New Zealand news briefs

Bambry in search of stakes breakthrough

Venerable galloper Deerfield is in search of a first stakes victory when he contests Thursday’s Listed Courtesy Ford Levin Stakes (1200m) on what promises to be a rain-affected Otaki track.

The seven-year-old has had a lengthy campaign which has netted five victories from seven starts this term for Foxton trainer Chrissy Bambry, who part-owns the son of Falkirk with her parents Tony and Judith and sister Samantha. 

The gelding rarely runs a bad race and Bambry would love nothing more than to see her hardy sprinter record his 10th career victory in stakes company.   

“I think he is a good chance and the rain will be an assist. The wetter the better for him,” she said.

“He just trains on the water treadmill and only goes on the track to gallop, which he does very little of. 

“That is the way we have been able to keep his legs quite fresh and his mind fresh. He lives in the paddock as he hates being in a box.”

Bambry said the consistent gelding would likely have a short break after his Otaki run and before potentially targeting the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m). 

“If he went for a break, it would be a bit of a freshen-up, more than a lengthy break as he gets a bit keen in his paddock after a while and runs around,” she said. 

“The way he has been working, he doesn’t look like a tired horse and he was pretty naughty for the physio today, so he is probably feeling pretty well.”

With the scratchings of Endless Drama, Marscapone and Princess Rihanna on Wednesday, Deerfield’s black-type quest became a little easier, but Bambry has plenty of respect for the opposition, including the Allan Sharrock-trained top-weight Tavi Mac. 

“Deerfield won’t know himself with 58.5kgs tomorrow after carrying 62kgs topweight in his past three starts,” Bambry said. 

“We drew wide (barrier 9) and that might actually help on a rain-affected track. Tavi Mac looks hard to beat, but we have beaten him before and hopefully we can get over the top of him again.

“He is a neat horse and he deserves to win a stakes race and it takes a pretty good horse to win ten races. He is happy and sound and is a good advertisement for the water treadmill.” 

After winning the newcomer to training award with 17 wins to her credit last season, Bambry is now looking forward to some younger members of her team coming through, but admits she is light on numbers for horses ready to race at present. 

“I took five two-year-olds to the jumpouts today and they will now go for a break and I have a lot of young ones,” she said.

“I only have four horses that are racing ready at present and another two that are up to trialling stage. 

“The rest are unraced.”

Bambry also reports that Lord Bouzeron, a horse she part-owns and formerly trained before sending to her brother-in-law, Cranbourne trainer Francis Finnegan, will have one more start before returning to New Zealand for a spell. The consistent four-year-old is nominated for Sunday’s Taralgon Cup (1900m). 

Meanwhile, handy stayer Platinum Invador is also enjoying some R&R with Bambry after a mixed spring in Melbourne under the care of Peter Moody, where his best effort was a third placing in the Gr.2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).

“He has been here for a couple of weeks to freshen-up and he will go back to Lisa Latta on Monday,” she said.

“It sounds like they might aim him at the Auckland Cup (Gr.1, 3200m) and he looks great.” 

Deerfield, picture Race Images

Life-long dream realised for Reid

She may have lived on the Central Coast of New South Wales for 40 years but Margaret Reid, the part-owner and breeder of the Listed Ballarat Cup (2000m) winner Irish Flame, is still very much a Taranaki girl.

So much so that the green and brown colours that Irish Flame races in feature a stylised logo of Mount Taranaki and the nearby Waiwhakaiho river. She shares those colours with her husband Bill and fellow breeder and part-owner, Inglewood farmer Gary Kemp.

For good measure there were another couple of ‘Naki’ boys associated with the Ballarat Cup win, trainer Brett Scott and jockey Michael Walker.
Now a six-year-old by the versatile Zabeel stallion Zed, Irish Flame won his first race back in 2017 and he became that stallion’s first and to date only two-year-old winner when he won the Gr.3 Taranaki 2YO Classic (1200m). 

