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Hawke's Bay NZTBA member thriving on Group success

Hawke's Bay NZTBA branch member Ken Browne started racing horses about thirty years ago with big expectations of success. He was finally rewarded when his home-bred mare Thrive (Colombia-Trove by Paris Opera) posted a stylish win in last Saturday's Group Three Merial Ancare Metric Mile.

"She is finally putting it all together and living up to the form she had previously shown as a young filly, Jason Bridgman has done a wonderful job with her, as she has been a bit of an enigma. She's won on heavy tracks and on dead tracks so we are not sure what to do with her, but I think her next race will be in the Matamata Cup," Browne said.

Thrive, now a six-year-old, is raced by Browne in partnership with David Ellis, and has had 17 starts for five wins. She was also recently placed third in the Group Three Estaronline Winter Cup.

She won on debut in June 2011 and again at her next start in August of that year. Almost 12 months and four starts later she won again and backed that up with a second and a win, before failing in two starts at Listed level. A spell followed and the mare has been ticking over since June and gradually running back into form.

Wairoa-born and -bred Browne was a member of the Wairoa Racing Club and knocked around with a couple of young Mulcaster lads, Rob and Tom. Along with another mate, Ron Spotswood – who was at Awapuni with Browne when Thrive won the Merial Mile – they all got into racing horses.

"Rob raced Shamrock, Tom, Rob and Ron had Burletta and a bit of success with a few others and I guess I thought I would too. My first winner was Big Squander at Wairoa in 1988 and there have been a few since then, but nothing as good as what those guys had.

"I was on the committee at Wairoa and then when I moved to Hastings I went on the committee at Napier Park. When all the clubs merged here in the 90's I went onto the board at Hawkes Bay and I am still there today."

It was in the 90's that Browne bought a horse called Jove (St Hilarion[USA]-Fun) and raced him to win five races. He was a full brother to In Joyment the winner of the AJC Metropolitian G1 and five other races.

"I had a bit of success with Jove and in the mid 90's the Lowrys decided to disperse all the Okawa bloodstock, so I went along to the sale and bought a Paris Opera weanling out of Fun (Three Legs[GB]-Enjoy). I was a big fan of Three Legs and was quite happy to try a filly out of a Three Legs mare. I named her Trove and she went to David Walsh and won a couple of races before coming home to breed."

Home for Browne, an active livestock agent, is a 65-hectare block south of Hastings, just along the road from Peter Grieve's property. And it was while visiting Grieve that David Ellis spotted Thrive in the front paddock.

"As a stock agent I had sold David a few cattle over the years so I knew him quite well. He spotted the filly in the paddock and drove up the drive and asked me if he could buy a half share. He said don't tell me what she is by just tell me what you want for a half share. She was a cracking filly and really caught your eye, so eventually a deal was done and the rest is history," he said.Trove is currently resident at Te Akau and will visit Burgundy this season. Thrive is her third named foal and third winner. "She has had three to the races and they have all won, and they are all by inexpensive stallions, Strive was by Danske and Gusto by San Luis(AUS). Since I have been involved with this family I have won 15 races from this little bunch so that's not bad. She has got a nice yearling filly by Per Incanto (USA) but didn't get in foal last year."I have also got a couple of colts by Gold Centre (AUS) floating around at home but I'm not sure what I will do with them at this stage." According to Browne he has quite a few horses floating around the farm - where he grazes dry stock- including another couple of mares and their progeny of various ages. These include Dizzie Limit (Star Way[GB]- No Less) and Paige (Grosvenor – Lady Diva). "I brought No Less from Doug Ancell, she was a sister to Limitless and Run For Cover, and Dizzie Limit is her daughter. She is a blood sister to Twinkling, Zero Limit and Nothing Less, the dam of Boundless."I sold a nice Danroad colt out of Dizzie Limit to Shaune Ritchie and as King Dan he won one race. She is in foal to Nom de Jeu, and I am undecided about whether she will go back to stud this year. Paige is empty and will probably stay that way, but she does have a lovely Fully Fledged three-year-old colt that I am going to race," he concluded.

- Michelle Saba