Kiwi Chronicles

A weekend for the unheralded proves every stallion can have his day

New Zealand stakes-race success was confined to domestic shores over the weekend, as four of the five black-type races in the country went the way of the Kiwis, but what an interesting line up they make.

In this column last week Per Incanto (Street Cry) was hailed as an evergreen stallion who keeps throwing winners, week after week, and that fact was underlined with a hardy victory by Shadows Cast who represents Per Incanto’s very first crop.

The eight-year-old got in the last strides to add win number 12 (his fourth at stakes level) in the Flying Handicap (Listed, 1400m) at Awapuni on Saturday. 

Shadows Cast has been a venerable flag-bearer for the Little Avondale stallion and included among his previous victories is the Thorndon Mile (Gr 1, 1600m) as well as the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (Gr 2, 1600m). He is one of four Group 1 winners by Per Incanto who has a total of 18 stakes winners on the board, and it’s a list that’s growing.

The stallion earned a well-earned hike to his covering fee after Little Avondale Stud on Sunday announced he would stand at $25,000 in 2021, up from $15,000 in 2020.

The remaining three stakes winners all have something in common. They are by sires which have found themselves to be out of favour by breeders, yet showed their propensity to produce a top-class performer. 

Roc De Cambes (Red Ransom), He’s Remarkable (Pentire) and Bullbars (Elusive Quality) each fall into that category, emphasizing that every stallion can have their day.

Roc De Cambes sired Joy Alone, winner of the Manawatu Classic (Gr 3, 2000m). Her win was much better than at first glance. She was never on the track, back and wide down the back and wider again into the straight. Yet she found sufficient stamina to finish strongly to get her maiden stakes win at start six.

In all her previous starts she was finding the line so her trainers, Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, were not all that surprised to see her get the 2000 metres. 

“She’s a nice filly who we thought would go well over more ground,” Baker said. “She had been running-on over a mile so we thought this might be the race for her with the step up to 2000 metres. She’s always shown us plenty. She is out of a good Japanese mare and is owned by a Kiwi, Paul Stopforth, who lives in Australia. We’ve had horses for him before so it’s nice to get another good one for him,” concluded Baker.

Joy Alone is the second winner from her Japanese-bred dam Optimum Note (Park Regent) who won 11 times in Singapore and earned close to S$350,000 before landing in New Zealand. At stud Optimum Note produced six foals, Joy Alone being the last as the mare ceased breeding in 2018.

They descend from the Irish mare Little Midge (Migoli), a half-sister to Marble Hill Stakes (Listed, 5f) winner Nur-Ud-Din (Nasrullah). After winning at two in Great Britain, Little Midge was exported to Japan during the 1960s.

Marsh Meadow (Grey Sovereign), a daughter of Little Midge’s half-sister May Meadow (His Highness) also found her way to Japan and is ancestress of Wing Arrow (Assatis), Champion Dirt Horse in Japan (1990) and winner of 11 races (eight stakes) including the Japan Cup (Dirt) (Listed, 2100m). Another descendant is Meisho Sumitomo (Gold Allure), a Group 3 winner at Hanshin.

There are just three stakes winners that descend from Little Midge herself, two of them in Japan (both Listed winners) and the newest representative, Joy Alone.

Joy Alone becomes the fifth stakes winner for her sire, the best so far being 2018 New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) victor Vin De Dance. Coincidentally, Roc De Cambes, although bred in New Zealand, did all his racing in Japan, was a Listed winner at two and three years and retired with a record of four wins from his eight starts. 

He was well supported in his first seven seasons, averaging 80 mares and 47 live foals per year but the year Joy Alone was foaled that number dropped to 45 mares and 30 foals. Now aged 16 he was all but ignored last spring, attracting just four mares and 13 the year before that.

Bullbars is the sire of Awapuni Gold Cup (Gr 2, 2000m) winner Beauden, trained by Team Rogerson.

Bullbars’ only other stakes winner also came out of the same stable. Her name is Contessa Vanessa and at three, during the 2017-18 season, was one of the better fillies in the country taking out two Group races at Ellerslie and ran second in the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) behind Savvy Coup (Savabeel).

The now exported (to South Australia) stallion has also sired the good stayer Blue Breeze, who finished third to Glory Days (Red Giant) in the 2019 Auckland Cup (Gr 1, 3200m).

Of Beauden Graeme Rogerson said: “He loves Awapuni, he’s won eight there now, and he’s just a bloody good horse. We’ll have a meeting with (owner) Joan (Egan) next week and decide what we want to do next with him. The Hawke’s Bay Gold Cup later this month could be an option.

“I think he’s more of a handicapper than a weight-for-age horse. He carries weight very well, and I have no doubt he’ll run two miles, so he could be a genuine Cup horse further down the track. We could even see if Joan wants to try taking him to Melbourne in the spring. I haven’t raised that with her yet.”