In the care of trainer John Wheeler, a relation of Reid’s through her mother, he won a further five races, before transferring to Mornington this year and his Ballarat Cup win completed a hat-trick that took his tally to nine wins.

“John always said that he will be at his best as a six-year-old he is going to take that long to fully mature,” she said.

“He would have liked to have brought him over to Australia to race this winter, but we can blame COVID for him coming over and going to Brett.

“It was a really big decision. John had done such a great job. Gary and I had had horses with Brett before and when racing shut down in New Zealand we discussed it with John and he gracefully said that it would be great for Brett to get a good horse. He was so gracious and charming about it, but that is just what he is like.”

That change of location took place after a trial placing at Waverley at the end of June and Irish Flame hasn’t looked back.

The six-year-old has won three of his eight starts for Scott, with a further four placings, and has added A$514,850 since crossing the Tasman. 
The racing and breeding journey for the Reid and Kemp partnership started about 10 years ago, when Margaret decided she wanted to pursue a life-long dream of having a horse race in Melbourne.

“I had always been interested in horses and rode as a child and went to pony club,” she said. 

“Growing up in Taranaki I heard all the romantic stories about horses going to Melbourne with names like Rising Fast.

“I always dreamed of having a horse race in Melbourne, and it was a dream too as we were busy raising our boys and there wasn’t any money for racing horses. However, in 2010 a family friend dropped dead suddenly and I decided it was time to chase that dream and with good friends from Taranaki, Gary and Brenda Kemp, we purchased a trial-winning horse and that was the start of our adventure.

“I was at Randwick one day and I saw Usainity win the Gr.3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) and I really liked the look of him. I looked up Zed’s pedigree which is fabulous, and knew he was standing in Taranaki, where I am still -prior to COVID anyway – a frequent visitor, and that added to the appeal.

“I said to Gary I would love to get a Zed, and he was really keen as well and said let’s get a mare, and the search begun.”

The search took the partners to the Gold Coast where the Nathan Tinkler mare dispersal sale was being held. At that stage Zed had just two stakes winners - Survived and Usainity. 

Survived was out of a Generous mare and Usainity out of a Bin Ajwaad (IRE) mare, so they were the lines that were being considered.
“We looked at a Generous mare but she went for too much,” she recalled.

“Bill and I had to return to the Central Coast, so we left Gary and Brenda in charge to look at Fleur De L’Orient a daughter of Fleur De Chine who had won the Gr.3 Taranaki Classic which resonated with me, and they managed to secure her.”

By Thunder Gulch, Fleur De L’Orient won two races in Australia. She is a sister to the Gr.1 Australasian Oaks (2400m) winner Tully Thunder, and a half-sister to the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) winner Sufficient and the stakes-placed winners Fleur De’here and Landehero.

Besides winning four races, Tully Thunder produced the stakes placed winner Lipari who has gone on to be the dam of the stakes winners Levendi, Wu Gok and Marcel From Madrid, and Bidthemobgooday the dam of Listed winner Duplicity. While Fleur De’here has produced the Group One-placed stakes winner Zamzam.

“Straight away we teamed up with Mark Corcoran and sent her to stud, and a year later we got a beautiful little foal, I have always called Iffy,” Reid said.

“Unfortunately, in the July before he was born Brenda suddenly passed away and she never got to see him, but we made sure she is still part of the journey by continuing to race Irish Flame in her name.

“Brenda was a flaming red head, and she also always wanted to explore her Irish heritage, so when it came to naming “Iffy” we decided on something Irish and Brenda actually means “flaming sword”. It’s a name to remember her by.”

Fleur De L’Orient produced six foals before she was purchased by the partnership including Langridge Street, by Elvstroem, a winner of four races who was placed at Listed level in Tasmania, and Volcanic Sky, who won five races also in Tasmania.

