A snap decision taken just over 20 months ago could pay off in spades if exciting two-year-old filly She’s A Thief can land the major spoils in next Saturday’s Karaka Million (1200m) at Ellerslie.
Young Cambridge-based couple, Adrian Stanley and Hannah Kettlety, have made a name for themselves through their pin-hooking endeavours in recent years after establishing their Woburn Farm brand in 2012.
The pair have quietly built their reputation on a good eye for a young horse, having successfully pin-hooked a number of weanlings that they have gone on to sell well for their clients at subsequent yearling and Ready to Run sales.
It was in this endeavour that Stanley found himself at the 2016 NZB National Weanling sale looking at potential colts for future trading when the Showcasing ex Steal filly wandered past.
“I don’t quite know what it was, but boy did she catch my eye,” Stanley said.
“She was such a grouse filly that I immediately said to Dan Myers, who was selling her, that I definitely wanted a second look.
“As it turned out, we bought her for $13,000 which I think was great value.”
Stanley and Kettlety decided she was just the type they were looking for to potentially become a foundation mare for their breeding aspirations, but first of all they needed the filly to enhance her bloodlines through racetrack performance.
“Right from day one we thought she looked a real two-year-old type, just a real runner, so we wanted to make her eligible for the Karaka Million bonus scheme,” Stanley said.
“We entered her into the yearling sales at Karaka where she was only accepted as a Festival Sale filly, which I wasn’t sure was the correct market for her. Paul Moroney bought her for some clients of his brother Mike and we managed to buy back into her and it has all progressed from there.
“She has certainly shown she can run and she looks to be a good chance in the Karaka Million, but we all know there is no certainty in racing, so we will just be hoping she can do us all proud no matter where she finishes.”
Win, lose or draw the pair will use the Karaka Million as a chance to release some of the pressure that has built up over the preceding weeks as they count down to presenting their fourth draft of yearlings to the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale series.
“We put our first draft through at Karaka back in 2015 where we just had Festival Sale horses,” said Stanley.
“At that stage, we were operating from a 30 acre block we had bought. It was a tough time, but we worked our tails off and it was the start of establishing ourselves in the industry.
“Since then we have managed to do well off the back of that hard work and 12 months ago we bought another 60 acres from a neighbouring farm after we sold our house and five acres of the original block.
“So now we’ve got 85 acres of which we are very proud, although it does have some development work to be completed. Included in that is building a house as presently we are making use of a combination of temporary accommodation on the property.”
Woburn Farm will present seventeen individuals over the week-long Karaka sale with five yearlings set to go under the hammer during the Book 1 Sale. Included in that list is a stunning Dundeel colt from Commands mare Lady Who, that will be presented as Lot 323.
“In my eyes our Dundeel colt is probably the best of the yearlings we are taking to Karaka, he is an absolute cracker,” said Stanley.
“We bought him as a weanling at the Gold Coast and he has continued to furnish into a lovely yearling. He has former top juvenile Serena Miss in his extended pedigree, which was one of the attractions when we bought him as I put that filly through the ring at Karaka when I was working for Goodwood Stud.
“We own him along with two of our Australian clients, so we are looking for a good result for everyone involved. It was nice to see Dundeel get his first winner on Friday.
“One of the fundamentals we have when selling horses is that we are there to meet the market. It is a policy that has served us well in the past and has helped build our reputation amongst the buying bench.
“We will be taking that attitude in again this year so people should be aware of that with all of our yearlings when they go through the ring.
“I think we have a very even draft this year which we are keen to see sell well so we will be looking for Dundeel colt to get us off to the best possible start.” – NZ Racing Desk.