Filly fetches top dol­lar at sale

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport -

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

Gift: Mar­lene, Eve and Mur­ray Holmes pose proudly with their $800,000 filly at Karaka last week.

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