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Winning the Kelt Capital Stakes a big thrill for the Smarts

Winning the $1.2million Kelt Capital Stakes is all a bit daunting for Alana Smart, part-owner of Vosne Romanee (Electronic Zone-Madison Avenue). Even a few days after the event the obvious thrill and excitement is still in her voice.

"It's been wonderful, the response from everyone is incredible, people congratulating us, it's been amazing and I haven't come back to down to earth yet," she said even though she was back at work at the family vineyard, Alana Estate.

"We are small time racing people, and I guess we will just take it in our stride, but for the last few days it's been a lot of fun."

Her husband Ian agrees, and is somewhat humbled by all the attention. He says that it's all a bit overwhelming, and hard to believe.

"We have been through some really difficult times with establishing the vineyard and with our daughter Molly's health issues. We have had some tremendous support from the racing fraternity and with this win, we can start to put things behind us, and move forward," he added.

Molly (10) is over her health problems now. She is the youngest of the four Smart children with three older brothers, Zak (17),Connor (15) and Harry (14), all of whom are beneficiaries of the Ian and Alana Smart Trust, the owners of Vosne Romanee.

"The win proves that dreams can come true and you only need a good horse and lot of luck. You don't have to be rich and famous and breed or buy the most expensive horses to win the big ones," explained Ian who has always had an interest in racing.

"I grew up in Taranaki and my grandmother, Rachael McDonald, was related to the owner of Toporoa who won the 1955 Melbourne Cup, and she nurtured my interest in racing. We used to travel to Trentham and go to lots of race meetings as kids. And I knew one day I would eventually get involved.

"I had a good friend in Taranaki, Steve Herlihy and he worked for Ken Northcott when he stood Morcon. He recommended I buy Madison Avenue (Morcon –Madison Square) as she was member of the Heights family. She had been born with a growth on her cheek and the vets didn't think she would ever be able to eat properly, so she was unraced and pretty much unbroken. However I couldn't afford the price Ken wanted in 2000. Shortly after he became ill and wanted to scale down his interests and we came to an agreement whereby I would breed from her and pay the costs and we would split the proceeds.

"Enter Jeff Lynds (the trainer of Vosne Romanee) and Electronic Zone ( Rahy – La Griffe), who was standing at his Newbury Stud in Palmerston North. He offered me a share in the stallion, and for the first two seasons, I was entitled to two nominations and one each season thereafter for life. So in I went.

"By the time 2004 came around, Ken had died and I had bought Madison Avenue. I had a filly at foot and the mare back in foal, and I took "Maddy" (Vosne Romanee) to the yearling sales at Karaka and didn't get a bid as he was very straight in front.

"My only alternative was to bring him home here to Martinborough and feed him up and hope he would grow. In the meantime, with the filly at home as well, I left Madison Avenue empty after she foaled another colt and bided my time.

"We sent him up to Jeff Lynds to train and he didn't think that much of him, but in his first start as a late three-year-old he ran second at Hastings. We decided then he was worth keeping and turned him out and bought him back as a four-year-old and he had six starts for two wins and three places.

"As a five year old he won four more races, and last season was a horror season. It was looking a bit like that this year too after we got skittled in the Mudgway Stakes, and struck a wet track in the Windsor Park Plate, and now we have won the Kelt," he said with obvious pride.

Vosne Romanee's younger sister didn't race and will this year visit Brilliance. Madison Avenue's third foal, also by Electronic Zone, was a colt that was injured in a paddock accident, and she has a three-year-old colt by His Royal Highness, which can now go back into work as there is money in the kitty. She also has a yearling colt by Ishiguru and a filly foal at foot by Ekraar who was born the day before the Kelt. At this stage the Smarts are not sending her to stud this season.

Madison Avenue is out of Madison Square (Marceau – Garden Heights) and is a half sister to the multiple stakes winner Hear That Bell (Ring The Bell) and five other winners. Madison Square is a three-quarter sister to Malarus the dam of stakes placed Market Heights (Grosvenor) the third dam of Weekend Hussler.

Garden Heights (Philoctetes-Wuthering Heights) is a half sister to Battle Heights Arctic Heights, Gold Heights (dam of Noble Heights) Monthy, Claudine (dam of Mapperley Heights and Royal Heights), she is also the grandam of Allegro.

Electronic Zone now stands at Cheveley Park in Te Aroha for a fee of $3,500 and according to John Trumper is in fine fettle.

"He served his biggest book of mares last year since he joined us, and this year we have good bookings. He will serve a sister to Mirkola Lass, and we have a nice Woodman mare Grand Coulee going as well. She has a lovely yearling colt going to Karaka for the sales this summer," said Trumper who was understandably delighted about the group one success of Vosne Romanee.


- Michelle Saba