Kiwi Chronicles

Welcome to the High Chaparral club

In a straight-long powerhouse finish in the New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) by the exciting filly, Molly Bloom, her sire Ace High (High Chaparral) joins a growing line of High Chaparral (Sadler’s Wells) sons to sire a Group 1 winner.

The February 21 edition of Kiwi Chronicles described the large impression that not only High Chaparral made while in the southern hemisphere, but also that his sons have kicked on.

The stallion’s two standouts are So You Think and Dundeel. The former gave current champion Australian sire, I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit), a strong challenge for the 2021-22 Australian premiership. For the last third of that season it was touch-and-go as to who would claim the title. The difference was 2.5 per cent.

So You Think again finished second to the Yarraman Park headliner last season but made his own headlines when his son Think About It went on a winning rampage during the last half of the 2022-23 season, culminating with a back-to-back elite-level double in the Kingsford-Smith Stakes (Gr 1, 1300m) and the time-honoured Stradbroke Handicap (Gr 1, 1400m).

At the end of September, Think About It made it nine wins on end in the Premier Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) then a picket fence of ten when bagging the huge $7.5 million prize in The Everest (1200m). The winner’s prize sees So You Think in a familiar position on the 2023-24 Australian Sire Premiership – second to I Am Invincible.

Within the same two and a bit seasons Dundeel jumped from 26th (2021-22) to sixth (2022-23) and currently sits tenth this season.

So You Think has sired 55 stakes winners (11 Group 1 winners) and Dundeel 25 (seven). Toronado (foaled in Ireland) has 34 (four) and Redwood 14 (two).

The only other High Chaparral sons to sire Group 1 winners are Contributer (foaled in Ireland), German-based Tai Chi, Tivaci and now the newest member of the High Chaparral Group 1 club, Ace High.

Molly Bloom represents Ace High’s first crop and the filly herself was rumoured to be something special quite early in her brief career. Soon after Ace High’s Bezique was featured as ANZ Bloodstock News’ Maiden of the Week (August 26), the writer was in contact with Rich Hill Stud’s John Thompson to mention that Ace High’s winners doubled when My Lips Are Sealed won easily at Avondale.

Thompson fired back a text saying: “He will get another one next week when Molly Bloom steps out.” Molly Bloom duly obliged at Taupo on debut in mid-September and won with something up her sleeve.

A month later at Hastings her lack of experience and greenness in the finishing stages caused her to run a close fifth. A six week break saw her try stakes company at Pukekohe in the Soliloquy Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) and to finish a close fourth was quite remarkable given she was severely checked at the 800-metre and was carted back along the fence to be among the last few.

Punters were aware of her troubles at Pukekohe and also aware of her talent and sent her out as second favourite for Saturday’s Guineas.

She was away fairly but drifted and sat third last at the 1200 metres and was no closer at the 800 metres. Joe Doyle pushed her wide rounding into the straight yet she was still third last at the 400 metres. Racing greenly and widest she began her chase, was midfield at the 200 metres, charged forward and had two to beat at the 100 metres then powered over the top to win going away by a length. Any way you looked at it, she was impressive and her rivals had few excuses.

Thompson’s September comment is backed up by co-trainer Lance O’Sullivan who, after the big win, stated: “It’s a huge thrill. We’ve talked quite a big game with this filly all the way through, so for her to produce a performance like that is really exciting.”

Her win gives Ace High a serious boost to the three lots up for grabs at this week’s NZB Ready To Run Sale. Next January, at the same venue for the Karaka Yearling Sales, the stallion will be just as popular as Rich Hill’s Proisir (Choisir) and Satono Aladdin (Deep Impact). It seems that Rich Hill’s stallions can do no wrong.

Molly Bloom is the first foal of Dancilla (Iffraaj), a half-sister to dual Group 3 winner Decorah (Pins). Decorah was well above average, won seven and was five times Group placed.

Molly Bloom’s grandam is stakes placed Nordic Dancer (Generous). Her third dam is a Danehill (Danzig) half-sister to the wonder horse, Rough Habit (Roughcast). Rough Habit captured Australasia’s attention on eleven occasions, the eleven times he won at Group 1 level including an astonishing three successive Doomben Cups (Gr 1, 2000m), back-to-back Stradbrokes (Gr 1, 1400m) and two All Aged Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m). His win tally was a staggering 29 and if you have never watched it you owe it to yourself to view his amazing win in the 1992 Stradbroke Handicap. Go and do it now. You will be gobsmacked.

