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Vespa hits home for Kevin Hickman's plans

Vespa returns to scale after winning the Listed Karaka Million - Photo Trish Dunell
Vespa returns to scale after winning the Listed Karaka Million

Photo Trish Dunell

Back in 2010 when Kevin Hickman was planning the matings of his extensive broodmare portfolio, he decided he needed to breed a good two-year-old to appear on the catalogue page of his young Fantastic Light (USA) mare Miss Avalon(IRE), and so he sent her to visit Elusive City(USA), with the result being the Listed Karaka Million winner Vespa.

"He's a good horse, and it's a great name don't you think?" enthused Hickman, a member of the Canterbury branch of the NZTBA.

"He accelerates when he needs to and doesn't like to be beaten. He looks like he has a bit of growing to do and will develop into a nice three-year-old - we are thrilled with the result."

Vespa was sold at the 2013 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Sale for $34,000 out of Hickman's Valachi Downs draft to Christ Rattue and John Norwood, and is trained for them by Johno Benner at Otaki. He debuted in September in the first two-year-old race of the season where he finished second. He was put aside and raced again in November to win at Otaki, and followed that win with another at Trentham. Over Christmas he made his first appearance at Ellerslie in the Group Three Barnswood Farm Eclipse Stakes and was hampered at the start and twice in the straight yet still managed to finish third behind Vinnie Eagle and Steel Rose.

On Karaka Million night, with an excellent draw, he jumped to the lead, and stayed out of trouble. When tackled in the straight he fought hard and went on to win by a length and a half.

Vespa is the second foal of Miss Avalon. Her first foal is a Zabeel (NZ) colt named Hazzabeel who was purchased by Gai Waterhouse in 2012 for $180,000. Her third foal is a filly by Mastercraftsman(IRE) and she has a stunning colt by Zacinto(GB) and is in foal to that stallion again.

Miss Avalon (Fantastic Light[USA]-Mythical Girl[USA]) was purchased by Hickman at the Breeding sale in Newmarket in 2008. She was unplaced in France and unsound. Once in New Zealand she was tried again and won a trial before running fourth in a maiden, but unfortunately proved to be unsound again and was retired to stud.

"Ric Wylie found her for me. She was near the back of the book in the sale and we didn't have to pay much for her. I loved her pedigree - her mother won the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot, and she also left a two-year-old stakes winner in Toruk Macto.

"The third dam is Yousefia (Danzig [USA]) and she is a sister to Green Desert (USA) and a three-quarter sister to Bertolini (USA). There are a few stallions on the page and I always like that in a pedigree.

"The first year we sent her to Zabeel, because I knew his time was running out and I was hoping for a filly, but got a lovely colt. With the second mating I knew I needed to get something on her page early, so went for Elusive City. On paper it was a good cross and I knew I had a good chance of getting a two-year-old performer.

"You couldn't say he was a stand-out two-year-old type, and you don't want to encourage the buyers to push them along. They have plenty of time at three and four years to win races, and that's more important as a breeder."

"The Mastercraftsman filly is a lovely big horse and she will probably also make a nice two-year-old. We will keep her and race her, but we will bring the Zacinto colt to Karaka next year. As a shareholder in Zacinto I am quite excited about his potential as a stallion. The Dansili (Danehill- Hasilli) blood is doing so well in Europe and I am sure it will work well down here."

Hickman's boutique stud Valachi Downs has been selling at Karaka since 2008 when they topped the sale with a Scardee Cat- My Kinda Gal colt that sold for $300,000. Since that time they have also sold Shamrocker (O'Reilly –Bohemian Blues) for clients Vern and Margaret Trillo.
"From memory this fellow is the first stakes winner we have sold that we have bred. We have also sold the stakes performers Red Shift ( Lucky Unicorn[AUS]- Scarlett Queen), he also ran seventh in Silent Achiever's Derby and is a half to Emerald Queen who won a stakes race for us last year.

"Anotherchancetaken (No Excuse Needed[USA] –Winning Spree), a half brother to Silent Achiever (the 2012 New Zealand Derby winner bred and raced by Hickman), he has also been stakes placed along with Ruse de Guerre (No Excuse Needed – Cramoisy) and Secret Agent (Sakhee's Secret-Jan Valachi).

"Next year we will have a bumper crop of yearlings to sell, and I may have to start selling some of my fillies as well," he added.
And with over 40 lovely broodmares in the Hickman portfolio, there is bound to be some lovely fillies amongst them and maybe another Karaka Million winner.


- Michelle Saba