The old adage that good horses can come from anywhere certainly applies to last Saturday’s Listed Grangewilliam Stud Oaks Prelude winner Khanshe according to her owner breeder Rick Orr.
Orr was thrilled to bits to have bred his first stakes winner, but he didn’t think it would come from the Mongolian Khan filly that he was discouraged from putting through the ring and ended up being trained by Fraser Auret by default.
“I was told that the Mongolian Khans were not much bloody good, and she was probably worthless, so I kept her and sent her to Fraser (Auret), who rated her all the way through,” said the North Canterbury beef and sheep farmer who was too busy dipping sheep to make the trip to New Plymouth last weekend.
“She’s a tough racehorse with a beautiful action and is very athletic, a good Oaks type of horse,” Orr added. “Mongolian Khan was a great racehorse, but I think her ability is testament to how good her dam is at throwing a good foal.
“I contacted Fraser about training my Rip Van Winkle filly who is a half-sister to Uareastar, and I said I have another filly the same age that I will send up with her, and you may as well try and see what she can do
“That was how we came up with name Khanshe, as in can she make it as a racehorse?”
Khanshe is the second stakes winner sired by Mongolian Khan, the winner of the New Zealand and Australian Derby as an autumn three-year-old and the Caufield Cup the following spring. His other stakes winner is Bankers Choice, who won the Gr. 3 Anniversary Handicap at Trentham and the Listed Ballarat Cup in Victoria.
Khanshe has certainly refuted any query posed by her name. She was a winner in her second start at Otaki in November, then finished sixth in the Gr. 3 Elsdon Park Wellington Stakes and fourth in the Gr. 3 Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes.
More than a month later she lined up in the Oaks Prelude at New Plymouth and made the most of the step up to 1800m to down the well-performed filly Chantilly Lace. She will now be aimed at the Gr. 2 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes, then into the Gr. 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks.
Orr who breeds Angus bulls and Romney sheep at his Red Oak Stud in North Canterbury’s Weka Valley, inherited his love of horses from his grandfather, who established the first Red Oak Stud breeding Jersey cows in Cambridge.
A veteran of both World Wars, Dick Orr went to Gallipoli with the Mounted Rifles, but finished the war as a Tiger Moth pilot and on his return married Addy Browne, a member of the famous Cambridge racing clan.
He was also a crack skeet shooter and forged a friendship with Trelawney Stud’s Seton Otway, who was also a talented shooter.
“Seton used to send his colts out to my grandfather’s farm to run on the hills, and my grandfather always had horses,” the younger Orr recalled. “Maybe that’s why Trelawney produced seven Melbourne Cup winners – running their colts on the hills!
“My dad was an only child and he hated horses. We ended up being sheep farmers but we had hunters and heavy horses on the farm, so I have always been associated with horses.
“My brother Jonny has had mares and racehorses for a long time, and I joined the fray about eight years ago when we had some spare money but not enough to buy the ones I wanted, so I decided to try and breed them instead.
“As a breeder of sheep, cattle and dogs, I knew a bit about breeding stock, and I look for successful crosses, like the Galileo-Danehill cross, or the O’Reilly-Savabeel cross, and I mate my mares accordingly.”
Those theories led to the purchase of Folies Bergere, who is the dam of Khanshe.
“She was an $80,000 yearling, being O’Reilly out of the stakes-winning mare Dashing Donna who won the Newmarket Handicap before running second in the Railway, but she had a fetlock injury and didn’t race,” Orr said.
He bought Folies Bergere from Graeme Rogerson in foal to Duelled and then sent her to Charm Spirit, but the resulting colt failed to reach his $25,000 reserve at Karaka. However, he won a trial as two-year-old and was sold to Hong Kong for $210,000 and as Cheval Valiant has won a couple up there.
The mare’s next foal by Highly Recommended followed a similar path and after winning a couple of trials was sold to Singapore where, as Bravo Kid, he has been placed.
Khanshe followed, then Folies Bergere went to Vanbrugh and produced Vanish, who has been placed at two. She also has a yearling filly by Circus Maximus, a stunning colt foal by Noverre and is in foal to Ardrossan.
Perhaps fittingly given the friendship between Dick Orr and Seton Otway, Folies Bergere was bred by Trelawney Stud out of Dashing Donna, who was bred by Fraser Auret’s father Nigel. Dashing Donna was out of the speedy stakes-placed winner Epic Pulse, however, it was the purchase of another mare, Enchanteress, that led Orr to Auret’s stable.
“I purchased Enchanteress off Gavelhouse for $5,000. Being from the last crop of Danehill out of Encens, a half-sister to the stallions Scenic and Silent Warrior, she was a $1.3 million yearling, and won one race.
“Shortly after I purchased her, Uareastar won the Auckland Cup for Fraser, and that was when I contacted him about training for me. Now we’re on our way to the Oaks!”