make is that the stock of Rip Van Winkle have been extremely well mated. He’s a horse that really ought to succeed as a stallion; the compatibility of the matings behind this year’s yearlings make this increasingly likely.

Another factor in selecting yearlings is assessing the skill with which they have been prepared. Our industry is fortunate in having a range of successful businesses involving the preparation of sale yearlings but a relatively new addition to their ranks is Highden Park of Palmerston North. I’m usually reticent about extolling the virtues of various consignors but as I’ve had first-hand experience of the skills of Libby Bleakley and her team over the last few years, I can assure potential buyers that this is a draft which deserves serious consideration.

Finally, if any readers would like to be involved in racehorse ownership, please let me know. I’ve previously written about our involvement with promising Darci Brahma mare Candle in the Wind and may be able to offer you a similar opportunity after this year’s sales. However, I can’t guarantee you such a bargain as she now appears to be.

RICCARTON DOUBLE FOR LOGAN AND CLOUGHMORE

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.

IF ONLY IT WAS ALWAYS LIKE THIS

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.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED INDEED!

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.

HE’S REMARKABLE IS EXCELLENT VALUE

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.

RECORD MONTH FOR CLOUGHMORE

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.

CLOUGHMORE RACING PARTNERSHIP WINS AT WHANGAREI

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

THY WINS LISTED EVENT IN SYDNEY

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.