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AJC Derby Winner a 'stunning foal"

"Roman Emperor was a stunning foal, the first time I saw him I thought he was magnificent – equal if not better to Military Plume whom I had prepared for David Renton all those years ago," enthused a delighted Arthur Ormond when discussing the merits of Roman Emperor winning the Group One AJC Derby last weekend.

Obviously he wasn't the only one impressed with the son of Montjeu and Gussy Godiva (Last Tycoon-Sneetch), champion trainer Bart Cummings also thought so when he parted with $240,000 for the colt at the New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Sale at Karaka in 2007. A colt that was so impressive he was upgraded to Premier after New Zealand Bloodstock had inspected him at Little Avondale Stud during their spring inspections prior to the sales.

Arthur Ormond is a former President of the NZTBA, and during his tenure he was their representative on the NZTR Board. He is currently a Life Member of the NZTBA and formerly owned and operated Byerley Thoroughbreds home to the successful stallion Fiesta Star. It was here that the 1987 Australian Guineas winner Military Plume was raised, along with the 1992 Champion three-year-old filly Staring. These days he has scaled down his bloodstock interests to just the one mare, Sauvka by Royal Academy, and a couple of her progeny, and is concentrating on developing a tourism venture in the Hawkes Bay where the Ormond's rank among the first settlers.

Harking back to Gussy Godiva and the begetting of Roman Emperor Arthur takes up the tale.

"My good friend Murray Andersen (the breeder of Staring) and I bought Gussy Godiva at the yearling sales, as we liked her pedigree. It was a family that had been nurtured and developed first by the Williams Family at Te Parae and later by Sam Kelt at Keltern Stud. Murray Baker gave her the ok conformation wise and took her to train. She won her first start as a three-year-old and won another before she campaigned in Queensland.

"My cousin and good friend Mick decided to buy into the filly and the next step was to leave her in Australia where she joined the stable of Brian Mayfield Smith. She won four races in all including the VRC Sanderae Handicap – named after her third dam who won the Group One VRC Oaks and VRC Wakeful Stakes and AV Kewney Stakes.

"She was a bit of a hot head, and went off in the barrier one day and broke her knee so we decided to send her to stud in Oz before bringing her home. We took a bit of a gamble and went to Hussonet – although he was proven in Chile he was by no means proven down here. And that mating produced the Group Two Wellington Guineas winner Rios.

"Her next mating was to Montjeu – Gussy is a big strong mare and she needed a bit of quality. Mick and I both liked him after we went to Cambridge to see him parade when he first came to New Zealand, he was such a magnificent looking horse. We were slightly undecided about going to Montjeu for the mare's second mating it was a bit of a gamble with a non-proven mare and non-proven sire – but then he had all those two year old winners in the northern hemisphere so we went on the strength of that.

"As a result and to guarantee that Gussy left at least one winner we sent her to Volksraad the following year. At that stage Mick decided to buy us out, and he sent her to Australia to be served by Bernadini. The Volksraad two-year-old 'Volgus', was sold to Allan Sharrock and ran second a couple of week's back and he should make a lovely three-year-old as well."

Gussy Godiva (Last Tycoon) won four races from 1600 metres to 2000 metres, her first two foals race Rios (Hussonet) and Roman Emperor have both become group winners at three. Gussy Godiva is a half sister to the American Group One winner Black Mamba (Black Minaloushe) both being out of Sneetch (Grosvneor) herself a Group Three winner who ran third in the Group One New Zealand Oaks. She is a sister to the stakes placed Sanderac who is the grandam of the Stakes winners One Love (7 wins), Spurcent and Kildare (4 wins in Hong Kong), both being out of the unraced Sound Reason mare Sellou. Another daughter of Sellou is the two-year-old winning Fleur de Chine (Centaine), now the dam of the Group One SAJC Oaks winner Tully Thunder and Sufficient ARC Champagne Stakes.

Going back to the next generation we have the fabulous Oncidium mare Sanderae a winner of nine races including the VRC Oaks, AV Kewney Stakes, and Wakeful Stakes. She is a halfsister to Weenell, both being out of Nell (Knight's Romance) one of Nancy Williams great Te Parae mares.

Arthur's current involvement in the industry is now vested in a young Royal Academy mare - Savuka - he raced with Mick and they now breed from.

"She won her first start as a two-year-old and was placed in the listed Great Northern Foals Stakes, then as a three-year-old she placed in the Group Three Gold Trail Stakes in Hastings. She broke down and we sent her to Jungle Pocket. I am racing that filly with a couple of my sons and their friends".

"Mick has a Postponed colt out of her and I have a Postponed filly, which is quite exciting as there is quite a lot of Secretariat and double up of Crimson Saint in the pedigree. Crimson Saint is the dam of Royal Academy, and Chapel of Dreams the grandam of Postponed is a daughter of Terlingua who is by Secretariat out of Crimson Saint. Secretariat also comes through Misty Baby (by Risen Star by Secretariat) and through Weekend Surprise the dam of Summer Squall the sire of Postponed."

It's about three years now since Arthur Ormond stood a stallion and he has no regrets about winding out of the industry. He believes that the face of the industry has changed so much in the past 10 years, with the globalisation of breeding with shuttle stallions that a smaller operation with a colonial bred stallion – like Fiesta Star – just can't compete. Shuttle stallions have made quality breeding stock more affordable and after all if you look at the pedigree of his latest Group One winner Roman Emperor, by Montjeu (Sadler's Wells-Floripedes) out of a Last Tycoon (Try My Best-Mill Princess) mare, there is plenty of merit in what he is saying.


- Michelle Saba