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Phil Bayly no stranger to success

The octogenarian owner and breeder of Harris Tweed Phil Bayly is no stranger to success, yet when interviewed about the Group Two winning deeds of his horse last weekend he humbly admits that winning is always enjoyable.

A three-year-old son of Montjeu from Sally, Harris Tweed impressively won the Group Two Tulloch Stakes over 2000 metres at Randwick. It was the gelding's third win from only 10 starts.

Bayly, a Gold Badge member of the NZTBA, was in Christchurch watching his other two racehorses Karamu and Metropolitan (who finished third in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Airfreight Listed Stakes for three year old fillies) over the weekend but will go to Sydney for the Group One AJC Derby this weekend.

As an owner and breeder he has previously tasted Group One success at Randwick with (My) Blue Denim winning the 1981 AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes and (My) Eagle Eye the 1992 AJC Sydney Cup. Blue Denim can also claim Group One victories in the ARC Auckland Cup and the STC Tancred Stakes, while Eagle Eye won the STC Ranvet Stakes and the Levin Bayer Classic. Bayly bred Eagle Eye (Grosvenor – Ogle) and purchased Blue Denim (A Chara – Blue Carlyle) as a foal.

And rather fittingly Harris Tweed is a direct descendant of Blue Denim, being out of the Prized mare Sally, a daughter of Magic Blue by Grosvenor out of Blue Denim.

Sally was unraced and has left a filly by My Halo named My Hayley and a Traditionally filly named Prim, as well as Harris Tweed. Her dam Magic Blue was a winner and has left two winners in Australia. Blue Denim on the other hand won 10 races, three Group One, and produced eight foals, seven of whom raced and won. Unfortunately none of those winners were as good as her, with Blue Music (Western Symphony) being the best as a winner of two races and group one placed in the New Zealand Oaks. She has also left the group placed winner Indianapolis (Oregon).

"I don't have any mares any more," said Bayly, "I got rid of the last one last year, I just have the racehorses now, the three that raced over the weekend and four yearlings that are currently being broken in.

"Sally the dam of Harris Tweed died shortly after he was born and she was my last descendant from Blue Denim. At my age (86) I think it's time I cut back and just concentrate on my racing interests," he said with slight resignation.

Bayly has always liked horses and comes from a family that had raced horses for about a hundred years.

"I was a farmer and bred bulls and rams, when I got a little too old to do that everyday I focused my breeding interests on thoroughbreds. Now after 40 years or so I think the most important factor in breeding a racehorse is conformation.

"In the case of Harris Tweed, I liked Montjeu - he was a wonderful racehorse. I felt that in his first crop he was used too much and in my opinion he only really looked like a stallion physically when he came down for that last season. And that was when I decided to use him.

"When I first saw Harris Tweed as a foal I thought here is the Cup horse I having been waiting to breed for the past 20 years. I wanted to breed a horse that would stay. After Eagle Eye I had bred two or three horses that could have made it but bad luck intervened so maybe now this youngster will be my next Cup horse and my next Group One winner," he recalled with just a hint of excitement.

"I have also had a lot of enjoyment out of seeing some of the stock I have bred go on and win for other breeders. I sold Honey Carlisle, the dam of Songline, to the Archers, and Songline went on to produce Sunline, and I sold Sharon Jane to Highview Stud before she bred Let's Elope," he said with sincerity and humility.

"I have enjoyed being involved in racing, I have seen a lot of changes over the years, and I think racing is in good shape at the moment but one thing that never changes is that winning is always great."


- Michelle Saba