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Malandrino steps up for Blandford Lodge

The win by Malandrino (Darci Brahma- Staryn Glenn) in the group three Manawatu Classic, has come at the perfect time for Blandford Lodge on the eve of the Inglis Easter Sale.

"We are taking a close relation to the Sydney sale and it's great to get another black type winner in this family so close to the sale. In fact, a bit later on that day the family produced another one when Luke's Luck (Show A Heart[AUS]- Red Dream) won the group two Ausdrill/Karrakatta Plate so there was double cause for celebration," said Blandford Lodge director Graham Bax.

"It's good to get a horse like him, a horse that looks quite exciting, and it's a thrill to get another group winner from the family that has been so good to me."

Malandrino has had seven starts for three wins, two seconds, a fourth and a fifth in his only other attempt at stakes company in the listed Championship Stakes. He is raced by Lib Petanga's JML Bloodstock and may now look toward racing in some of the remaining three-year-old classics in Australia.

A son of Darci Brahma, he is the first foal of the placed Montjeu mare Staryn Glen (ex Soleil Etoile). She is a half sister to the multiple group winner Silky Red Boxer (Casual Lies) and the stakes placed winners Star of Gretchen (Bahhare[USA]), and Go Go Lightly (Danasinga[AUS]) and six other winners. In fact, of Soleil Etoile's 10 foals, she is the only non-winner.

It's a family that Graham and Helen Gay Bax have been associated with and developed for almost 30 years. In the mid eighties Graham Bax purchased the English bred mare Polly Soleil(GB) (Roi Soleil-Polaria) from Ron Denby, of Denby Lodge fame.

"We were still living in Thames at the time and I went down to Cambridge to collect her. Poor old Mr Denby I don't think he wanted to part with the mare and he was a bit worried about my rumpty old horse float. He even rang me after I got Polly home to make sure we had made it alright.

"She was one of the first mares that I purchased. My family had always been involved in racing, but I just branched into breeding. The first foal I bred was by Red Tempo and that was the group two Challenge Stakes winner Soleil Rouge. The next foal was Black Sun by Otehi Bay and he also won seven including the group three Marton Metric Mile."

Soleil Rouge went on to be the granddam of the stakes winners All Thrills Too (AUS) (St Covet[AUS] -Red Slippers by Citidancer [IRE] ) Adaline (Court of Jewels [NZ]- Red Covet[NZ] by St Covet), Gotta Have Heart (AUS) (Show A Heart[AUS] – Red Century by Centaine [AUS]) and his sister Crossyourheart.

Polly Soleil produced seven foals for the Baxes, five of them fillies which they retained to breed from including Soleil Etiole and Katie O'Neill and a number of their daughters.
Katie O'Neill, an unraced Zabeel (NZ) mare has produced the group two VRC Manifold Stakes winner She Will Be Loved (Strategic [USA]) and the group two placed winner Thorn Dancer (Thorn Park [AUS]). She is also the dam of Red Queen (AUS) (Redoute's Choice) the mother of the aforementioned Luke's Luck.

Her Encosta de Lago filly sold at the Premier Sale this year for $165,000 to Gail Drought of New Plymouth, while another member of the family the Fastnet Rock(AUS) filly out of Runeasy, a sister to Stary Glenn, fetched $100,000 to the bid of John Chalmers Bloodstock.

The third yearling from this family to sell at Karaka this summer was the Savabeel half sister to Mandalino and that was purchased by Bruce Perry Bloodstock for $60,000 on behalf of JML Bloodstock. Mandalino's mother Stary Glen is back in foal to Darci Brahma and has a Mastercraftsman colt at foot.

At the Sydney sale Blandford Lodge have three yearlings including a Fastnet Rock filly out of Star of Gretchen. This mare was second in the South Australian Oaks, and she has already left a winner in King Gladiator.

"It's been a fantastic family for us, and we are still getting great results on the track and at the sales with daughters and grand daughters of Polly. We had a lot of luck and made a lot of money from one of our first mares. When you invest in bloodstock and get a mare like Polly early on you seem to think the game is easy but it isn't," added Bax.

From a small investment while they were still farming in Thames the Baxes, along with their daughter Kylie, decided to expand their business and purchased Blandford Lodge 11years ago and returned it to the magnificent horse property it had been.

Blandford had a history of being one of the top New Zealand studs and was home to the champion stallion Shifnal. It was a victim of the 1987 stock market crash and was converted into a dairy farm. The Baxes have restored it to a top thoroughbred nursery, and although they do not stand a stallion, it is home to around 50 mares.

"Tony Mudgeway managed the farm for about five years and got the place back up and running and then about six years ago I moved over and starting working here full time.
In 2009 Kylie decided to sell her share of the property and Owen Glenn was looking to invest in the industry and purchased her half share.

"We have developed a great partnership, and over the last three years I have bought him some rather nice mares. Between us we have about 45 mares and we do agist six or seven outside mares for some Australian clients."

Graham Bax plans the matings for the mares and uses mainly top end stallions here and in Australia.

"We have shares in Darci Brahma and Savabeel so we like to use them, and apart from that we go to the likes of O'Reilly, Pins, andThorn Park. We usually send around six or seven mares to Australia each season. Last year we sent mares to High Chaparral, Starcraft and Fastnet Rock.

"Like any industry in a recession the thoroughbred business here is tough at the moment, and its going backwards. However, as long as we have markets in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong we should survive. Our stallion power is weakening - Australia seems to get all the good stallions.

"We need better stake money to help the industry. It's all about getting the money in the industry and keeping it going around. We will survive. If you are doing the job right you can maintain the momentum and it's just a matter of sticking to what you know," he said.

Or as the case maybe with Mandalino, sticking with a good family you know.


- Michelle Saba