That Was Impressive!

Candle In The Wind’s conclusive win in today’s Windsor Park Stud Karaka Stayers’ Cup justified her owners’ opinion that she is a horse of considerable class. However, it’s fair to say that Hugh Bowman’s masterful ride had a significant impact on the result.

We all know that stepping a horse up appreciably in distance is one of the most difficult feats for a trainer to manage successfully and it was a triumph for Team Logan that the transition went so smoothly. Hugh Bowman’s contribution was equally meritorious: he managed to settle the Darci Brahma mare back on the fence, improved her when the pressure went on and urged her to the finish without asking any more of her than was necessary. It was a text book ride and much appreciated by the owners.

Readers of this site will recall that our mare was purchased for a mere $2500 from the Select session of the 2011 Karaka sales. Donna Logan had noticed that Darci Brahma’s progeny were not selling well and asked me to sort out a filly with a strong pedigree from the remaining lots. The one that appealed was out of Prefer Blondes (USA). She had failed to win on the racetrack and her only foal to race had been similarly talented but I knew a little about her sire Gentlemen (ARG). He’d been the champion 3YO of his year in Argentina and had then raced in the USA before going to stud. Even though his stud record was modest he had proved to be a consistent sire of minor winners. Moreover, he had won six Group 1 events and Prefer Blondes’ dam was Let’s Sgor, 1991 Joint Wrightson Filly of the Year and winner of two Group 1 contests. Anyway, a quick visit to the trusty Arion Pedigrees site convinced me that this was the filly to go for.

It’s nice to be right but there’s always a significant dose of sheer blind luck involved in the process of finding a “good one”.

Let’s hope our luck holds at next week’s sales series.

Karaka Opportunities Abound

I was hoping to be able to report on Candle In The Wind’s Rich Hill Mile success, but one of the ongoing truths of the Festive Season is that we don’t always get what we want. The good news was that our Darci Brahma mare did herself proud, finishing more strongly than anything else in the Group 2 event and confirming our thoughts that she has the ability to be competitive at the highest level.

Regular readers of this site will recall that the mare was one of three yearlings the Cloughmore Racing Partnership bought into after the Karaka sales four years ago. A 10% share in each horse cost each of us $110 +GST and although our Thorn Park – Grace Park colt broke down in his first preparation and our Lucky Unicorn – Durham Walk filly had limited ability, the Darci Brahma – Prefer Blondes filly has proved to have above average ability and provided the five of us with a lot of enjoyment – and a reasonable financial return. The fact that the Lucky Unicorn filly turned out to be a half-sister to top sprinter Durham Town hasn’t been bad news either – she’s currently in foal to Ekraar.

Anyway, now that the Cloughmore Racing concept has worked reasonably well, I feel that the time is right for a second partnership to be put together. The idea is for an initial investment of around $250 per person and the partnership’s holding in each horse selected to be somewhere between 10% and 20%. The original partnership has five members but this could be easily extended if the demand justified it. However, the key aspect of the partnership is that monthly payments be affordable – any arrangement will be structured so that racing does not become a financial strain on us. I should also point out that I charge no fees of any sort for arranging or managing partnerships.

I’ve recently completed my Karaka Yearling Sales Buyers’ Guide which involves analysing the pedigrees of every lot in the Select and Festival session. I’ve identified a number of horses which I rate highly in terms of their genetic potential; if any of these are purchased by trainers I have worked with in the past, they will be the yearlings I will focus on in including in the 2015 Partnership. I’m especially keen on yearlings by stallions which are out of fashion to some extent: Candle In The Wind cost a mere $2500, an outrageous price for a filly by a stallion standing at $20,000 but in 2011 all sorts of baseless rumours about his progeny were floating around. Current stallions which I think are highly likely to be undervalued by yearling buyers are Bachelor Duke, Captain Rio, Falkirk, Mastercraftsman, Postponed and Towkay. (I’ve included Mastercraftsman here because many of his progeny are quite plain).If we get very lucky we might add a stallion like Nadeem to the list. However, whatever the attractions of a yearling’s pedigree any prospective racehorse also has to have good conformation and a decent temperament.

Anyway, please feel free to get in touch if you’d like further information on anything outlined above.

