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Best of the Weekend

Taatletail (Faltaat-Defensive Lady by Defensive Play; bred by Deborah Ho, Macau) gave her sire his third Group One winner when she fought tenaciously down the straight at Riccarton to win the CJC New Zealand One Thousand Guineas G1 on Saturday. Kainui Belle tried hard to give Kashani his first Group One winner, and went down by only half a neck, with Unearthed (Felix The Cat) three lengths away in third place.

An excellent Listed Stakes win by Gwen's Rules over 1200 metres at Te Rapa completed a splendid day for Faltaat. He has now had six stakeswinners from his five New Zealand-born crops of racing age (only 160 foals in all).

The weekend ended as it began for Westbury Stud when Zirna (Deputy Governor-Riverly Lass by Gleam Machine; bred by Jim Campin) won the S$1.5 million Singapore Gold Cup over 2200m on Sunday. The stud owns Zirna in partnership with Karaka Group Ltd and Westbury's Eric Watson was on hand in Singapore to see the small-framed, big-hearted mare win going away by one-and-three-quarter lengths. She also earned a S$50,000 bonus for winning two legs of the Singapore Triple Crown.

Five-year-old mare Gwen's Rules (ex Bushfire Dancer by Ravel's Bolero; bred by Jenny & Russell Scown; sold $11,000 at the 2000 New Zealand Select Yearling Sale) is the eldest of four foals her dam has produced to Faltaat. Neither Gwen's Rules' dam, grand-dam nor third dam won a race, but her fourth dam Nalei left Analie, winner of 16 races including the 1973 AJC Oaks G1 and AJC Doncaster G1. More recently, the family has produced Group 3-placed The Pumper (5 wins) and Australian stakeswinner Super Lad (11 wins).

The weekend's results have pushed Faltaat into second position on the New Zealand Sires' premiership, behind the Australian-based Distinctly North who heads the list courtesy of his single winner here this season, Distinctly Secret.

Likewise, Defensive Play rockets up into second spot on the Broodmare Sires table, behind Lord Ballina. One of the first group of stallions to shuttle from the northern hemisphere to New Zealand in the 1990s, Defensive Play stood six seasons, 1993-98 at Waikato Stud but failed to make a serious impact as a sire. His daughters have now left two stakeswinners: the other is last season's good two-year-old Eternal Melody (by Shinko King). Taatletail's dam Defensive Lady was sold at the 2002 New Zealand Broodmare Sale for $12,500 and exported to The Philippines.

At first glance Taatletail's immediate pedigree doesn't look particularly special but she is inbred 2m x 4m to the great Mr Prospector; her first three dams are all winners; and her third dam, Gypsy Reward (by champion sire Zamazaan) won seven times and was stakes-placed in Sydney. Things get even more interesting with the fourth dam, the outstanding racemare Bellota (by Oakville), winner of ten races, most notably the Avondale Gold Cup G1 and the VATC Coongy H. G3. She was also three times Group One-placed in Australia including a third placing behind Battle Heights and Taras Bulba in the 1974 Cox Plate G1.

Bellota went on to become a very fine broodmare leaving seven winners from ten foals, among them Starzaan (three wins, AJC Oaks G1), Rocket Racer (seven wins, WATC Perth Cup G1 - a performance marred by his subsequent collapse, never fully investigated or explained), and the Sydney stakeswinner Chiming Knight (five wins). There is enough strong middle-distance form on the distaff side of her pedigree to indicate that Taatletail will be capable of running 2000 metres but she doesn't have to attempt it just yet. Her next target will be the Bayer Classic 1600m G1 on 27 November. The unbeaten filly has 24 points in the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series, well ahead of Kainui Belle with seven and Sarah Vee on four points.

Thanks to the excellent online news and data resources of:
Thoroughbred News, Arion Pedigrees,,the Australian Stud Book,the New Zealand Stud Book, OzHorse, Australian Bloodhorse Review and New Zealand Bloodstock

- Susan Archer


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