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Queensland Oaks success for Greg Tomlinson

Quintessential leads home the New Zealand-bred 'first four' (photo NZTM website)
Quintessential leads home the New Zealand-bred 'first four' (photo NZTM website)

The group one Queensland Oaks is a race oftn targeted by New Zealanders and their record in the event is quite extraordinary with nine winners since 2000.

This year's event was no different with the first four horses home all New Zealand bred, with three of the four being by colonial stallions standing at Waikato Stud. The winner was Quintessential (Fast 'N' Famous[AUS]-Florette [USA]), from Eliza Blues (O'Reilly – Censibelle), Vittoria (Postponed [USA]-Eurotec) and Dowager Queen (Savabeel[AUS]- Dower). That win also gave Fast 'N' Famous (Redoute's Choice [AUS] – Zalynda [NZ]) his first group one winner.

Bred by Trelawney Stud in Cambridge, Quintessential is their second Queensland Oaks winner, the first being Vouvray (Zabeel – Real Success) in 2004. She in fact still holds the track record for the event. Trelawney has produced a number of Oaks winners including Boundless (Van Nistelrooy[USA]-Nothing Less), and Hill of Grace (Zabeel-Carmel Valley[AUS]) while last year's South Australian Oaks winner Lights of Heaven(Zabeel – I'm In Heaven) who was raised there, made a welcome return to the winners circle on Oaks Day, winning the group two Eagle Farm Cup.

"It was a great win," commented Brent Taylor, " great for Trelawney, great for Greg Tomlinson who has tipped so much money into the industry over the past three years, and obviously great for Fast 'N' Famous.

"You can't go out and buy group one success like that, and for Greg to be on course and experience that winning feeling is great. There is nothing like being there when you win your first group one race."

Quintessential is raced by Nearco Stud, a relatively young bloodstock investment company owned by Christchurch based Greg Tomlinson with the bloodstock being managed by Adrian Clark. It was Clark who selected the athletic chestnut filly and purchased her at the 2010 Select Sale for $70,000 - the top price for a filly by that sire at that sale.

"It's a fantastic result for Nearco, winning a group one race in Australia certainly raises the profile for us. Now when people see those blue and black colours winning races they will begin to associate them with Nearco. Our philosophy is all about building relationships and this win will go a long way to doing that," commented Adrian Clark.

Trained at Matamata by John Sargent she went into the race following a fourth in both the group three Hidden Dragon Roses (2000m) and the group three Gunsynd Classic. Previously to that she had finished third in the group one New Zealand Oaks to Artistic in the middle of March. Her race record now stands at four wins and four placings from 11 starts.

She won a maiden at Te Teko at her second start in October, and was put aside until December where she ran second fresh up before adding another win to her tally against her own age group at Awapuni. At her next start she won the group three WRC Desert Gold Stakes, before her placing in the New Zealand Oaks.

Quintessential was one of five yearling fillies purchased by Clark for Nearco in 2010.

"I went to Karaka with a solid budget, and got blown out of the water in K1 so instead went to the Select Sale and purchased five fillies. She was the most expensive. I liked her - she was elegant, very athletic and bomb proof and just the sort of staying type filly that I knew John Sargent liked and had done well with.

"Sarg has already sacked the Keeper filly we bought that year and she has gone to stud, and the other fillies were a Perfectly Ready – Noubeel filly who has won her only trial, and Purpose, a Falkirk filly who has won three races out of Richard Collett's stable.

"I also bought another Fast 'N' Famous filly out of Ngaio. She was named Consummate and is trained by Kevin Hughes at Riccarton, and she has won one and was fifth in the St Leger and the Lowland Stakes. So our racing team is off to a good start," said Clark.

"The first horse I bought for Greg was Tip The Wink (Stravinsky[USA] –Kape Dancer) in early 2010. She was a winning mare racing out of Mike Breslin's stable. At her first start for Nearco she won the listed Lightning Handicap and followed that with a win in the listed Flying Handicap. The following season she was third in the group one Railway Handicap, and third in the group three Stewards Handicap. She has now joined Greg's band of elite broodmares.

"He has about 40 mares in the portfolio and 80% of them are genuine Premier Sale mares. Thirty one of those mares are currently in foal to about 12 different stallions.

"The philosophy of Nearco is about building relationships in the breeding and racing industry across Australia and New Zealand, and the best way for us to do business going forward is to align our selves with good partners.

"To that end we have significant investment partnerships with Rich Hill Stud, Fairdale Stud, Westbury Stud, Haunui Farm, Cambridge Stud and Arrowfield Stud. Aside from that we have stallion shares in all sorts of places.

