Another big season in store for the Kiwis in Australia?
Can Kiwi-breds follow a stellar 2022-23 season in Australia? Already the Rowley Mile (Listed, 1600m), the Regal Roller Stakes (Listed, 1200m) and a comprehensive win by Mr Brightside (Bullbars) in Saturday’s PB Lawrence Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) suggests a more-than-promising start to the new season.
I was always hoping for a filly
That was the after-race comment from Marie Leicester, breeder of Savannah Cloud (Savabeel), winner of the Regal Roller Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
The win was not certain at the 100 metres, but he found late to get up for his maiden stakes win and career win eight at start 25. From a wide draw, he began well then slotted third at the 1000m, holding there past the 600 metre mark and on to the straight. Challenging from the 300, he levelled up soon after, appeared beaten at the 100 metres, yet fought back for a tough win.
Trainer Philip Stokes was caught a little by surprise after the win. “I had him going to a benchmark race in three weeks’ time. We might have to re-evaluate that now. It was really well deserved, I just thought he’d need the run today.”
The gelding is totally honest. His ultra consistent record stands at 25 starts, eight wins, nine seconds, four thirds and two fourths. Last November and December, he was in top form, winning four on the trot, wrapping up his five-year-old season with a tough second in the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap (Gr 3, 1400m) in March.
Alas, Leicester lost Savannah Cloud’s dam, Annie Higgins (O’Reilly) in 2020. The mare had produced four colts, Savannah Cloud being her third foal. He was sent to Karaka by Haunui Farm in 2019, was originally passed in, but soon after sold for $140,000. With earnings fast approaching $600,000, he was a good investment by Dalziel Bloodstock and Peter Moody.
His dam, Annie Higgins, was no slouch on the track either, securing six wins. Among them were the Waikato Cup (Gr 3, 2400m) and Counties Cup (Gr 3, 2100m) plus the Sunline Vase (Listed, 2100m). She was also second in four Group 2s, so a nice mare to breed from, especially as she represented the famous “Belle” family that Leicester has managed so well.
Annie Higgins’ grandam is Tri Belle (Sir Tristram), New Zealand Filly of the Year and winner of seven Group races. Tri Belle’s grandam is the champion, Star Belle (Summertime).
For sire Savabeel (Zabeel), it was stakes winner number 134 and underlines just how versatile Savabeel is. Annie Higgins was adept beyond 2000 metres, yet here is Savannah Cloud running out a slick 1200 metres in 1:10.27. Even at 22, the living legend has plenty of clout remaining. If I Wish I Win were to bag The Everest (1200m), Karaka should be swarming with Australian buyers next January, scooping up all the Savabeels they can.
Mr Brightside had a good field in trouble halfway down the straight and ran the 1400 metres of the PB Lawrence Stakes in a slashing 1:21.71. He held fifth past the 1000 metre mark, then into fourth at the 600. Rounding into the straight he went four deep, loomed up inside the 300 metres, formed a line of three at the 200, but went two clear near the 100 metres and was too classy.
“Mentally, he is a lot more professional and you could feel that today,” said rider Craig Williams. “It was an absolute 10 out of 10 ride from Craig,” said co-trainer Ben Hayes who indicated that the Memsie Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) and the Makybe Diva Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) are his immediate targets. The rich King Charles III Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) at his favourite track, Randwick, is also on his calendar.
His chances of a productive spring would appear to be as good, if not better than, last spring when he landed the 2022 running of the Lawrence and backed that up with the Feehan Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m). His form then eased slightly, except for a third in the Champions Mile (Gr 1, 1600m).
Autumn is Mr Brightside’s go. He bulldogged his way to a Doncaster Mile (Gr 1, 1600m) in the autumn 2021 and in 2022 added the rich All–Star Mile (1600m), before returning to Randwick for a second Doncaster. Kiwi toughness on display.
“A good tough horse, well placed by the trainer,” was the comment from Mark Corcoran of Grangewilliam Stud after Bold Mac (The Bold One) notched the stallion’s first stakes winner in the Hawkesbury Rowley Mile last Thursday.
With many chances inside the last 200 metres, Bold Mac thrust his head down on the line to get the nod and a well–deserved stakes success, completing the last 600 metres in 34.09 seconds on a Soft 5 track.
