Kiwi Chronicles

Faith rewarded

Faith is certainly prominent in Pencarrow Stud’s Sir Peter Vela as well as his right-hand man, Leon Casey. The stud’s mare, Kudamm (Cape Cross), finally delivered at Morphettville on Saturday.

Finally, in this case, refers to elitelevel performance as her 2019 foal, Dunkel (Dundeel), had secured a Group 3 as well as a Listed win in Tasmania a few months ago. Success in the South Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2500m), achieved with an undeniable finishing burst late in the piece, has rewarded that faith.

With a winning strikerate of 75 per cent (six wins in eight starts), Dunkel didn’t have things all his own way during the race. As the race progressed he drifted back to 12th at the 1200 metres. The field compacted from the 800 metres, he went forward from the 600 metres and was sixth rounding into the straight. Pocketed but sharing fourth at the 300 metres, he got a split inside the 200 metres, chased after the leader, levelled up at the 50 metres and was too strong late.

He broke his maiden on debut at Moonee Valley last October, winning easily, just missed out at Cranbourne, and then reeled off four in a row in Melbourne and Tasmania. Unplaced in the Alister Clark Stakes (Gr 2, 2040m), he was found to be lame afterwards. Put aside, he was absent for two months prior to Saturday’s super effort, which is also a super training effort.

Although conceived in Australia, Dunkel was a planned mating for New Zealand-based Kudamm by Pencarrow and the resultant foal spent his early time at the stud. His purchase price of $40,000 at the NZB 2021 Karaka Yearling Sale now looks a bargain, more so as originally the colt was passed in then claimed after going through the ring.

Buyer Steven Ramsay promptly entered the colt for the Ready To Run Sale later that year, realising $100,000 out of the Ohukia Lodge draft.

Kevin Myers was the purchaser on behalf of trainer Patrick Payne. By some coincidence, the Central Districts horseman knew something about this family, having purchased Dunkel’s half-brother, Garfunkel (Excellent Art) at the 2014 Ready To Run Sale for just $14,000. Garfunkel, Kudamm’s first foal, won four times.

Dunkel’s catalogue page showed that there were no stakes winners within his first three dams. There appeared two stakes-placed performers of which his dam, Kudamm, was one. She put together four wins from 15 starts over three seasons and achieved her black-type in her penultimate run, a fast finishing second in Riccarton’s South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Listed, 1600m). The mare, who has ceased breeding, crossed the Tasman three times, producing five foals, all of which have been winners.

The first notable black type on the page, prior to Dunkel, is via dual Group 1 winner Zoman (Affirmed), a brother to Kudamm’s granddam, Appreciatively. In the USA, this family, tracing to Big Hurry (Black Toney), is famous for producing champions Allez France (Sea Bird), Affectionately (Swaps) and Searching (War Admiral). The latter two won 28 and 25 races respectively.

White Robe Lodge’s multiple champion sire Noble Bijou (Vaguely Noble) was a half-brother to Allez France. His blood is worth bottling and still shows up in stakeswinning pedigrees.

From lucky to special

A daring mid-race move by Tyler Schiller aboard Special Swey (Sweynesse) in Saturday’s Rough Habit Plate (Gr 3, 2000m) resulted in Novara Park’s Sweynesse (Lonhro) adding stakes winner number six to a growing tally.

The stallion has been front and centre of stud news recently due to the huge Hong Kong sprint successes by his son Lucky Sweynesse, who is recognised as the best sprinter in the world at present.

Although Saturday’s race lost the favourite, Kovalica (Ocean Park), due to an abscess, the latter’s trainer, Chris Waller, still provided the winner even though he had only been in the stable for ten days, added to which, it was owner Tony Muollo who suggested that the three-year-old head to Brisbane.

The bold riding decision matches the bold idea of taking on many well-performed three-year-olds on top of a last start Matamata mid-week maiden win, engineered by class jockey Warren Kennedy. Or was it?.

According to Novara Park’s Luigi Muollo (Tony’s brother), the improvement in Special Swey’s new-found form can be attributed to his first trainer. “The credit to finding the secret to Special Swey goes to trainer Stephen Ralph, who thinks Special Swey has huge ability and still has big improvement to come. Fortunately we had a jockey that could execute Stephen’s plan,” he said.

The Matamata race was his seventh start and saw Kennedy send Special Swey to the front before they left the back straight, ensuring a solid pace. From the 200 metres they simply careered away.

Did Schiller view the race footage? Apparently so as he sent Special Swey around them to lead before leaving the back straight. Again, in the home straight, the gelding had done the damage and had enough in the tank to land the healthy $145,000 winner’s stake.

Sweynesse is proving to be versatile, his six stakes winners achieving black-type success from sprints to 2000 metres. He himself was successful at 1800 metres in the Gloaming Stakes (Gr 3) and placed third in the Spring Champion Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) so, Special Swey’s 2000-metre win was no real surprise.

