Same show, different venue
Two weeks ago at Karaka, Proisir (Choisir) and Hallmark Stud stole the show with the $1.6 million sale-topper.
Two weeks later at Te Rapa the same combination struck again with Proisir’s Legarto in the Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) followed 80 minutes later by Hallmark Stud’s Super Easy (Darci Brahma), whose Bonny Lass led a hot field all the way in the BCD Sprint (Gr 1, 1400m).
Two weeks ago Rich Hill Stud’s Alan Galbraith was pinching himself over the success of the stud’s massive race and sales results.
Two weeks later Rich Hill’s fortunes continued unabated. Their Ace High (High Chaparral) sired Molly Bloom to win the David & Karyn Ellis Classic (Gr 2, 2000m) while Proisir scored a trans-Tasman stakes double – Legarto in the Herbie Dyke Stakes while at Caulfield Yonce landed win seven from ten starts in the Carlyon Cup (Gr 3, 1600m).
Proisir is at the top of his game. Having first notched his initial sire premiership, then buyers showed up in droves to secure the next Legarto or Prowess at Karaka, as the stallion proved the most popular, based on average, of those standing in New Zealand.
Supported by Satono Aladdin (Deep Impact) and Ace High, Rich Hill Stud achieved its best ever sales results, which are carrying over to the track. It must be hugely satisfying to take the gamble of standing multiple stallions then see your efforts solidified where it really matters.
No doubt the recently ended stud season was very wearying but all that work, plus the team effort at the sales, was worth it. The celebrations may have been at Karaka but it is also likely that the bar at Te Rapa was a busy place for the same team, as it should be.
Both Legarto and Molly Bloom were favoured in their respective events on the weekend and they did what was expected. Their performances shared one similarity. Neither was really tested.
Legarto’s win in the country’s richest weight-for-age race was achieved with apparent reserves if needed. She was expertly ridden by Ryan Elliot who from barrier one was able to position the mare two out and two back starting the back straight. Elliot sent her forward three deep at the 600 metres and at the top of the straight she shared second. She took over at the 300 metres then waited for the challenges.
Zabeel Classic (Gr 1, 2050m) winner Campionessa (Contributer) tried to make a race of it but inside the last 50 metres there was no doubt that Legarto had her measure. Elliot hardly moved and while there was loads more left in the tank, take nothing away from Campionessa who franked her Group 1 form.
In a rousing performance, One Bold Cat (The Bold One) ran a slashing third after sitting second–last off the back straight.
Legarto made amends for a flat-footed second in the Aotearoa Classic (1600m) on Karaka Millions night. Desert Lightning (Pride Of Dubai) made it very difficult for Legarto and she simply had too much to do. The pair were seven lengths ahead of third on the night.
Legarto’s first Group 1 was in the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas, in 2022. The four-year-old now owns three and the Herbie Dyke Stakes was her first attempt beyond 1600 metres. In 13 starts she has now accumulated more than NZ$1.8 million in prize-money from nine wins and two placings.
Her dam Geordie Girl is a daughter of recently passed Towkay (Last Tycoon) who was such a stalwart at Little Avondale Stud. Geordie Girl just missed out on achieving black type when finishing fourth in the Wairarapa Breeders’ Stakes (Listed, 1600m) but at stud she is proving to be extremely versatile as a producer.
From a sporadic breeding career, which has resulted in just three foals to race, her first winner was Locally Sourced (Iffraaj), who won ten races, including a couple of steeplechases.
Her second winner, Emanon (Burgundy) took out the Peninsula Cup (1100m) at Riccarton ten minutes after Legarto’s Herbie Dyke win.
Emanon may not be in Legarto’s class but 11 wins is not to be sneezed at. The daughter of Burgundy (Redoute’s Choice) is going to be an attractive mare to have at stud and was stakes-placed third in the Hazlett Stakes (Listed, 1200m) on Boxing Day. A date with Proisir would be a no-brainer.
Geordie Girl’s sister is the dual Listed winner Rapid Kay (Towkay) and they are half-sisters to dual Listed winner Kekova (Elusive City).
In the Fillies’ Classic Molly Bloom had some work to do to catch a bold Harlow Rocks (Roc De Cambes) who slipped clear at the top of the straight. At the 300 metres Molly Bloom was ready to pounce five deep but didn’t level up until inside the 200 metres. Harlow Rocks, to her credit, fought strongly but it was also evident that Molly Bloom, like Legarto, was doing it under her own steam and appeared to have quite a lot more in reserve, coming away late by three-quarters of a length.
