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Hard Merchandize scores another impressive 2YO win

Hard Merchandize (inner) downs Bombard in the Listed Castletown Stakes - pic. Race Images PNth

Hard Merchandize (inner) downs Bombard in the Listed Castletown Stakes - pic.  Race Images PNth
Hunterville breeder Chris Grace QSM is no stranger to breeding stakes winners, he started that trend in the 80's with his first brood mare Clearness.

However the latest winner to join his honour roll, Hard Merchandize (Burgundy- Pride and Passion[AUS]) is from an Australian bred mare, not from the family that has served him well with nine generations of winners.

When he won the listed Castletown Stakes, Hard Merchandize became the first stakes winner for his sire Burgundy, a son of Redoute's Choice(AUS) and the grand broodmare Grand Echezeaux, who commenced stud duties at Cambridge Stud in 2014.

It was his third career win from five starts, with the other two starts resulting in a third placing and a fifth placing in the Group One Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes. He is trained at Awapuni by Gary Vile who purchased him from the 2016 NZB Select Sale for $38,000.

He is the first foal from the Encosta de Lago(AUS) mare Pride and Passion, herself a winner of two races, and she is out of the Group One Golden Slipper winning mare Calaway Girl(AUS).

"She was a very expensive yearling that I bought into at the Sydney Easter sales," recalled Grace a member of the Central Districts Branch of the NZTBA".

"David Ellis bought her and he paid A$290,000 for her, and I took a half share. Anyway she kept getting sore knees, so David much to my chagrin, sent her to Burgundy when he retired to stud".

"I promise you I was pretty upset at the time. As soon as she was in foal she went on and won two races, but of course had to retire when she went past 100 days. I actually have a 10% share in Burgundy so I didn't have anything against the stallion, but I felt she deserved more time as a racehorse".

"David put her through the Broodmare Sale and I purchased her outright, and she has now produced three foals."

Pride and Passion's second foal, a colt by Darci Brahma – making him a three-quarter blood brother to Hard Merchandize, sold at the Inglis Classic Sale in February for $A65,000, and last spring she produced a filly by Makfi (GB).

"The Makfi filly was very big, and it was a difficult foaling so she wasn't served again, and I am not sure she will breed again. She is looking very well now so I am hopeful she will," he said.

"Calaway Girl's family hasn't done a lot – she has left five winners – but this fellow will help the family. He was a nice foal, in fact all the Burgundy foals I have had have been very good bodied horses."

Coming from Grace that would be a compliment any stud master would like to hear. Born in Hunterville in the Manawatu into a farming family steeped in racing history, he decided at an early age that he wanted to be involved in thoroughbreds and at 21 instead of embarking on his OE purchased his first yearling.

Her name was Hakawai (Le Filou[FR]-Te Awa), and she was an outstanding juvenile with four wins in her debut season including the Wakefield Challenge Stakes at Wellington. Unfortunately she died at four but Grace replaced her with a three-quarter sister Clearness by Without Fear(FR) from Clearaway who was by Le Filou(FR) from Te Hinemoa (Mr Standfast[GB] –Prodice) a half-sister to Te Awa, and she became his foundation mare.

From the descendants of this family Grace has bred a raft of winners. Clearness had five named foals who all won, including Out Clear (In The Purple[FR]) the dam of O'Malley's Boy and Hinewai (Zamazaan[FR]) the dam of Morar (Otehi Bay) and Pinprick (Pins[AUS]). She also left a winning mare Kamahi (Grosvenor) who in turn has left the stakes performers Primavera (Volksraad), Tullaroan and two other winners including the dam of the Group Two Wellington Cup winner Graphic.

Another daughter Amorina (Sovereign Edition[[GB]) left the stakes winners Lady Annaliese (Groom Dancer[GB]) and Hinemoa (Elusive City[USA], and while Lady Annaliese was sold to the States, Hinemoa remains in the broodmare band.

"Hinemoa has a lovely Savabeel(AUS) colt that I am selling at the yearling sales this summer, and I am racing her first foal by Fastnet Rock (AUS). I have a share in Savabeel and I use him a lot," added Grace.

Which isn't surprising given the success he has had breeding to that sire especially with a new mare Trocair(AUS) he added to his broodmare band around 10 years ago. She has produced five winners to that stallion including the Group Two Brisbane Cup winner Tullamore and the Group Three Godolphin Crown winner Shillelagh who will campaign again in Australia this spring.

Trocair is by Flying Spur(AUS) out of French Tide (CAN) who won two races in Canada. She is a half-sister to two stakes winners, and is also the dam of Nautique (by Pins[AUS]) a winner of three stakes races in America. Not surprisingly she is back in foal to Savabeel.

"We have our own property adjacent to the Bulls racecourse where the horses are kept and pre-trained, there are around about 40 horses there at the moment. Emily Holmes had been preparing our ready to run horses in Matamata for about three years and last year we persuaded her to move down here to this property, and she does everything with the horses now.

"She prepares the yearlings and they go on to be sold under the various drafts, like Little Avondale, but all the work is done here," he said, "and our ready to run horses we sell under our own Surrey Farm draft."

Grace has continued to farm in Hunterville, raising beef and cattle and growing grain, with a few horses on the side. In 2014 he was awarded the Queens Service Medal for his services to the racing industry and the Hunterville community, and judging from the enthusiasm he is showing for his horses and that community he will no doubt continue to contribute a whole lot more. - Michelle Saba