Kiwi Chronicles

Late Delivery

She should have written sooner, or, the postman was late. Nevertheless, Wrote To Arataki (Wrote) delivered some good news for Brent Gillovic and Highview Stud’s Wrote (High Chaparral).

Whether the Geoffrey Bellmaine Stakes (Gr 3, 1300m) result would have made a significant difference to the prices of Wrote’s yearlings, we will never know, but the auctioneers would have had something to add during their build-up patter.

When his first New Zealand yearlings were offered, they looked the part and Wrote To Arataki, who recorded wins at Flemington and Sandown prior to Saturday’s stakes breakthrough, represents that 2018 crop.

Also in Wrote’s 2018 crop is Love Letter, twice a winner and third in the 2022 Desert Gold Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m).

His 2019 crop features Best Seller, winner of the Gold Trail Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) last spring who also finished second in the New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) last November. Best Seller’s brother-in-blood, Chill Chibi, looks like he has some promise too, having had two starts in Hong Kong last month, for a second on debut then a win.

January saw a number of Wrotes find the winners’ circle. Chill Chibi is one of nine individual winners throughout New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore last month.

That man, agent Phill Cataldo, seems to be everywhere and found Wrote To Arataki at a Cambridge trial, where she finished third in September 2021. Sent to Victoria, the filly took two starts to break her maiden and at start four landed a Benchmark 64 at Sandown-Lakeside.

This preparation she recorded two Melbourne third placings, before an all-the-way win at Flemington on New Year’s Day, tactics that jockey Jamie Kah successfully repeated in the Bellmaine.

“Jamie has just got an uncanny ability to be able to let horses flow and I don’t know what it is, but she is very good at it,” said trainer Matthew Williams. “Six months ago, I wouldn’t have thought she would lead and win a race, but she has done it at her last two starts and won, so it’s a pat on the back to Jamie there.”

The Williams-Cataldo combo were active during Book 2 at Karaka, finding a Wrote filly from Montwest (Montjeu), already the dam of six winners from six to race, herself a half-sister to Group 2 winner Natalie Wood (Yachtie), the dam of Group 3 winner and Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) second, Maluckyday (Zabeel).

Wrote To Arataki’s dam, Galloping Gerte (Align) was a dual winner and is the only foal of her dam, Miss Reset (Reset). Her grandam, Juncture (Commands), has a double up of the famous Eight Carat (Pieces Of Eight) in her pedigree. Commands is a grandson of Eight Carat, while Juncture’s grandam, Sparkle ‘N Shine (Sir Tristram), is a daughter of Diamond Lover (Sticks And Stones) and a granddaughter of Eight Carat.

Joining the big league

An excited Luigi Muollo of Novara Park was not too disappointed that Sha Tin’s Centenary Cup (Gr 1, 1200m), won impressively by Lucky Sweynesse (Lonhro), had not been run a week earlier.

“He didn’t get blocked this time,” said Muollo, referring to the desperately unlucky 6th in the Hong Kong Sprint (Gr 1, 1200m) in December. “I was happy with the stallion’s results at Karaka. He is doing a good job for us.”

“The fact that Lucky Sweynesse was sent out as the $1.70 favourite indicated that the public knew he was as good as any in that international field, only this time he had the measure of Wellington (All Too Hard), a four-time Group 1 winner,” said Muollo.

Last season’s Champion Griffin sat just back and outside the lead into the straight. Zac Purton waited until near the 200 metres to lodge his challenge and when he did the kick was telling and he came away over the last 100 metres in a zippy 1:08.12, his ninth win in 13 starts.

Cell phone towers were active Sunday night and Monday morning with Muollo fielding calls and texts of congratulations, many asking the question about Sweynesse’s service fee for next season.

“Value for money is my business plan and any increase will be modest,” said Muollo. “Breeding racehorses in New Zealand is a tough game. We need to encourage breeders. What is pleasing is that Sweynesse has joined a group of sires that are providing support for Savabeel, who has been virtually a one-man band.”