Beginning his career in New Zealand where he scored three wins in 11 starts, Bold Mac won on debut at Rosehill 13 months ago, adding a further four wins since then, the last three in succession, banking more than $600,000 in the process. He is another good advertisement for Kiwi-breds. In it for the fight and gives his best.
His family is light on stakes winners. He is only the second in four generations, the other being dual Riccarton Listed winner Rapanella (Rapier II) who raced 40 years ago. Bold Mac’s third dam is a half-sister to Rapanella.
Rich Hill celebrates
Randwick’s five stakes all went the way of the Australians, but on the undercard there was one good Kiwi result when Principessa (Vadamos) took out the benchmark 78 handicap over 1600 metres.
The five-year-old mare was backing up from a win at Canterbury just three days prior, so she was rock-hard fit. In Saturday’s run she was third last all the way to the top of the straight, pulled out from the 300 metres and accelerated quickly into contention. Once she hit the front at the 100 metres it was all over.
Post race, Rich Hill Stud’s John Thompson commented: “She was a lovely filly as a yearling. Her mother is a sister to Prince Of Penzance (Pentire) and it’s a great result for the stud as we have retained a share.”
Her early racing was in New Zealand, from the Roger James & Robert Wellwood stable, running seven times for two seconds and three thirds. In 14 starts since September last year, from Joe Pride’s stable, Principessa has been so consistent, recording four wins and eight placings.
Prince Of Penzance won the 2015 Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) and Principessa was knocked down to Phill Cataldo for $240,000 at the 2020 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale. Her third dam, Only Royale (Caerleon), won back-to-back Yorkshire Oaks (Gr 1, 12f) and is related (distantly) to the great Dubawi (Dubai Millennium).
Earlier in the day, Rich Hill’s Ace High (High Chaparral) sired his first winner, Bezique, at Ruakaka – and he won as if he will win more, showing good fight when called upon over the final 100 metres.
Bezique showed speed early to lead, was second rounding the bend, but holding the rail took over again into the straight. Two clear at the 200 metres, he did well to hold them off to the line. Saturday’s win was just his second start. He was fourth on debut at the same track two weeks prior.
Bezique was a $20,000 purchase from the Curraghmore Stud draft of the 2022 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale and was bred by the stud’s Gordon Cunningham. His dam, Kashika (Bachelor Duke), is a half-sister to smart two-year-old, Listed stakes winner Savabill (Savabeel) and to two stakes–placed performers. The best in his family is A Little Kiss (Sackford), winner of the Flight Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) and Queensland Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m). A Little Kiss’s dam and Bezique’s third dam are half-sisters.
Hot cell phone
After Crocetti (Zacinto) won the Northland Breeders’ Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) so impressively to remain undefeated in three starts, it is most likely that co-trainer Danny Walker’s phone was red hot.
Crocetti wasn’t first away, but four wide he made the lead at the 1000 metres. Warren Kennedy held him together past the 600 metres and into the straight. They went two clear at the 300 and at the 200 metres he strolled three clear. Inside the 100 metres he had his rivals well under control, away by four and a half at the line. The time, 1:10.3, was good but he was untested.
His previous win, fresh up, was just the same, racing clear halfway down the straight to win as he liked. On debut at Pukekohe back in February, the pattern was set, racing clear over the last 200 to win easily, the last 600 metres in a cracking 32.72 seconds. He can gallop this fellow.
“He is a very exciting horse with plenty more to come,” said Walker, so, where to now? Reports are that he will not head to Hastings for next month’s Hawkes Bay Guineas (Gr 2, 1400m). Instead, the James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) in October will be next, meaning a short break.
The main target is the New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m). However, do not be surprised if he is on a plane to Australia. With talent like that there will, no doubt, be some tantalizing offers being tossed around and somewhat justifiably.
Of course, we’d love for him to stick around so that the New Zealand public can enjoy a top performer. Nevertheless, the money is often just too good to turn away and to earn such dollars here is almost impossible.
Crocetti is raced by his co-breeder, Daniel Nakhle and was not offered for sale. His now two-year-old half-brother by Pride Of Dubai (Street Cry) made $250,000 at the NZB Karaka Yearling Sale back in January.
His dam is an O’Reilly (Last Tycoon), sister to Group 3 winner, Killarney and half-sister to the Melbourne triple Group 3 winner, Crosshaven (Smart Missile), while his grandam is the speedy Irish Colleen (Shinko King), winner of the Concorde Handicap (Gr 2, 1200m).