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Owner happy to have a problem like Charmont

Pix ex Trish Dunell - Charmont (outer) defeats the Thee Auld Floozie in Saturday’s Gr.1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes

Pix ex Trish Dunell - Charmont (outer) defeats the Thee Auld Floozie in Saturday’s Gr.1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes
Successful owner-breeder Bob Emery was pondering a serious question on Monday. Should he retire his Group One-winning mare Charmont now, or race her for another season?

The daughter of High Chaparral and the stakes winning Danehill mare Martique broke through for a well-earned Group One win in Saturday's Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes at Te Rapa.

To add further gloss, barely 10 minutes later close relation Bonneval added the Gr.1 ATC Oaks to her Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks success. The Makfi filly is a daughter of the fine broodmare Imposingly, a three-quarter sister to multiple Group One winner Champagne, the grand-dam of Charmont.

It was a piece of trans-Tasman magic which Emery, who raced Champagne and bred and races Charmont, had to be content to celebrate at home.

"I had been to the Sydney sales last week and must have picked up a bug so I wasn't able to be on course to witness Charmont break through," Emery said.

The five-year-old has been something of a challenge from the time she failed to make her reserve as a yearling.

"I sold her half-sister the year before and got $325,000 for her and this filly was worth as much in my eyes, so I put $250,000 on her. She didn't make that so I didn't sell her," he said.

Instead, Charmont became a racing project for Emery from the Cambridge stable of Group One maestros Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.

Unraced at two, her three-year-old career began promisingly enough with a maiden win coming at start number two. Next up she showed she wasn't out of her depth against the best of her generation with a fourth placing in the Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic.

A string of minor placings followed, including five at Group level incorporating a third in the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks.

When her four-year-old season yielded one more win and yet another Group placing it seemed as though Charmont would never get her breakthrough for a black type win.

Eventually it came in the Listed Wairarapa Breeders' Stakes, a race which held fond memories for Emery.

"I had another mare I had bred from Champagne - Nadege - and she was in a similar situation as Charmont and we really wanted a stakes win with her. Scott Lucock trained her and he took her to Tauherenikau for the Wairarapa Breeders' Stakes and she won it," he said.

"Every scrap of black type Charmont has got has added to her value, but I didn't know that waiting in the wings was a Group One win. That was a pleasant surprise."

The weekend's results were also a quick bonus for the lucky owner who took a punt on the filly out of Champagne's daughter Alamantra that Emery took to the Sydney Sale last week.

"She was by Medaglia d'Oro and his fillies were hard to sell. She was passed in, but I did sell her to a bloke who within 10 minutes on Saturday saw another two Group Ones appear on the pedigree page!''

Emery had an additional reason to be celebrating Bonneval's trans-Tasman Oaks double with Alamantra in foal to Makfi, a mating made with Bonneval's potential in mind.

It is a long way from his foray into racing ownership back in 1976 when he bought a quarter-share in a son of Taipan II from trainer Laurie Laxon after the horse was selected by bloodstock agent Barry Lee. Racing as Emerson, the colt managed three wins and a handful of minor placings and a racing interest which began as a schoolboy was stoked further.

Emery's decision to dive deeper into the racehorse ownership pool was given a prod when he sold his Regency Duty Free retail business and decided to take early retirement.

"That's the problem when you're used to working and you wake up in the morning and think, what am I going to do with myself today?" he said.

The answer was to buy more horses.

"I bought Champagne and several other nice fillies," he said.

When Champagne was retired from racing Emery found himself loath to part with her and by default he became a breeder.

"In 2000 I bought Belvedere Farm in Cambridge as a rundown farm and transformed it. Then, two years ago it got to the stage where I couldn't get away from the property and it was becoming a burden and I wasn't enjoying it," he said.

After selling the property two years ago the next step was culling his mares to a more manageable level. He now has eight broodmares and an expectation that his racing numbers may grow over the next year or so.

In the meantime, there is that small question of what to do with Charmont. ''It's a nice problem to have,'' he said. - NZ Racing Desk



Bob Emery with the NZTBA Breeder's Plate

Bob Emery with the NZTBA Breeder's Plate