Te Kuiti owner-breeder Paul Guise is hoping to be “bang on” when New Year’s Day rolls around and his pride and joy Still Bangon tackles the Gr. 2 Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes at Pukekohe Park.
The Satono Aladdin filly produced a gutsy run to come from near last on the turn and take out the Gr. 3 Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes last Saturday at Trentham, and her trainer Stephen Autridge has confirmed the Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes as her next assignment.
Guise, a retired King Country farmer, has been laid up with a problem ankle for some time and is yet to see Still Bangon race. He bred the filly with his late wife Maureen, and given his grandfather, Jack Massey, was president at the Counties venue from 1941 to 1954 when it was known as the Franklin Racing Club, he would love to win a big race on the course.
Furthermore, it was his grandfather who introduced a youthful Guise to racing and instilled in him a love of the thoroughbred.
“My parents didn’t have any interest, but my grandfather had a big interest in the horses,” Guise recalled earlier this week when talking of his grandfather, who was the local Member of Parliament from 1928 to 1957.
Jack Massey followed on from his father, William Massey, who also represented the Franklin electorate and was Prime Minister from 1912 to 1925.
“He was a brilliant grandfather to me. When I was at school in Wellington, I used to travel up with him on the train at night, whenever he was in Parliament, and I would be going home for the school holidays. He used to really look after me and tell me all about the horses.
“When I left school I went sharemilking and shearing and eventually, when we got our own farm, we bought ponies for the children and that led to a couple of thoroughbred mares.
“Once the children had been to varsity and found their feet, we decided to have some fun and bred the mares. We have had a little bit of success, and bred a good mare in Miss Pelear who won the Rich Hill Mile before being sold to Australia.”
Guise admits that he isn’t a pedigree buff, he hasn’t always bought the best-bred mares and he doesn’t put a lot of study into his matings. For example, proving that big-race winners can come from anywhere, Miss Pelear was by Mr Nancho from the Vettori mare Tori Belle, and was her dam’s only winner from three foals. Miss Pelear was trained by Brendan and Keith Hawtin, who had trained an earlier Guise home-bred in Elle Tresor.
That horse, by the Tale of the Cat stallion Le Bec Fin out of Spot Of Luck, by Strike Diamonds out of the Western Symphony mare Western Melody, was purchased by Guise in the mid-1990s.
Elle Tresor, the winner of three races, was an above average two-year-old, scoring on debut before running second in the Listed WRC Wellesley Stakes and then fourth in the Gr. 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes. At three she added another black-type placing in the Listed Wanganui JC Fordell O’Leary’s Fillies’ Stakes.
At stud Elle Tresor produced two winners, Elle d’Berry and Good Spot, the latter a winner last season trained by Alex Forbes.
More importantly, to another mating with Hall of Fame stayer Ethereal’s half-brother Le Bec Fin, Spot Of Luck also produced Shebang. She won five races and is now the dam of Still Bangon, the line’s first stakes winner in four generations, and her Contributer half-sister Fairshare. who incidentally Guise rates as a better prospect than her younger sibling. When making his mares’ mating decisions, Guise has sought advice.
“When it came to Satono Aladdin and Derryn (the sire of Good Spot) I spoke to Keith (Hawtin) about them and got the vibes that they were both a good cross,” said Guise. “Besides, the studs were good, they talked turkey and we have had some good luck.”
Hawtin was also instrumental in Still Bangon and Fairshare joining Stephen Autridge’s Matamata stable.
“When Keith retired, I had two horses in work with him,” recalled Guise. “He recommended two trainers that he would like me to give the horses to.
“One was Stephen Autridge and the other was Alex Forbes, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Autridge, who trained in partnership with Keith and Brendan Hawtin, back in the mid 2000’s, picks up the story.
“When Kiwi (Keith Hawtin) retired at the end of last season, he sent me a couple of horses. One was Fairshare, who won a Pearl Series race last December, and the other her half-sister Still Bangon,” he said.
“They are pretty exciting horses, the way Still Bangon raced last Saturday I am pretty sure she will stay.
“It would be nice to win the Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes, as I trained for him and Justine Lady Hogan. I actually won the Sir Tristram Classic for them with Singalong in 2001.
“It would also be a big boost for Paul, who lost his wife Maureen last March, and he is yet to see the filly race.”
Still Bangon finished fourth on debut and was then put aside before resuming with a fifth at Taupo in August. She returned to Taupo and won but was relegated to second before a third at Te Rapa, and a second at Tauranga. Her maiden victory came at Te Aroha in a Pearl Series Maiden.
A sixth at Counties followed before her Trentham victory over the promising Ace High filly My Lips Are Sealed, giving Rich Hill Stud sires yet another quinella.