“New Zealand horses are proving their worth in Hong Kong and Australia. They are in demand, so we need to increase broodmare numbers and up the quality of mares in order to support stallions in Sweynesse’s category. Slowly, I am adding mares to my band, including a recent purchase of a half-sister to Madonna Mia, the dam of Lucky Sweynesse,” Muollo added.


Racking up his fifth individual stakes winner, Mapperley Stud’s Contributer (High Chaparral) looks to have a nice filly in Family Ties, if her win in Saturday’s Oaks Prelude (Listed, 1800m) is any guide.

At start six, Family Ties was too strong in claiming her second win and maiden stakes. She sat midfield (two out) with a circuit remaining and had four behind her starting the back straight. There was no change in the running starting the bend but she went forward from the 600 metres only to run into traffic starting the run home. Opie Bosson waited, found a lane on her inner, drove through along the fence at the 100-metre post, then raced clear for a good win.

Family Ties is a graduate of the 2021 NZB Ready to Run Sale, purchased by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis for $60,000. She is one of two winners from her dam, dual winner Glamazon (Pins), who ranks as a three-quarter blood sister to Swarovski (Pins), the dam of Matriarch Stakes (Gr 2, 2000m) winner Savapinski (Savabeel).

Family Ties’ grandam was the good mare Glitzy (O’Reilly), a Listed winner of nine races while her great grandam, Our Twinkle (Star Way), is a half-sister to Group 3 and dual Listed winner Irish Flirt (McGinty).

High Chaparral (Sadler’s Wells) was enormously successful in Australasia and his sons are carrying on that good work in the form of So You Think, Toronado, Dundeel and Redwood. Contributer’s oldest are five, while the first crops of Tivaci and Wrote are four, so we can expect the latter three to add more black-type performers in the coming seasons.

Second string

Mark Walker, of Te Akau Racing, sent two to Wingatui for the White Robe Lodge Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m): Group 1 winner Prise De Fer (Savabeel) and Perfect Scenario (Iffraaj), but it was the second stringer who came away over the last 100 metres for a decisive win and came away with the $57,500 first prize.

Backing up after seven days, third in the Timaru Stakes (Listed, 1400m), Perfect Scenario made short work of his sixth career win and maiden stakes success at start 24. He dropped away to settle last at the 1200 metres, hugged the rail, improved quickly (inner) rounding the bend, and starting the run home was almost level with the leaders. Travelling well, he took over inside the 200 metres and from the 100 metres was in no danger, booting away by more than three lengths at the line in a sharp 1:34.21 for the journey.

Stable representative, Sam Bergerson commented: “That is a fantastic result for the horse as he has been such an honest performer for us and deserved to get a win like this.”

A 2019 NZB Karaka Book 1 graduate from Woburn Farm’s draft, Perfect Scenario made $165,000 when purchased by David Ellis. Perfect Scenario’s bank balance is now in the black. The five-year-old’s South Island campaign has resulted in two wins in four starts. Two years ago, he finished a creditable third in the Waikato Guineas (Gr 2, 2000m) then lost a plate during the New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m).

He is the second stakes winner and sixth winner from Group 3 winner Rosetti Bay (Pins). She scored eight wins and was Group and Listed placed five times. Rosetti Bay’s first stakes winner was Queens Rose (O’Reilly), also an eight times winner. Levin Stakes (Listed, 1200m) winner Rose ‘N’ Power (Power) is from Diamond Rose (Danroad), a halfsister to Perfect Scenario.

Scenario segway

Iffraaj’s son Turn Me Loose continues to make an impression among our up-and-coming sires. His Loosespender showed good staying form in taking out Friday’s Waikato Guineas (Gr 2, 2000m) and is on the right path for both the Avondale Guineas (Gr 2, 2100m) and perhaps the New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m), which will be held at Te Rapa while Ellerslie is out of action.

