Highs and lows
A sad week ended with new hope for us followers of thoroughbreds in New Zealand. In many ways, racehorses are very strong yet also somewhat fragile. Although racing is what it is all about, career-ending injuries take place even when horses are not on the track.
Star mare Probabeel (Savabeel) saw her race career come to an abrupt end while doing a light work-out. Also, talented three-year-old Pareanui Bay (Lonhro) was merely playing in his paddock but subsequently lost his life.
In all likelihood, Probabeel was in her final season of racing as she had little else to prove. Prize–money aside, a fifth Group 1 is not a huge addition to a future stud career when you have four in the bag already, but her presence in some of the best Australian autumn races will be missed.
All is not lost
If a positive can be gleaned from Probabeel’s retirement, it’s that she is guaranteed a home back in New Zealand. Commercial realities have resulted in our losing both Melody Belle (Commands) and Avantage (Fastnet Rock) to the frantic buy-up of high–quality mares by the Australian breeding industry.
Refreshingly, the Lindsays of Cambridge Stud are in the happy position of not being swayed by huge offers. Instead, their focus will now be one of deciding on a suitable mate. That is the beauty of this fabulous industry. We can look forward to seeing her progeny at Karaka. If her first foal is a colt, that might be as soon as 2025. If a filly, no doubt she will be retained.
Probabeel’s family is prolific, descending from Georgina Belle (Pakistan II), an inspired purchase by Waikato Stud’s Garry Chittick. Georgina Belle was found in California. She won three times in New Zealand and was stakes-placed twice before being exported.
Her win on debut in the Hastings (6f) at two took place in 1971. Had she been foaled a year earlier, she would have been a stakes winner. Unfortunately for her, the race lost its stakes status in 1971.
Her dam, Castle Belle (Summertime), is a half-sister to Castle Heather (Fair’s Fair), the dam of AJC Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) and Rosehill Guineas (Gr 1, 2000m) winner Battle Sign (Battle-Waggon).
Their dam, Franlyle (White Heather), landed the Listed Princess Handicap (1400m) at Randwick as well as the Gold Trail Stakes (1400m), which was not recognised as a black-type race until 1974.
In California, Georgina Belle produced the winners Barrister Boy and Mason Street to Gladwin (First Landing). Both won nine times and in 1976 she was again covered by Gladwin. The resulting colt, Radd – who won 13 races in Scandinavia – was foaled in England due to the fact that Chittick now owned the mare and had arranged for her to be mated with Habat (Habitat).
The resulting daughter, Habania (Habat), was foaled in England in 1978 after which both mare and foal came home to New Zealand. Habania won a total of seven races, including four very nice races in Melbourne, one of which was the Barton Handicap (1000m) at Caulfield in 1982. Again, proving that timing is everything, that race was not added to the black-type roster until 1984. She earned lower-case black-type at her following start when third in the Autumn Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m).
That first running of the Barton Handicap (Listed, 1000m) as a stakes race went to Waikato Stud’s own highly successful sire Centaine (Century).
Coincidentally, Habania was mated with Centaine five times for five winners. La Rose Noir (Centaine) won at Listed level, The Counties Bowl (1000m), as well as the Lightning Handicap (1000m) at Trentham in 1997, a race that in 1999 was also added to the black-type roster.
Habania’s second to last foal was Hyades (O’Reilly). Hyades never raced but at stud produced the Group–winning sisters Legless Veuve (Pins) and Tootsie (Pins), the latter being the dam of dual Group 2 winner Ocean Emperor (Zabeel).
Tootsie’s daughter Movie (Savabeel) is the dam of Never Been Kissed (Tivaci), winner of the Flight Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) last spring.
Another sister to Legless Veuve and Tootsie is Eudora (Pins), dam of dual Group 1 winner Savvy Coup (Savabeel), whose relationship to Probabeel is a challenge to describe. They are both by Savabeel (Zabeel) from three-quarter blood sisters.
Hyades’ first foal, Beyond (Centaine), is the grandam of Probabeel.
Hers is a magnificent family. In a little over 40 years, starting with Habania, Georgina Belle has been responsible for 36 stakes winners, including six at Group 1 level. Add to those a further 35 stakes–placed winners.
