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Pentire & Stravinsky lead Kiwi results at Flemington

New Zealand-breds didn't extend their outstanding record in the Melbourne Cup this year, but there was enough good news to keep Kiwi studs and breeders smiling through the week.

Rich Hill's newly risen star sire Pentire and Cambridge Stud's first-crop sire Stravinsky led the way with black type victories on Derby Day and Oaks Day respectively.

Zanna (Pentire- Posing by Truly Vain; bred by Peter & Pat Payne) continued her rapid rise through Group company when she scored a convincing victory in the highly competitive Empire Rose S. 1600m G2. (The current raceday name is the Nestle/Peters Classic but we naturally prefer the registered race name which honours the New Zealand-bred, -owned, -trained and -ridden winner of the 1988 Melbourne Cup.) Zanna had previously won a Listed Race in Sydney and the Tesio Stakes G3 at Moonee Valley.

Pentire's high-class Australian-bred son Pentastic was outstanding in the MacKinnon S. G1 (second) and courageous in the Cup (fourth). He thoroughly deserves a Group One win but it looks more likely to happen at weight-for-age over 2000-2400 metres.

Zagalia (Zabeel-Snow Quill by Bluebird; Terry Jarvis) deserves an honourable mention for her Cup run, after doing much of the early work and hanging on tenaciously for fifth - and $A115,000 prizemoney. The maturity and strength of another year may well see her improve on that performance in 2004. Owner John Singleton's enthusiastic appreciation of his mare's bravery was notable among the post-race comments.

Two-year-old Flying Firebird (Stravinsky-Hairini by Zabeel; Clare Jones & Graeme Wrigley) became her sire's second southern hemisphere stakeswinner when she took out the Ottawa S. 1000m LR on Oaks Day. Flying Firebird is a grand-daughter of Group One-winning sprinter Ardee One from a family that has been Non-Stud Book, until this year when Hairini was promoted to vehicle mare status. This means that Hairini's progeny are now eligible for the Stud Book.

Brilliant sprinter Egyptian Raine (Desert Sun-Egyptian Queen by Karioi Lad; Chris Ball, Mal Barratt, Kenny Rae & Nick Rodokal) added another Group win to her record when she defeated a hot field including Spinning Hill in the Emirates Classic G2 on Oaks Day. This is the famous Linlithgow Stakes, one of the four races won by Phar Lap during his incredible Cup week in 1930. Egyptian Raine, who was sold to Australian owners by her owner-breeders earlier this year, has now won nine races from 26 starts and more than $A600,000 in prizemoney.

Desert Sun got his 16th stakeswinner on Saturday, when Abdullah (ex Replicate by Centro) a three-year-old gelding from his first Australian crop, won the L'Oreal Paris Plate (Rory's Jester Stakes) 1200m G3. Desert Sun, now 29th on the Australian general sires' list, was sold by Ra Ora Stud and a syndicate of New Zealand breeders to Eliza Park Stud in 1999.

And last but very far from least, the NZTBA is delighted to congratulate Tony Santic, South Australian tuna fishing operator and owner of the impressive Cup winner Makybe Diva. Her dam Tugela, with Makybe Diva in utero, was purchased for Santic by Queensland bloodstock agent John Foote from the Ballylinch Stud draft at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale in 1998 for 60,000 guineas (A$150,000).

The Cup winner's pedigree is notable for its concentration of powerful racehorses and sires: Danehill, Danzig, Nureyev and Bustino through Irish Derby winner Desert King on the top line, and Riverman, Roberto and Vaguely Noble on the distaff side, all supported by three crosses of Northern Dancer in the fourth generation. The female family has produced consistently good performers, mostly in Europe, and a high percentage of winners to foals. Tugela was a non-winner but her dam Rambushka was a stakeswinner in the USA and stakes-placed at Newmarket. Second dam Katsura won twice and was twice G3-placed in Ireland, and all of her ten foals to race were winners.

Makybe Diva's Cup victory rocketed her sire Desert King to the top of the Australian general sires' table, highlighting the inadequacy of prizemoney-based stallion premiership lists. Desert King, now standing in Japan, has had 13 winners from 41 runners this season to 5 November and Makybe Diva is his only stakeswinner. Compare his performance with that of Zabeel, fifth on the official list with four stakeswinners from 30 winners among 103 runners, or Pentire, now tenth on the table with eight winners, including three stakeswinners, from 27 runners. More sophisticated official measures of stallion performance are long overdue in Australasia.


- Susan Archer