Ainsley Downs Stud’s policy of purchasing older mares in Australia has been rewarded with another feature race contender across the Tasman.
The Courtney Howells-bred Vianarra will take aim at The Star Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) and win, lose or draw the Te Kauwhata nursery is delighted to have a representative in the A$3 million feature.
“I don’t know if any New Zealand breeders have managed that and it shows that you never know where the next good one is coming from,” he said.
“He’s a runner’s chance and he’s drawn 15, which won’t be an advantage, but he’ll be strong enough and I’m just thrilled he’s made it this far and looks a progressive horse.”
Trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, Vianarra is a son of Shalaa and the Flying Spur mare Vinavion, who is a granddaughter of the former New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year and Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Burletta.
Howells purchased Vinavion at the Inglis Sydney Broodmare Sale for A$80,000 with Auckland-based bloodstock agent Paul Willetts signing the ticket.
“She was owned by the Inghams and at the time I particularly wanted a mare in foal to Shalaa,” Howells said.
“There was talk about him being above average as a sire and as an imported speed horse he slipped under the radar a bit in Australia because they like their own.
“I left them over at Fairhill Farm and I’ve been doing it for the last few years, buying older mares that have already got something on the board, be it a stakes winner or they’ve showed they can leave a decent horse.”
Vinavion had previously produced four winners, including the Listed UCI Stakes (1800m) winner Wine Bush and the Group performer Wine Tales.
“We sold the colt (Vianarra) at the Sydney Weanling Sale for A$90,000, which was serious money for a Shalaa at that stage, and then he went to the Gold Coast and was passed in and obviously sold later (for A$105,000) to be registered for the Magic Millions.”
Howells subsequently entered into a foal share agreement with Newgate and the mare produced a daughter of Flying Artie.
“She was a lovely filly as a weanling, but the market at Karaka was for high-end weanlings last year and not for something by a stallion like Flying Artie, so we bought her back,” Howells said.
She will be offered in Ainsley Downs Stud’s Book 2 draft as Lot 1033 at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale with Vinavion currently in foal to Mapperley Stud’s Armory.
“She is a lovely, big, strong mare and you can see why she leaves such a good type,” Howells said.
Vianarra has placed in his last two appearances at Ballarat and Randwick and will be ridden on Saturday by John Allen.
“He’s huge for us because he was the jockey on Affaire A Suivre when she won the Australasian Oaks (Gr.1, 2000m) for us,” Howells said.
“She’s out of another mare we bought in Sydney, so we’ve had a bit of luck. A lot of people don’t like buying older mares, but it has certainly worked for us.”
By Astern, the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-prepared Affaire A Suivre is a daughter of the American-bred Highest Honor mare Laurelling, a sister to the Gr.1 Racing Post Trophy winner and sire Medaaly.
Laurelling was a A$34,000 Inglis Sydney Broodmare Sale purchase and Affaire A Suivre subsequently realised $75,000 at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale.
Her son by Darci Brahma will be offered as Lot 181 by Ainsley Downs during the Book 1 session at Karaka where they will also be selling a Ribchester filly (Lot 444).
Ainsley Downs’ consignment will be completed by Book 2 colts by Merchant Navy (Lot 699), Dirty Work (Lot 979) and King Of Comedy (Lot 1039) and a Super Seth filly (Lot 991).