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Heart over head decision for South Island breeders

Willie and Karen Calder with Lot 479 Fastnet Rock x Pins"N"Needles filly

Willie and Karen Calder with Lot 479 Fastnet Rock x Pins"N"Needles filly

The last week in January 2018 is one that Southland breeders Karen and Willie Calder will remember forever.

In the space of 24 hours they became the breeders of an international group one winner D B Pin (Darci Brahma –Pins’n’Needles) and the 2YO Karaka Million winner Avantage (Fastnet Rock[AUS]- Avasant).

Two days later they bought back into the three-quarter sister to both Avantage and D B Pin at Karaka they co bred with Coolmore Stud for $550,000.

It was a head over heart decision for Karen Calder who was prepared to go a little higher to secure the filly for future breeding and racing, after selling Asavant to Coolmore Stud last year.

“It’s an amazing time, Saturday night at Ellerslie was so exciting and then when D B Pin won in Hong Kong it was almost unbelievable,” according to a delighted Karen Calder.

“We keep in touch with John Size and he has always rated him, it was a terrific win.”

D B Pin was an impressive winner in the Gr.1 Hong Kong Centenary Sprint over 1200 metres on the back of a strong second in the Gr.1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint. He has now won six races, and also has a second placing in the Gr.3 Sha Tin Vase.

He was a Karaka graduate from The Oaks Stud Premier Sale draft of 2014, and according to Oaks General Manager Rick Williams he was always a looker.

“He was a lovely yearling,” he recalled, “and John Foote paid $200,000 for him that year, and the next best Darci Brahma only made $100,000, they weren’t wanting them that year, and he was a magnificent colt.”

“He definitely has a look of Darci Brahma about him,” enthused Karen Calder as she reviewed a photo of the finish of the Centenary Sprint.

“Pins ‘n’ Needles (Pins- Raining) was a medium sized mare but well-built and left some lovely foal, before we tragically lost her last October in foal to So You Think. Whereas Asavant (Zabeel- Pins ‘n’ Needles), is the living image of her mother.”

Asavant is the dam of the Avantage, who was also prepared for the yearling sales by The Oaks Stud and sold last January for $210,000 to Te Akau Racing.

She is currently unbeaten in three starts, and won two NZB Insurance Pearl Bonus Series 2YO races before her victory in the Karaka Million.

According to Karen this success is really all a domino effect from the purchase of Pins ‘n’ Needles, made by Willie at the start of the century.

Both Willie and Karen run a successful fishing business out of Bluff Direct Fish and Oyster, using the Oyster boat the Argosy. They had both grown up with ponies and Willie’s mother and grandfather shared a passion for racing, which he inherited, and for a time continued breeding from their good mare Dark Eyes a winner of seven races.

They decided they wanted to buy a nice filly, and Willie selected 10 two-year-olds and two yearlings from the South Island Sale catalogue, and he picks up the story.

“On the Thursday before the sale John Parsons and I inspected the 10 two-year-olds and he dismissed the lot. He said what about the two yearlings you've marked do you want me to look at them?

"They were in another barn about 200 metres from where we were and I said maybe we shouldn't worry – after all he had rejected all my other selections. Anyway he said no come on we may as well look while we are here.

 "He proceeded to inspect them and told me to buy them both; they looked like they would both make racehorses! So I came back to the sale and did just that. When the Pins filly was knocked down to me for $6500 I said to my wife Karen, quick get up there and pay for her in case it's a mistake and they cancel the sale – I was expecting to have to pay a lot more for her.

"I'm a big fan of Pins, I saw him race in Australia, and I thought I couldn't go wrong buying a Pins filly out of a Centaine (AUS) mare.”

And it turns out he was right she won six races including the Gr.3 White Robe Lodge Handicap and the listed Timaru Cup and ran second in the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile, and the Dunedin Guineas, and 3rd in the listed Canterbury Breeders Stakes, Great Easter Handicap, and the  Anniversary Handicap.

She in turn is a sister to Miss Alice who won the Gr.3 Canterbury Breeders Stakes, and Johnny Jones a stakes placed winner of four races. Her half-brother Coup Fieldes (Carolingian[AUS])  won two races including a listed race.

Raining herself was a winner of seven races and was third in the Listed Newmarket Handicap. Her half-brother Force The Pace (Red Tempo) won the listed Matamata Cup and four other races.

The Calders agreed that when it came to retire Pins ‘n ‘ Needles that she deserved to go to the best and so they sent her to Zabeel.

That mating produced Asavant who went on to win three races including the Listed CJC Warstep Stakes, and she was Group One placed in the Waikato International, before going to stud. Her first foal is Morrellmac a three-year-old gelding by Excelebration (IRE), her next foal is Avantage, she has a produced a yearling filly by So You Think, a foal by Vancouver(AUS) and is back in foal to Fastnet Rock(AUS) in partnership with Coolmore Stud.

Pins’ n ‘ Needles second mating was to Keeper(AUS) and that gelding Keep A Pin won for John Size in Hong Kong, and then she became a resident at The Oaks.

“We decided to send her to Darci Brahma,” recalled Karen, “we both liked the cross and Ricko had a look and said it was a nice match, and so it turned out with D B Pin, and now her only other foal is a full-sister to him, purchased by David Ellis at the sales last year.”

For the Calders the next few months could well be just as exciting as this last week, with Avantage looking to take on the group one two-year-old races and D B Pin possibly heading to Meydan in Dubai to run in the feature sprint event. Unfortunately for them a trip to Dubai is not on the cards as that race falls right in the start of the Bluff oyster season.

“It will have to blow for a fortnight” said Karen “if we are to get away at that time.” You never know Karen given the weather patterns this summer anything is possible. - Michelle Saba


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