Filly fetches top dollar at sale
Emotions ran high among the members of the Holmes family when a filly they cobred fetched the equal second highest price at last week’s National Yearling Sale at Karaka.
The $800,000 price tag for the Zabeel-Jesmonds Gift filly was just $75,000 below the sale-topper and clearly the best for any filly at the sale.
It’s been a tough few years for the folk at Grande Vue Lodge. In 2004 family patriarch Allan Holmes suffered a serious head injury in an accident on the Peria Hills farm. With a combination of hard work and a genial nature, the former Taranaki dairy farmer had forged his place in the thoroughbred industry but tragically the accident took that away from him. After being forced into care he passed away more than five years later in May of last year.
Allan’s widow Marlene, son Murray and daughter-in-law Eve were ringside at Karaka last Tuesday when the filly went up for auction under the Cambridge Stud banner, as agreed when she was bred in partnership with Sir Patrick Hogan.
‘‘We knew she would make a good price but as with any auction you have no idea exactly how much,’’ recalled Murray. ‘‘It blew us away to see the final price go up and yes, it was emotional for us all.’’
The story behind the filly dates back to the early 1990s when Queensland breeder Roy Thompson became a client of Grande Vue Lodge, sending broodmares across to be managed for their matings with various New Zealand-based stallions.
‘‘Roy was a fantastic supporter and we ended up breeding in partnership from one of his best mares, Jesmond Lass,’’ said Murray. ‘‘She was the dam of the Golden Slipper winner Canny Lad and another great sprinter Canny Lass. ‘‘ We bred a filly from her by Victory Dance that we named Canny Girl and raced her. She showed a fair bit of ability and won a race but then injured herself badly in a race at Otaki.
‘‘We sent her to Massey to be operated on but she re-injured herself afterwards and we lost her. That was on top of losing another valuable filly, Leigh Filou, when she broke a leg in the New Zealand Oaks.
‘‘So when Roy said we could have what turned out to be Jesmond Lass’s last foal, we decided to take no risks with her and she never raced.’’
That filly, by Grande Vue stallion Magic Of Sydney, was fittingly named Jesmonds Gift and is now the dam of last week’s $800,000 filly.
‘‘I can still remember the night she was born and Dad letting out a big yahoo when he saw she was a filly,’’ said Murray. ‘‘The old mare was getting on and we knew this could be her last foal, so it meant a lot to get one to carry on the line with.’’
Jesmonds Gift went to stud as a three-year-old and has already come up with a smart performer, the stakes-placed Sydney colt Isle Be Ready, but it was an inspirational move by Murray to approach Sir Patrick Hogan three years ago that struck pay-dirt last week. ‘‘I asked Patrick if he would be interested in breeding the mare in partnership to Zabeel. He knew the family well and was happy to agree, we got a lovely filly and he did the rest.’’
Murray did not set eyes on the filly at Cambridge Stud until she was almost a year old but remembers the occasion well.
‘‘ We’d been told she was a cracker and when we went across to see her we had to agree. There was something uncanny about her though, her brand was 10 over 9, which was the exact same date that Dad had his accident back in 2004 – September 10.
‘‘It was pure coincidence but it convinced me that here was something special.’’
That something special was there for all to see in the weeks and days leading up to the Karaka sales and in fact became the centre of attention. ‘‘We knew we weren’t the only ones who rated her. The feedback that was coming through and then to see the attention she was attracting once she was on the sale grounds had us wondering what she would go for. By the end of the bidding it was a fantastic feeling and even now it’s still sinking in.
‘‘Sir Patrick and his team did a marvellous job, there’s no way that we or anyone else could have got a result like that.’’
After a spirited bidding duel the filly was knocked down to Irishbased bloodstock agent Adrian Nicoll, acting on behalf of an unidentified Sydney client.
‘‘ We’re not sure who will be training her but it’s safe to assume that one of the big names over there will end up with her,’’ added Murray. ‘‘ We’ve been through the highs and lows, so it’s great for everyone to have something to smile about.’’
Matamata’s big race day of the year, featuring the J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes, is just over two weeks away.
The February 26 fixture, headlined by the $100,000 twoyear-old filly feature, will also se the running of the Waikato Stud Slipper for two-year-old colts and geldings and the Stanley Group TRAC Stakes, the final lead-up to the March 9 Stella Artois Auckland Cup.
It’s pleasing to report that the stake for the Waikato Stud Slipper, which over the years has proven a wonderful guide to juvenile supremacy, has increased from $45,000 to $50,000.
The action on Breeders’ Stakes day isn’t confined to the track, with the More FM Fashions In The Field an annual highlight. For the first time competitors can avoid the queues on raceday by entering online at www.trac.co.nz.
Gift: Marlene, Eve and Murray Holmes pose proudly with their $800,000 filly at Karaka last week.