PHOTO: NZTM website
Feilding plumber Mike Kunac has dabbled in racing and breeding horses for the past 12 years or so, but more recently he and his partners have found it pretty painful to their pockets.
With Chris and Jack Stone, he owned a mare called Kinzan (Kinjite-Double-Zan) and in 2009, after Jack had moved to the South Island, they decided to quit the High Chaparral filly she had produced as a yearling at the Festival Sale.
However, Mike wasn’t quite ready to give up on the family. Her first three foals were winners and she did descend from a half sister to Let’s Elope, so he persuaded another mate Ian Innes to join him in buying her back.
“Ian liked the family and I always liked the horse so we agreed to pay up to $15,000 for her, and hope that down the track when she was four or five years she would make us proud.”,
Now four and named High Kin, the winner of the listed Taumaranui Gold Cup, she has certainly done that. The cup win was her fourth on end from only nine career starts.
“Being a filly and coming from the second crop of High Chaparral (IRE) we managed to secure her for $11,000. She may be a little frail, but then all her siblings are too but they have shown heaps of ability, they have all got a motor.
“I felt that the Sadlers Wells (USA) factor might help to give her a bit of stamina. She is a nice filly, well conformed and light in the barrel, but she does have average knees. I am really pleased I bought her back now because we no longer have the mare.
Kunac and the Stones raced Kinzan on lease from Paddy Marra, and at the end of the lease were able to breed the first foal. They sent her to Danske and she produced He Kin Danske whom they raced to win four races, before he broke down.
“Paddy Marra then bred her to Oregon and she left He Kin Talk who won a couple, then he sent her back to Danske. About this time we bought the mare in a package with the Danske, and a Golan(IRE) weanling colt at foot and in foal to Black Minnaloushe(USA). We raced that Danske colt too called He Kin Roc, but unfortunately he broke down after winning a couple as well.
“The mare was well settled at Windsor Park and with a bit of a lead from them we sent her to High Chaparral and got High Kin. She then went to Fast’N’Famous (AUS) mainly to get some of that Danehill in the top line which had worked well with Danske, and the following year I flipped a coin between High Chaparral and Golan and unfortunately chose Golan! We left her empty for a year and last year she went to Thewayyouare (USA) but unfortunately died while in foal.
“The Fast’N’Famous is in work with Mike Breslin and is called He Kin Be Famous. A syndicate of 10 of us are racing him and he should trial in about four or five weeks. The Golan filly hasn’t quite stepped up to the mark yet but she is a half sister to a black type winner now,” he added.
Kinzan won two races and is a daughter of the Zamazaan (FR) mare Double-Zan, a winner of six races and dam of four winners. She in turn is a daughter of the listed Champagne Stakes winner Sharon Jane (Battle Waggon [GB]-Summer Sky) who also left the champion mare Let’s Elope (Nassipour [USA]). She won 11 races including the Caulfield/Melbourne Cup double as well as the L K McKinnon Stakes and an Australasian Cup before she went on to leave three stakes performers including the successful sire Ustinov (AUS).
Winning a stakes race at the Te Rapa course was hugely exciting for Kunac who grew up just a stone’s throw away and spent many days as a school boy there with his mate Stu McKinnon.
“I have always loved being around racehorses. I love to bet, and I was born and bred into it. I’m a ‘Dali’ (Dalmatian descent) and we love to gamble,” he said.
His partner in High Kin, Ian Innes, is also based in Hamilton and has a company called Racing Type which prints all the oncourse race books. High Kin is the first horse he has been involved with which has actually got to the races, and he is naturally thrilled with her performance and the part he plays in it.
“Some people like to run round the block for exercise, I like to go down to the stables and muck out boxes, and it’s great to be involved,” he added.
High Kin is trained at Te Rapa by rookie trainer David Greene and Kunac cannot speak highly enough of him.
“He’s tops. With her average knees she’s got to be protected and David has the patience of Job and isn’t frightened to vary his training methods. She hardly ever goes to the track and doesn’t do a lot of galloping. He works her on the treadmill, and massages her legs and gets her fit without trying to kill her!” said an exuberant Kunac.