Perth based Neven Botica was introduced to the Karaka thoroughbred sales by the legendary Bart Cummings, and has been a regular visitor ever since.
However this year’s visit was by far the most exciting as he witnessed Scott Base a Dalghar(FR) gelding he bred win the first $1million race for three-year-old graduates of the New Zealand Bloodstock Sale, the Karaka Million 3YO Classic.
“It was a fantastic night,” said Botica, “I was on course with the whole family and we were yelling and screaming. It was great to be there to see him get the job done.
“Since my first visit about nine years ago, I have been bringing the family over every year for a family holiday before the sales, and we have always had a great time. We have stayed in some lovely parts of New Zealand, and we always end our stay with a visit to the races, and then the week of sales.
“It’s a nice time of the year for us Western Australians to be here, and get away from the heat.”
Although Botica originally came to New Zealand to buy Standardbreds, and his first purchase was the Harness Hall of Famer Sundon’s Gift, Cummings soon converted him to thoroughbreds. Little did Botica know then how entrenched he would became in the New Zealand thoroughbred industry.
In 2012 he chose Brighthill Farm in the Waikato for his French group three winning stallion Dalghar (FR) [Anabaa(USA)-Daltawa (IRE)] over a number of Australian studs, believing that Dalghar would be better suited to the New Zealand environment. With that commitment he sent 15 mares to join the mares he already had in New Zealand specifically to go to the stallion, and he has continued to add to that band as the years have gone on.
One of those mares was Extra Celestial (AUS) a placed Danehill Dancer (IRE) mare out of winning Quest For Fame(GB) mare Extra Terrestial(AUS) herself a half-sister to the multi – stakes winning horses Hotel Grand and Outback Prince.
“I liked the cross with Annabaa (USA) over Danehill Dancer, and through Quest for Fame(GB) back to Blushing Groom,” explained Botica, “she had been placed at two so had speed so to speak, and she has been to Dalghar four times and produced two winners.
Scott Base now won three races, as a two-year he was placed third in the listed Champagne Stakes in April. Early in the season in September he won a maiden 1400 before running second in the listed Zacinto Stakes. He failed in the 2000 Guineas and after a short break, he returned to winning form winning a three-year-old set weights race over 1300 metres three weeks before his triumph in the Karaka Million.
“It’s the biggest race day on the calendar stakes wise and a win like that will really put Dalghar on the map.
“Dalghar has been overlooked a bit, he is really a sprinter with the pedigree of a stayer. He was a very fast horse, and he has a great female line with the potential to be anything. His progeny just keep improving, they develop as good types with good brains and show something all the time.
“His biggest book was in 2016 so that is exciting for the future and from that crop are some really lovely foals and outstanding types.
Dalghar raced competitively in France and won four races including the Gr.3 Prix du Palais –Royal at Longchamp where he holds the record for 1400 metres in a time of 1:17.4, last 200m in 9.7 seconds.
He is by the Champion Danzig stallion Anabaa and was bred by the Aga Khan from his blue hen mare Daltawa, herself a stakes winner at two and the dam of the champions Daylami and Dalakhani, and five other winners from nine to race.
His oldest progeny are now four and he has also been represented by Astara also bred and raced by Neven. She set a new New Zealand record for a two-year-old over 1600 metres when she won the Listed Champagne Stakes, as a three-year-old she also won the Listed Soliloquy Stakes.
“It could be a big year for Brighthill Farm,” concluded Botica, “this season they have been represented by Aloisia (Azamour[FR]- Queen Boudicca) the group one winner of the 1000 Guineas at Caulfield and now Scott Base.” – words Michelle Saba