For Cathy Franich, winning the Gr. 3 New Zealand Bloodstock Desert Gold Stakes with Sudbina at Trentham last Saturday was somewhat surreal.
“It was exciting, and a little bit unbelievable,” said Franich who races the Roger James/Robert Wellwood-trained filly under her Frantic Bloodstock banner with fellow breeders Haunui Farm in a partnership that commenced some 20 years ago.
“I was lucky enough to be there with Liv Chitty, a fourth-generation member of the Chitty family getting involved, so that was a bit special.
“Roger (James) wasn’t going to back Sudbina up after her win at Hastings, but she was so full of herself he decided to. She is a lovely filly but still hasn’t grown up and filled out; I’m sure she will become stronger.
“Kozzi (Asano, jockey) pulled her back to start with in the race, but he thought he would just let her go, and off she went. He gets on well with her and that is important as well.”
The popular Cambridge-based jockey was on board the Almanzor filly when she won at Hastings earlier in the month, also when she broke her maiden in October at her third start. In the meantime, she had finished sixth in the Gr. 2 Jamieson Park Soliloquy Stakes and fourth in the Gr.3 Bonecrusher Stakes.
James, and now Wellwood, have been an important part of the success of the breeding partnership, training fillies and mares of the calibre of Valpolicella, her daughter Rondinella, Flora and Misstrum.
Racing has always been something of a passion for Franich, a successful businesswoman who originally hailed from the South Island but is now based in the Waikato. In a nod to her Irish heritage, she attributes her sometimes forthright manner to that side of her make-up. Her surname, however, is Croation she attributes to her former husband. Sudbina is Croation for destiny or fate.
Franich’s father and his brothers raced standardbreds, and her first foray into racehorse ownership was in that code. She eventually switched to thoroughbreds, partly due to the influence of South Auckland breeder and good friend, the late Pat Millen, and since perpetuated by Ron Chitty and his son Mark.
“Ron took me under his wing and tried to educate me about buying bloodstock and what to look for,” she explained.
“I still don’t really know what I’m looking for but about 20-odd years ago I ended up picking up the rest of Noel Robinson’s bloodstock that he was in shares in with Ron and Caroline and it went from there.”
“At one point we had up to six mares but now we are down to just three: Valpolicella, Rondinella and Tinnelly.”
Sudbina’s latest win was very timely, as next week at the New Zealand Bloodstock Sales at Karaka, the Haunui/Frantic Bloodstock they will sell a filly closely related to Sudbina and a colt who descends from one of the first mares in their successful partnership.
Valpolicella, from one of Haunui’s most prolific families, was in that first package. She went on to win the Gr. 3 Manawatu Classic and the Listed ARC Champagne Stakes before becoming an outstanding broodmare. She is the dam of the stakes winners Vilanova, Vavasour and Celebrity Dream as well as Rondinella, a winner of four races who was Group One placed in Australia and New Zealand on numerous occasions.
Rondinella’s first foal, by the champion sire Snitzel, is one of two yearlings the partnership has in next week’s sale. A striking bay colt, he is Lot 360 on the second day.
Their second yearling in the catalogue is Lot 489. a Savabeel filly out of Sudbina’s half-sister Tinnelly. An unraced daughter of O’Reilly, she is out of the imported Danehill mare Destined who has left six winners including Fix, the 2012-13 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year and NZ Derby runner-up, Sudbina and Galileo’s Destiny, who was Group One placed in South Africa.
Destined was unraced but was out of the Gr. 1 Cheveley Stakes winner Prophecy. All her other foals raced, adding up to seven winners including the triple Australian Group One winner Foreteller as well as the stakes winners Modern Look and Arabesque, the dam of former Haunui shuttle stallion Showcasing.
With Fix being by Iffraaj, Cambridge Stud shuttle Almanzor was an obvious mating for Destined, being by Iffraaj’s son Wootten Bassett.
“Ron and Mark (Chitty) do the work on the matings and come to me with three or four options,” Franich explained. “After much discussion and me asking why they are suggesting this one and that one, we come to a decision.
“It’s a system that works for us, so why should I change it? Now when people ask me how come I have been so successful, I tell them ‘just listen to good advice’.
“But I have been very lucky with Ron with his knowledge and expertise, his stockmanship is second to none, and Mark, who is just an amazing genuine all-round person and so good at getting mares in foal.”