Kiwi Chronicles

Strong female families

Ellerslie’s Derby day was a triumph for the fairer sex. The day’s first of four stakes races, the King’s Plate (Gr 3, 1200m) fell to six-year-old mare Maria Farina (Contributer). Up next was the Sunline Vase (Gr 3, 2100m) which went the way of Positivity (Almanzor). No surprise there. The race was restricted to three-year-old fillies.

Also for three-year-olds was the Mufhasa Stakes (Gr 3, 1400m) and that too saw another filly, Certainly (Savabeel), first home against the boys. The first six home were fillies. The rich Rangitoto Classic (1500m) saw the first three placings filled by the girls, headed by Jaarffi (Iffraaj).

For the New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) there was just one filly against 16 boys but what a filly she is. Orchestral (Savabeel) did what everyone expected, completing four wins in row, her last three all at Ellerslie, namely the Karaka Millions Three-Year-Old Classic (RL, 1600m), the Avondale Guineas (Gr 2, 2100m) and now the Derby.

Although a very warm odds-on favourite, races still need to run and won, especially when a first prize of $600,000 is on the line but once Orchestral made her move from the 600m it seemed that only a blocked run in the straight could stop her.

Her start probably caused a sharp intake of breath for her connections as she was second last into stride. Unpanicked, Craig Grylls moved her towards the fence and found a spot two lanes out yet she had three behind her.

Past the 1400m her position was unchanged but starting the bend Grylls pushed forward three wide and approaching the 600m she was about six lengths off the lead. Grylls took her six wide rounding into the straight but had also closed the gap to two lengths. Balanced, she drove up quickly to share the lead at the 300m and was two lengths clear at the 200m. From there nothing could touch her to the line, away by three and half lengths in a slashing 2:26.79.

For Savabeel (Zabeel) it was his fourth Derby winner following Sangster, Major Beel and Brambles yet his first in New Zealand, bringing his total Group 1 winners to 33.

Similar to her Avondale Guineas win, the pace was good which set her up to use her acceleration when called upon. Co-trainer, Roger James repeated his Guineas comment regarding the pace, that when there is pace in the race usually the best horse wins.


Sydney bound

The goal for Orchestral now looks like Sydney and the Australian Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) at Randwick. In the interim is Rosehill’s Vinery Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) on March 30th. That path would rule out the Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) but fits perfectly with the Oaks, set for April 13th.

The stable won last year’s Vinery with Prowess (Proisir) and back to 2000 metres should not be an issue for Orchestral. The 2400m of the Oaks is already a question answered.

Then again, a facile victory in the Vinery might bring the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) into the picture as it is run at the same distance as the Vinery. The Queen Elizabeth is also scheduled for April 13th. The Oaks might offer low hanging fruit but should she tackle the older horses at weight-for-age and come home with a win, that would be some statement.

When New Zealand stables take on Australia it notches up both the interest and the pressure but that’s what racing is all about. We want to see the best pitted against the best, more especially when they represent two different countries.


Strong family

Only last week Kiwi Chronicles discussed at length Orchestral’s family, the initiator being Savaglee (Savabeel), winner of the Matamata Slipper (Gr 3, 1200m).

Orchestral and Savaglee are from the O’Reilly (Last Tycoon) sisters Symphonic and Glee respectively which makes them full relations in blood.

Also mentioned was Atishu (Savabeel) whose granddam is a three-quarter sister to both Symphonic and Glee. So, what did Atishu do? She ensured that this family is perhaps the most active in Australasia by taking out Saturday’s Blamey Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) at Flemington.

The common denominator is the imported mare Head Of The River (Shirley Heights). At the time of her importation, firstly to Australia where she dropped two foals, her claim to fame was as a daughter of a half-sister to The Oaks (Gr 1, 1½m) winner Bireme (Grundy) as well as Buoy (Aureole), winner of the Coronation Cup (Gr 1, 1½m).

Sent to New Zealand in 1993 she was covered by Straight Strike (Mr Prospector) which resulted in the Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Good Faith, sold at the 1996 Wrightson Bloodstock Karaka National Sale via Waikato Stud.

Good Faith was the first of five Group 1 winners tracing directly to Head Of The River. In 2005 along came Daffodil (No Excuse Needed), a granddaughter who scored three elite level wins including the Australian Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) and the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m).

In 2017 emerged Aegon (Sacred Falls), the 2020 New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner. His dam Toss Up (Zabeel) is a granddaughter. Also foaled in 2017 was Atishu. Her dam Posy (No Excuse Needed) is a sister to Daffodil. Atishu’s two Group 1s, the Mackinnon Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) and the Queen of the Turf Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) were achieved last year. Orchestral makes Group 1 winner number five.