For her new partnership she has produced Irish Flame, and Irish Flare a lightly raced gelding by Haradasun who they have in work with John Wheeler, along with Fleur De Montagne a two-year-old full-sister to Irish Flame who is also in his care.

“She missed to Per Incanto and was exported to Australia to be served by Teofilo that both Gary and I are big fans of, unfortunately she had a few problems and didn’t get in foal,” Reid said.

“The next season we found a new vet who picked up the problem straight away, and the mare had a wee operation and got in-foal to Dundeel on the first serve. She produced a stunning filly last year, and then unfortunately collapsed a tendon.

“I had her in a stable with the foal for about four months, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep her alive and we had to put her down in January, it was like losing a family member. At least the foal had a good start, and we will not be selling her.

“But at the end of the day we have had so much pleasure out of Irish Flame, it has been lovely to breed a nice Zed. He is such a versatile stallion, and I don’t think the fun is over yet. We can’t wait for the autumn which is the next plan for “Iffy”.” 

Toughness the key to talented filly

Tough is a word that comes up several times in conversation with Otaki trainer Johno Benner when talking about his talented filly Key.

The Exceed And Excel three-year-old, a A$550,000 yearling purchase for owner Gary Harding last year, steps up to stakes company for the first time in Thursday's Gr.3 Lucia Valentina Wellington Stakes (1600m) at Otaki.

"I can't complain. She's going great," said Benner, who trains with his partner Hollie Wynyard.

"We've had a fair bit of rain down here so we might be racing on a slow track but that shouldn't worry her. She won trials on heavy tracks and she goes on anything. She's just tough."

Benner also uses "tough" to explain that it hasn't always been an easy road getting Key to this point in her career where TAB bookmakers have installed her a $3.20 favourite for Thursday’s race.

"She's a grumpy filly and she's had her quirks with the barriers but we think we've got that under control now," he said.

"She's just tough, both physically and mentally. She's a really strong filly and that's coming across in the way she races."

A dual trial winner before racing, Key ran out a three-length maiden winner at Otaki on debut last month before a valiant second to Naval Fleet at Awapuni in her only start since.

"She's very good. Even though she got beaten the other day, she did an amazing job from the wide draw and it still took a good one to beat her," Benner said.

"We'll see how the track plays but she’s got terrific gate speed so she should be right there behind the speed and then Danielle (Johnson, jockey) can pick her time to go. She'll take some beating," Benner said.

Safely through Thursday's race, Benner will look to the Gr.3 Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes (1600m) at Awapuni on December 12 for Key's next start.

"The Eulogy is in three weeks and that's the natural progression. If she can secure some black type, it will add value to an already valuable filly," Benner said.

"Long-term, we'd like to think she could be an Oaks filly. Her second dam is Princess Coup, who won an Oaks so there's no reason why she can't get the trip."

Benner and Wynyard will also saddle emerging stayer Shakespeare and maiden galloper Wononeohwon at the meeting.

"The rain is a big plus for Shakespeare. He likes to get his toe in the ground and he's drawn a lovely marble for early in the day. He's a progressive stayer," Benner said.

The couple's weekend focus will be on Ellerslie runner Montre Moi, who tackles the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m) as a possible precursor to the $1 million Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at the same track on January 23.

Benner and Wynyard produced Scott Base to win the Karaka Million 3YO Classic in 2018, having given him a previous look at the track when he placed in the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) the prior season.

"For Montre Moi, it's good to give him that trip away and get a look around there. He'll be all that much better for the experience," Benner said.

"We'll get to see how he measures up as well. The clock says his win at Otaki first-up was very good. We think he's a good hope on Saturday but we just want to see him strong late."

Benner said they would assess Montre Moi's run at Ellerslie before deciding whether he goes straight into the Karaka Million 3yo Classic or has another run at the races or trial beforehand. 

Australia beckons Explosive three-year-old

Talented three-year-old Explosively lived up to his name when winning on debut at Te Rapa on Wednesday.

