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Secret Squirrel proving a hit for Hawke’s Bay owner 16 May 2019

   Taradale racehorse owner Ken Robson is starting to finally reap rewards after nearly 40 years of racing horses with Secret Squirrel providing the 73-year-old with some exciting times of late.

   Robson has a 50 per cent share in the Showcasing five-year-old, who took his record to two wins, seven seconds and a third from 14 starts when scoring a decisive 1-1/4 length win in a $22,500 Rating 65 race over 1200m at New Plymouth last Saturday and looks destined for bigger things in the future.

   Secret Squirrel, who is also part-owned by his New Plymouth trainer Bryce Revell, credited Robson with his first success as an owner when he took out a 1350m maiden race at Wanganui in September last year and the horse has now only once failed to return a stakemoney cheque.

   “It’s pretty exciting,” a delighted Robson said this week.

   “I’ve been in this game a long time and he’s the best horse I’ve had.”

   Robson said the first horse he raced was Ipi Tombi, who was trained at Hastings by Marlene Todd back in 1980 and was unplaced in three starts.

   “I’ve been involved in close on 20 other horses since then but most of them have been no good,” he said.

   “My father Reg was a keen racehorse owner and when he died in 2004 I was left two fillies by Handsome Ransom.”

   “I decided to send them over the Bryce Revell but he quickly told me not to waste my time with them. He said he had bought a yearling from the South Island that I could take a half-share in and that is Secret Squirrel.”

   Revell had paid $8500 at a Christchurch sale for the son of Showcasing out of an unraced Commands mare and the gelding has now won more than $42,000 in prizemoney.

   “Bryce named him Secret Squirrel because, as a young horse, he was always into everything,” Robson recalled.

   Secret Squirrel showed immediate promise on the racetrack, finishing second on debut behind Dark Princess in a 1200m maiden at Hastings in July 2017. He then recorded another three seconds, a third and two fourths from his next seven starts before developing joint issues in his knees.

   He was off the scene for seven months, resuming at the start of this season with a second and a fourth before his Wanganui win.

   “Bryce rang me not long after that win and said the horse was again suffering from joint problems and might be gone in the knees,” Robson said.

   “He had another six months off and has now had three starts back for two seconds and last Saturday’s win.”

   Revell said Secret Squirrel was “full of tricks” as a young horse and took a long to break in.

   “But he’s now grown into a pretty good horse,” he added.

   Revell said Secret Squirrel has come through last Saturday’s win in such good order that he now intends backing the horse up in a $25,000 Rating 72 race over 1400m at Te Rapa tomorrow.

   Robson now has a share in two other horses trained by Revell and he and the trainer purchased a weanling filly by Per Incanto for $700 on Monday of this week off the thoroughbred auction site Gavelhouse.


Australian success for HB couple

   Hawke’s Bay thoroughbred breeder Richard Wood and his wife Liz celebrated a win in Australia last week but he is one of a growing number of New Zealand racehorse owners disillusioned by the current state of the New Zealand racing and breeding industry.

   The Woods are part-owners in Chouxting The Mob, who took out a $A50,000 Rating 70 race over 2400m at Sandown on Wednesday of last week.

   It was the horse’s fourth win from 15 starts and he has also recorded three seconds and two thirds for stake earnings of $A94,615.

   The Woods bred Chouxting The Mob but decided to sell him as a weanling at the 2014 Karaka mixed bloodstock sale.

   “We sold him for $60,000 but retained a 10 per cent ownership in him,” Wood recalled this week.

   The horse went to Australia to be trained by Simon Morrish at Ballarat and he arranged a large syndicate to take up the other 90 per cent ownership in the horse.

   Chouxting The Mob showed good early potential with a win, a second, a third and a fourth from his first six starts. However he was then found to have a bone fracture in one of his legs which necessitated in him being sidelined for more than 12 months.

   The five-year-old resumed with a fifth over 1500m at Geelong in January this year and has since had another eight starts for three wins, two seconds and a third.

   “He is a pretty good horse and he stays very well,” Wood said.

   “He’s the sort of horse that you need to starting moving on at the 1000-metre peg in a race. He can’t sprint at the finish but he never stops.”

   The Woods bred Chouxting The Mob out of the Reset mare Bidthemobgooday, who they bought from Australia when in-foal to Duporth.

