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La Diosa and breeder Terry Archer

Terry Archer with the 2015 O'Reilly-Star Affair filly, the half sister to La Diosa

Terry Archer with the 2015 O'Reilly-Star Affair filly, the half sister to La Diosa
When Auckland Branch member Terry Archer started buying fillies with residual value to race, he put his faith in fillies from strong South Island filly families and it has paid off in spades.

Archer is the breeder and part-owner of the talented three-year-old So You Think filly La Diosa(ex Star Affair), a descendant of The Dimple a member of the Dennis Brothers famous stakes winning family, and he continues to breed successfully from descendants of his group one winning race mare Showella herself a granddaughter of the mighty Show Gate.

La Diosa commenced racing as a two-year-old last April with a win over 1000 metres at her first start, and followed that with a fourth before being turned out. She resumed in September running third in a three-year-old event at Riccarton before coming out and winning the listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes on that same track. She then came out and won the listed Barneswood Farm Stakes in impressive style.

La Diosa is out of the stakes winning mare Star Affair( Star Way[GB]), who is the first foal of the Grosvenor mare The Grin a dual listed winner out of multiple stakes winner The Dimple. The Grin is a three-quarter sister to the Group One Auckland Cup winner Irish Chance (Sir Tristram[IRE]) and the group three winner The Cheek (Kaapstad) and a close relative to a host of other stakes winners.

"I bought Star Affair with a friend of mine Wayne Peters, a lawyer in Whangarei, we raced her out of Frank Ritchie's stable and she won four races including the Group Two Travis Stakes.

"Shortly after she went to Australia and ran third in the Group Three Gosford Gold Cup, as it was nearly the breeding season she went to Coolmore to be mated. At the time it was Rock of Gibraltar's first season and they suggested it was an appropriate mating. She is a short coupled mare and I had never seen Rock of Gibraltar(IRE) so I didn't realise he was a typical Danehill. So when her first foal was born it was described by a Coolmore staff member as a "bit of a nugget", he wasn't very tall, but was very wide, a bit like a cube on four legs.

"We took the nugget to the sale and he was passed in so Wayne and I put a syndicate together to race him. That was Solid Billing and he did us quite proud winning seven races including the Group Three AJC Summer Cup and Listed Queensland Cup.

"Her next three matings were to Galileo(IRE) I was a big fan of his, and the first two sold well one to South Africa where he won five races as Galileo's Galaxy and was group one placed, and Earth's Gravity who won five races in Japan. The third one we raced with John Wheeler and he did a tendon after winning one race.

"The next three matings were to O'Reilly making them three-quarter relations to Champion filly The Jewel who was The Grin's second foal. Since then The Grin has also left group three winner The One also by O'Reilly and five other winners.

"Star Affair's first O'Reilly was a filly and she was purchased by Waikato Stud as a yearling for $600,000, and she raced as Thy. She won four races including two listed events in Australia the MRC Regal Roller Handicap and the ATC Aspiration Handicap, she also ran third in the Group One Australian Oaks. They are now breeding from her. We raced one ourselves called The Da and he won a couple of races, and the other Offairo won in Australia for Jamie Lovatt.

"That foal was foaled in Australia while the mare was visiting High Chaparral where she had another filly and I wanted to go back to that stallion but I didn't get in so I went to the next best thing in his son So You Think, and that mating produced La Diosa. Since then she has been to O'Reilly again and produced a filly and this season is due to be served by Darci Brahma. She is getting too old to travel to Australia.

"After we sold the first O'Reilly filly to Waikato Stud, and she had another couple of colts, I thought from now on I am just going to hang on to any fillies. After two fillies though the cash flow was suffering, so I decided to get a group of mates together and form a syndicate to own La Dama (High Chaparral[IRE]), La Diosa and the two-year-old O'Reilly filly and that is the syndicate that races La Diosa

"I am still the majority shareholder but the syndicate includes, Grant Currie and lawyer here in Whangarei, Coolmore's New Zealand representative Gordon Calder, Mike Gibson and Brook Sipos from Auckland and Bruce Honeybone and his girlfriend Deborah Martin."

"It was a syndicate decision to send La Diosa to the South Island, I had her at my place and she was quite difficult and I worried about the fact that she may not fit into a big stable. Gordon Calder had had horses with the Browns and so we decided to send her there. They have done a wonderful job with her and the fact that we have had such a wet spring in the north it's a blessing she was in the South Island."

Archer runs his dozen mares and young stock on his property known as Rockford Park, west of Whangarei, where they are cared for by him and his long term employee Nicki Parr.

So how did the retired CEO get into the horse business?

"I liked to punt, I wasn't a very good punter, and I thought someone is making money out of this racing game it must be the owners, so I thought I would get a share in a race horse.

"My first venture was into an Indian Ore gelding called Oil Rigger, and he was trained by one of the part owners Mike Dodds. He won a maiden and a double at Thames, and Mike really wanted to meet the Queen so he nominated him for the Royal meeting at Ellerslie when Her Majesty attended in February 1990. Well the horse duly won race seven on the card, but unfortunately for Mike, Her Majesty was only in attendance for races four, five and six.

"Following that I became involved in a syndicate with Frank Ritchie it was called the 12 Cheers Syndicate and was put together by former sports broad caster Rocky Patterson, and included a number of hangmen from the media like Tony Potter, Mike Dillon and Brian de Lore, along with and a few others. And I have been involved with and great friends of Colleen and Frank, Shaun and Craig ever since.

"The transition from owner to breeder, came about in almost the same way as the transition from punter to owner, once again I knew someone was making money in the industry and it wasn't the owners, so I decided to start buying fillies because at least they had some residual value.

Showella was the first filly that he bought, she is out of Show Queen a Balmerino daughter of the Hall of Fame mare Show Gate (Gate Keeper[GB]-Minglow), the winner of 30 races nine of them a black type level including the Trentham Stakes, and in one memorable week she won the Stewards, Canterbury Gold Cup and Churchill Stakes.

"I just absolutely loved Show Gate and wanted one of her descendants. Shortly after he bought her central districts pedigree guru Phillip Jefferies approached him said that that filly had been his pedigree pick of the sales. That's how we met and he has given me a lot of guidance since then. Fortunately Frank was a fan of Show Gate as well and quite liked the Lord Ballina filly despite the fact she was tiny, back at the knee and had a club foot – not bad for a dual group one winner.

Showella won six races and was the Champion Older horse in New Zealand in 1999-2000. She won the Group One ARC New Zealand Stakes and the Group One South Australian Derby, as well as being group one placed twice. Her first foal Safwa by Danehill(USA) was bought by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoumm for $800,000 and she went on to win five races, two of them listed. Her second foal La Carda (Giant's Causeway[USA])was sold to Coolmore while her third foal by Galileo(IRE) was Showileo who Archer raced, and is now in his broodmare band, and producing winners.

She went back to Giant's Causeway and produced Showcause and then her last live foal was by Encosta de Lago(AUS) was also sold to Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoumm and he raced him in South Africa where he won four including the Group Two Greyville Betting World 1900.

"Together with some friends and some clients of Frank Ritchie's I put a syndicate together and we raced Showcause here in New Zealand, where he was the champion stayer in 2010-11 after winning the Group One Auckland Cup, Avondale Cup, Group Two City of Auckland Cup and the Group Three New Zealand Cup," he recalled.

"I love this game I have had a lot of fun, there may not be a lot of money to be won in New Zealand racing but there is still a lot of fun to be had."

And in Archer's case a lot more stakes winners to be bred. By Michelle Saba