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Hardline's breeder Bill Hurlstone ecstatic with Karaka Million win

Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell
Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell

Taranaki based breeder Bill Hurlstone was lucky enough to be on hand to see Hardline (Showcasing[GB]- Midnight Breaker), blitz his rivals to win the restricted listed Karaka Million at Ellerslie on the eve of the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales.

"It was just an absolute pleasure to be sitting there in the grandstand with a horse I had bred in the race, and what a thrill I got when I saw number three flash past the line first," Hurlstone recounted.

Hurlstone is the breeder of Hardline, a graduate of Hallmark Stud's 2014 Select Sale draft, who was purchased by Queensland based Liam Birchley for $130,000. Hallmark Stud had purchased Hardline as a weanling from Hurlstone at the 2013 National Weanling sale for $40,000.

"I was hopeful, Mark Chitty (Haunui Farm's general manager) had told me how impressive he had been when he won in Doomben, so I was quite excited to be there and witness the win. There is nothing like that feeling of winning a race whether you bred it or race it.

"It's a just a great industry to be involved in I love being involved you meet a whole lot of great people. And it leads you down some wonderful paths, and if you happen to win the odd race it's a bonus.

"Things can change around so quickly in this game, on the 4th of December Midnight Express (Elusive City[USA]-Midnight Babe) won a maiden race at Taranaki, the next day Hardline won convincingly in Doomben and Tinder (Elusive City [USA]-Midnight Walk) a horse I race with Haunui won a trial. Two weeks earlier I had bought an Iffraaj(IRE) gelding out of Midnight Babe home because I didn't get a bid on it!

"It was a great night and after the races I caught up with Damian Brown who rode Hardline – he rode Midnight Babe to win for me in the Warstep Stakes, when he was still in the South Island, so it was nice to see him again. I also met Liam Birchley and some of the owners."

It was Birchley's second win in this prestigious bonus race for yearlings purchased from the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales, having previously won with Sister Havana in 2010 after having produced Sarge In Charge to run second to The Heckler in 2009.

Hardline is the eighth foal from Midnight Breaker, a descendant of Midnight Lady, the first thoroughbred the Hurlstone's were ever associated with.

"In the mid 80's my daughter Wendy was mad keen on horses so I went to the Waikato sales and bought a filly for her. It was an Ivory Hunter (USA) filly out of Lady Ritmar and was bred by Charlie Roberts. We were totally new to racing, when the filly arrived home from the sales at midnight my late wife Therese named her Midnight Lady and that was the start of the dynasty and our interest in racing."

And what a dynasty it has developed into with Hardline being the latest stakes winner.

Lady Ritmar was by Taipan II (USA) out of Polperro (Idomeneo[GB]- Zeta's Gold) as stakes placed winner of seven races. Midnight Lady won six races, including the Group Three Gold Trail Stakes, and was Ivory Hunter's first stakes winner, she went on to leave nine named foals, eight to race and six of those were winners, including the two stakes winning sisters Midnight Babe and Midnight Madam.

Midnight Babe won five races including the listed CJC Warstep Stakes. She also won three listed races in Australia including the Queensland St Leger, and was Group One placed in the Queensland Oaks. She is the dam of five winners including Midnight Express who won that maiden event for Hurlstone the day before Hardline won his first race. Her last foal is an Iffraaj gelding which has been retained by Hurlstone.

Midnight Madam won six races including the Listed CJC Great Autumn Stakes, she was also placed at Group Three level. She has produced 13 foals, including the dual Group One winner Perlin (Carnegie [IRE]) (MRC Underwood Stakes and the BTC Doomben Cup) and also the listed MRC Galilee Series Final winner Almodovar (Pins[AUS]). She also produced Midnight Breaker by Housebuster (USA) a winner of two races and the dam of Hardline.

Another sister Midnight Lass, is the dam of the Singaporean group performer Sky Frontier a winner of six races, and of Jetset Lass the winning dam of the group three Taranaki Cup winner Jetset Lad (Elusive City [USA]).

Harking back to Midnight Breaker, she was the first foal of Midnight Madam and was by the Haunui based American bred stallion Housebuster(USA). She won two races before going to stud and a quick look at her breeding record shows a strong association with Haunui. She has left winners by Van Nistelrooy(USA), Carnegie(IRE), Elusive City(USA), Don Eduardo and Showcasing (GB). Hardline is her eighth foal and first stakes winner, but her record is seven to the races for six winners.

"It was Mark who persuaded me to go to Showcasing – but he certainly looks the goods now and I am pleased I did. I prefer to breed stayers, it's my ultimate dream to breed and own a Cups horse, I would love to win an Auckland Cup. After Midnight Lady finished racing I went to Kaapstad because he was a good stayer, then with her daughters I went to Carnegie as he won the Arc and now Midnight Madam and Midnight Breaker have been to Shocking as he was a Melbourne Cup winner."

"I tend to stick with the same people I have always dealt with," added Hurlstone, a retired contractor who still lives on the 30 acres in Egmont Village he was raised on.

"I am not that good a judge of a horse as such, they all look good to me, and so I stick with those that have given me good advice. I got to know Gordon Calder when my mares were at Windsor Park, and subsequently sent four over to Coolmore, and I still have one there.

"I have had a great partnership with Haunui, and a couple of years ago I netted around $400,000 from three yearlings – but that's all gone, it soon gets eaten up when you have bloodstock. I have four mares and with my shares in race horses and young stock I have a total of 11 horses at the moment.

"As I said before there is nothing like that feeling of winning a race. My late wife Therese and I used to love travelling everywhere to the races, we had a lot of fun over the years. She died in 2004 and I am now married to Judy.

"I would still like to travel overseas to see some of those great races like the Arc de L'Triomphe and the Kentucky Derby, and I want that Cups horse I would even love to win the Egmont Village Cup!"


- Michelle Saba