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Jack Glengarry's Influence helps to create 'Herculian Prince'

When NZTBA member Shirley Leitch established Amber Thorougbreds in 2003 she decided to adopt the mantra of the late Jack Glengarry "Breed Champions" as the philosophy for her new enterprise and Herculian Prince (Yanamin Vital –Sea Island) the winner of the group three Kingston Town Stakes at Rosehill is the result of that new approach. "I went looking for the perfect match for Sea Island (Woodman – Kailey Princess) to breed my "Melbourne Cup" horse and found it in Yamanin Vital (Sir Tristram – She Might Hula)," said a very proud Shirley Leitch from her Melbourne base this week. Amber Thoroughbreds is a small family company run by Shirley, a former resident of the Waikato and her father Courtney Leitch. Courtney who now resides in Whangamata has a lifetime association with racing. As a boy, he worked in the racing stables at Ellerslie and rode track work. He also worked for the Purdon family for several years and then continued an association with harness racing as an amateur trainer and breeder. "He passed this love of horses to my sisters and I, and we all did pony club and were involved with sport horses for many years. I was keen to stay involved in some way with horses when I gave up riding, and breeding was the obvious choice. So I set up Amber Thoroughbreds with the purchase of one mare - Amber Ace (Kreisler- San Julia) - hence the name of the company. "In 2006, I persuaded my father to get involved and we split the areas of interest. He looks after the racing side and my interest is the pedigrees. I enjoy the research aspect - the search for that perfect match of bloodlines. The late Jack Glengarry with his on-line bookstore was my main source of knowledge - I asked him to teach me how to breed champions and built my library based on his recommendations. "In the beginning, back in 2003, we were looking to breed yearlings to sell at Karaka. We soon realised that this was the wrong way to think about breeding. If you breed with the yearling sales in mind then you are overly influenced by fashion, so we decided to adopt Jack Glengarry's mantra and "breed champions"," she stated. Sea Island was purchased at the Broodmare sale at Karaka, in foal to Align for $50,000. She was the winner of one race and is a half sister to the stakes placed winners Prosperous Bid and Canny Princess. This is the family of the stakes winners Hula Chief, Hula Drum, Love Dance, Sir Midas, Mardi's Magic, Racing to Win and Purrealist and the same female line as Yanamin Vital. The fourth dam of Herculian Prince (Hula Bend) and the second dam of Yanamin Vital (Never Hula) are full sisters both being by Never Bend out of Hula Hula. "I thought Align was a poor match but we bought her for her bloodlines and that has paid off. She was owned by the Vela brothers. I was surprised they sold her as she is the only daughter of Kailey Princess. Anyway using my philosophy I sent her to Yanamin Vital and Herculian Prince is the result. "We chose to race him and after winning three races from six starts from Karyn McQuade's stable, there were a number of agents interested in him, including Robbie Waterhouse whom Gai had sent on a buying mission to find some good New Zealand stayers and Herculian Prince fitted the bill. "We were pleased he ended up with Gai for a lot of reasons. I'm Australian-based so it meant I could continue to watch him run. Also he was bred with races like the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup in mind. We knew that Gai would give him the opportunity to realise his potential in those races. "We have a full brother to Herculian Prince, Lydian Prince who is looking very promising but is a late bloomer like his brother-Herculian Prince and didn't win until he was four. We have just sold a two year old half sister by O'Reilly to Sydney and another half sister Shelly Bee- a three-year old by Pentire has just starting racing from the McQuade stable. As well we have a two year old Viking Ruler gelding and a three year old Van Nistelrooy gelding from our first mare - Amber Ace - in training. The first foal we bred from her Amber Jack has won three. "We sold down our broodmares this year and now have just two - Sea Island and Venus Star. Sea Island is currently at White Robe Lodge in Wingatui waiting to foal to Gallant Guru before visiting the Anderton's new stallion Raise the Flag. While Venus Star, is based at the Matamata property of Michelle Norman and Dave Keenan, where Michelle is awaiting the arrival of a Pins foal. Her Scaredee Cat two year old colt will most likely be in the ready-to-run sale at Karaka this November," said Shirley. Shirley is Deputy Vice Chancellor of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and will no doubt be looking forward to seeing her first black type winner Herculian Prince in Melbourne later this spring.

- Michelle Saba