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Veyron Breeders' Still on Cloud 9

When the NZTBA caught up with Isabel Barker, the owner breeder of the group one Landmark Easter Handicap winner Veyron, a couple of days after the Thorn Park gelding had won that event, she was still struggling to believe he had won a Group One race. "It's so exciting it was a super win, it was great for everyone, great for Linda, and great for Rogan, it was through our association with Linda that we bought into this family. It's taking a little while to sink in that we have bred a Group One winner, and that Veyron has actually won four on end. It's a tribute to Linda she has placed him so well and looks after him so well. Linda Laing and Royce (her father) Dowling have won a lot of races for us since we started out with them." Veyron is by Thorn Park out of Over The Limit a Centro mare out of the Brisbane Cup winning mare Limitless (Sir Tristram - Coverless), who also left the stakes winners Twinkling and Zero Limit. Their sister Nothing Less is the dam of the multiple stakes winner Boundless and the stakes performers Nothing Lika Tango, Purrfection and Our Dance. Limitless and her half sister Run For Cover a stakes winner of five races, were both trained by Royce Dowling as were Nothing Lika Tango and Our Dance, for Doug and Una Ancell. Twinkling was trained by Royce and Linda Laing for Doug and Una's son Ross. Members of the Waikato branch, Isabel and her husband Alistaire farm sheep, beef and dairy cows at a large holding just out of Te Awamutu, where they also run their three mares. Several years ago their regular stock buyer was Doug Ancell – the owner of Limitless and her brood and one day while drafting cattle with him Isabel made a tongue in cheek comment to him that she wouldn't mind having one of his race mares. Sometime later he offered to sell her Over The Limit and the rest they say is history! Linda told Isabel that Over The Limit had untapped ability and heaps of speed and to buy her if at all possible. So Isabel purchased her out of the paddock in foal to Star Way. That foal was On The Limit who won a race before joining the broodmare ranks. "Over The Limit was a tall rangy mare and I was looking for something with some speed and muscle. I had a long association with Windsor Park and at one of their stallion parades I thought he was a lovely lovely horse that had competed at the highest level and the mating would produce the type I wanted. It didn't. Veyron is the splitting image of his mother only bigger, he is so long he nearly doesn't fit in the starting gates. But type doesn't matter when they win a Group One race. "As a foal he was huge foal and very long, it was a difficult foaling and unfortunately Over The Limit hemorrhaged and died shortly afterwards. However, we have On The Limit to breed from and she has a gorgeous Perfectly Ready filly foal and is in foal to Tavistock. I think she will have to go to Thorn Park this year. Isabel grew up on a sheep farm in the Hawke's Bay and started riding at three. As a teenager, she rode the farm hacks as well as thoroughbreds, until she went away to university. After graduating, she moved to the Waikato where she met and married Alistaire and it was only then that she owned her first horse. The Barkers used stock horses on the farm up until a few years ago, but motorbikes took over mainly because they had trouble hiring staff who could still ride a horse. She is an accomplished endurance rider and during the early 90's went to Raglan in search of a new horse. At the property where she was inspecting the horse she spotted a pretty grey speckled mare. As it happened the mare was a thoroughbred rescued by the horse protection league, and the lady who was looking after him needed to move her on and sent her and her foal home with Isabel. That was how she got Va Bene (Sovereign Ruler – Gay Day), she then sent her to an Arab stallion and turned her out into the paddock. "A couple of years later she wrote to me and said I could have the mare, and sent through all the updated paper work. She had been to Sir Sian earlier so I sent her there again and she produced a colt foal. "Doug spotted him running around a paddock a couple of years later and said he thought we should try him, he said he would send Royce over to have a look at him and that was how that association with the Dowlings started. That horse was Soldier Blue (Sir Sian-Va Bene) our first racehorse. "He won eight races for us, we were pretty green in those days. Royce took him to Riccarton for the New Zealand Cup, he told us he was going to give him a run the week before to prime him up and make sure he was fit for the Cup so we didn't bother going down. What we didn't realize until the day was that it was a Group Three race and the Metropolitan God Cup. After that we made sure we were on the plane to Christchurch the next week and have hardly missed seeing any of our horses race since.

"That was the year Soldier Blue got a bad case of colic the morning of the New Zealand Cup and was scratched – we had to wait another year for him to win it in 2001.

"We had one more foal out of Va Bene and that was Daytime by Herocity, she was unraced, and her first foal was Overkaast (by Kapstaad) who won four races and was Group One placed in the New Zealand Oaks, Avondale Cup and Zabeel Classic. She now has a Volksraad colt at foot and is in foal to Guillotine.

Daytime's next foal is Midday Hero by Danske and he has won four races from the Laing stable, the most recent earlier this month at Ellerslie. Her two-year-old by Viking Ruler, After Midnight, is also in the stable and ran second at his debut in March. She also has a three-year-old by Thorn Park who was injured and may go to stud this season now that Veyron has put some money in the kitty.

"For her first mating I sent Daytime to Kapstaad to get some Sir Tristram blood after the success of Soldier Blue ( Sir Sian his sire was by Sir Tristram), that was Overkaast so it worked there.

The next mating was Midnight Hero by Danske (Danehill-Our Tristalight) where I have the Danehill over the Sir Tristram in Our Tristalight, and that seems to have worked. So I thought I would try Viking Ruler (Danehill-Tristalove) which is the same cross and so far it looks like After Midnight has ability.

"Daytime has a colt foal by Volksraad and is in foal to Guillotine, I really like Guillotine for a big horse. He was really well balanced as a race horse and has a real presence about him, I am looking forward to that foal.

"We have been pretty lucky with our racing and breeding ventures and Linda and Royce have contributed to that. Linda has done a fantastic job with Veyron she knows that family so well, he is coming home for a winter spell and providing I can get him through the winter unscathed he should have a big year next season.

"He is pretty accident prone that's why he didn't race until he was four, he has terribly scarred legs, we were pretty lucky none of the injuries were career threatening, someone must have been looking over us. Linda got to the stage where she was too scared to leave him in a box overnight and would put him in the paddock triple rugged.

- Michelle Saba