Kiwi Chronicles

Blended blood

The blending of New Zealand and Australian bloodlines has always been. Whether it is more common during more recent times could be debated but the number of Australian-breds catalogued here, in either the annual yearling or two-year-old sales, is increasing. Before long, it might mean very little that the latest stakes winner was bred in one of the two countries.

What provoked this thought is Thought Provoking (So You Think), winner of Saturday’s Centaurea Stakes (Listed, 2028m). In her case, the scales lean eastwards to New Zealand, as far as which country’s influence is greater.

Recent Group 1 winners Militarize (Dundeel), Dunkel (Dundeel) and Affaire A Suivre (Astern) were all foaled in New Zealand but conceived in Australia. To those you can add dual Group winner Osipenko (Pierro) and now Thought Provoking.

Significantly, two of the above are by New Zealand-bred sons of High Chaparral (Sadler’s Wells), namely Dundeel and So You Think. Both are making loud statements among the Australian-based sires.

Currently fourth on the Australian money list, Coolmore’s So You Think has sired ten individual stakes winners this season, accumulating 13 wins. He is headed only by I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) and Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) in the stakes winners sub category.

Last season, So You Think gave I Am Invincible a great tussle for Champion Sire honours. The premiership was undecided until very late in the season.

Arrowfield’s Dundeel occupies seventh position money-wise with seven individual stakes winners (a tie for eighth) and 16 black-type wins. On stakes wins, only I Am Invincible and Snitzel have more.

Consequently, both So You Think and Dundeel have seen their services fees increased to $99,000 and $82,500 respectively.

Although bred in Ireland, yet another High Chaparral son, Swettenham Stud’s Toronado, sits 16th with eight individual stakes winners of ten races. Here, in New Zealand, Westbury’s Redwood has had a break-out season due to the outstanding three-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart. Redwood sits fifth on the New Zealand rankings. And don’t forget Mapperley’s Contributer who has impacted the New Zealand ranks with five individual stakes winners this season.

In February, Kiwi Chronicles discussed the High Chaparral phenomenon at length and his line looks to continue in the shape of Super Seth, Castelvecchio, D’Argento and Peltzer.

Arion Pedigrees ranks So You Think as High Chaparral’s chief representative. His ten Group 1s demand as much. Ranked second is Dundeel, with six Group 1s. That both are stallions says a lot about the temperament of the High Chaparrals. It goes without saying that So You Think and Dundeel will be major contributors to the industry for the foreseeable future.

Good Thinking

It is not difficult to understand why Windsor Park Stud’s Mike Moran would decide to send Thought Provoking’s dam Zerello (Zerpour) to Australia to be mated with So You Think.

Kiwi Chronicles contacted Moran for the back story. “I bred So You Think so I like to support him with suitable mares and she did suit him very well on pedigree and type. To be honest, I thought the filly would make a lot more at the sales but Mick [Price] really liked her and she has been very well managed by the stable,” said Moran.

“After the sale our group took 40 per cent of her so it has been a great result all round and to win a stakes race in my hometown, Adelaide, by a stallion I bred, is very rewarding.”

High Chaparral, a champion racehorse and six-time Group 1 winner, shuttled to Windsor Park for five seasons and made an enormous impression, firstly via his dual hemisphere warrior So You Think and secondly via Dundeel.

Thought Provoking was purchased at the 2019 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale, realising $120,000. Racing out of the Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr stable, the now five-year-old has not been over-raced, Saturday’s win being just her 14th start.

She did not appear until the autumn of her three-year-old season but her training was halted after one start and she was not sighted again for almost a year.

“She was immature so we gave her the extra time she needed to reach her full potential. She has missed the top five just once in her career,” said Moran.

At start two, in February 2022, she broke her maiden at Warrnambool which was the scene of her second win a few weeks later. Win three took place at Sale over 2200 metres after which she was spelled. This preparation she has shown consistency, with four seconds in her five starts leading up to her maiden stakes victory. Three of those seconds were in town so, at the very least she was due the win. That it took place in a Listed race is a bonus.

In the Centaurea Stakes she had the lead after 200 metres and bowled along in front past the 1200 metres and onto the 800 metres before being eyeballed at the 600 metres. Adding some pace, she led clearly rounding into the straight and hugged the fence starting the run home. She slipped clear near the 200 metres, looked an easy winner inside the 100 metres, but had to hold off one late challenge.

Her dam, Zerello, had sufficient ability to land the Listed Rotorua Stakes (1400m), one of her five wins which also included successes at Ellerslie and Trentham.

A breeding career of seven foal yielded four winners from five to race with Thought Provoking clearly her best performer. Her first foal, winner Zaperb (Volksraad), managed a third in the Eulogy Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m). Zerello died in 2018.

