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Rios scores for the Ormonds

Arthur Ormond figured a good family full of filly foals had a better chance than most of succeeding when he and some partners bought Gussy Godiva as a yearling in 2000.
Their judgment is looking to be very sound after Gussy Godiva's first foal Rios comfortably won the Bonecrusher Stakes (Listed-1400m) at Ellerslie on Saturday.
Gussy Godiva is a daughter of Sam Kelt's mare Sneetch, the third-highest rated filly in New Zealand in 1994-95 after winning the Ladies Mile (G3-1600m) and running third in the New Zealand Oaks.

It was a good-performing family when Ormond, a former NZ Thoroughbred Breeders' Association president from Hawke's Bay, bought Gussy Godiva along with Tracey Andersen and Gavin Chaplow for $120,000 in 2000. Sneetch's dam Sellou had also produced the speedy filly Fleur De Chine, a group two winner at two, and the family had plenty of strength.

"If you look at the female side of the pedigree there's mares by Last Tycoon, Grosvenor, Sound Reason and Oncidium, which speaks for itself," he said.
"But we were also very conscious that there were fillies everywhere in the pedigree that were starting to breed all over the place. Sometimes you get families where there are only one or two fillies but this one had plenty and we thought that if that was the case the family would get every chance of producing good horses."
Gussy Godiva was highly rated by her owners, who by the time she started racing included Ormond's cousin Mick. She won four races, including two in Australia after she was sent to Brian Mayfield-Smith.

She scored two wins in Melbourne before injuring her knee at the starting gates in Caulfield, forcing her retirement.

At that stage the Ormonds looked carefully for a stallion. They at first liked the prospect of new Arrowfield Stud sire Hussonet but started to doubt themselves until Arrowfield manager John Messara came to speak in New Zealand.

"He was a champion sire in Chile but we were a bit unsure of how Chilean form stacked up," Arthur Ormond said.

"But after Mick heard John Messara he rang and said 'we have got to go to Hussonet'."

Messara's risk of bringing Hussonet out in 2003 was made to look all the better afterwards when his Chilean progeny started performing in the United States as well.

Rios has also helped justify Messara's decision to bring Hussonet to Australia. He has now won seven Chilean premierships and sired 24 group one winners, something few sires in the world can lay claim to, and his early Australian crops also include the group three winner Husson Lightning and Weekend Hussler, one of the stars of early three-year-old racing in Melbourne.

The Ormonds weren't disappointed when Rios was foaled. "He was a lovely foal, very correct and with lovely balance," Arthur Ormond said. "We sold him for $65,000, though I think the reason we didn't get bigger money was because Hussonet was an unknown quantity and he was not really a sales type."

Bought by Cambridge bloodstock agent Stuart Hale and Hong Kong civil engineer Andy Chan and named after Chilean tennis star Marcelo Rios, the colt has shown good form instantly. His success at the weekend was his second in four starts, and his first at black type level.

Gussy Godiva's second foal, by Montjeu, has already proved profitable also – he was bought by Bart Cummings for $240,000 at Karaka this year from the Little Avondale Stud draft. "He was much more of a sales type," Ormond said.

The family has continued to produce since Gussy Godiva was bought – her close relative Tully Thunder won the Australasian Oaks (G1-2000m) in 2002 and her half-sister Black Mamba, fourth in the Lowland Stakes (G3-2000m) has been a revelation since arriving in the United States, narrowly going down in a group two race at Del Mar, California.

Mick Ormond has since bought out the other partners in the mare and now breeds from Gussy Godiva in his own name. She now has a Volksraad yearling, is due to foal to No Excuse Needed and will visit Pins this year.

"It was pretty exciting to see Rios win at Ellerslie and he could go on with it further from here," Arthur Ormond says. "I hope Gussy can keep on doing the job for Mick."

- Alastair Bull