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Strong line-up of fillies to boost Blandford’s proud record

Lucia Valentina  - Darryl Sherer
Lucia Valentina

Darryl Sherer

Blandford Lodge has a proud roll of honour with Group One winning graduates including the likes of Lucia Valentina, Criterion, Pasadena Girl and Singapore star Better Than Ever.

The Matamata farm heads to this month’s New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales, which starts on January 28, with a string of yearlings likely to add to the list.

Blandford Lodge is owned by Graham and Helen-Gaye Bax with Wellington businessman Lib Petagna, all parties having a long and successful involvement with thoroughbred racing and breeding.   

Graham Bax has bred numerous stakes winners over the last 25 years with one in particular, the striking mare Lucia Valentina, forging the partnership behind Blandford Lodge.

Bloodstock consultant Bruce Perry outlaid $60,000 on Petagna’s behalf for a brown Savabeel filly out of Staryn Glenn at the 2012 NZB Premier Sale.

Little did he know she would be the catalyst for the partnership driving the success of Blandford Lodge, one of New Zealand’s most prominent boutique studs.

For the record, Lucia Valentina was a racetrack star winning seven times, three at Group One level and accumulating $4.7 million in stakes for her hugely successful owner.

She gave Petagna a day owners can only dream of when she was key to a $3.3m Randwick pay day, winning the Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on the same day Sofia Rosa won the Gr.1 Australian Oaks (2400m).

Lucia Valentina is now part of the bright future for Blandford Lodge where she is grazing the fertile pastures carrying a positive pregnancy to boom Australian sire Snitzel.

“So we will be looking forward to offering her off-spring at yearling sales in the years ahead,” Graham Bax said.

He was joined by Petagna at Blandford three years ago when Sir Owen Glenn decided to sell his interest in the farm.

And Bax is loving Petagna’s involvement.

“The timing was perfect and it’s been great,” he said. “Lib is fantastic to work with and he’s got some lovely mares on the farm.

Bax  - Trish Dunell

Trish Dunell

“He’s a big part of our industry and a real gentleman as well.”

Blandford Lodge’s 13-strong draft for the upcoming sales features a line-up of 10 fillies.

“Maybe there’s another Lucia Valentina among them,” Bax said. “Looking down the list, it’s just a wonderful line of fillies.

“I wouldn’t mind a few more colts, but that’s just the way it went when this draft was foaled. On the positive side our best results have come with fillies.

“There must be something in the water, the farm has really good filly families – it seems to be in the genes.”

There is ample sire power behind this year’s fillies with Dissident, Deep Field, Foxwedge, Tavistock, Ocean Park, Medaglio d’Oro, Sacred Falls, Charm Spirit and Reliable Man represented.

Lot 176, a Tavistock colt from the Zabeel mare Dubai Express, is expected to be the highlight of the male offerings from the farm.

“He should go really well,” Bax said. “But as I’ve been told at our parades, if anyone wants a quality filly they will be getting around to Blandford. We should have a good sale.”

The future is in good hands at Blandford. Experienced farm manager Jamie Kennedy oversees a dedicated full-time team of three staff which increases to six during the summer.

“Jamie runs the farm and does a fantastic job,” Bax said. “Our results over the last few years show that.

“He came to us from Yarraman Park and had wide experience on a variety of other studs as well.

“Blandford Lodge will continue to get stronger. We have around 50 mares and we don’t want to get any bigger, but we want to increase the quality and continue to breed to top-end stallions.”

The partnership will seek to raise the bar with the regular purchase of high quality bloodstock to ensure an exciting future for the farm. – NZ Racing Desk.


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