The family is not living off Probabeel either. This season alone the line is responsible for six stakes winners, namely Probabeel, Never Been Kissed, Forgot You (Savabeel), Bellaconte (Burgundy), Treasured Star (Toronado) and burgeoning star, Espiona (Extreme Choice).
How can one get in on this phenomenal family? Two fillies are catalogued in Book 1 at the NZB Karaka Yearling Sale next month.
Lots 135 and 249 incorporate all the right blood from this great distaff line. Lot 135 is by Tivaci (High Chaparral) from a sister to Group 2 winner Acting (Savabeel). As a bonus, this Tivaci-Savabeel cross is the same as the 2021 Flight Stakes winner Never Been Kissed, referenced above.
The dam of Lot 135 is also a three-quarter sister to Forgot You (Savabeel), a dual Group 2 winner this season. For Waikato Stud to be selling a filly from this family is rare. She descends from Georgina Belle’s first New Zealand-born foal, Celia Leigh (Sound Reason).
Lot 249 also descends from Celia Leigh. This filly’s third dam and Lot 135’s fourth dam are sisters. Highline Thoroughbreds will offer this opportunity, a Sacred Falls (O’Reilly) daughter of a winning half-sister to Western Australian stakes winner Pin Rouge (Pins).
The branch via Celia Leigh has also produced the dual Group 1 winners Glamour Puss (Tale Of The Cat) and Vision And Power (Carnegie).
Last week, Trelawney Stud lost their highly talented Pareanaui Bay, a three-year-old who had the world at his feet. One could easily imagine that several elite wins and Australian campaigns would have been within his scope.
In a single preparation he showed class, winning on debut before immediately taking on some of the country’s better three-year-olds with a tough victory in the Sarten Memorial (Gr 2, 1400m).
At Te Aroha he maintained his unbeaten record, this time at Listed level, fighting off Saturday’s ultra impressive La Crique (Vadamos) in the process. A short break was followed by an unlucky second at Ellerslie in the Uncle Remus Stakes (Listed, 1400m) then a game second in the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m) to the equally talented Shamus (Shamexpress).
Pareanui Bay’s impact on the three-year-old scene was part of an incredible run of recent success enjoyed by Trelawney Stud’s stable of runners, including Two Illicit (Jimmy Choux) and Cheaperthandivorce (Savabeel).
Appreciating the highs of racing is vital because the lows are inevitable. The Taylors of Trelawney know this and will bounce back. Good horses are hard to come by. Not only has Trelawney lost, so has racing.
A brighter note
Did we witness something extra special at Ellerslie on Saturday? It is quite possible judging by the way La Crique (Vadamos) tore apart a really good field in the Avondale Guineas (Gr 2, 2100m).
Fellow filly The Perfect Pink (Savabeel) looked to be the main obstacle to La Crique’s winning sequence, but the former was not herself and showed little of the form we saw in the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) in November.
The two fillies fought each other in superb style two starts back over 1500 metres at Ellerslie before La Crique ventured to Trentham to bolt away with the Desert Gold Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m) against her own gender.
Fourth home in the 1500 metres at Ellerslie was Pin Me Up (Pins), who returned to land the rich $1 million Karaka 3YO Classic (RL, 1600m). La Crique, being homebred and never offered at auction, was therefore not eligible for Ellerslie’s Karaka Million riches.
Meanwhile, The Perfect Pink was tried over 2000 metres in the Waikato Guineas (Gr 2, 2000m), finishing well but unable to overhaul pacemaker Field Of Gold (Starspangledbanner), who tried similar tactics in Saturday’s Avondale Guineas.
The fillies completely dominated the betting with New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) aspirant Tutukaka (Tavistock) as third favourite.
From an awkward draw, La Crique was away well to lead with a lap to run then dropped into third starting the back straight. She held her position past the 1200 metres and past the 800 metres, found a way through near the last corner then moved out to challenge at the top of the straight.
Craig Grylls drove her forward and she levelled up to Field Of Gold near the 200 metres then burst into the lead. To the line she careered away and was nearly four lengths in front for an impressive win.
