Right now in Opaki a small settlement just north of Masterton, there are two recent Group One winners enjoying some fresh autumn grass.
The dual Oaks winner Pennyweka (Satono Aladdin x Threepence) arrived home to Ardsley Stud on Monday and on Tuesday Belclare (Per Incanto x Miss Rhythmic), the winner of the Gr.1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes, returned to the property of her breeder and part-owner David Woodhouse.
Opaki is a relatively small area of around 33 square kilometres which features a local school, tennis club, Rathkeale College, a training track, the Wee Red Barn and a handful of lifestyle blocks and larger holdings.
Originally from Canterbury, Woodhouse purchased his first horse 50 years ago, a Tiber II (GB) mare named Piber just before the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch and he and his sister acquired the mare from their father in exchange for a colour television, which at that time had just been introduced.
Shortly after purchasing his first mare Woodhouse moved to the Wairarapa and farmed a large holding at Bideford before moving to his current 65-acre lot in Opaki.
Belclare is the first Group One winner for Woodhouse and he puts that good fortune done to an investment in Per Incanto who stands at Little Avondale Stud a little further east of Masterton.
“It’s the best racing and breeding investment in my life,” Woodhouse said. “It was a masterstroke to get in as they (the Per Incanto’s) just keep winning.”
Woodhouse, who hails from a family steeped in New Zealand racing history including his Great-Grandfather Henry Knight who raced the mighty Limerick who won 29 races in Australia and New Zealand, has been a shareholder in Per Incanto since he commenced stud duties in 2011 after Sam Williams of Little Avondale Stud who is well known for his marketing tactics offered him a share in the stallion.
“Sam rang me and said ‘I’ve told the management syndicate that I’d like you to have a share in Per Incanto if you want one’ so I grabbed it,” Woodhouse explained. “I appreciated the fact that they approached me. I had bred a mare to Towkay previously but that was all.”
That investment has provided Woodhouse with his first Group One winner as a breeder and an owner.
“It’s unbelievable really, such a thrill,” he enthused, “Before this one I had bred Bouillon, who won the Gr.3 Dunedin Gold Cup and ran third in the Gr.1 Wellington Cup and second in the Gr.2 Awapuni Gold Cup, but that was a long time ago. Bouillon was actually out of Piber, the first horse I owned, and now I have had 60 winners.”
Woodhouse races Belclare with his good friend Oliver Smith, John Clark and the Rusties Syndicate which includes Polly Ensing, Martin Firth, Chris and Tracy Lowe, Alister and Linda Mitchell and Warren and Sonia Procter.
Belclare is trained at Awapuni by Lisa Latta and just days after her victory in the Breeders’ Stakes, Woodhouse made the trip to Palmerston North with his trailer float to collect his pride and joy and watch her three-year-old full-brother run second in a jump out.
Driving Belclare in his trailer float is nothing new for him as the hands-on owner takes her and his other runners to the races and trials whenever he can.
“I took Belclare to Auckland, we left on Friday and drove to Ben Foote’s in Cambridge and the horses stayed there, we stayed in a motel,” he explained.
“I like to have them at the races two hours before, so Lisa’s other runner Lincoln Star was picked up by Majestics for the second race. We then went up later with Belclare.
“I pull them in a trailer float it’s a IFOR Williams and it’s a great float. She floats beautifully, she very settled in the float. We had a blow out on the way to Cambridge and the we changed the tyre in 10 minutes with the horses on board.”
Belclare who races in the same colours as Limerick, and like the stock of Woodhouse’s Great Grandfather has an Irish name, is now the winner of nine races. She is a fine representative of the stock of Per Incanto, good consistent racehorses.
She is Per Incanto’s seventh Group One winner and the victory comes on the back of wins this season in the Gr.3 Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) and the Listed Wairarapa Breeders’ Stakes (1600m).
She is the third foal from the O’Reilly mare Miss Rhythmic, a winner of one race and herself a sister to Luxe who ran third in the Listed Taranaki Oaks Prelude. They are out of the Keeper mare Gymnast who in turn was out of the Champion Filly of her year in Olga’s Pal whose six wins included the Gr.1 1000 Guineas.
Olga’s Pal (Straight Strike (USA)) went on to leave the Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes winner Zareyev and the stakes placed winners Holy Grail and Olgavich as well as six other minor winners.
Belclare’s dam Miss Rhythmic has also left Tamalin, a winner by Tavistock and Ballyane a four-year-old full-sister to Belclare who has been placed but is now spelling on Woodhouse’s farm. Her fifth foal is a three-year-old by Per Incanto in work with Lisa Latta.
Her next foal a filly by Time Test, that Woodhouse bred with HGT Bloodstock Limited and was purchased by Lisa Latta at the Karaka sales for $30,000, with Woodhouse retaining 10% along with a couple of his cousins and the Rusties Syndicate. She is now back in foal to Per Incanto.
Williams also had a little bit of involvement in Woodhouse purchasing Miss Rhythmic.
“Sam mentioned to me that O’Reilly mares were crossing well with Per Incanto, so I approached Bruce Perry to buy one,” Woodhouse recalled.
“As it turned out his brother had one for sale in Miss Rhythmic and that they wanted $6,000 for it. I rang Mark Chittick who had bred Miss Rhythmic and asked him what he thought it was worth, and he told me to offer them $5,000 and the rest is history.”
Miss Rhythmic is just one of the handful of broodmares Woodhouse runs on the 27-hectare Opaki property he shares with his wife Deb.
He currently has Miss Rhythmic, her first foal Cordal (by Tavistock) in foal to Noverre and Beltoy (Per Incanto - Gee Baby) in foal to Time Test in search of the proven Per Incanto - Time Test cross.
This year he has four weanlings, a filly by Per Incanto out of Shehzaadi (Pins [AUS]- Kumari) a descendant of Vedodara, and fillies by Time Test out of Callan (Per Incanto- You Little Ripa) and her dam You Little Ripa (Bachelor Duke [USA] - Nothin’Leica Ripa) and a colt by Time Test out of Della Luna (Towkay [AUS] - Della Lobra). All in residence with a mixture of young ones growing out and spelling racehorses.
“I have a wonderful young girl named Esty Leinfellener to help me,” he stated.
“She’s a young Austrian lass who wants to be a vet, she has a retired racehorse at my place she is training to be an eventer and she comes to ride him every other day. She is a godsend and helps with all the foals that I am now a bit old to handle.”
Opaki may only be a small town on the New Zealand map but it is certainly punching above it’s weight when it comes to producing Group One winners and Woodhouse has now joined that elite group of Wairarapa breeders. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA