Kiwi Chronicles


Proving the point that no one knows from where the next good horse will emerge, two unheralded sires, The Bold One (Fastnet Rock) and Vespa (Elusive Quality), took centre stage at Trentham on Saturday.

One clue as to who might bag the Wellington Cup (Gr 3, 3200m) was available as the runners were loading. A long way away up the 1200metre shute you would need a powerful pair of binoculars to notice the name ‘The Bold One’, sire of the eventual winner Marie Louise. His name is featured among the Grangewilliam Stud’s stallions advertised on the Wellington Racing Club’s starting stalls.

It’s been quite a week for Mark and Jane Corcoran of Grangewilliam Stud. They had their annual, well attended yearling parade, last Thursday. The entire draft looked in great order and will make the long trek north today to Karaka. The stud is situated in Southern Taranaki and they are doing their best to uphold and maintain the spirit of Taranaki.

That spirit was apparent at Trentham on two occasions when Puntura (Vespa) then Mary Louise (The Bold One) took the two big prizes on the Trentham card, Puntura having boldly secured the Thorndon Mile (Gr 1, 1600m), the race immediately prior to the Cup. Both are trained by Robbie Patterson, who prepares his horses out of New Plymouth, Taranaki.

Grangewilliam’s presence at Karaka is a testament to stickability, not unlike the stickability of Mary Louise herself. Although never further back than midfield she was also trapped three wide the entire journey. At the 1000 metres Craig Grylls set her alight and she gathered in the leaders by the top of the straight. She was widest of all from there, grabbed the lead inside the 200 metres and was never going to be headed after.

She was too tough, taking her record to seven wins in 15 starts. The breakthrough stakes win was near as she had run two sound placings leading up to Trentham, namely fourth in the Waikato Cup (Gr 3, 2400m) then third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Gr 3, 2400m) at Pukekohe on New Years’ Day. At four she was stakes placed in the Rangitikei Cup (Listed, 1550m).

Flashing home for third was Canheroc (El Roca), who was foaled in Midhurst, near Stratford, Taranaki. Due to his Marton Cup (Listed, 2200m) win he was Kiwi Chronicles’ lead subject two weeks ago. Is there something extra in Taranaki water?

The region where Grangewilliam Stud is located has been responsible for a number of tough stayers, namely 1983 Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner Kiwi (Blarney Kiss). Doriemus (Norman Pentaquad), the 1995 Melbourne Cup winner and most recently 2021 scorer Verry Elleegant (Zed) were both sired at the stud.

Thorndon Mile (Gr 1, 1600m) victor Puntura and Mary Louise were keepers, meaning that their respective breeders decided to race instead of sell.

Mary Louise possesses an interesting mix of bloodlines. Her sire The Bold One is making noise the hard way with small numbers. His oldest are six-year-olds, but he has had just 56 runners for 23 winners. Mary Louise is his third individual stakes winner, all coming this season, to go along with One Bold Cat, winner of the Counties Cup (Gr 3, 2100m) in November and Bold Mac, from Chris Waller’s stable, who won the Hawkesbury Rowley Mile (Listed, 1600m) last August.

The stallion himself was Listed placed and a four-time winner who is beautifully bred, just like his barnmate Zed (Zabeel). The Bold One’s dam, The Jewel (O’Reilly) was the champion three-year-old and a dual Group 1 winner. Her daughter The Glitzy One (Flying Spur) is the dam of The Oaks Stud’s $2.5 million earner The Chosen One (Savabeel).

Danehill (Danzig), sire of Fastnet Rock, Flying Spur and Darci Brahma, blends well with the Dennis Brothers’ mares. They are prominent close up in the family. His granddam, The Grin (Grosvenor), was 2003 Broodmare of the Year, herself a three-quarter sister to Auckland Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner Irish Chance (Sir Tristram).

Mary Louise is the fourth winner from four to race from Daisy Louise, a twice winning daughter of Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Catbird, also a son of Danehill.

Yet where does Mary Louise’s stoutness come from? Like many New Zealand stayers, staying blood can be found in back generations. Despite being by a Golden Slipper winner, Daisy Louise won over 2100 metres and her granddam, Go Hayley Go (Centaine) won at 2200 metres. The latter’s half-brother, Black Mamba (Black Minnaloushe) was a Del Mar Grade 1 winner who scored up to 2400 metres.

The next dam, Group 3 Ladies Mile (1600m) winner Sneetch (Grosvenor), ran third in the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m). Sneetch’s granddam was the champion filly Sanderae (Oncidium), winner of the VRC Oaks (Gr 1, 2500m).

Happy stable, great results
Kiwi Chronicles caught up with Eddie Bourke who not only co-bred Mary Louise but bought and raced her sire, The Bold One. 

“We never saw the best of The Bold One on the track but I have great belief in him as a sire. He’s by a champion sire and sire of sires, Fastnet Rock, from the Dennis Brothers’ fabulous family,” said Bourke. 