Zerello’s dam, Chello (Western Symphony) is a half-sister to prolific Perth winner, Phiazam (Zamazaan) whose 15 wins included the Perth Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) and five further stakes successes. Their dam, Phius (Oncidium), was a Trentham winner and half-sister to Romantic Archer (Five Arrows), a Melbourne Listed winner who ran second in the Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m).

If these two stakes winners names seem vaguely familiar it is because this family has been highlighted recently due to Pennyweka (Satono Aladdin), the Australian (Gr 1, 2400m) and New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) winner from just weeks ago.

Pennyweka’s third dam, Skip (English Harbour), is a half-sister to Australian Cup (Gr 1, 2000m) winner Kip (Forty Winks II). Their dam, Agree (Agricola) is a half-sister to Phius.

Lesser branch comes good

This week’s theme of blending the Australian and New Zealand Stud Books is not new. An example is the family of Royal Merchant (Merchant Navy), winner of Saturday’s Goodwood Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m).

This one took place several generations ago, in the 1990s in the shape of Eau D’Etoile (Sir Tristram) who began her racing career here, crossed the Tasman and started a dynasty.

Winner of the Eulogy Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m), Eau D’Etoile also ran third in the New Zealand Oaks before an Australian campaign that included a third in the Queensland Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m).

At stud, she was magnificent, producing seven winners from eight foals, three of them Group 1 winners. She returned to New Zealand for two years producing two foals here. One was Royal Merchant’s fourth dam, All The Best (Kenmare), her fourth foal, conceived in Australia and foaled in New Zealand.

Her 1989 foal, Kenny’s Best Pal (Bletchingly) won the Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m). The following year she foaled Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner, Bint Marscay (Marscay). All The Best was her 1991 foal after which she was covered by Star Way (Star Appeal) and in 1992 foaled Filante, a dual Group 1 winner of the Epsom Handicap (1600m) and the Caulfield Stakes (2000m).

Her New Zealand sojourn ended when she went back to Australia in foal to Centaine (Century). She would produce another stakes winner by Marscay Eau D’Scay in 1996.

All The Best has taken plenty of time to contribute to the family’s fortunes but 30-odd years would test many a patience. She never raced and until Royal Merchant, just four stakes-placed performers can claim a direct connection to her, the best being La Zuma (Zabeel) who finished third in the Australasian Oaks (Gr 1, 2000m). Royal Merchant’s granddam is a half-sister to La Zuma.

Nevertheless, eventually blood will out and Royal Merchant is the seventh individual Group 1 winner to descend from Eau D’Etoile, remembering that the latter produced three in her own right.

Her first foal, stakes-placed Temple Fire (Bletchingly), is the dam of Stella Cadente (Centaine), winner of the Group 1 Australian Stakes (1200m). Her daughter Bint Marscay is the dam of Coolmore Classic (Gr 1, 1500m) winner Bollinger (Dehere), as well as Group 3 winner Mannington (Danehill), dam of Victoria Derby winner Benicio (More Than Ready).

Twenty-five stakes winners and 17 stakes-placed performers trace directly to Eau D’Etoile. Ortensia (Testa Rossa), the triple Group 1-winning mare who took her form to the northern hemisphere, is also from this line. Her third dam is a half-sister to Eau D’Etoile.

Weight? Just ask me.

The testing conditions at Awapuni for the Rangitikei Gold Cup (Listed, 1550m) were considerable. A top weight of 60 kilograms merely added to the task but Justaskme was not only up to it, he gave his rivals no chance whatsoever, booting clear from the top of the straight to win by a wide margin.

“I didn’t think we could give Mary Louise that much weight and beat her,” said winning trainer Allan Sharrock. “As it turned out he did it in a canter and shows just what a special horse he is.”

Racking up win ten from 31 starts, the victory took Justaskme’s earnings beyond $370,000, his most notable win taking place, on a soft track when bagging the Tauranga Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) in November of 2021. Last spring, he was five lengths second to Mustang Valley (Vanbrugh) in the Livamol Classic (Gr 1, 2040m).

The Hastings triple crown races this coming spring will likely be his longer term target, especially if the tracks remain wet but since Riccarton’s early August Winter Cup (Gr 3, 1600m) has a maximum handicap of 60 kilograms, Justaskme may head south. He finished second in the 2021 Winter Cup.

In the meantime, the weight-for-age Listed AGC Training Centre Stakes (Listed, 1600m) at Wanganui on June 3 will be his next assignment.

Bred by his trainer, the seven-year-old is one of two winners from his dam, Often (O’Reilly), a sister to the dam of I Do (No Excuse Needed) which makes Justaskme and I Do brother and sister-in-blood. The latter won 15 times including the Makfi Challenge Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m).

Their granddam, Freequent (Mistral Dancer), was a New Zealand St Leger (Listed, 2500m) winner who also ran third in the International Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) at Te Rapa.