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Dance Hero's New Zealand connections

It was pleasing to see three New Zealand-breds, all of them previous stakeswinners, in this year's Golden Slipper, although neither Burning Sands (8th), Econsul (10th) nor Flying Firebird (last) was considered a strong chance of finishing in the money.

The Slipper is a race that has rarely figured on the impressive list of Australian races in which Kiwi-breds have shone over the years. Only two horses bred here, Marauding (1987) and Courtza (1989), have won it, although there have been a couple of notable placegetters: Grosvenor (3rd toMarscay in 1982) and Octagonal (second to Flying Spur in 1995). We might also consider McGinty very unlucky to be injured when he defeated Marscay before the Slipper in 1982.

Mention of these horses is a reminder of the Slipper's great value as a pointer to successful sires, beginning with the inaugural winner, Todman in 1957. Other winners of the race that have gone on to become significant stallions are: Pago Pago (1963), Vain (1969), Luskin Star (1977), Rory's Jester (1985), Star Watch (1988), Canny Lad (1990) and Danzero (1994).

Danzero's gelded son Dance Hero, who won the 2004 Golden Slipper in race record time last weekend, won't be among them. However, the New Zealand breeding industry can legitimately claim a contribution to his achievements, as the birthplace of his dam Gypsy Dancer (Dance Floor-Racy Belle by Straight Strike).

The "Belle" name means something to many New Zealand breeders, familiar with the Sarten family's remarkable success with descendants of Belle Fox. And Dance Hero, whose fifth dam is Belle Fox's daughter Belle Time, isn't the first Golden Slipper winner from the family either. Belle Du Jour (Dehere-Delightful Belle by Balmerino), descended from another daughter of Belle Fox, was the 2000 winner. Other descendants of Belle Time, this time via Electric Belle (by Sovereign Edition), include current season stars G1 Grand Armee and G2 Genius and Evil.

Gypsy Dancer was bred by Trelawney Stud, Cambridge and sold at the 1997 New Zealand Select Yearling Sale for $15,000 to Danny Power Bloodstock. She won twice in South Australia and Dance Hero is her first foal. She also has a yearling colt by Fuji Kiseki, a weanling sister to the Slipper winner and is again in foal to Danzero.

Dance Hero is the second stakeswinner from a Dance Floor mare. The other is Small Town Boy, by Danasinga who, like Danzero, is a son of Danehill. Dance Floor is also damsire of Dancing Daggers, third in this season's STC Canterbury Guineas G1.

Trelawney is still breeding from Racy Belle, but hasn't had great success selling her progeny. Her Bigstone colt, Lord Bigstone, sold for $80,000 in 1998 and won three races; her Carnegie colt was sold to John Morrissey at this year's New Zealand Select Sale for $24,000. Relatively modest sale prices haven't stopped Racy Belle's progeny from winning: all four that have raced to date have won.

That won't be a surprise to fans of Mr Prospector's best sire son in Australasia, Straight Strike, imported to New Zealand by Allegra Park Stud in 1983 and a marvellous contributor to our industry ever since. He's the sire of 42 stakeswinners, and damsire of another twenty, among them current season stars Lonhro, Niello, Cut The Cake and Kainui Belle. He's now leading the New Zealand Broodmare Sires list, and is second to Marscay on the Australian Broodmare Sires' list. Now 27 years old, Straight Strike stands at Newbury Park Stud, Palmerston North.

Dance Hero was a $A90,000 purchase by Gai Waterhouse at the 2003 Magic Millions Sale - that's the best auction price achieved for a member of his immediate family in recent times.

Dance Hero's third dam Tristabelle (by Sir Tristram and bred, like Racy Belle, by Auckland breeders Don & Rochelle McLaren) was a dual Group winner in South Australia. As sometimes happens, her branch of the family was less successful than that of her less talented half-sisters Starry Belle (dam of G2 Conair) and Annie Belle (dam of SW Skyrocket). Dance Hero has changed that in the space of a few months with four wins, including the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL), Skyline S. G3 and now the richest two-year-old race in the world.


The NZTBA warmly acknowledges these information sources:
Arion Pedigrees, the New Zealand Stud Book and the Australian Bloodhorse Review

- Susan Archer