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Taranaki NZTBA members celebrate first stakeswinner

A bout of bronchitis kept Taranaki breeder Sue Cowley from seeing her classy two-year-old filly Steel Rose (Guillotine[NZ]-Aga Panther) win the listed Wentworth Grange Stakes at Te Rapa recently.

Cowley and her husband Peter, members of the Taranaki/Wanganui branch of the NZTBA, bred the Guillotine filly and race her with a couple of family members and a group of diving and fishing mates from Taranaki, known as the Steel Rose syndicate.

"I was a gutted I couldn't be there, but I was so crook I just couldn't go, we are all good mates, and all members of the Taranaki Racing Club, except our Perth based son Blair who was home visiting. Our eldest daughter Amy also has a share with her husband Brad Raven, and the other syndicate members are transport operators Peter Sole and John Hickman, along with Dennis Portway and Gary Pratt. The only one who for some unusual reason doesn't have a share in her is Wheels (trainer and good friend John Wheeler)!" according to Cowley.

"Steel Rose is our first stakes winner and the best we have bred, it's a real thrill."

Steel Rose was having only her second start when she took out the listed 1100 metre event, she had previously run third over 1100 metres at Otaki. In winning the event she became the first stakes winner for the Windsor Park based Guillotine (Montjeu[IRE] –Refused The Dance), pictured, whose oldest progeny are now three-year-olds.

The Cowleys, who trade under the banner of Rocky Bay Bloodstock Limited, got into the thoroughbred business about seven or eight years ago. They have extensive farming interests in Taranaki, in chicken and dairy farming, and own a number of farms in the Bell Block/ Devon area.

Peter and I bought Aga Panther from the yearling sales, she is a daughter of Viking Ruler (AUS) (Danehill [USA]- Tristalove ), out of the Bigstone (IRE) mare Pacific Pearl. Pacific Pearl was a two race winner out of the stakes winning mare Turtle Bay also by Danehill. She won the listed SAJC Cinderella Stakes, a race won by her mother Glorious Way (Godswalk[USA]).

"Aggie, has she is know,n has had a few issues, Wheels sorted a few of them out, but we decided against racing her and sent her straight to stud. So I sat down with Mike Moran from Windsor Park Stud and we did the genetics and eventually came up with Guillotine," she said.

Aga Panther has Danehill in her top line through Viking Ruler, and he appears again as the damsire of her second dam Turtle Bay. Another strain of Northern Dancer is introduced into the pedigree with Guillotine being a grandson of Sadler's Wells.

She visited Guillotine twice and has a yearling full brother to Steel Rose in the paddock, and currently has a colt foal at foot by Thewayyouare (USA). She has not been served this season.

"Aggie is being left empty to give her a rest. She has done well so far, so she can come home here to Bell Block and I will look after her and then they can go to the run off and 'go wild' for a few months. We don't know what we will do with the yearling yet and we also have another Guillotine filly in the paddock out of Golden Opal."

"Peter's favourite saying is 'she breeds them and I feed them', as most of our stock are either at Bell Block on the 60 acres where we live, or on the run off, down near the beach, where all the young dairy stock are reared and the dry cows also go. We have four broodmares at the moment along with a number of other mares used for breeding dressage horses.

"I am an analytical type person, and when we decided to concentrate on breeding race horses, I was determined not to breed just another disposable thoroughbred race horse. I thought I will do this very carefully and scientifically. I have noticed a number of breeders can be a blasé about their matings and they breed more on type, or because they have a mate who owns a stallion and they feel they should support it!

"Having said that, I took a bit of a stab in the dark and sent a mare to Eighth Wonder (Zabeel-Diamond Lover) because he has such lovely bloodlines, and we have a lovely colt, out of Pincinna (Pins-Tithe).

Although they are relative newcomers to the thoroughbred game, Peter and Sue have always had an involvement or interest in horses."Peter has always had horses and been involved with them in one way or another, his father Albert (AJ) Cowley was a good horseman, a real stockman, and he imported quarter horses, and Apaloosas, he was a well-known identity around Taranaki involved in contracting.

"Our daughter Katie is an accomplished rider, and it was because of her that I started breeding dressage horses and eventually thoroughbreds. I did grow up around horses, my grandfather Jack Read used to train trotters.

"Katie was Champion Young New Zealand rider and rode for the New Zealand development squad. She has ridden in Germany for Australian Olympic medalist Hayley Beresford, and also worked for Australian Grand Prix Dressage rider Ben Conn. She and I owned a good Dressage horse called Hu Ra. Katie completed a science degree at Massey before going overseas to ride, but on her return entered the Police force. She has graduated and is based in South Auckland.

"We are still a bit blown away really, by the success of Steel Rose but hopefully Wheels will keep her sound and she will go on from here, and I will get to see her win another stakes race," Sue added hopefully.