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Super weekend for Westbury Stud

Ichiban winning the Listed Graeme Thomson Jewellery Great Northern Foal Stakes at Ellerslie 28/5/16 (outside). Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell

Ichiban winning the Listed Graeme Thomson Jewellery Great Northern Foal Stakes at Ellerslie 28/5/16 (outside).  Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell
In 2008 self-made millionaire Gerry Harvey made the decision to invest in the thoroughbred industry in New Zealand by buying an interest in Westbury Stud.

Eight years on and Harvey has a $50 million plus investment in New Zealand, he owns the stud outright, along with its properties in Karaka and Matamata, and they are home to around 600 thoroughbreds consisting of mares, foals, yearlings, racehorses and stallions.

According to Russell Warwick general manager of Westbury Stud, this year has been a vintage year for Harvey with his New Zealand bred stock.

"Gerry has had a fantastic season here. He has bred two Group One winners, Music Magnate and Sofia Rosa, along with Telepathic, Passing Shot, Red Striker and now Ichiban".

"Music Magnate and Ichiban both won on the same day, and over the same weekend Red Giant left a winner at Trentham and a stakes winner in the States when Surgical Strike won the Group Three Arlington Classic."

Music Magnate, a son of Written Tycoon(AUS) and the Danehill Dancer(AUS)mare Concert Girl, won the Group One Doomben 10000, and Ichiban (Swiss Ace[AUS]-Eclaircissement [AUS]) the Listed Graeme Thomson Jewellery Great Northern Foal Stakes at Ellerslie, giving Westbury's stallion Swiss Ace(AUS) back to back winners in this event, after Secret Spirit won the race last year.

Music Magnate's Group One win came a month after the Group One Australian Oaks win of Sofia Rosa (Makfi[GB]-Bislieri[AUS]), on the back of her success as the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of The Year. A title she won with wins in the Group Two Royal Stakes, the Group Three Lowland Stakes, and a second placing in the Group One New Zealand Oaks, after being relegated from first.

Concert Girl, the dam of Music Magnate, was purchased by Harvey in foal to Written Tycoon (AUS) for $9,000 specifically to come to New Zealand with the first shipment of 40 mares that Harvey sent to New Zealand.

Written Tycoon (Iglseia[AUS]- Party Miss[AUS]) is a former Todman Stakes winner, and current leading sire of two-year-olds in Australia, thanks to the deeds of the Golden Slipper and Magic Millions winner Capitalist. He was the leading first season sire in 2010-11.

Music Magnate was foaled and raised at Westbury Stud, before going to the NZB Select Sale in 2013 where he was purchased by Bjorn Baker for $45,000.

He is the third foal from Concert Girl (AUS) who has also left a winner in Australia in Tariji. As well she has left Music Maestro a three-year-old winner from Karen Zimmerman's stable. He won a maiden race in late March and was subsequently sold overseas.

Concert Girl has a Redwood(GB) two-year-old colt, and a younger yearling brother, she doesn't have a weanling and is in foal to Reliable Man(GB).

From a Windsor Park family, Concert Girl herself was placed at three in Australia. She is a half-sister to the Group Two Wellington Guineas winner Marook and the South African Group Three winner Appeal Process, being out of the unraced Star Way(GB) mare Review.

She in turn is out of Chaleyer a winner of five races including the Group Two AJC St Leger, Group Three Adrian Knox Stakes who ran second in the Sydney Cup. The stakes performers Sworn To Secrecy, One Nite Stand, Bear Heart, Tenko and Guns At Five are also direct descendants of Chaleyer.

"I feel that there is still plenty of upside in a horse like Music Magnate, he will be a much better horse in the spring . He has got better as he has got older and I am sure he will continue to do so," enthused Warwick who was also excited about the prospects of Ichiban.

"He looks pretty talented, at his first start he ran third to Ugo Foscolo who went on to win a stakes race the Listed Hamilton Vets Equine Stakes at Te Rapa. Then he beat Barcelo who ran third behind Ugo Foscolo in that Listed race, and they ran 1.09 for 1200 when he won, so he is not just a wet tracker. He obviously won the Great Northern Foal Stakes on ability, because he is pretty green.

"For Swiss Ace(AUS) it was back to back winners in the Great Northern Foal Stakes and to add to coincidences Ichban's third dam Travel Light also won the Great Northern Foal stakes as well. She also won the Group One Queensland Oaks, and went on to produce a stakes winner in Stoway."

Travel Light is by Bellissimo (Fr) out of Otalight (All A'Light[GB]-Otaha), who is a three-quarter sister to the champion mare and producer Tudor Light who was by All A'Alight out of Elabama a Tudor Court(IRE) daughter of Otaha.

