There is an old adage which says that good things come to those who wait - it’s wasted on millennials - but is something most breeders hang on to with anticipation.
One such breeder who is reaping the rewards of patience is Matamata based Mark Lupton, who is now racing two up-and-coming mares, one he bred Etah James (Raise The Flag[GB]- Etah) and one he bought Yearn (Savabeel-Uno Princess).
“You wait a lifetime to get one good horse and to get two of the buggers at once is pretty amazing,” said Lupton when discussing the victories of both mares.
“It was quite a weekend, and I missed out on seeing them both, apart from on Trackside.”
Lupton was referring to the win by Etah James in the Gr.3 Lord Reims Stakes at Morphetville, and Yearn winning the rating 85 Go Racing 1400 at Ellerslie on Derby Day.
He races Etah James with his wife Cath, and fellow breeders Sydney based lawyer Terry Reid and fellow lawyer London based Gary Howes, while Yearn is raced by him and Cath.
Etah James has had 10 starts and won six of them, and run four placings, for Ballarat trainer Matt Cumani, and her win in the Lord Reims Stakes gave him his first stakes winner.
Her story began 15 years ago, when by chance Lupton ran into John Sargent in Cambridge, and mentioned he and a couple of mates would be keen to lease a filly to race, and five days later Sargent obliged.
“He came back to me and said Jim Barlow had a nice Danasinga filly we could lease” recalled Lupton.
“That was Tickle (ex Amanpour), she won her first start and we exercised our right of purchase. In all she won eight races including the Gr.3 Rotorua Challenge Plate and the Gr.3 Lord Mayors Cup, but on that trip to Brisbane she broke down in the Doomben Cup and couldn’t be saved.
“We wanted to get another one out of the family and fortunately for us not long after Jim Barlow was downsizing and we bought Etah in foal to Alamosa, for $10,000 and we also bought her weanling foal by Savabeel we called her Amuse and raced her to win two races.
“Sniper was the result of the Alamosa mating and he won his first two starts for us before being transferred to Bjorn Baker, but he wasn’t sound and didn’t fire over there.
“We decided we wanted to breed a nice stayer and Garry was pretty keen on Raise The Flag(GB), he is a beautifully bred stallion. When the resulting filly arrived we decided we would wait and send her to Australia to race.
“I gave her four trials and told the boys she is not going until she is ready. We chose Matt Cumani as he had the pedigree to be able to train stayers, and he was a nice young bloke that we really liked.
“As he said in an interview recently about Etah James, a bloke I had never heard of rang me from New Zealand and said he had an unraced four-year-old mare by a stallion I have never heard of that he wanted me to train. Now she is my best horse! It was a nice cup to win and it now has pride of place in his office.
“We have a He’s Remarkable three-year-old gelding out of Etah and he has had a few gallops, named Redeemer and is destined to go to Matt as well.”
“She has a yearling by Reliable Man(GB) and we have just weaned the nicest colt I have ever bred in 45 years. He is an absolute ripper by Alamosa. She missed to Vadamos(FR) which I am disappointed about, but given the fact she is empty we may be tempted to go back to Raise The Flag(GB).”
Etah is one of three mares that the Luptons are breeding from, from their Matamata base Flemington Farm. The other two are Enyaar an Ekraar(USA) mare who won four races, and Koningin an unraced Showcasing mare.
Enyaar has had three foals by Niagara(AUS) who the Luptons have a small share in, the oldest of which is only three and is now in foal to Proisir(AUS), while Koningin is also in foal to Niagara(AUS).
Lupton was born into racing in the Taranaki where the family name has been synonymous with horses since time began. His uncle Snow raced the immortal Kiwi, the revered jumps jockey Issac is a second cousin, and the up and coming trainer Jamie-Lee his cousin’s daughter. He has always been a farmer and breeding and racing horses has always been a passion.
About 10 years ago, former Auckland stock broker Scott Richardson, asked Lupton to look after Flemington Farm for him as the then manager was ill, and the three month gig turned into a permanent thing.
“I do all Scott’s breaking in and pre-training of his horses before they go to Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman or to Bjorn Baker in Sydney, and in that time we have had 70 winners including the group one mare Diademe (Savabeel- Bling).
“We have 100 acres, it has a nice track, and great facilities it’s a good little operation and he leaves it all to me to run. I am lucky to have a couple of amazing girls on the staff. It’s a very unique arrangement, but it’s really all about Scott’s horses.
“We run a few heifers as well as spelling racehorses, and grazing clients’ mares, foals and young stock.”
It was through clients of Flemington Farm, Pat and Clyde Buckingham that Lupton acquired Yearn.
“On one of my overseas trips I left my car at Clyde’s place in Karaka, and when he came to pick me up from the airport he said to me that he wanted me to get rid of those two fillies I had in the paddock for him.
“His reason being that he had sold their mothers and he wasn’t interested in racing fillies from families he had got out of. I said I will take the Savabeel filly and so we struck up a deal on her. I knew a lot about Savabeel fillies having bought, broken in and pre-trained Diademe.
“I trained her for her first prep, she won a trial and was placed a few times then I turned her out. I brought her back into work and worked her up to win a trial late last August, and as we were going overseas, I gave her to Karen to train.
“I said this will be the easiest winner you will ever train, and it was she won by six lengths. I got back a couple of weeks later and Karen said she’s entered at Hastings this week and will win again, so I left her where she was.
“Then she said she wanted to take her back to Hastings and she did it again, so I didn’t want to break a winning formula and she is still with Karen. And it’s worked out bloody well for Karen and for us. Karen and Kevin are pretty excited about it.
“We are wrapped with her she has come a long way in a short time, and will probably just have two more starts this season. There is a lovely NZB Insurance Pearl Series race for her at Tauranga later in the month and then the long term plan was always to have a crack at the Gr.1 Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha and its coming together nicely.”
No doubt when that race rolls around in April, Mark and Cath Lupton will make sure they are on course to witness one of their good buggers race in the flesh. - Michelle Saba