The filly looks to have inherited some of Rough Habit’s finishing spirit. The raw talent is apparent. When she learns what this racing gig is all about, who knows what she could do.

Molly Bloom was sourced at the March 2022 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale and was knocked down to O’Sullivan’s Wexford Stables for NZ$150,000.

Continuing the High Chaparral theme, the feature sprint of the Riccarton Cup carnival, the Stewards’ Stakes (Listed, 1200m) was taken out by Maria Farina, the daughter of High Chaparral’s Contributer.

The six-year-old mare was experiencing her second stakes victory having scored the Lightning Handicap (Listed, 1200m) at Trentham in March. All up she has won six times and in Saturday’s sprint she flew out of the pack then held on gamely. At the crossing she passed a couple and had two behind her at the top of the straight. To find a run she had to weave in and out, got clear near the 200 metres, flew hard to co-lead at the 100 metres then bravely held on for the win.

A second stakes win will only enhance her broodmare career but equally, she ranks as a half-sister to the 2022 New Zealand 2,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner, Pier (Proisir).

Interestingly, six of Contributer’s seven stakes winners are fillies as are nine of his 12 stakes placed performers. His winners/runners ratio is well above average at 64 per cent (84 from 130 runners).

Over in Oz
New Zealand-breds suffered a rare “zero” in the stakes races held in Australia but Cambridge Stud enjoyed a super day at Caulfield when the Lindsays’ Joliestar (Zoustar) was victorious in the Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m).

When the Cambridge Stud-Lindsay-owned Zourion (Zoustar) slipped clear before straightening it created space for Joliestar (third) to move off the fence. She went to the front easily near the 200m, put two lengths on them at the 100 metres and was in no danger whatsoever at the post.

Yes, she was expensive as a yearling purchase ($950,000m) but Saturday’s win put her ledger in the black in defeating a top field and record her second win to go along with three second placings (two in Listed races) in just five starts.

A Inglis 2022 Easter Yearling Sale graduate, Joliestar is from Jolie Bay (Fastnet Rock), herself a Group 2winning sister to Merchant Navy, the main reason for her value at the time of her purchase.

Merchant Navy succeeded at the highest level in Flemington’s Coolmore Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) but also took on and beat [albeit very narrowly] many of Europe’s premier sprinters in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Gr 1, 6f) at Royal Ascot. 

Trainer Chris Waller and his buying team were one of the underbidders on Joliestar. Disappointed that they didn’t have enough to buy her, Waller is nonetheless delighted to be training her.

From the New Zealand perspective, knowing that Joliestar is owned by Cambridge Stud is great news. We might be lucky enough to see her foals at Karaka later this decade.

Doing it in style
While there were no Kiwi-bred winners among the 12 stakes races run, the Thoroughbred Club Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) did have a distinct New Zealand flavour when Brazen Style (Brazen Beau), in an upset, held on by the skin of her teeth to record her maiden stakes win and second career win in only three starts.

Brazen Style is from the well-performed Fast ‘N’ Famous (Redoute’s Choice) mare In Style who was successful at Group 1 level when winning Ellerslie’s 2015 Railway Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m). That was not her only stakes performance. Her four-year-old season was particularly fruitful and saw her score a stakes treble beginning with the Counties Bowl (Listed, 1100m), Ellerslie’s Concorde Handicap (Gr 3, 1200m), then the Railway.

As a three-year-old she won four on the trot and when retired had secured eight wins from 21 starts. She would end up on the Gold Coast and was sold for $440,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale. Brazen Style is her third winner and second stakes performer and was sourced at the same sale as Joliestar, (twelve lots prior) at the 2022 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, for $250,000.

Her grandam is a half-sister to Waikato Gold Cup (Gr 3, 2400m) winner Surpass (Savabeel) and her third dam is a half-sister to one the better three-year-old fillies of her time, Savoir (Sovereign Edition), winner of the Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m).

The immediate family will take time to expand as In Style was an only foal. Since four of In Style’s first five foals are fillies, there is a good chance that this branch of the family will thrive.

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