It was the last race in New Zealand for the daughter of Ace High as 50 per cent of the filly was sold to Ozzie Kheir during the week. It is understood that she will remain in the care of Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott until the end of the season, then change to a yet-to-be-named Australian stable for 2024-25. In the meantime, a tilt at the Vinery Stud Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) and perhaps the Queensland Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) are autumn and winter targets.
Regardless of the future, Molly Bloom is a very valuable filly. In eight starts she has won four and will always be a Classic winner. Saturday’s win was her second Group 2 and she leaves New Zealand as the points leader for the 2023-24 NZB Filly of the Year series.
Molly Bloom is the only foal of her dam Dancilla (Iffraaj) to race. Dancilla is a half-sister to dual Group 3 winner Decorah (Pins), herself well above average as the winner of seven races and five times Group placed.
Molly Bloom’s third dam is a Danehill (Danzig) half-sister to Rough Habit (Roughcast), an 11-time Group 1 winner who won three successive Doomben Cups (2000m) and back-to-back Stradbroke Handicaps (1400m). Molly has some way to go to match Hall of Famer Rough Habit.
With three Group wins and four Group 1 placings to her name prior to Saturday’s feature BCD Sprint (Gr 1, 1400m), Bonny Lass appeared destined not to earn that elusive Group 1 victory.
Her barrier draw and competition didn’t offer much assistance in changing that status either. However, as we all know, races are not won on paper. Races need to be run and that’s exactly what Bonny Lass did. She ran and ran hard from the jump.
By the end of the back straight she led by two lengths from the favourite Crocetti (Zacinto) and the same margin applied from the 600 metres. Into the straight she cornered tightly, which gained her another half–length, then set sail for the judge.
At the 200 metres she had all bar Crocetti in trouble but the five-year-old dug deep from the 100 metres and although Crocetti was gaining, even with his 1.5 kilogram advantage, it wasn’t sufficient and she grimly held him out by a long head.
Her winning time, a cracking 1:21.82, undid the chasers as there was a length and three–quarters to the third home Callsign Mav (Atlante). A further head back was Quintessa (Shamus Award) who does not not know how to run poorly. She is one tough filly. All but one runner broke 1:23 for the 1400 metres.
Bonny Lass has been knocking at the Group 1 door for some time and to break through against the best field of sprinters so far this season underlines her tenacity, not to mention her consistency.
This was her seventh win in just 19 starts earning NZ$655,900 in prize-money. She has racked up two seconds, six thirds and two fourths. Only twice has she finished outside the first four.
At two she was third to Sword Of State (Snitzel) in the Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and third behind On The Bubbles (Brazen Beau) and superstar sprinter I Wish I Win (Savabeel) in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m).
Heading to Te Rapa she was second to Waitak (Poisir) in the Railway Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and flashed home, beaten a nose and a neck in the Telegraph (Gr 1, 1200m) last month. She was due.
For Hallmark Stud, the BCD result might be considered one of exasperation.
Their unheralded sire Super Easy has had to battle hard for recognition. As a racehorse he was an absolute star in Singapore winning nine stakes races and 15 races in total. One of his best performances was to run third in the Krisflyer International Sprint (Gr 1, 1200m).
His sire Darci Brahma (Danehill) was also a star and his dam, Parfore (Gold Brose), produced five stakes winners and was named Broodmare of the Year in 2015.
However, with all that going for him, breeders’ support has been patchy. Initially, Super Easy was quite popular and sired an average of 68 foals in his first three seasons. Exposure was limited however as many breeders elected to race their stock versus sell, which is precisely what happened in Bonny Lass’s case.
From year four on, Super Easy’s popularity waned and in year six his foal count fell to 11 and for the last three seasons there was a grand total of 22 foals. Statistically he has done quite well. Bonny Lass is one of seven stakes winners. Prom Queen, Sheezallmine, Easy Eddie and Super Strike have scored at Group 3 level and his winners/runners ratio stands at 56 per cent with 101 individual winners.
Bonny Lass is a true Hallmark product. Her dam Posh Bec is a daughter of Le Bec Fin (Tale Of The Cat) who also stood at the stud. Posh Bec was a Listed–placed winner of three races and her half-brother, Time To Celebrate (Per Incanto), was a Group 3–placed winner of seven in Hong Kong.