Group 3 winner Tully Dane (Danehill) and Listed winner Mygoodgrace (Royal Academy) are both from Good Faith. Sweet Embrace Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) winner Believe Yourself (Sebring) is a granddaughter of Good Faith. Recently retired Mazzolino (Savabeel), winner of the Desert Gold Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m) is a sister to Atishu.

In five generations Head Of The River is responsible for 119 individual winners including 12 stakes winners and further ten stakes-placed performers. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for this family and Savabeel is again front and centre of the family’s recent success.


Waikato strength

Appropriately, Waikato Stud and Savabeel also featured in the Mufhasa Stakes when Certainly, racing in the Waikato Stud colours, brought Savabeel’s total stakes winners to 141.

At start five Certainly was midfield at the 800m but shuffled back rounding into the straight. Near the 300m Opie Bosson moved inwards for a rails run but ran into a dead end so he pulled her four wide at the 200m. She accelerated to second at the 100m then ran down the leader over the final 25 metres for her second win.

She is one of four winners from Frankly (Pins) who has already produced dual Listed winner Ocean Beyond (Ocean Park). Frankly is a sister to Brisbane Listed winner Keano (Pins), a three-quarter sister to Perth Listed winner Pinzu (Pins) and bred similarly to New Zealand Two Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) victor Madison County (Pins), whose granddam is a half-sister to Frankly.

Granddam O’Really (Centaine) is a half-sister to champion sprinter and sire O’Reilly, the son of Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Courtza (Pompeii Court).

Certainly represents another fine family managed largely by the stud, certainly since the Chitticks took over at which time Courtza’s dam Hunza (Pakistan II) was one of the mares included in the purchase.


Almanzor quinella

Yet another strong family was represented when Positivity put up a super performance in winning the Sunline Vase (Gr 3, 2100m).

Four wide going into the first turn she was eased to midfield but trapped three wide starting the back straight. The moderate pace forced Masa Hashizume to go forward and starting the bend he had her sitting just back off and outside the leader.

Rounding into the straight she co-led and at the 300m had a narrow lead but was matched at the 200m. She rose to the challenge and pulled out the necessary to edge away by a neck at the post for her second win in five starts.

Positivity becomes the thirteenth stakes winner for Cambridge Stud’s Almanzor (Wootton Bassett) and seventh in the Southern Hemisphere, although one, Athabascan, was bred in France. He has also sired 22 further black-type performers including Qali Al Farrasha, the filly who pushed Positivity so hard.

Positivity’s dam is the Listed winner and Group 1 placed Pussy O’Reilly (O’Reilly) herself a sister to Group 2 winner Pussy Willow (O’Reilly) as well as Melbourne Listed winner Inside Agent (Stravinsky).

The family’s roots are with Haunui Farm, through and through, descending from their foundation mare Foxona (Foxbridge), bought as a weanling for £60 from Seton Otway of Trelawney Stud in 1951.

From Foxona, the Chitty family bred stakes winners Hilldale (Pride Of Kildare) and Rosehill (Test Case), a Royal Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m) winner and dam of three stakes winners, notably George Ryder Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) victor Prince Ruling (Ruling) and Great Northern Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Rosie’s Girl (Zamazaan). Positivity traces to Rosie’s Girl’s Group 3 winning half-sister Lavender Hill (Sovereign Edition).

Courtesy of Arion Pedigrees, their database reveals that in eight generations there have been 556 winners from Foxona including 47 stakes winners (28 Group winners) and 27 other black-type performers.


Missing Iffraaj

And talking of Haunui Farm, Iffraaj (Zafonic), who shuttled to the stud for 12 seasons, reminded us of his great service to the New Zealand industry when his Jaarffi landed the non-stakes $350,000 Rangitoto Classic on Saturday’s undercard.

The four-year-old mare had plenty to do in the straight but accelerated quickly from the 300m and was almost level with the leaders at the 200m. From inside the 100m she was too strong, winning in a smart 1:28.34.

Bred and raced by Cambridge Stud’s Brendan and Jo Lindsay, Jaarffi was withdrawn from the 2021 Gavelhouse National Online Yearling Sale and is from Pride Of Tralee, a Redoute’s Choice (Danehill) half-sister to champion three-year-old filly, three-time Group 1 and dual Oaks winner Serenade Rose (Stravinsky).

Probably the standout performer from this line since Serenade Rose is her grandson Trekking (Street Cry). He banked $5.1 million from ten wins including the Stradbroke Handicap (Gr 1, 1400m).

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