“His service fee is about the same as a month’s training fees yet, unbelievably, we get asked for a discount! He’s having a very good season and I’d like to think he might get a Group 1 soon. One Bold Cat could be the one.

“We’re thrilled with Mary Lousie’s win. In 50 years of racing horses we’ve never had a day like Saturday. The mare did a lot wrong but Craig [Grylls] said she could have won by more but they don’t double the prize-money with big margins.

“I believe that stayers are made, not born so all the credit goes to Robbie [Patterson]. He is such a good horseman, thoroughly conscientious, with the best track riders and a secret feed recipe that he mixes up in a converted concrete mixer. The horses shine. The stable is a happy place as Robbie’s staff want to be there. They all love him.”

Scooting home for first and third
Similarly unheralded Vespa provided the winner and the third horse home in the Thorndon Mile. The winner, Puntura, is in the best form of his career having scored the Manawatu Challenge Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) in December. That win followed his first stakes win, in the Couplands Bakeries Mile (Gr 3, 1600m) at Riccarton in mid-November. Three success Group wins is significant proving again that a certain toughness is required.

In Saturday’s winning effort he was third early then moved to second near the 800-metre mark. Before they reached the straight, although widest, he had the lead. Craig Grylls sent him wider still at the 400 metres. “Coming up to the turn, I thought I should try to get out wide before everyone else did,” said Grylls. “He had a really good kick in the straight, and I knew from about 150m out that it was going to take something pretty good to pass him.” Puntura was in full control and in no danger whatsoever at the post, taking his record to 11 wins in 33 starts.

He is one of four winners from his dam, however stakes winners in this family have not exactly been prolific. Puntura’s third dam is a three-quarter sister to Ellerslie Championship Stakes (Gr 2, 2100m) winner Ellakapella (Pompeii Court) and half sister to Flemington Listed winner Foxbay (Zephyr Bay). Ellakapella was bred in 1993 whereas Foxbay was bred in 1978. Distantly related but more recent is 2009 Wanganui Guineas (Listed, 1340m) winner Warrentherooster (Savabeel) whose dam Florida (Pompeii Court) is also a three-quarter sister to Ellakapella.

Like The Bold One, Puntura’s sire Vespa is somewhat overlooked yet his record is growing. He entered stud the same year as The Bold One and has sired six stakes winners plus five stakes-placed runners which includes Lady Telena, third in Puntura’s Thorndon Mile. Fourth was The Bold One’s One Bold Cat, also from Robbie Patterson’s stable.

From 89 runners Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and Karaka Million (Listed, 1200m) winner Vespa has sired 45 winners. Next best after Puntura is Carolina Reaper, Group 3 winner of the Easter Handicap (1600m).

Kicking on from here?
Around this time two years ago Cambridge Stud’s Almanzor (Wootton Bassett) was off to a flying start when Dynastic landed the Karaka 2YO Million (RL, 1200m) at Ellerslie. Dynastic would soon after run a close and gallant second in the Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and at three added the El Roca Trophy (Listed, 1200m). The world was at the stallion’s feet.

Two years on the shuttle stallion has 12 stakes winners in both hemispheres but the statistic that jumps out is how close he has gone to doubling that total except for an exasperating run of stakes placings. Of his 19 stakes placed performers 12 have run black-type seconds

In particular, his stock have racked up four Group 1 placegetters, namely Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) second Virtuous Circle, New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) second Andalus, New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) second Mehzebeen and New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) third Blue Solitaire.

Saturday’s Desert Gold Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m) winner Sudbina brought to 12 his total of individual stakes winners. On top of Zabmanzor’s fighting second the week before, in the Levin Classic (Gr 1, 1600m), might this be the catalyst for a turning point in Almanzor’s fortunes?

Just ahead are the New Zealand Derby and Oaks. Zabmanzor’s spirited finish in the Levin Classic has all the hallmarks of a Derby contender and the same could be said of Sudbina’s chances in the Oaks, especially if Saturday’s run is any guide.

She was last at the 1200 metres but really quickened from the 600 metres and although widest was in a position to challenge. Near the 200 metres she found another gear and at the 100 metres was well in command. At the line she was a comfortable three-quarters of a length clear with a wide margin to the third horse. That was an Oaks run.

We know the Almanzors can stay but further evidence that Sudbina could find 2000 metres or further to her liking is revealed with her half-sister, Fix (Iffraaj), who came within a half length of scoring the 2013 New Zealand Derby behind another good filly, Habibi (Ekraar).

That’s not all that Fix did. She was successful in three Group 2 races and was NZB Filly of The Year. Fix is now in Europe and one her foals, Know Thyself (Galileo), has been four times stakes placed and has won over 2400 metres in France.

They represent a nice family as their dam, Destined (Danehill) is a three-quarter sister to Australian triple Group 1 winner Foreteller (Dansili). Destined is also a half-sister to the dam of Showcasing (Oasis Dream), who did Haunui Farm proud when he shuttled to New Zealand.

Kiwi Chronicles will be at Karaka next week and will return on Tuesday, February 6.

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