Group One winning filly Pignan (Staphanos [JPN] - Hirondelle) came about as a result of a speculative buy on gavelhouse.com and a service nomination donated as part of a race sponsorship.
The impressive upset winner of the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes was bred by Rotorua couple Andrew Burton and his wife Linda Hunt.
The couple had made the decision to upgrade their broodmares when they purchased a Sepoy (AUS) mare bred by Pencarrow Stud off gavelhouse.com. The mare was unraced but from a good family and was a half-sister to the CJC Spring Classic winner William Wallace so they took a punt.
Burton had been a committee man at the Rotorua Racing Club where Novara Park had generously donated a couple of service fees as part of their race sponsorship for the Listed Staphanos Classic and the Gr.3 Sweynesse Stakes.
When they were offered up for sale, Burton purchased the Staphanos [JPN] nomination as Hunt, the “horsey one” in the relationship, was a bit of a fan of Japanese bloodlines.
The resulting filly foal became not just Staphanos’s first Group One winner, but she also had the distinction of being his first foal and his first winner. She is also the first Group One winner bred by the couple.
“She was a striking first foal, everything about her was really forward and balanced and with a fabulous temperament,” recalled a very excited Linda Hunt.
“She was a really lovely individual, and a filly that Adrian Clark liked a lot as he bought her as a weanling for $15,000, from the draft of Peter and Sue Westend’s stud.
“We watched the race and nearly had a heart attack, how often do you get to breed a Group One winner, and a two-year-old one at that.”
Pignan was having just her sixth start when she took out the coveted Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes, one of only two Group One races for two-year-olds in New Zealand.
Her high profile ownership group consists of former All Black Christian Cullen, his former manager Dave Monnery and former All White Andy Rennie.
Trained by Lisa Latta, Pigngn debuted in September with a third placing over 800m before being put aside. In late November she ran third over 1100m at Otaki and four weeks later won over that distance at Trentham.
Returning to that course in mid-January she ran third in the Listed Wellesley Stakes (1100m) before a winning trial fitted her well for a brave third in Gr.2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) in February.
She was given a short break but won a 1000m trial 10 days before tackling the 1400m of the Sires’ Produce.
Pignan is the first foal from Hirondelle, the only one of Huluava’s 10 foals who didn’t race. The other nine were all winners including William Wallace who won eight races. Huluava herself was by Pins (AUS) and won on three occasions, she in turn was out of the Zabeel mare Alpine who was placed at three in Australia.
Alpine was also the dam of the Group One placed Hasselhoof who won six races including the Gr.2 ARC Rich Hill Mile and Vercors whose four wins include the Listed Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes.
Alpine was a sister to Group One placed Manawa King, and half-sister to the former Champion Two-Year-Old Lord Ted who won the Gr.1 ARC Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes. Another half-sister Zipperup left the Listed winner in Champion Star who won 11 races in Australia and Macau.
Their dam Manawa Belle was a daughter of Zamazaan (FR) and the original Melody Belle from the famous Belle family associated with James and Annie Sarten and their daughter Marie Leicester.
Shortly after foaling Pignan, who was raised by Burton and Hunt on their lifestyle block on the outskirts of Rotorua, and while in foal again to Staphanos, they were approached by New Zealand Bloodstock with a good offer for Hirondelle and on sold her to Australia. She has since had another filly and is in foal to another Japanese bred Deep Impact [JPN] stallion in Fierce Impact.
Although they are no longer breeding horses the couple still have three left on their lifestyle block and Hunt is still involved in the equine field. For the past 12 years she has been associated with Equisucceed, or as it was previously known Riding for the Disabled.
“We have a couple of youngsters by What’s The Story and Tarzino, and Endean Affair,” stated Hunt.
“We race a few with the Endean name. Endean Affair is with Roger James and Robert Wellwood and has won two races, she is out of Grand Affair, a Black Tuxedo (JPN) mare we had. Black Tuxedo was also a Japanese sire, although very underrated in my opinion.
“When I was young the neighbour’s children had a pony and all my friends had ponies so I would ride them. I eventually got a retired thoroughbred and it promptly bolted on me and I fell off, but that didn’t deter me and along with my sisters we were involved in pony club and hunting.
“All that gradually led into thoroughbred ownership I wanted to get into racehorse ownership so I rang Roger James after the sales, and he put me into Glamorous Girl (Thorn Park [AUS]- J’Lo) and that’s really where it started.
“My husband decided he would have a share as well, he didn’t know that much about horses, except that they cost a fortune! Glamorous Girl won a couple of races including the Gr.3 Desert Gold stakes and ran second in the Gr.2 Sir Tristram’s Fillies Classic.
“We decided to get out of breeding, as we really only had run of the mill mares. We did look to upgrade but decided to just race what we have. Besides Rotorua is a bit out of the loop when it comes to equine vets and other support, so it just gets too hard.” -Michelle Saba, NZTBA