   They sold the resultant foal who is now called Duplicity and has won five races and finished second in last year’s New Zealand Cup (3200m).

   Chouxting The Mob is likely to have his next start in a $A50,000 race over 2500m at Cranbourne on May 24. He is the second foal the Woods bred out of Bidthemobgooday and they then sold the mare in foal to Jimmy Choux.

   The Woods are best known as the breeders and owners of former champion galloper Jimmy Choux, who was a five time Group 1 winner and finished second in the 2011Cox Plate.

   Jimmy Choux has been standing at Rich Hill Stud, in the Waikato, since 2012 with the Woods retaining a 35% ownership in the horse. However he has recently been sold outright to prominent West Australian  owner-breeder Alan MacAlister and will stand next season at Wayne and Tracy Rodwell’s Rosalee Park Stud in Serpentine, WA.

   Jimmy Choux was New Zealand’s leading first season sire in 2015-16 and has been a consistent producer of winners in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

   He was represented with his first Group 1 winner when The Bostonian took out last Saturday’s $A800,000 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) in Queensland and Wood believes the stallion will be much better patronized in Australia.

   “You make some bad decisions in life and bringing him (Jimmy Choux) back to stand at stud in New Zealand was the worst decision I’ve made in 45 years,” Wood said.

   “He has not been well patronized at stud here and I don’t know why,” Wood said.

   “We sold the highest priced yearling by him for $210,000 at the 2016 Karaka sales and that horse went to Japan. He has been named Cosmo Periot over there and has had two wins and six seconds in Tokyo.”

   Jimmy Choux covered 75 mares in the 2014 breeding season but his popularity with breeders has waned ever since.

   Wood says the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in New Zealand is in very bad shape which is why he is now concentrating more on Australia.

   “Most of our mares are moving to Australia. It is a waste of time breeding and racing horses here with the poor stakemoney that is on offer.”


Miss Wilson to be sold at auction

   The Group 1 winning racemare Miss Wilson is to be offered for sale at the Magic Millions mixed bloodstock sale in Queensland at the end of this month.

   The Stratum six-year-old, bred and owned by Hawke’s Bay couple Richard and Liz Wood, is a half-sister to the five-time Group 1 winner Jimmy Choux.

   She will be offered as part of the draft from Lime Country Thoroughbreds and is in foal to boom Australian sire Zoustar.

   Miss Wilson had 25 starts from the Hastings stable of John Bary for seven wins, four seconds and three thirds. She took out last year’s Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha and was also twice successful at Group 3 level, in the Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham and Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) at Hastings.


By-monthly award winners

   The mother and daughter combination of Diana Clough and Sarah Gregory-Hunt are the recipients of the Hawke’s Bay Racehorse Owners Association’s Kevin Wood Memorial by-monthly award for the months of March and April.

   Clough and Gregory-Hunt are the breeders and owners of Rekohu Diva, a five-year-old mare by Playmaker who  is trained on the Hastings track by Sue Thompson and Mick Brown and scored a game maiden win over 1200m at Otaki on April 10.


HB races next Wednesday

   Jumping action will return to the Hastings track next Wednesday when Hawke’s Bay Racing stages its annual Fruitfed Supplies raceday.

   At this stage an eight race programme is scheduled, including an open hurdle race which may be split into two races, depending on the number of entries.

   The first race is timed for 12.01pm and there is free admission for patrons as well as free entry to the Members Stand.

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   One Prize One Goal, who could race at either Te Rapa or Awapuni this Saturday, strode out well in a solo gallop at this morning’s Hastings track session.

   Fast work was confined to the plough, which provided good footing.

   One Prize One Goal worked in at three-quarter pace from the 1000m peg, quickening over the last 600m. He clocked 1:8 for the full distance, the final 600 in 38.4.

   The Ekraar gelding deserves to pick up a win after four seconds and a third from his last five starts. He only went down by a neck when second over 1400m at Hastings last start and is likely to be stepped up to 1600m this Saturday.

   His stablemate Stradivarius, who could also line up this weekend, was let off with an easy 600m in 39. He has been a past winner on the Te Rapa track.

   Last start winner Carillion, a likely starter in the Rating 72 race over 1200m at Awapuni on Saturday, was kept under a hold when running home the last 600m of her work in 38.4.

