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Pencarrow's top family have a golden weekend

Leon Casey and Dolmabache - Photo: NZTM
Leon Casey and Dolmabache

Photo: NZTM

There is plenty to smile about down on the farm at Pencarrow Stud right now, following the amazing double stakes winning feat of the full blood relations Dolmabache (Redoute's Choice – Our Echezeaux) and Burgundy (Redoute's Choice- Grand Echezeaux) at the Cambridge Jockey Club's recent meeting.

Dolmabache, raced by her breeders Peter and Phillip Vela of Pencarrow fame, was an upset winner of the group two Travis Stakes, a weight-for-age event for fillies and mares over 2000 metres. The four-year-old mare had only won on two previous occasions and was footing it with some of the best weight-for-age mares in the country.

Earlier on the programme in the group three Windsor Park Breeders Stakes for three-year-olds, her full blood brother Burgundy showed his class, leaving his rivals flat footed over 1200 metres, winning by two and a quarter lengths. The Te Akau 2010 Breeding Syndicate colt has now won five races, three of them at that distance.

He went into that race on the back of an equally impressive win in the ARC listed Mr Tiz Trophy, also over 1200. Six weeks prior he had run third in the group three Wellington Stakes, after also placing in that position in the group two Great Northern Guineas.

Burgundy won on debut at Taupo in September and followed that win with another three weeks later. He was transferred south to the Rangiora stable of Te Akau and from there won the listed Canterbury Stakes for three-year-olds over 1600 metres. He then raced in the 2000 Guineas where he finished sixth behind his stable mate Rock'N'Pop, and that is the only time he has been out of the money.

With a race record like that he looks destined to follow his famous half brother Darci Brahma to stud.

Pencarrow Stud's manager Leon Casey was on course to witness this remarkable feat and was still smiling a couple of days later when he spoke to the NZTBA.

"It's our elite family so it's exciting when it's performing so well. I could talk about that family all day," he said.

"Counting yearlings and foals, we have about 25 members of that family on the farm at the moment. There is the Romanee Conti branch and then the Ethereal branch. We have only ever sold one yearling filly out of this family and that was Raise The Play (Defensive Play[USA]-La Tache), the dam of Bellini Rose (Faltaat[USA]). It is nice to be able to look around the farm and see stock with relations that are doing so well."

That may seem like a bit of an understatement, as this family has produced countless group one winners, and a stallion or two. Not to mention the million dollar yearlings.

So where did all begin?

During the eighties the Vela brothers, Peter and Phillip, purchased a yearling filly called Richebourg (Vice Regal- Mary Mead) from Chequers Stud. Named after a wine region in Burgundy, she won five races including the group three VATC Tranquil Stakes, and was a sister to Federalism, a listed winner of three who was group one placed and a half sister to the Werribee Cup winner Demerara. The listed winner, In My View, was a three-quarter sister, and she was also the dam of the multiple group one winner Stony Bay.

Richebourg became a foundation mare at Pencarrow Stud producing 10 named foals, nine to race and six winners. Her first mating was with Sir Tristram and produced a winner in Sir Rhine but it was her second mating with that sire that produced her best racehorse, the outstanding mare Romanee Conti. Also named after a wine region in the South of France, she won seven races including the Hong Kong International Cup, the STC Queen of the Turf Stakes, the Lowland Stakes and the Rotorua Lion Brown Sprint, all at group three level. However Romanee Conti is probably most famous for producing the Caulfield/ Melbourne Cup winning mare Ethereal (Rhythm[USA]).


The year before Ethereal burst on the scene, Richebourg produced another top line racehorse in Grand Echezeaux (Zabeel) who won four races including the group one South Australia Oaks and the group three Auraria Stakes. And from two more matings with that stallion produced Our Echezeaux and Perrine. Richebourg's only other winning foal was Summer Wine II by Zamazaan (USA) and he too was a stakes performer.

Following her successful race career in Australia, Grand Echezeaux was mated with Danehill(USA) before returning home to Pencarrow Stud, and that resultant foal was the champion race horse Darci Brahma. A winner of 10 races, five of them at group one level, he had the ability to win at group one level at the age of two, three, and four, before being retired to stand at The Oaks Stud.

His oldest progeny are three-year-olds and include the group one winner Aristic, and the stakes winners Darci Be Good, Malandrino and the Singaporean sensation Super Easy.

