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Alan Groves enjoys Group One success with Aide Memoire

Aide Memoire wins the Group One Captain Cook Stakes 3/12/06. Picture courtesy of Race Images

Aide Memoire wins the Group One Captain Cook Stakes 3/12/06.  Picture courtesy of Race Images
Breeding a Group One winner is a huge thrill for any breeder but when it reinforces the line breeding theories you have been espousing, it makes the achievement all the more satisfying and thrilling.

These are the sentiments of Alan Groves who owns and races in partnership Aide Memoir (Remind[USA]-Explain) the impressive winner of the Group One Captain Cook Stakes.

Groves bred the mare with fellow line breeding enthusiasts Iain Gunn and Kay Hood of Hedwood Thoroughbreds, and races her with a syndicate of friends. She is now the winner of seven races from just 16 starts from the stable of Fraser Auret.

"We were a little bit surprised we were hoping for a strong placing and she turned around and did that," boasted Groves a new business development manager from Raumati South on the Kapiti Coast.

"It certainly was a sharp upward career move, and even surprised Fraser. She's indomitable, she always has been, she fights like a tiger even her riders say that. When Bella, as she was named as a foal, arrived up at our property at Paekakariki, she was never a problem, never needed a vet, never got into trouble, she just kept to herself".

"Funnily enough when people came to the property no one ever asked about her, they would ask about this one or that one but never her. We put her in a paddock with a gelding named Broadside who was very much a dominant horse and she refused to be dominated by him".

"When the time came to race her, I got a syndicate of people together in the lower North Island and sent her to Fraser and with his care and consideration he has nurtured her into a Group One horse".

"The syndicate is made up of a couple of guys who have been in racing for years, Mike Askew from Te Horo, and Dennis Tuffery a patent attorney along with Murray Deanes my accountant, David Garraway and Chris Gerbes. It's the first horse that David and Chris have raced and now she's a Group One winner."

As stated earlier, Groves is a firm believer of line breeding and along with fellow breeders Iain Gunn and Kay Hood, they bought Explain after Groves had gone in search of Success Express(USA) mares.

According to Groves he was involved with Java Lodge and sought to recruit some mares to go to their Zenno Rob Roy(JPN).

"I identified that he needed some mares by Success Express(USA), and went through the entire stud book, researching pedigrees for them, and I came across two mares, Explain and Escaline(AUS)".

Explain was a winner of four races out of the American bred mare Nancy's Glory (His Excellency[USA]-Tinted Glory[USA]) who won seven races, four at Listed level. Escaline a daughter of the Caerleon(USA) mare Our Martinique(IRE) won one race in Australia, and has as her fourth dam the Group One winning mare and producer Priceless Gem(USA).

"Explain(ex Nancy's Glory[USA]) was owned by an elderly couple in Matangi, Donald and Meryn Hastie they felt they had given her enough of a chance as a broodmare and were going to put her down, and we leased her, and said if she leaves a good horse we will pay them an amount of dollars. I guess now I will have to pay up!"

"Anyway Zenno Rob Roy didn't come back to Java Lodge, so I shipped her down south to Kay, as the only other Sunday Silence(USA) horse in New Zealand was Painted Black(JPN), so we sent her there to see if that would work. She left a lovely colt called Aide de Camp, who was a stunning looking chestnut, very intelligent, buy unfortunately he had a collision with a high tension wire fence in an electrical storm and stripped all his back legs. He never raced".

"We couldn't go back to Painted Black as he had moved, so Kay and I sat down with a bottle of wine and the stallion register to see what else was available in the Canterbury region that would suit her given that we were line breeders".

"Remind fitted the bill with the male line to Damascus and a female line that descended from Unbreakable(USA) the sire of Polynesian(USA) which is where the Native Dancer(USA) stallion line descends from. He was the best option so the next day we set off to see him".

"Long Acres is an amazing property, it doesn't have too many horses on it, and it has the cleanest and healthiest environment you can imagine. The air and the water is so clear and it's an amazing environment to raise horses. The foal arrived and she was small but perfectly formed, Myles and Debbie delivered us an exceptional filly foal. The mare was quite old when she foaled and she left one other foal, a colt by Coats Choice(AUS) before she died".

"Aide Memoir comes from a family of mares that get better with age. Explain raced through until she was eight-years-old and her daughter She's A Tomboy (Shinko King[IRE]) did as well, she won five races. Earlier this year I went and bought a Red Giant(USA) out of She's A Tomboy at the sales as we felt Aide Memoir had the goods and he is coming along nicely".

Groves still has Escaline as well and she has produced a lot of fillies including Ripe (Perfectly Ready[AUS]) who has won two races. She has an unnamed Battle Paint(USA) filly and a Sufficient filly. This season she had a Jakkalberry(IRE)filly and she has returned to that stallion.

Also this year, he sent Edensong (Edenwold[CAN]- Princess Melody) to Alamosa. She was a mare he bred and raced with some fellow line breeding enthusiasts including Iain Gunn and Kay Hood. Edensong is actually owned by Hedwood Thoroughbreds but is leased to Groves to breed from.

He also owns a Faltaat (USA) mare Patagonia (ex Arctic Life[FR]) a sister to the dual Group Two winner Rosina Lad and a half-sister to Manonamission, a winner of 10 races who was group placed on several ocassions.

"This is a lovely French family, and I have a Coat's Choice(AUS) filly with Fraser called La Cruz and a two-year-old by Highly Recommended(AUS) and a gorgeous Danroad(AUS)filly. This family does well with a Danehill(USA) line stallion, and that is why I went to Coat's Choice who is by a son of Danehill in Redoute's Choice(AUS) and Highly Recommended who is by Fastnet Rock (AUS) another son of Danehill".

"Then I thought I wanted it a little closer so I chose Danroad(AUS) a son of Danehill and himself[M1] a proven sire. Besides I only use stallions in the $5,000 to $10,000 range as I generally just breed to test my theories and race them myself" he added.

So how did Groves find himself interested in racing horses and line breeding?

"My mother's family have followed racing forever. I have a lovely photograph of my great grandmother complete with fox fur at the Trentham races in the 1920's. And my father's father who was English, never missed an Epsom Derby. It turns out my great grandfather was a saddler in Newmarket as well".

"I was a sports reporter on the Evening Post in the late 70's and shared an office with the racing reporters and that tweaked my interest, then I discovered line breeding and that is what has kept me captivated. I was the racing correspondent for the NZPA back in the late 80's and got to see some fabulous racing here and in Australia including the great clash between Waverley Star and Bonecrusher. They are turning out to be the best days of racing in New Zealand now when you think of where racing is today."

In the meantime he may change his mind about those being the best days, as Aide Memoir may change all that as she heads towards the Thorndon Mile in January and possibly the Herbie Dyke Stakes in February. - Michelle Saba



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