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Planet Rock Flies the Flag for Wellfield Lodge

Picture of Planet Rock courtesy of equine - Photographer Trish Dunell
Picture of Planet Rock courtesy of equine

Photographer Trish Dunell

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think Planet Rock would be a two-year-old," said Bill Gleeson the proprietor of Wellfield Lodge, the breeders of the Fastnet Rock filly who is now favourite for the Karaka Million. "In fact if you had asked me to describe her I would have said she was a lovely big scopey three-year-old type, so anything she is doing at two is a bonus and she will be much better at three. She was a fantastic yearling and deserved to get $290,000." This is a sentiment backed up by her trainer Peter Williams but he is hopeful of taking out the big prize on January 30th, when New Zealand's richest two-year-old race the Karaka Million is run. The Karaka Million is New Zealand Bloodstock's incentive race for graduates of its National Yearling Sales Series and is run on the eve of the Karaka Premier Sale. The race is run over 1200m and carries Restricted Listed Status. After Planet Rock blitzed her rivals in the Countdown to Karaka Million 2YO Handicap recently, she put herself right into contention to take out the big race. "It would be a fantastic start to the sales if Planet Rock did take out the race as she has a full brother in the Premier Session the next day. He is very similar to Planet Rock very athletic with a bit more size." Wellfield Lodge in the Manawatu is a relative newcomer to the sales arena, commencing selling on a small scale some six or seven years ago. It is only in the last couple of years that they have had a significant draft and started presenting Premier Session yearlings. This year they have 13 yearlings in the premier session and five in Select. In the interim Bill Gleeson and his team have started to build up a sound bloodstock portfolio for the stud, buying good quality mares and racing a few nice fillies on the way, all with a view of eventually supporting the stallions, that now reside at Wellfield Lodge. It is now home to the exciting young stallions Alamosa (O'Reilly – Lodore Mystic) and Road to Rock (Encosta de Lago –Trewornan) who stand alongside the proven stallion Handsome Ransom (Red Ransom – Bianca Lancia). "Alamosa has been supported by a lot of New Zealand breeders and some of the heavyweights of the industry have supported him with lovely mares. He left such attractive foals that most of the mares he served in his first season have returned, plus a good number of others. We are thrilled with his foals and they won't lack opportunity, he really stamps his stock they are very like him either bay or brown I don't think he has left a chestnut foal." Akris (Zabeel – Steluta) the dam of Planet Rock was one such mare that Gleeson purchased. She has left a colt at foot by Alamosa and is back in foal to that stallion. Gleeson purchased her through the Robert Dawe Agency, sight unseen, although he did have a photograph and a veterinary certificate. She had raced in Australia and was successful over 2200 metres. Akris is a three-quarter sister to Manzeal (Zabeel – Karman Gal) a listed winner of 11 races, and a half sister to Gorky Park (Montjeu-Steluta), a winner of four including the Andrew Ramsden Classic and the Geelong Classic both Listed events. He is also group one placed.
Steluta was placed in Australia, and is a half sister to three stakeswinners, being out of the stakes winning mare Karman Gal (Persian Bold –Tumblella). "I liked her pedigree and was very keen to get a Zabeel mare. They cross so well with so many stallions and they put a lot of substance into their foals. Zabeel is still in the top echelon of sires in the Southern Hemisphere even though he is in the twilight of his career. I don't think you can go wrong with them. "She went straight to Coolmore to be served by Fastnet Rock (Danehill- Picadilly Dancer) and would have come home but for EI. That first mating produced Planet Rock and we returned to the same stallion the following year and that is the colt in the sales this year. "I chose Fastnet Rock as I knew he would be physically compatible with Akris as well as achieving the proven Danehill - Zabeel cross. When planning my matings I always look at the physicality of the stallion and the mare and then move on to proven nicks and crosses. I'm not really a big follower of line breeding." "We have another Fastnet Rock in the sales this year. He is a real rock star, my stand out colt for sure. Out of Elegant Emerald (Unbridled Song – Emerald Cove), she won five races here and was stakes placed when trained by Anne Herbert. She was sold to Australia as a broodmare in foal to Montjeu, I managed to pick her up at a sale in Australia as an empty mare and sent her to Fastnet Rock and brought her home. Elegant Emerald has left a recent winner in Singapore, Sichuan Ruler (Jetspur), and is also in foal to Alamosa. "We have had a bit of success with our yearlings, from our very first draft we sold Chettak (Almutawakel – Filament) the winner of the group two Counties Cup and seven other races. This season we have had Yourein (Reset – It'sYou) the winner of the listed Championship Stakes Prelude from our 2009 draft and other stakes performers include, Winter King (One Cool Cat –Something Special) the listed Starlight Quality Stakes, Old Jock (Montjeu-Ma Danseuse) the listed Victoria Gold Cup. "In the case of Yourein he was a pin hook from the Gold Coast weanling sales. In the early days we did a bit of pin hooking to boost our sales drafts, he was one, and another was Handsome Zulu who ran third in the New Zealand Derby. At the time we bought him to give Handsome Ransom a bit of a boost. Peter Didham and I do all the pin hook selections." "On the back of those results, and regardless of whether Planet Rock wins the Karaka Million, we are getting quite excited about going to Karaka this year, we have some lovely yearlings to present," he said. Both Windsor Park Stud and Little Avondale are also hoping that Planet Rock can take out the Karaka Million. Little Avondale have a Pins colt out of Steluta in their draft and Windsor Park a High Chaparral colt out of Karman Gal.

- Michelle Saba