   An Atlante two-year-old gelding trained by Stephen Carey sprinted 600m on his own in 37.8 while Scandalo was not hurried when running a solo 600m in 39. He looks in good order but trainer Patrick Campbell says the meeting programming makes it difficult to find a suitable race for the sprinter.

   Matt Cain, who could start next at the Hawke’s Bay meeting on Wednesday of next week, ran a solo 1000m in 1:10.9, the last 600 in 39.8 while Call Me Jack, entered for the highweight race over 1600m at Otaki on Thursday, ended his work with 600m in 42.3.

   Polizzi worked in at three-quarter pace from the 1200m peg, clocking 1:26.3 for the full distance and 42.1 for the final 600.

   Surpriseus and a Jakkalberry two-year-old filly worked in at three-quarter pace from the 1000m peg, speeding up slightly over the last 600 in 40.1 while Johnny Russ ended his work with 600m in 45.

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Filly is proving extra good for Hawke’s Bay pair 9 May 2019

Two long time Hawke’s Bay friends who have been racing horses together for more than 20 years, celebrated a deserved success when Shez Ekstra capped off some minor placings with a decisive maiden win at Trentham last Saturday.

   Paddy Murphy and Grahame Hook, who both live in Taradale, bred and own the Ekraar three-year-old filly and the way she won suggests she should go on to much better things for them in the future.

   “Grahame and I have been going to race meetings together for 40 years and have raced horses together for 20-odd years,” Paddy Murphy recalled this week.

   “The first horse we raced together was Regal Secret who was trained by Trevor Whittington, when he was based at Hastings a long time ago.

   One of the best horses the pair has raced was MacDagger, who recorded four wins and five minor placings from the Foxton stable of Grant Laursen.

   Murphy and Hook bred MacDagger and also raced his dam Machadee and grand dam Miradee, who were both one race winners.

   Paddy Murphy has also raced horses in other partnerships over the years, with his biggest success to date being Don Domingo’s win in the 2011 Hawke’s Bay Cup.

   Shez Ekstra is trained on the Hastings track by the Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen partnership and was having her ninth start when she lined up in the Nicoletta Cup Maiden (1600m) at last Sunday’s Wellington meeting.

   The filly’s win followed three second placings, the most recent over 1600m at Waipukurau in March.

   Lowry and Cullen have always had a high opinion of Shez Ekstra and it was just a matter of striking the right track conditions for the filly, and also the addition of blinkers, to bring out the best in her.

   Jockey Johnathan Parkes settled the filly back fourth-last in the early rush for positions before angling her away from the inside passing the 800m peg and then improving around the field coming to the home bend.

   Shez Ekstra was the widest runner on straightening and kept up a strong finish to win by 1-1/2 lengths from Relda, with Greystone a further 1-1/4 lengths back in third.

   The winning time of 1:40.84 on a heavy-10 track was almost two seconds faster than Whatsup took to beat the Rating 65 horses in the following race.

   Shez Ekstra’s victory brought up 100 wins for the season for jockey Johnathan Parkes and he made it 1010 when taking out the following event on Whatsup. It is the third time he has posted in excess of 100 wins in a season, with his best year being when he chalked up 118 wins in 2013-14.

   Murphy said he and Hook have already turned down some lucrative offers for Shez Ekstra but they have so far resisted selling her.

   “Grahame has always been keen to keep her and I agree,” Murphy said.

   “She should get better with age and over more distance.”

   Lowry and Cullen would like to step the filly up in distance in her next start, but the only suitable race for her is a Rating 65 event over 2040m at Wanganui on June 1.

   “It is a long wait until then so we might have to look at another 1600-metre race at Awapuni on May 18 in the meantime,” Murphy added.

   Murphy and Hook bred She’s Ekstra out of the Viking Ruler mare Happiness Rules, who they owned for a couple of years before giving her away.

   “There were only two foals out of the mare,” Murphy said.

   “The first one was by Faltaat and was no good.”


Impressive fresh up victory

    London Express, part-owned by Havelock North’s Tess Castles, brought up her third win from only eight starts when she resumed from a spell with a dominant victory at Trentham last Sunday.

    The Shamexpress filly was having her first start since November last year when she lined up in the $30,000 Enzo’s Lad Cup, a Rating 82 race over 1200m. But she had hinted at a big fresh up performance with a second in a 1000m trial at Foxton in March and then an impressive win in a 1000m Waverley trial on April 9.