TWO DAYS AT TELFORD

I’m not a betting man but I wouldn’t mind wagering that regular readers of my posts on this site would have no idea what the above headline refers to.

Sure, two days are two days – not a difficult concept to master – but Telford, what on earth is that?

Well, fellow breeders and thoroughbred enthusiasts, Telford could well be the best kept secret in the country. It’s an agricultural training property just a few kilometres from Balclutha and it includes equine training facilities to die for. It’s worth adding that the staff are well-qualified, professional and enthusiastic.

I’ve just got home from spending a couple of days down there at the behest of Telford Director Professor Charley Lamb to see if I could recommend some ways of increasing the number of students applying for the Level 3 and 4 Telford Equine Certificates. (For those of you who don’t know me personally, as well as being a thoroughbred breeder for 40 years I’ve also spent nigh on the same amount of time teaching at Feilding High School.)

Anyway, I did some brief research before venturing south and it became very obvious very fast that there really is a demand from employers for well-qualified young people to work on studs and agistment farms. Moreover, there’s a real opportunity for those young people to gain advancement in the industry. This information will come as a surprise to virtually all high school careers advisors, so clearly there’s work to be done here.

However, back to my main theme. I am totally confident that if you know of young people wishing to enter the industry or current employees needing to gain a qualification, Telford deserves your serious consideration. Have a look at their website or, better still, make an appointment, invest in a plane ticket and go see for yourself.

Click here to learn more about Telford.

COMANCHE GOLD RETURNS TO FORM

It’s been a long time since 2 December 2012, the date of our Hawkeye gelding’s Queenstown Cup victory. Since then we’ve had 21 losing starts, punctuated by a bleeding incident and a significant muscle issue. I must admit that I thought Graham Eade’s persistence was optimistic in the extreme but today proved that he was right and I was wrong.

Sure, it was a very small field that he beat in the PGG Wrightson Balclutha Cup and he was cleverly ridden by Lee Callaway, but not only did he settle much better than he generally does, he also accelerated in the straight with a degree of enthusiasm that had been absent for quite some time.

It was especially gratifying that this, his ninth win, took his stakearnings comfortably over the $150,000 mark. I am touching wood as I write this – but long may his change of form continue.

However, one mystery still remains. So far there have been five Cloughmore horses prepared by Graham. Apart from the promising maiden Oriental Bronze, all have been winners and Comanche’s victory today brings the total number of wins to 21. Why the Eade stable isn’t full, I have no idea.

Battle Paint The Next Big Thing?

Breeders are always looking for that stallion – the horse they can use for a bargain basement price and then participate in the ride to stardom that the stallion enjoys. Volksraad started at $2500, Sir Tristram began at $6000 and at one stage Pentire stood at a modest $6500. It can happen, it does happen and I’m thinking that perhaps it is going to happen again.

I must admit that when Battle Paint was first announced, I wasn’t much taken with his photo. Although he was a highly talented 2YO who placed second to Holy Roman Emperor in the Group 1 Grand Criterium at Longchamps and although he was by a stallion that I’ve had significant success with and although his dam had produced 50% SWs to foals, I just wasn’t convinced. I am now beginning to suspect that I was 100% wrong.

To date Battle Paint has had no less than seven individual trial winners, four of which have raced. They include the Singapore winner Affleck, successful at his only start, a S$90,000 juvenile event. Jet Trac ran third in the Listed ARC Champagne Stakes and The Real Deal ran second at his Ellerslie debut. Sure, there are 52 Battle Paint 2YOs out there but there’s a remarkable consistency in the performances of those of his offspring which have appeared at trials.

Oddly enough, what really alerted me to this stallion’s potential was a phone call from a Taranaki breeder who had come across this site. He told me that he had been breeding horses for quite some time, that he had two Battle Paint youngsters and that he had never bred horses with such outstanding temperaments.

However, I do have to say that the class of 2010 could well turn out to be a stellar group of stallions. Thewayyouare has made an outstanding start and is highly likely to go on with it, Road to Rock has impressed me so much that I’ve actually spent my own money on a service to him, my enthusiasm for Roc de Cambes is undimmed, Buffalo Man has made a great start and Sufficient is also showing significant promise. Nonetheless, given Battle Paint’s likely affinity with some of our most successful bloodlines, he also has every chance of building on his impressive record to date.

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.