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Stellar field for Group One NZ Bloodstock Breeders' Stakes

The first running of the New Zealand Bloodstock Breeders' Stakes as a Group One event at Te Aroha this Saturday has drawn a field of outstanding quality.

It's fair to say - so we'll say it! - that it has more depth than last weekend's Coolmore Classic, although Sunline's presence added a whole constellation of stars to that race's rating. Four Group One winners are among the eighteen acceptors at Te Aroha: Hello Dolly, Star Satire and the last two winners of the NZ 1000 Guineas, Elevenses and Final Destination.

There are six Group 2 winners in the field: last year's winner Saint Cecile, Durzetta, Sequel, Soap Opera, Honor Bound and Spring Rain.
Butterscotch, Gordon's and Perceptible are all Group 3 winners; St Therese and first emergency Besty Coup are Listed stakeswinners. Only Grovana, Regency and Tantamount have not yet won a black-type race but all three are Group-placed.

That there are still some notable absentees (including three Group One winners Cinder Bella, La Bella Dama and of course Sunline) indicates the depth of distaff talent in New Zealand racing.

The granting of Grpoup One status to the race came after thirty years of hard work and loyal support by Racing Te Aroha and the studs and broodmare owners who participate in the club's Stallion Placement Scheme. The Scheme's proceeds help to fund the race.

Last year the race attracted the generous sponsorship of New Zealand Bloodsotck which has helped to boost this year's stake to $120,000. The company's owners, Peter & Philip Vela are enjoying a wonderful season as owner-breeders of a stableful of super female performers: Caulfield-Melbourne Cups winner Ethereal, Vapour Trail (New Zealand Oaks G1), Group 2 winner Paolino, Singapore stakeswinner Hoeberg and Monday's Flemington winner Embraceable You.

The race, formerly known as the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes, was the brainchild of former Te Aroha Jockey Club secretary and NZTBA Waikato branch president Don Hancock who wanted to put together a field of top fillies and mares to attract betting, while giving breeders a direct interest in its success.

The first running of the race in 1971 offered prizemoney of $9,000 plus 16 stallion services totalling $15,250 that were allocated by ballot to the starters before the race. The equivalent total prizemoney in today's dollars would be approximately $200,000. The support given to the race by studs can be measured by some of the stallions whose services were donated in this way: Alcimedes, Bellborough, Gold Sovereign, Mellay, Sobig and Stunning.

The inaugural field lacked nothing for quality either. A highly competitive contest was won by Breathalyser from Ajasco and Devante (all three-year-old fillies) with Rich Return, Topsy, Susan Jane, Artifice and Beatnik among the also-rans.

Trophies attached to this year's historic running of the race include a sterling silver medal worth $900 which is presented by the NZTBA to the breeder of the winner.

The NZTBA wishes the owners, trainers, jockeys and breeders of all runners the very best of luck - but if we're pushed for a tip we'll say Honor Bound, whose co-breeder and part-owner Vicki Pascoe is a very dedicated committee member of our Waikato branch.

- Susan Archer


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