"We took five shares in Jimmy Choux. He was certainly on our radar and we got involved with him smartly. He had high credentials and was a natural fit for us going forward. Besides we are also involved with the Shocking syndicate at Rich Hill and they have done a marvelous job with him in his first year," added Clark.

Nearco Stud does not have a property and their breeding stock is based at three farms, Curraghmore Stud and Bradbury Park in the Waikato and Highden Park in the Manawatu. Highden Park is part of the Perry family's former Highden Lodge and is managed by Libby Bleakley – an earlier recipient of the NZTBA Sunline Management Scholarship.

Some of the mares resident at these farms are the stakes winners; Alagant Satin, Pennacchio, Mill Duckie, Our Joan of Arc, Lamington Vegas, and Beautiful Girl, to name a few.

"I think it's fair to say," said Clark, "that Nearco Stud is the fastest growing breeding operation in this country when you look at the extensive broodmare band and the racing team."

Harking back to Quintessential, according to Brent Taylor she was always a good looking athletic foal who grew into a great yearling. She was the fifth foal Trelawney had bred from a mare they sourced out of America.

"Florette (Sword Dance [IRE]- Vincesca [USA]) was a mare we purchased through Robert Dawe out of America. I like to buy mares out of the States that provide an outcross from the sire lines we have here which is what appealed to me about Sword Dance (Nijinsky [CAN] – Rosa Mundi [USA]), I think Florette is probably the only Sword Dance mare in New Zealand.

"She came from a consistent stakes winning family and she was the ideal mare to send to Fast 'N' Famous(AUS) (Redoute's Choice [AUS] – Zalynda ), as most of our mares have either Sir Tristram, Grosvenor, and Zabeel in their pedigrees we needed something of an outcross to go to him."

Florette is a three-quarter sister to the stakes performers Magical Madness, Touched by Madness, Coco's Madness, Rapier Dance, and a half-sister to Garemma, Favalora, Marilyn's Madness, Shananie's Wish, Vinnie's Boy, and Marilyn's Magic.

Her first foal was So Fantastic (AUS) [Fantastic Light] and was a winner in Australia, her second foal was by Carnegie (IRE) and as Halfametreshort won three races also in Australia. The third foal Lisboa (Van Nistelrooy[USA]) also won one race and the fourth foal a filly by Johar (USA) has now won two races in Australia.

Trelawney bred her sixth foal, a filly by Iffraaj (IRE) and when in foal to Exclusive City sold her for $18,000.

"I have always been a trader of mares, and I felt the time was right to sell Florette. She had left a couple of winners but hadn't left anything really good. Obviously Adrian was backing his judgment and rated Quintessential when he bought her for himself at the 2010 Mixed Bloodstock Sale."

Clark purchased the mare to add to his own private broodmare band, not that of Nearco Stud, but had no luck with the mare. She had a filly foal to the Elusive City mating, but it died in a paddock accident, and then she failed to get in foal.

"I had no luck with her and decided to sell her on, she went through the May Sale last year, and was passed in," he said.

At the time, in the Manawatu, Cara McErlean was on the look out for a quality mare, and had marked five in the catalogue. She was unable to get to the sale and asked a former colleague from Wellfield Stud to look at these mares on her behalf. There was a bit of breakdown in communication and she believed she had missed out on a mare.

"I went on line to check the results and found that the mare hadn't sold. She was my first choice mare and I immediately hit the bid now link and purchased her for $1,000. Naturally now that I own the dam of a group one winner I am absolutely delighted. It was an astute buy," enthused the bubbly 29 year-old who combines horse work with dairying on the family farm in Orua Downs.

"I have always had one or two mares since I started work in this industry as an 18-year-old, and I am constantly trying to upgrade. I liked the pedigree, I liked the fact that from five foals she had at that stage left three winners and one placed - that was the Johar filly that has since won two- and I knew John Sargent had a bit of an opinion of Quintessential.

"She is now in foal to Road to Rock and I had already booked her back to Fast 'N' Famous before the Queensland Oaks. Anything Quintessential does now is a bonus, she has certainly proved herself and it's great for me."

Coincidently Cara is also a former NZTBA Scholarship winner having placed top international student at the English National Stud in 2004. The English National Stud scholarship is no longer available as the costs increased dramatically in the mid 2000s and the NZTBA was unable to continue sending a student to both the Irish and English National Studs. The Irish National Stud scholarship has continued and is awarded annually, thanks to the generosity of the Taylor Family of Trelawney Stud and the K.I.A. Taylor Charitable Trust.


- Michelle Saba