Grand Echezeaux's next foal was a filly by Montjeu – Madame Echezeaux, now a member of the Vela broodmare band. She was followed by the stakes placed Saperavi (Stravinsky[USA]) who is now at Willow Glen Stud in the South Island. Her next mating was with Redoute's Choice and produced Prince Conti, an older brother to Burgundy, who fractured a carpal bone in his knee and is now at stud at Paxton Park in Cambridge.

Burgundy was followed by a Pins(AUS) colt who has been registered as Libation in Australia. This season Grand Echezeaux produced another filly to add to the Vela band, and she is by Encosta de Lago. She is currently in foal to O'Reilly.

Our Echezeaux didn't have the ability on the race track shown by her elder sister, but can hold her head up now as the dam of a group two winner. According to Leon Casey, the Pencarrow mares usually go to Australian sires for their first mating, or when they have missed a season. Our Echezeaux has plenty of stamps in her passport. Her first mating was to Rock of Gibraltar (IRE) and resulted in a filly. She was unraced and was sold as a broodmare in 2010. The next foal she produced was Dolemabache. She missed the following year and returned to Australia where she was mated with High Chaparral (IRE) and that colt will sell at Karaka next summer. She is currently in foal to Makfi (GB).

Harking back to Romanee Conti, she has been retired from breeding now but still resides at Pencarrow. Besides Ethereal, she has left the group one place filly Velvet and Satin (Carnegie[IRE]), who in turn has left a listed winner in Bespoke (Pins). As well, her son Le Bec Fin has enjoyed moderate success at stud.

Ethereal has produced the stakes-placed winner Uberalles (Giants Causeway[USA]) and a couple of other fillies. Her son Ebullient (Stravinsky) has won a couple of races. She has a two-year-old filly by Encosta de Lago on the farm and a full brother to her will be sold at Karaka next year. She is in foal to Rip Van Winkle(IRE).

Pencarrow Stud was one of the original share holders in Zabeel and that has turned out to be a great investment.

"He is a unique horse. He puts range, scope and stamina into his foals, and now his mares are producing some great crosses with some great stallions. Fortunately we sold very few of our Zabeel fillies. Zabeel blood is like gold.

"In the last five weeks we have had three stakes winners and they are all bred on the same Redoute's Choice Zabeel cross. That's not a bad strike rate when you consider we have probably only used Redoute's Choice about 10 times," said Casey.

The third stakes winner he was referring to was Papilo who won the Valachi Downs South Island Breeders' Stakes. She is out of the Zabeel mare Lafleur, a daughter of the Green Desert (USA) mare Desert Lily (USA) (ex Habibti[IRE]) a member of the illustrious Eight Carat family.

As a three-year-old Lafleur won the group two Royal Stakes and the Sir Tristram Classic before going to stud and leaving the group three ARC Darley Plate winner Amaryllis. Papilo is her third foal.

"Peter bought Desert Lily off the track in England, and Lafluer was one of her early foals so he struck pay dirt early. The Eight Carat family wasn't very prominent in the Southern Hemisphere at the time. But it has certainly connected well with our stallions down here since that time," according to Casey.

"Peter studies pedigrees and puts a lot of work into deciding the matings. The three of us, Peter, Philip and me then sit down and make the final decision. We try to use proven horses as much as we can, and we do have some shares in Road to Rock (AUS), Sahkee's Secret (GB), and of course Darci Brahma.

"We have around 60 mares to mate each year. The size of the farms and the number of farms has increased over the last 10 years as well. We use Philip's farm to winter the mares, and then we have the farm where the racehorses are kept and trained. In 2002, the year Darci Brahma was foaled, we had 28 foals - this year we had 58. When you keep your well bred fillies it can certainly increase a lot.

"We originally retained a 10% share in Darci Brahma when he was sold and increased that to 20% when he went to stud. This year we sent Orquidea, an unraced daughter of Montjeu (IRE) and Romanee Conti, to him, and that mating is a 3 x 3 cross of Richebourg. Occasionally we try something like that. She is a lovely mare and the recent wins by her close relations have done her no harm.

"It would have rounded the weekend off well if Darci Brahma's daughter Our Miss Jones (ex Maryann Jones) had won the South Australian Oaks. As it was she was beaten by a filly out of a Zabeel mare. But the family is on a roll in more ways than one. He is going to make it as a stallion. His stock look like they are going to stay and sprint and are getting better with age. He has had some wonderful books of mares to date so it will continue, so that makes us pretty happy," he concluded.


- Michelle Saba