A track specialist indeed is Beauden, whose eleven victories include eight at Awapuni. Earlier in the year he won the Marton Cup (Listed, 2200m) at the same track having won the same race in 2020.

His dam Belle Femme (Zeditave) could run. She won eight times including the Rich Hill Mile (Gr 2, 1600m) and her half-sister Flying Babe (Flying Spur) was the top two-year-old of her year in New Zealand. Manrico (Shocking), Flying Babe’s five-year-old son, took out the Dunstan Feeds 1200 open handicap (1200m) at Ellerslie on Saturday.

Flying Babe’s sister, Belle Toujours (Flying Spur) produced Karaka Million (RL, 1200m) winner Fort Lincoln (Charge Forward).

Beauden’s grandam Caste Your Fate (Bletchingly) is a half-sister to dual Group 1 winner Sharscay (Marscay), they being out of Melbourne Group 3 winner Shannon Belle (Balmerino).

This is, of course, the famous “Belle Family” established by James and Annie Sarten and carried on very successfully by their daughter Marie Leicester.

Marie is the breeder of 14-times Group 1 heroine Melody Belle (Commands) but Beauden’s fifth dam, Roberta Belle (Gigantic) is a half-sister to “the other” Melody Belle, the one by Taipan II (Bold Ruler), a ten-time winner including four at stakes level.

Bullbars, a Flemington Group 3 winner, is back in Australia after eight seasons at Highview Stud. He is very well bred being a half-brother to Group 1 winners Helmet (Exceed And Excel) and Epaulette (Exceed And Excel).

Like Roc De Cambes, his popularity has waned and across the last three seasons before his export he attracted just 42 mares.

Our Boy Ritchie, winner of Saturday’s Riverton Cup (Listed, 2147m) is the first stakes winner by He’s Remarkable (Pentire).

The five-year-old gelding’s co-trainer, Kelvin Tyler explained the pre-race plan:

“We spoke about how he needed to be ridden and (apprentice) Savish (Khetoo) followed his instructions perfectly,” Tyler said. “He’s the sort of horse that you need to put a bit of pressure on, as he is not a sit and sprint horse. 

“We wanted to put the pressure on the others a long way out and make it a staying contest and luckily enough he was the best stayer on the day.”

It was a tough and game effort. He sat third, three wide at the 600 metres and, turning for home, went wider. He didn’t reach the front to co-lead until the 150 metres but held on best by a head at the line.

A very good racehorse, He’s Remarkable’s best official win was the Spring Stakes (Gr 3, 1400m) at Newcastle. Unofficially his best win was the Railway Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) at Ascot in Perth but the result was overturned in the stewards room. 

Whether achieving Group 1 honours would have made much difference to the stallion’s stud career could be debated but his younger brother, the brilliant Xtravagant (Pentire) did find his way to Newhaven Park in NSW, a premier stud, after winning at Group 1 level. He sired his first winner (from his first crop) just last month.

There was nothing ambiguous about Xtravagant’s Group 1 credentials, twice winning at the elite level in the New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (1600m) and the Waikato Sprint (1400m), both by huge margins and in electric style. 

At three, He’s Remarkable flew home for second beaten a neck in his attempt to win in the 2011 NZ Two Thousand Guineas, behind the very good horse Jimmy Choux (Thorn Park).

Our Boy Ritchie is the first winner from his dam Miss Andrea, a King’s Chapel (King of Kings) half-sister to Kibbutz (Golan), the 2007 Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) winner.

The only other stakes winner in the first four dams is his great granddam, Forn Vell (Air Trooper), winner of 15 races (including three stakes) in Denmark and Sweden.

In a similar vein to Roc De Cambes and Bullbars, He’s Remarkable has been somewhat marginalised. The last three seasons he covered 24 mares in total for 14 live foals, the previous five seasons averaging 63 mares and 40 live foals.

Looking Ahead

Of the three Saturday stakes winners Joy Alone’s hard fought win, after being trapped wide all the way, suggests that she has a bright future. The Manawatu Classic has a good history of revealing future big winners including Let’s Elope (Nassipour) who is to be inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame next month.

Of the recent successes is 2016 winner and triple Group 1 Champion Humidor (Teofilo) who has gone on to earn more than $4 million. Charles Road (Myboycharlie), the 2017 winner as well as 2019 winner The Chosen One (Savabeel), have gone on to bigger things.

How Good Is Sword Of State?

The way On The Bubbles (Brazen Beau) strung out his opponents in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) on Saturday was most impressive. He took command early, added pressure before reaching the straight then gave the field no chance at all to the post. In any other year, that performance might be enough to top the two-year-old rankings for the year. 

However, his stablemate Sword Of State (Snitzel) was in the paddock building his strength for next year having given On The Bubbles two galloping lessons, one by more than six lengths in the Matamata Slipper (Gr 3, 1200m) and another, by more than three lengths, in the Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at Ellerslie last month.

A spring clash will be well worth waiting for.

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