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Lightning strikes twice for lucky syndicate

Sacred Spirit wins the Listed Graeme Thomson Jewellers Great Northern Foal Stakes 23/5/15
Sacred Spirit wins the Listed Graeme Thomson Jewellers Great Northern Foal Stakes 23/5/15

They say that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place, well tell that to the members of the Challenge No.2 Syndicate whose filly Secret Spirit (Swiss Ace[AUS]- Spirit of Sandford) won the Listed Graeme Thomson Great Northern Foal Stakes, 12 months after their other filly Avisto won the same race.

According to the manager of the syndicate Adrian Clark, they didn't necessarily target this race, but the filly was running out her races strongly and there are not many 1400 metre races around for two-year-old's so they took the opportunity to run her.

"It's lovely that it turned out to be the same race and the same syndicate that raced Avisto when she won last year, and that both fillies were maidens going into the race and both were bred by Nearco Bloodstock," said Clark who is also the manager of Nearco Bloodstock for Greg Tomlinson.

"Avisto was the first stakes winner for Nearco and it is just fortunate that I have access to lease such well-bred quality fillies to race in my syndicates with no outlay."

Secret Spirit will now have a short break before heading to Levin for the Listed Ryder Stakes and the Listed O'Leary Fillies race at Whanganui, then all going to plan the Listed Soliloquy Stakes.

She was just one of three fillies in the field of 12 in the Great Northern Foal Stakes that were bred by Nearco Bloodstock, which in itself is quite an achievement for an operation that commenced in 2010. The others were High Class (Shocking[AUS]-Mill Duckie) and Fascinate Me (Rip Van Winkle[IRE]-Seven Schillings).

"It just goes to prove that our systems and methods are right and working. We are getting the horses out there that are capable of competing at black type level. They are being bred and raised on the right farms, and going to the right stables, it's very satisfying," added Clark.

Secret Spirit is the third stakes winner bred by Nearco, they also bred Kuro (Denman[AUS]-Distinctive Lass), who added a third Listed win to his winning tally of five when he won the Mick Dittman Stakes at Doomben earlier this month, and he also ran second in the Group One Galaxy in March.

They have an extensive portfolio of racehorses, young stock, broodmares and stallion shares, and although they have about 45 mares they still need to lease mares to go to stud and Spirit of Sanford was one of those mares.

"I was looking for a mare to send to Swiss Ace and she fitted the bill in my mind. Having said that she was the runt of the litter that year, she didn't go to the sales but there were a lot of pluses, she was nicely put together and she was tough, and I mean wickedly tough, Casey Dando maintains she was the toughest horse he has ever broken in."

Spirit of Sanford (Kilimanjaro(GB)-Dastaria) was a winner she is the first foal of the Stark South mare Dastaria, and is a full sister to Bakup a Group Three placed winner of six races, and half-sister to Sheiswhatsheis (Bertolini[USA]) a winner of four races. Her two-year-old colt by Tavistock also bred by Nearco is a trial winner this season and has been on sold into the barn of Anthony Freedman in Australia.

Dastaria (Stark South[USA]- Daria'a Fun) is fifth foal of the Go Fun mare Daria's Fun who won 12 races including the Group One Wellington Cup in track record time, a record time. At the time it was the world record, but it is still the New Zealand record. She also won the Group Three Queen Elizabeth Handicap , the Trentham Stakes and Counties Cup. She is also the dam of the Group Two New Zealand Cup winner Walter Mitty and one other winner.

Spirit of Sandford and Dastaria are owned by Auckland NZTBA branch member David Mayers, and his daughter Shannon Taylor – not to be confused with the Shannon Taylor who is the secretary of the Auckland Branch.

"It's about time we had another good winner in the family, when you hit 70 any thrill is a good one, and I am not long out of hospital so it's a great boost, but you wouldn't believe it but two weeks ago we sold the half-sister for $6500, so good luck to them," enthused a very delighted David Mayers.

"These days I share my interest in the mares with my daughter Shannon, and it was Shannon that approached Adrian Clark for some advice, as to whether these mares were worth breeding from and he said yes and Nearco Bloodstock have leased both Dastaria and Spirit of Sandford off us at different times. We are having discussions with them again at the moment.

"Spirit of Sandford is in foal to Redwood(GB), and her half-sister by Bertolini(USA) Sheiswhatsheis is in foal to Highly Reccomended(AUS). We have another half-sister by Patapan, Whatwillbewillbe but we haven't decided to send her to stud yet, she is just being used as a hack at the moment, but is available if someone wants to lease her."

Mayers who lives in Henderson in West Auckland has been involved in thoroughbred game for about 40 years, after he and two mates Dave Hodgetts and Dennis Richardson purchased a broodmare at a dispersal sale.

"It started about 40 odd years ago, I went to Keith Burley's Carlyle stud dispersal with a couple of mates and we bought Royal Carlyle (Copnehagen II [GB]- Blatant), from her we bred Daria's Song (Skyhawk II [GB]), who we raced then Daria's Fun (Go Fun). We raced her too and had some great thrills with her, Dave Hodgett's was in the duty free business, I was in Customs and Dennis Richardson was a Customs Agent, and we all worked at the airport and used have a beer once a week and talk about horses."

Trading as Cheval Bloodstock, Richards and Mayers continued to breed on with the family, and over the years have embarked on foal share and lease arrangements to ensure their mares got the best opportunities. Now in his retirement, Mayers cannot only reminisce about the wins of the past but has the winners of the future to look forward to all associated with the mare he bought with a couple of mates.

- Michelle Saba