“She is a machine,” said Grylls. “She got into the trail and just switched off beautifully, which is what we wanted to see.
“Field Of Gold put a nice little kick on us turning in, but she just jogged up and I just couldn’t believe how well we were going. She was strong through the line and like she did at Trentham, she got down low and flattened out nicely.”
2400 metres – no problem
“Low and flattened out nicely,” might be the key comment from the jockey. The filly kept stretching her neck all the way to the line. That can only mean that her chasers will have to find something extraordinary if they expect to beat her in the Derby.
Co-trainer Katrina Alexander said post-race: “She is such an economical mover, a brilliant breather and I didn’t have any worries with the distance. She has just got that special turn of foot at both ends of her races as well.”
Although her sire, Vadamos (Monsun), ultimately proved to be a miler, he was considered a candidate for the Prix du Jockey Club (Gr 1, 2100m) in his early career and won a Listed race over 2400 metres at Vichy.
At four, he was returned to 1600 metres and his trainer Andre Fabre stated: “It is well documented that no other horse in my yard could beat him in the mornings and his final 200–metre time in the Moulin of 10.47 seconds is absolutely top-class.”
The Prix du Moulin at Longchamp (Gr 1, 1600m) was the stallion’s premier performance and his speed at the end of a sharp mile may explain La Crique’s turn of foot.
The Derby distance of 2400 metres should not be an issue. Monsun (Konigsstuhl) was a Group 1 winner at 2400 metres and has sired three Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winners, namely Fiorente (2013), Protectionist (2014) and Almandin (2016).
La Crique’s dam, Destiny Cove (Dubai Destination), had to have been pretty tough, winning over 2400 metres in the deep at Trentham, one of her five successes.
There is plenty of quality in La Crique’s bloodlines. The sires along her dams’ line are all class, plus she can claim a champion as her fourth dam, Kentucky Oaks (Gr 1, 10f) heroine White Star Line (Northern Dancer), a triple Grade 1 winner. Two of White Star Line’s 12 winners won at stakes level and her granddaughter Valley Of Gold (Shirley Heights) won the Italian Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m).
Over the last few months, and particularly lately, Rich Hill Stud’s stallions are enjoying great results. Communications Manager Karl Mihaljevich commented: “The stud is in a unique position, standing Vadamos, Proisir and Shocking. La Crique might be the best three-year-old in New Zealand. Levante is the country’s top sprinter and I’m Thunderstruck is one of the best, if not the best, four-year-old in Australia.”
Sixty years on
The other high–value race on Ellerslie’s card was the Avondale Cup (Gr 2, 2400m), which did not draw a particularly strong field of stayers except for the top–weight Concert Hall (Savabeel). She was burdened with 59 kilograms, giving five kilograms to the field.
Concert Hall was very brave and looked to have the race under control half-way down the straight but Hinepara (Darci Brahma), with 52 kilograms, wore her down to edge ahead short of the line. Hinepara’s half-brother, Rangitata (Savabeel), won the Wairoa Cup at Hastings on Sunday.
Hinepara, a seven-year-old mare, is from a family that Christopher Grace, ONZM, has been involved with since 1963. He purchased Hakawai (Le Filou), the sale-topper at the 1963 National Yearling Sale. She won seven for him, including the Wakefield Challenge Stakes (Gr 2, 7f), but died at three.
She was the only filly from her dam, Te Awa (Foxbridge), a Railway Handicap (Gr 1, 6f) winner. Te Awa also produced the outstanding weight-for-age performer Tatua (Sajakeda), the winner of 26 races including 14 stakes. Te Awa was named 1964 New Zealand broodmare of the year.
Grace found a close relative with Colin Hayes in South Australia. The mare, named Clearness (Without Fear), was a daughter of Clearaway, a Le Filou (Vatellor) three-quarter sister to Hakawai. Grace has been breeding from the family ever since.
Hinepara is a direct descendant of Clearness and in the succeeding years Grace has bred a number of top-liners, including Telegraph Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Morar (Otehi Bay), dual Group winner O’Malley’s Boy (Dance Floor) and Wellington Cup (Gr 2, 2400m) scorer Graphic (Volksraad).