Trainer Ben Foote, also a part-owner, was confident of a good performance from the grey gelding who will need to be supplemented to the Derby.

 “He’s a big strong horse and it’s pretty obvious we will have to go to the Avondale Guineas,” he said.

He was the main chaser down the back, got within a length of the pacemaker inside the 800 metres and co led at the top of the straight. Still sharing the lead at the 300, he then took over and from the 100 metres had the race well under control for his second win (maiden stakes) at start three.

Purchased by Hong Kong’s Upper Bloodstock from the 2021 NZB Karaka Sale for $60,000, he is the first winner from his winning dam Spendaholic (No Excuse Needed). His grandam is a half-sister to Mornington Cup (Listed, 2000m) winner, Dancing Sculptor (Rancho Ruler) and his third dam is Top Dance (Brilliant Invader), a Listed winner of eight races.

Big wet, big take

Only Noah might have found Auckland bearable on Friday, January 27. More than 250mm of rain in 24 hours had a devastating effect, the low-lying areas still recovering more than a week later.

The rains persisted during the sale yet, apart from the grass verges of the service road around the back of the Karaka complex, the grassed parade areas held up remarkably well. The turf remained firm underfoot and there was no mud. The contrast between Friday and Saturday was stark. A few showers seemed like nothing at all and parades continued as normal.

As NZB’s Mike Kneebone commented: “The resilience of the vendors was tested and they came through. If they could handle two years without the presence of international buyers, a few inches of rain was easily overcome.”

Highly successful trainer and welcome visitor Mick Price summed up the sale quite well during a video interview: “It’s a buyers’ market. Don’t tell the Kiwis!”

Similar to November’s Ready to Run Sale, our biggest market, Australia, had a bit of a field day, their spend upped by $12 million. As always, it is great to have them back at our sales. New Zealand is a great place to foal and rear horses. Our growing conditions are second to none, but, in the end, we have to have somewhere to sell them and Australia’s racing scene is leading the world in innovation and in stakes offered.

It is no wonder that anything with talent is virtually wasting its time here when even country racing stakes are greater than our premier days. The $130,000 Saturday minimums in Sydney and Melbourne seem like gold at the end of the rainbow.

While the Aussies increased their outlay, domestic support fell by $6 million and given the early December announcement that the TAB was reducing its payout, no one should be surprised that the locals sat on their wallets. Such timing was deplorable.

TAB revenues and turnover are plummeting, while their overheads are increasing, creating the perfect storm. NZTR dived into their reserves to maintain stakes, but that fund is not bottomless.

Stakes are rumoured to be cut later this year, but if the numbers continue to slide, such cuts may occur sooner rather than later. Our situation is dire and urgent attention is required. Field sizes are reducing too, but worse is the downgrading of quality. Our stakes fields are not strong.

Inflation, especially at the basic level for things like groceries, have resulted in households having to find an extra $80 or $100 per week. Dad’s weekly flutter on the nags has to go.

The industry has been to the government well, accepting $70 million in 2020. A repeat of that is probably out of the question in election year when all sorts of promises will be flying around re housing and welfare, added to which, the current government is not sympathetic to horse racing and breeding.

Were the heavy rains a sign? I hope not.

Shout out

Aussies John Jeffs and John Chalmers are always welcome here and it was great that they resumed their love of New Zealand. J J is a breath of fresh air with his positivity and allround bonhomie. He is also the consummate professional with his very wellorganized marshalling of yearlings, leaders and buyers. J J, you are an asset to our sales and set the benchmark of how to hold parades.

For the 35th year (not consecutive, for obvious reasons), Perth agent John Chalmers made the long flight to Karaka. John has had great success with his NZ buys and many of his filly purchases have become the foundation of the Bob Peters breeding empire.

It is great that you make the effort and long may you continue to support our industry. I know that NZB appreciates you, but so do we in the industry at large. I understand you are remaining in New Zealand for a brief holiday. Have an enjoyable time.