Elcaircissement is by Hussonet(ARG) out of the unraced Danzero(AUS) mare Dazzle Light, and is a half-sister to the Group One placed Illuminates who won 10 races, four at Listed level. She in turn is the dam of Hursley (by Makfi[GB]) the winner of the Listed VRC TCL Stakes.

Her first foal Staccato was the first ever winner for Swiss Ace(AUS), and he has now won seven races for trainers Graeme and Debbie Rogerson who also train Ichiban. For good measure Graeme Rogerson shares in the ownership with Harvey and a large syndicate of owners. The Rogersons paid $55,000 for Ichiban at the 2015 NZB Select Sale and this year returned to buy another full brother for $65,000.

Elcaircissement does not have a foal this year, and with an early mating she was the first mare to test positive to Westbury's new young Fastnet Rock (AUS) stallion El Roca.

Of the other Harvey stakes winners this year, Telepathic is by Mossman(AUS) from Telepathy (AUS) a Conatus(AUS) mare out of Come On Klaire a Sir Tristram (IRE) mare from Great Klaire, a half-sister to the mighty Eight Karat. She is the only winner to date from the mare and has won six races including the Listed Tyreel Stud Cup.

Red Striker is by Red Giant(USA) out of the Encosta de Lago(AUS) mare Megara and is a winner of four races including the Listed Newmarket Handicap, she was also placed second in the Group Three Darley Plate.

Passing Shot is by Swiss Ace(AUS) out Derrydane who has also left a stakes placed winner in Joesready, from six foals. Passing Shot is the winner of nine races including the Group Three BMW Mr Tiz Trophy and this season the Listed NZB Finance Sprint and the Lightning Stakes. He is just one of four stakes winners by Swiss Ace(AUS).

"Swiss Ace(AUS) has nearly 70% winners to starters, and is having a great season, there are winners by him every week, he just needs to crack it with a big horse in Australia," added Warwick.

"Horses like Turncoat, and First Serve, that show so much potential. He served 120 mares last year, and has always had good books. We have made sure he has had the numbers if he didn't have enough outside mares. We have really supported him".

"Gerry is a big supporter of his stallions, and is sending his good Group One winning mare Royal Descent (Redoute's Choice[AUS]- Mulan Princess to be served by Swiss Ace(AUS) this season. Along with another Group One winning mare Fashions A Field (Redoute's Choice[AUS]- Attire[USA]) who will join his other 220 mares resident here".

"Swiss Ace's fee has gone up from $10,000 to $13,500, so it will be interesting to see where the bookings come from this year. Having said that we are well ahead on bookings for all our stallions for this time of the year".

"It's been five or six years in the making but we now have the fire power in our stallions and the bookings are coming steadily for Swiss Ace(AUS), Makfi(GB) and Reliable Man(GB), and there is a lot of talk out there for the Redwoods".

"The bookings are from a combination of both old and new industry participants and old and new clients. They see some merit in what our stallions will do. It's hard to fathom where this buoyancy in the market, from the yearling sales, right through to the weanling and broodmare sales this year so far, has come from".

"For the first time though and it is still relatively early in the season, we have bookings for 10 or 12 mares from Australia. What the Australians haven't got is affordable young stallions in the proven ranks. They have plenty of older stallions that are proven and affordable, but not many in that $20-40,000 market".

"A horse like Sebring(AUS) is $70,000, and so is Snitzel (AUS). They can send a mare to Makfi (GB), and land it back in Australia for around $40,000 and there are not many horses that have left two Group One winners from their first crop that you can do that with in Australia.

"Young horses like Tavistock, Savabeel, Makf(GB)i, Showcasing(GB) and Iffraaj(GB) are making them sit up and take notice, and helping our industry locally".

"Let's hope the trend continues as I am taking 11 nice yearlings across to the Magic Millions Yearling sale this month, I deliberately kept a few back from Karaka and we have some nice colts by Swiss Ace(AUS), Makfi(GB) and Reliable Man(GB)."

As well as Gerry's success it has been a good year for Westbury Stud, having produced Imposing Lass (Makfi[GB]- Imposingly[AUS])to win the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet en route to a start in the Group One Queensland Oaks.

"I was responsible for the mating of Howard Be Thy Name (Redoute's Choice [AUS]- Bellini Rose), one of the favourites for the Queensland Derby after his win in the Group One South Australian Derby," added Warwick.

"I planned the mating for Eric Watson, we couldn't sell him as a yearling, I knew it would take time so we decided to keep him and race him. We sold a share to Jeremy Rogers and Eric kept a share and Howard and Lisa Aldridge and their friends make up the Mahogany Syndicate. Lisa also bred and raced Bellini Rose".

"You would have to say now that Gerry is doing well for his $50million plus investment in New Zealand, and I think," he added, "that after this season he can puff his chest out and be really proud of what he has achieved here and feel it has been worthwhile."