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Karyn and Hamish McQuade on top in Taranaki

Underthemoonlight (El Hermano-Midnight Dip), certainly came out into the spotlight with her impressive six length victory in the group three Rich Hill Stud Taranaki Breeders' Stakes.

The five-year-old daughter of El Hermano (Pins[AUS]-Palos Verdes) had been flying a little under the radar racing out of her class over the winter notching up a string of placings before she stamped her class beating a quality field of fillies and mares in the Breeders Stakes.

"She has never won a maiden race you know," enthused Karyn McQuade who bred, part-owns and trains Underthemoonlight".

"I haven't been frightened to run her out of her class. When you know they have ability why fluff around running in big fields for no money when you can be running in smaller fields and picking up placings?"

"Her first win was in rating 65 class in September last year, her second in an open sprint at Te Rapa in June and her third a group three," she said of the mare who has only had 15 starts and been unplaced three times.

McQuade bred and races the horse in partnership with her husband Hamish, and they were recently joined in the racing partnership by long term stable client Cliff Solomon.

"We trained Underthemoonlight's mother's half-sister Midnight Kiss. She had four starts, in her first start she ran second to the group one winner Calveen. She won her next two and then ran third in the group one New Zealand Oaks, before she was sold to the States, where she has left the group one Santa Anita Debry winner Midnight Interlude (War Chant), and his stakes winning brother Midnight Crooner," she explained.

"We knew she had a half-sister by O'Reilly in Midnight Dip and we followed her. She was raced by Te Akau and was only placed. She went to the broodmare sale and sold to Stoneybridge for $8,500 which was a little bit out of our range at the time. So when Stoneybridge had their dispersal sale a couple of years later we made sure we went back to the sale and got her for $4,500."

By that stage Midnight Dip had produced two foals to Storm Creek(USA) and was in foal to Cecconi(AUS). Her first Storm Creek was Midnight Paddle, a winner of one race, while group three Rotorua Cup winner Storming The Tower, was the second. He has also been placed in the group two City of Auckland Cup twice, the group three Taranaki Cup and the listed Taumaranui Cup. When the McQuade's bought Midnight Dip she was in foal to Cecconi(AUS).

"As she was by O'Reilly we decided to send her to El Hermano, as we couldn't afford to go to Pins but wanted that magical proven Pins/O'Reilly cross. She missed the first year but the second year she produced Underthemoonlight. We then sent her to Makfi but she absorbed the foal, and the next season we sent her to Captain Rio(GB). Sydney based bloodstock agent Steve Brem made us an offer we couldn't refuse and he purchased her specifically to go to Reliable Man(GB)."

A serious pedigree aficionado Brem picks up the story.

"I was closely involved with Reliable Man in Australia and in sending him to New Zealand; he's a horse of the highest class," Brem stressed.

"She was in foal to Captain Rio at the time, and had the filly now named Midnight Delight which I sold as a weanling, and she looks like she'll win very soon for Bill Thurlow. I thought - no, I believe - Midnight Dip had first rate bloodlines. Apart from anything else, she's line-bred to Knight's Daughter, (as is Tell(USA), the sire of Pompeii Court(USA) whose daughter Courtza I was responsible for creating all those years ago at Waikato Stud and who became the dam of O'Reilly, sire of Midnight Dip)".

"I liked her prospects with Reliable Man as the mating provided a balanced cross of Mill Reef(GB) about whom I'm a bit fanatical. The grey filly subsequently bred was unfortunately quite offset but was sold to a client of Henry Field's Newgate Stud and she's here in Australia.

"Henry told me last weekend "she's going great". I think any foal that mare has will have ability. Regrettably, Midnight Dip didn't get in foal to Reliable Man the following season, and I subsequently leased her to my old friends at Ancroft Stud for whom she has produced a Pins filly. Philip Brown was still deciding at the weekend which stallion Midnight Dip will visit this year, and I have a residual interest in her subsequent foals."

The McQuade's however still have Underthemoonlight to add to their broodmare band along with the Cecconi half-sister Midnite Rendezvous she was carrying when they purchased the mare.

"We raced Midnite Rendezvous and she was placed only, so I started eventing her. She got injured so I retired her to stud and she has a Battle Paint(USA)yearling filly and is going to El Roca this season. We also have another mare we are breeding from, Shelly Bee (Penitre[GB]-Sea Island), she is a half-sister to Herculian Prince the AJC Metropolitan Handicap winner who we trained before he went to Australia. Her first foal is Shellez Ace (by Swiss Ace[AUS]) which we race with a bunch of longstanding loyal stable clients. She ran fifth at her first start then copped a knock on the gate and got a bleeding nose in the listed O'Leary fillies race at Wanganui."

The McQuade's are based at Pegasus Lodge in the heart of Matamata where they train a small team.

"We only have about four horses in work here at the moment, most of our work these days is either breaking in or pre-training work. Anything that we have that wins a trial or a race is immediately on the market, so we don't seem to keep them around long," she added, but you get the feeling that that won't be the case now with Underthemoonlight. - Michelle Saba