Lonhro (Octagonal) was also effective up to and including 2000 metres, claiming success in all of Australia’s weight-for-age classics at that distance, including the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Mackinnon Stakes, Australian Cup and Caulfield Stakes. The Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) eluded him, finishing third to two-time champion Fields Of Omagh (Rubiton).

Lonhro’s sire Octagonal (Zabeel), who did bag a Cox Plate in 1995, had the precociousness to run second in the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) behind Flying Spur (Danehill), which, perhaps, explains where Lucky Sweynesse inherited some of his sprinting talent.

Novara Park’s Luigi Muollo, similar to Sir Peter Vela, has real faith in Special Swey’s family. In fact, he owns most of the females that are alive.

“Novara Park has ten broodmares from the family and another eight fillies aged from weanlings to three-year-olds for the future,” said Muollo. “I am always wanting to breed better racehorses and my Explosive family has shown consistent ability, but sometimes ability doesn’t always bring results. A key reason behind the success is patience and not over racing them at an early age.

“The family has been one of the better New Zealand Stud Book families recently,” continued Muollo. “It has left a Champion Griffin Sprinter, Pick Number One in Hong Kong, a New Zealand Derby winner and an Australian Derbywinning Sydney Cup winner.”

Ancestress Tina’s Spirit, a mare by Beau Ghost (Grey Ghost) arrived in New Zealand from Queensland in 1985 as the half-sister to Marquee Star (Kaoru Star), a three-time Listed stakes winner in Sydney and Brisbane. She would produce the prolific winner The Red Express (Exploding Prospect), whose 18 wins included five stakes races, and was Group 1 placed at two.

The Red Express’s sister, Explosive, Listed placed herself, is the granddam of triple Derby winner Explosive Jack (Jakkalberry), who landed last month’s Sydney Cup (Gr 1, 3200m). Explosive is also the granddam of New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) winner, Vin De Dance (Roc De Cambes).

Explosive Jack and Vin De Dance represent the strongest branch of this line but sheer lack of numbers explain why Special Swey’s branch has not been quite as prominent.

He is the first foal of his dam, three-time winner Mia Mamma (Per Incanto), who is one of only two foals from Really Explosive (O’Reilly). Further proof that numbers count, Really Explosive is the only foal from Flamboyant Spirit (Pins), another daughter of Tina’s Spirit.

Tina’s Spirit’s granddam, Miss Goldilocks (Landau) was a half-sister to three stakes winners while the next dam, Smokey Jane (Smokey Eyes) won a Toorak Handicap (Gr 1, 8f). Miss Goldilocks is also the granddam of 1991 Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Canonise (Don’t Say Halo), one of four Group 1 winners and 26 stakes winners that descend directly from Smokey Jane.

Even prior to the upcoming season’s fee increase, bookings have been strong for Sweynesse. “There was already high interest after last year’s Ready To Run Sale where he averaged over 13 times his service fee. At Karaka his yearlings averaged ten times his service fee. It is not a question of whether you can afford to go to Sweynesse. You really can’t afford to miss out on his massive upside,” said Muollo.

“Our latest stallion, King Of Comedy, has a number of weanlings from my Explosive family. They are strong and impressive types. King Of Comedy’s turn of foot combined with the Explosive family ability gives me a lot of confidence for our future.”

See ya later

That’s what Wessex (Turn Me Loose) exhibited in the Rotorua Stakes (Gr 3, 1400m) last weekend.

The only filly against a field of older mares, she gave her rivals a galloping lesson in the testing conditions, going straight to front and progressively increasing her lead to the top of the straight. She was feeling it at the 100 metres when the lead shrunk but still had a length and three-quarters up her sleeve at the finish.

That was her third win in 11 starts, and her first run since late January, but the result did not surprise her connections. “She is a filly who always seems to go her best races when she is fresh and she can get out in front, find a rhythm and just do her own thing,” said her trainer Andrew Forsman.

Her $115,000 in the bank is making her original purchase price of $150,000 look within reach of being attained and that figure could increase soon as she is being set for the Tauranga Classic (Listed, 1400m) late next month, keeping to a pattern. “We will just keep her a little on the fresh side as we look at what is coming up,” ended Forsman.

She becomes the seventh stakes winner for Windsor Park Stud’s Turn Me Loose (Iffraaj), whose five other blacktype winners include the tough filly, Group 1 winner Lickety Split. She is his third stakes winner this season.

Wessex could well have inherited her speed from her dam, Trepidation (Falkirk) who was sharp enough to win four races over the sprint distance of 1200 metres and run third in the 2015 and 2016 Telegraph Handicaps (Gr 1, 1200m).

Forsman sourced Wessex at the 2021 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale. At that time she was the fourth foal but none had raced. Since then, the mare has produced three to race for two winners.

Trepidation’s half-sister is the Group 2placed Fairy Tipsy (Casual Lies), the dam of Levin Classic (Gr 1, 1600m) winner, Distill (Volksraad). Trepidation is a daughter of Rebellious Angel (Success Express), a sister to Railway Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Coogee Walk (Success Express). Their dam is Goodwood Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Boardwalk Angel (Bletchingly), so there is speed to burn in this line.