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Auckland breeders thank their lucky star

I Am A Star wins the Gp.1 Myers Stakes 29-10-16

I Am A Star wins the Gp.1 Myers Stakes  29-10-16
Hours an Auckland couple spent trawling through pedigrees and devouring catalogues were rewarded during a fabulous three hour window at Flemington on Saturday.

Long time Hallmark Stud client Christine Wilkinson and her husband Craig Gray saw their mare Star Band add significant black type to her pedigree through her Gr.1 Myers Stakes winning daughter I Am A Star.

Earlier in the day the family also earned a boost through the Darren Weir-trained Tiamo Grace winning the Gr.2 Wakeful Stakes. The Monaco Consul filly is out of Sicile, a half sister to Star Band.

Christine who said she and Craig read sales catalogues "as entertainment" was still "over the moon" on Sunday afternoon as she headed to the Mercer sheep and beef farm which is now home to the dam of the newly minted Group One winner.

She was also delighted for I Am A Star's trainer Mornington-based Shane Nichols with whom she is regularly in contact.

"I was looking back at our texts and laughing at some recent ones where he was disappointed with her third placing last week. I had said to him that she would redeem herself as she was certainly capable of winning a Group One - we just didn't know how quickly!" she said.

Recalling how she and Craig came to purchase Star Band, an unraced daughter of Dixieland Band and the winning Common Grounds mare Spenderella, Christine said it was only by chance she saw the supplementary catalogue which included Star Band at New Zealand Bloodstock's 2014 May sale.

"I said to Craig, 'look at all these wonderful pedigrees' and we then had a great debate about what we should buy," she said.

"She (Star Band) was a typical Northern Dancer type - quite small and unassuming - and I said, 'I've got to have that mare'."

To their surprise Star Band, in foal to Shocking, was knocked down to them for $2,000. "We were pleasantly surprised. I would have expected to pay $20,000 at least."

I Am A Star went through the same sale as a weanling, being sold for $12,000 to Llanhennock Trust before later being sold in Australia for $40,000. Her subsequent owner Matthew Sandbolm also purchased Star Band's resulting Shocking filly from Christine and Craig.

"We were already quite a way down the track with a Civics filly from one of Don McLaren's old mares, Azure Belle and couldn't afford to race the Shocking filly as well, so we initially looked to lease her," Christine explained. With no takers on that front, they then offered her for sale.

They currently have a 2015 Thewayyouare filly from Star Band which they intend keeping and are currently on foal watch as the mare is due to foal any time now to Haunui Farm's Iffraaj. – NZ Racing Desk