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Velasco's verve delights Victorian owner-breeders

A fifteen-year investment in Australasian racing and breeding yesterday produced its best-ever return for Velasco's Melbourne owner-breeders Julian Sullivan and his wife Julie Andrews.

The two-year-old filly by Flying Spur from Vital Curves came with a powerful run from well off the pace to snatch the $70,000 Matamata Breeders' Stakes G2 from Acupuncture (by Pins) and Can't Hackit (by Fasliyev) in the last stride. It was Velasco's first win from four starts and followed her very good debut fourth in the Waikato RC Fairview Ford Welcome S. 1000m LR, a tenth in the ARC Eclipse S. G3 and a third behind Acupuncture at Avondale on 26 January.

Speaking from Melbourne today Julian Sullivan described the win as "one of the biggest events in our lives." Julian, General Manager, Membership for the Victoria Racing Club, and Julie, Health Development Manager for Medibank Private, purchased Vital Curves for about $25,000 at the 1989 New Zealand Ready To Run Sale. Cambridge agent Ginger Tankard selected and bid on her, and so began a close friendship that has now given Ginger & Judy Tankard's son Bryce his most important win to date as a trainer.

Vital Curves (McGinty-Career Girl; bred by Mr & Mrs B.S. Mullane) was a sound, genuine and well-respected racemare who won four races from 1400m to 1600m, three of them in Melbourne, and was also stakes-placed at Flemington. Recognising her as Velasco's dam, champion jockeys Damien Oliver and Steven King were among the first to congratulate Julian Sullivan, busy yesterday with VRC members on Guineas day at Flemington.

Although her family has been relatively quiet in recent years, Vital Curves has been given excellent opportunities by Julian and Julie, leaving winners to Zabeel, Grosvenor and Straight Strike among her five winning progeny. Until Velasco, her best representative was her first foal Bond (by Westminster), stakes-placed at two in New Zealand, and a three-time winner in Hong Kong.

Since foaling Velasco Vital Curves has had a Spectrum filly and a Danehill Dancer colt. The filly was sold at the recent NZ Select Yearling Sale for just $15,000 to Robyn Chamberlain of Christchurch - a decision Julian refuses to regret. "We're delighted for Robyn and wish her all the best with the filly." Vital Curves will most likely visit Danzero this season along with her daughter Blue Mermaid (by Bluebird), as Julian and Julie believe Danehill's sons are a great match for this particular family.

As their first racing filly and broodmare, and now the dam of their first Group winner, Vital Curves has never been, and never will be for sale according to Julian, but he and Julie have otherwise taken a firmly commercial view of their small band of broodmares. Apart from Velasco and Bond, they have also bred and sold the talented Evil Master (Zabeel-Lypsac), winner of six races in Victoria over the past couple of seasons, and currently have a two-year-old gelding by Redoute's Choice from Battonage in training with Bryce Tankard.

Velasco is cleverly named after Eleanor Velasco Thornton, model for the Spirit of Ecstasy, the instantly recognisable mascot whose "vital curves" have adorned the bonnet of Rolls Royce cars since 1911. The Flying Spur is a special edition Rolls Royce introduced in 1994, two years after Rolls foaled her handsome colt by Danehill, and a year before he lived up to his name by winning the Golden Slipper. Velasco is Flying Spur's 27th black type winner, and his second Matamata Breeders' Stakes winner, after Flying Babe in 2001.

The athletic brown filly looks the type to make up into a strong spring three-year-old, but in the meantime will seek to add a Group One Sires' Produce Stakes to her record. At this stage the Manawatu race is the preferred option.


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


- Susan Archer