   Trainer Allan Sharrock engaged apprentice Madan Singh to ride London Express at Trentham to make use of his two kilogram claim.

   The filly wanted to over-race in the early stages as Singh tried to restrain her back in about sixth place and then he had to wait on a split between horses early in the home straight before asking her to extend.

   Once in the clear London Express accelerated quickly and looked to have plenty in reserve as she got to the line clear of King Cougar and the fast finishing William Wallace.

   “She’s a quality filly that doesn’t mind the sting out of the ground and we’ll have a lot of fun with her,” trainer Allan Sharrock said.

   London Express certainly showed plenty of potential as a two-year-old last season, winning over 1200m at New Plymouth at her third start before taking out the Listed $50,000 Castletown Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui.


Carillion performs at her best again

   Guy Lowry had a special thank-you to fellow Hastings trainer Kate Hercock following Carillion’s return to wining form in the $22,500 Emily Margaret Cup at Trentham last Saturday.

   Carillion is a very highly strung mare who has not been easy to ride in trackwork and has ruined her chances by wanting to go far too keenly in her races. So the Lowry/Cullen partnership has used the experience of former successful jockey Kate Hercock to help settle the filly down in her work.

   The policy certainly worked with Carillion being a lot more manageable, despite leading all the way, when recording a 1-3/4 length win over 1000m at Sunday’s Wellington meeting.

   The speedy mare bounced out quickly from an outside barrier to quickly get across and lead the big field coming across the junction and on to the course proper.

   Jockey Anna Jones then kicked the mare clear early in the home straight and she kept up a strong run to the line to comfortably hold out Desert Magic and Miss Lizzie.

    It was Carillion’s third win from 18 starts. She won a 1000m maiden race at Taupo in August last year and also took out a 1200m Rating 65 race at Wairoa in February.

   The mare races in the colours made famous by horses bred and raced by the former Te Parae Stud in Masterton and was bred by Wairarapa-based Angela Williams. The mare is now raced by a syndicate that is managed by Auckland’s John Duncan, with several of the members residing in the Wairarapa area.

   Guy Lowry said Carillion will now probably head to a Rating 72 race over 1200m at Awapuni on May 18.

   “We weren’t sure whether she would handle that heavy track at Trentham but she got through it well,” Lowry said.


Melody Belle back in work

   Multiple Group 1 winner Melody Belle has returned to Jamie Richards’ stable, with her trainer pencilling in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa in August as the mare’s early target.

   “She got back on the truck at Te Akau Stud on Monday morning and travelled to Matamata,” Fortuna Syndicate manager John Galvin said.

   “She will trial a couple of times, probably in late July and then at Te Teko (in August), and shell go to the Foxbridge and then on to Hawke’s Bay.

   “This year we will do the three legs of the Hawke’s Bay triple crown, we didn’t go to the Livamol (Classic) with her last year.

   “That’s as far as the planning has got at this stage.”

   The mare enjoyed a lucrative campaign last year, adding five further Group 1s to her CV, taking her total top-level tally to six. She won the first two legs of the Hawke’s Bay spring Group 1 triple crown, the Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Windsor Park Plate (1600m).


Durrant enjoying Australian stint

   Promising Hastings apprentice Hunter Durrant is enjoying a busy lifestyle in Australia, where he is on loan to Victorian trainer Patrick Payne.

   Durrant, 18, is apprenticed to the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and left for Australia a fortnight ago. He plans to be there for at least another month and is then likely to have a stint with Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers when he returns to New Zealand.

   “We have sent him over the Patrick Payne’s to further his experience. He is a good rider with a good work ethic and will benefit a lot from the experience,” Guy Lowry said.

   Durrant contacted Lowry this week and said he had just been granted his licence to race-ride in Australia. He is riding up to 25 horses in trackwork of a morning, starting at 4am with the powerful Hawkes stable before moving on to Payne’s property. He was riding at jumpouts on Wednesday and trials yesterday.

   Durrant only started race-riding last year and has had one win from 60 rides. That was aboard Royal Ruby in a Rating 72 race over 1600m at Hastings on New Year’s Day when he led all the way and judged the pace of the race to a nicety. That success followed several minor placings for the young rider.

   Durrant is not from a racing family but was always keen on horses and started riding when he was five. He had a grounding in show jumping before signing up as a probationary apprentice two years ago with Lowry and Cullen.

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