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John and Margaret Thompson's Derby Winner

Out of something bad, something good can happen, just ask John and Margaret Thompson the owners of the New Zealand Derby winner Rangipo (Stryker[AUS]-Holloway).

For her four-year-old season, the Thompson's sent their lightly raced winning Zabeel mare Holloway to Victoria to race. In the autumn of 2011 she was racing in a 1600 metre race at Flemington and expected to race well, instead she disappeared out the back. When she returned to scale she had been galloped on quite badly and her back legs were badly damaged, and the broodmare paddock beckoned.

The Thompsons sent her to Three Bridges in central Victoria to recuperate. As she was getting over her injuries she developed blood poisoning and nearly died, it was about nine months before she fully recovered.

Auckland branch NZTBA member John Thompson picks up the story.

"At the same time Three Bridges got their first stallion Stryker (AUS), a stakes winning son of Fastnet Rock(AUS) from the famed family of Denise's Joy. The mare was settled there, she didn't have to be moved, I consulted my guiding light in this industry, my bloodstock agent Paul Willetts about the pedigree, and he liked it and so we had her served".

"He was a nice foal, I didn't see him until he was a couple of months old but he was a good size for a first foal. Paul liked him as well. We brought him home, all our young horses are developed and educated here in New Zealand, and circumstances led to him going to Tony Pike. He has a wonderful set up and does a tremendous job, his staff are fantastic and his staff to horse ratio is very high, the place runs like clockwork and nothing is left to chance".

"If Holloway hadn't had that accident she would never have ended up at Three Bridges, and by way of repayment we have had the pleasure of providing Stryker with his first Group One winner."

Rangipo - named after the central North Island prison- is not the first Group One performer the Thompsons have raced, but it is the first one they have bred.

"He is the first Group One winner I have bred and only the second I have raced, l hope it continues it's a wonderful feeling. It's actually quite surreal on the day it's only afterwards that it really sinks in, I could get used to it. It goes in a blur, it's actually better now a couple of days afterwards, I can appreciate it more.

"He never wins by much, he was way out of his comfort zone, even half way down the straight I didn't think he was going to do it, it was like he said to himself okay, I'll have a go, and he got there a short head in front of What's The Story, with a further head back to his stablemate Raghu".

"We will never run him over 2400 metres again, I think it was just his class that got him over that distance, he has a great record for a three-year-old. He's in the paddock now and as long he stays sounds I think he will just race up to a mile and we will aim him at something like the Emirates Stakes," stated Thompson.

For the record Rangipo has had 12 starts, he broke maiden ranks in a 1000 metre race at Taupo in September, and in his next three starts won two 1400 metre events. He stepped up to a mile in the Group Three Wellington Stakes where he finished fourth before winning the Group Two Great Northern Guineas over that distance. In his next start he finished third in the Group One Levin Classic, before winning the Group Two Avondale Guineas and finally the prestigious Group One New Zealand Derby.



The Thompsons have been in the racing game for just over 20 years and have had a lot of success with horses they have bred and raced. Atapi won 11 races and was Group One placed four times, while Penitentiary was another good performer for them winning races including the Listed Geelong Classic.

And it was the association with Penitentiary that led eventually to the conception of Rangipo.

"Paul Willetts has been my bloodstock consultant for over 20 years, and we have had a great relationship and do reasonably well. He was a good friend of the late Val Langsford and Val and her late husband Ron had nurtured this family for years. A few years after Ron died Val decided to get out of her breeding stock so Paul arranged for me to buy Strangeways".

"We have already raced her sons Penitentery (Pentire[GB]) and Hazeldon(Magic of Sydney[AUS]) a winner of five races, and our first mating with her was to Zabeel, which is Holloway. We also have Robbin Island by Golan out of the mare that we have kept, she has a three-quarter brother to Rangipo at foot and is back in foal to Stryker."

After the Thompsons purchased Strangeways (Veloso-Irish Ballad) herself a winner of three races, Barlinnie (St Petersburg[AUS]) came up and won nine races including two Listed events, while an older half-sister Maze won four races including the Group Three Manawatu Cup and has produced two winners.

Holloway foaled a late colt by Pierro (AUS) this season so has been left empty. She also has a two-year-old filly by High Chaparral named Arohata, after the women's prison in Wellington, who the Thompsons plan to race.

"Naming this family is fun and quite easy," mused Thompson, "there is no shortage of prisons around."

- Michelle Saba