William Duncan's win is an inspiration to new breeders

Heni - pic. Race Images

Heni - pic. Race Images

If you need inspiration to get involved in the breeding game then talk to William Duncan.

Duncan is the breeder and owner of Heni (Towkay[AUS]-Bahhzaar) the recent winner of the Group Three Valachi Downs Breeders’ Stakes at Riccarton. A race that she was placed in last season.

He oozes enthusiasm and passion when he talks about Heni, her success and how she came to be bred and what he was hoping to achieve.

Her victory in the Group Three event gave Duncan his first ever Stakes winner and in his words hopefully not his last.

“To put it bluntly it was a bit of a surprise, but it was great, fantastic, and she won very well,” said Duncan a member of the Central Districts Branch of the NZTBA.

“Racing is a great sport if you connect all the dots. I like to connect dots so you start with a nice type of mare, who has ability on the track, and then you try and breed a good racehorse. You need a good looking foal, with four good legs and a big heart, then you see if it can run, find a good trainer and then try and beat the odds”.

“There are so many odds against you it’s fantastic when you get one that does and wins. A Group One would be my greatest satisfaction, but that Group Three win is very satisfying”.

“I’m not in the game of selling horses, I want to see them race.  I love to handle them as foals, and do all the early work in rearing them.  I don’t break them in, I have got that ability and I would never want to train them”.

“I love being involved, it’s a great interest and the social side is wonderful. You meet some great people in this game,” concluded Duncan who was back on the tractor working at his sheep, beef, cropping and dairy farm in Rongotea in the Manawatu less than 24 hours after Heni’s win”.

A seven-year-old mare, Heni is trained at Awapuni by Mike Breslin for Duncan and has now won nine races and in excess of $200,000. She has had 34 career starts and has only been out of the money five times. This win came at her second start in a new campaign.

She is the second foal from the Bahhare(USA) mare Bahhzaar, a daughter of the Zabeel mare Noubeel, herself a winner of two races and a half-sister to Nouvain a Group Three winner of four races. Nouvain also left a stakes winner in Zatella also by Zabeel.

“I bought Bahhzaar as a yearling and raced her and she won five races out of Mark Oulaghan’s stable. I bought her with a view to breeding from her after she raced. I have always been more interested in breeding than racing, she was a good type and is a nice big mare,” said Duncan who hails from a strong racing family”.

Both Bahhzaar and Heni race in the pink colours with a brown cap that were used by Duncan’s grandfather Eric (E.H.) Duncan, who was a son of Sir Thomas Duncan who was seldom without a good racehorse.

“My father James raced horses and my mother Aroha has had a number of winners out of Mark Oulaghan’s stable including the Grand National Steeplechase winner Upper Cut. In fact Heni is named after my great-grandmother on my mother’s side”.

“In fact it was a family connection that got me into Towkay(AUS). He was performing as a stallion at the time, with a few good horses running around and my uncle had a share in the horse, so I got a family discount”.

“My horse had plenty of stamina in her pedigree so I have always tried to put speed in my matings.”

Bahhzaar next foal is Tarihira (by Nom de Jeu) a winner of three races and she has also left a colt by Nom de Jeu , and one by Road To Rock (AUS) who have yet to show anything. A yearling full-sister to Heni is waiting to be broken in and this season she has produced a filly foal by Vespa. Unfortunately Bahhzaar has developed laminitis and Duncan has decided not to serve her this year.

“I will definitely breed from Heni in the future, and this year I have sent her half-sister Tarahira named after my great great grandmother to Little Avondale where she is visiting Nadeem. She pulled a tendon not long after I decided not to breed from Bahhzaar this year. I will try and connect the dots with her.”

“I had a broodmare before Bahhzaar that Rex Fell talked me into. Rex was my go to person for all things thoroughbred, my mentor really, and I still occasionally seek advice from his son William and his nephew Duncan”.

“Rex made me buy a mare called La Mafia (Phizam – Tirule). I really didn’t have much choice in the matter, and advised me to send it to Oregon(USA) and that was a dud, and it went to Oregon(USA) again and that was a dud. So then we sent it to Howbaddouwantit(USA) and she produced Wewantit who won four races from six starts and was then sold to Hong Kong”.

“I knew at the time that the money I was offered was better than winning a Group One here in New Zealand so I took it. You get a wee bit of success in this game and it keeps you going at the other end. That wee bit of success I had a Riccarton will keep me going in the game for another 10 years”.

“My heart is in breeding horses, get the right stallion, four good legs, good mind and heart, find the right trainer and when you conquer all those little things you have success. Heni has it she is a very honest mare”.

I believe a horse like Heni is an inspiration for people to go out and breed a horse, it’s not that expensive if you breed them after racing them, and just try and connect all those dots.” - Michelle Saba


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