The Stephen Ralph-trained gelding exploded out of the gates for apprentice jockey Tegan Newman to take an early lead in the Website Angels 1200.

The pair didn’t relinquish their advantage and opened up in the home straight to win comfortably by three lengths over O’Jessica.

Ralph was pleased with the win, but admitted he wasn’t surprised by the performance given his three strong outings at the trials, which included a four length win over 1050m at Taupo last month.

“He did something we thought he would do, but it doesn’t always work that way,” Ralph said.

“Drawing barrier five was ideal and he showed today that he can jump, run, lead, and kick.

“We would have been very disappointed if he didn’t win today.”

Ralph said his phone was ringing red hot after Explosively’s Taupo trial win and a tentative sale has now been made after his Tuesday victory, with his future likely to lie in Australia.

“After the Taupo win the phone was going off enquiring about him and they (owner, Luigi Muollo) got a contract from Hong Kong straight away, but he didn’t pass the stringent Hong Kong vetting, hence why we raced him today,” Ralph said.

“Straight after today Australian interests have bought a half-share in him, so at this stage if the sale goes through he will be off to Australia.

“Luigi will retain a half share and in our book he will go a long way over there. He is a horse that can cop a fair bit of pressure, like he did today, and keep going.

“We would have liked to have had a few starts with him. They are hard to find these ones that can jump and run.

“It is a bittersweet moment.”

The win continued a great week for Explosively’s sire, Sweynesse, who recorded his third stakes win as a sire when Brix took out the Listed Fasttrack Insurance 2YO Stakes (1100m) at Pukekohe last Saturday, while the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Exploive Jack was a runaway winner at Swan Hill on Wednesday. 

Sweynesse stands at Novara Park Stud near Cambridge for a fee of $6,000+gst.

Looking ahead to racing at Ellerslie on Saturday, Ralph is looking forward to lining up Monaco in the Bentleys Chartered Accountants 1400.

The son of Per Incanto recorded his sixth victory at Tauranga last start and Ralph has lofty targets for the gelding over the coming months.

“If they get that bit of rain up there to take that edge off the track for him you would like to think he will be hard to beat,” Ralph said.

“He’s going to the Railway (Gr.1, 1200m). We know he is a really good 1200m horse and at the moment we are trying to get his rating points up and we need a stakes win to qualify for the Railway.

“We don’t want to be the highest rated horse and miss a start.

“We will have a bit of fun with him over the next five weeks.” 

Samina Bibi ideal Oaks type

Cambridge trainers Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray have a staying filly of the future on their hands with Samina Bibi, a daughter of in-vogue stallion Reliable Man, an impressive debut winner at Te Rapa. 

Ridden by apprentice Wiremu Pinn, Samina Bibi sat three-deep throughout but bounded away from her rivals in the BCD Group 3YO (1400m) to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths. 

“It was a big win,” Ritchie said. “To sit three-wide without cover and win like that was impressive.

“She is a beautiful staying type and clearly looks an Oaks type.”

Ritchie knows what it takes to win an Oaks, having saddled the winner of the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) on three occasions with Keep The Peace (2010), Artisitc (2012) and Jennifer Eccles (2020). 

The Cambridge trainer selected the filly on behalf of loyal owners Gary and Lyne Witters for $170,000 at last year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale.

“I’m delighted for Gary and Lyne. They have been terrific breeders with the likes of Pravda, Cronus and Samantha Miss, but this is a filly they bought,” he said.

“We can’t have quality horses like this, without good owners.”

The filly is named after a 12-year-old girl who was found alive after being buried for 18 hours when an avalanche in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir engulfed the family house in January of this year.

Bred by Gerry Harvey, Samina Bibi is out of the winning Redoute's Choice mare Zuzela.

Harvey’s Westbury Stud sold a full-sister to the filly at last week’s Ready To Run Sale for $270,000 to the bid of Gary Harding.

“She was a nice filly too,” Ritchie said. “I had a budget but didn’t get a bid in.”