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Waikato NZTBA member Joan Egan adds Group One to her breeding achievements

G1 Sistema Stakes winner Sword of Osman(Savabeel - Bunyah IRE)

G1 Sistema Stakes winner Sword of Osman(Savabeel - Bunyah IRE)

Waikato NZTBA branch member Joan Egan can now add breeding a group one winner to her list of achievements after Sword Of Osman (Savabeel-Bunyah[IRE]) won the prestigious Gr.1 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie recently.

A two-year-old son of Savabeel, and his 16th group one winner, Sword Of Osman was having only his fourth race day start when he scored in the 1200 metre Sistema Stakes. He won on debut at Manawatu in late December, before over racing to finish eight in the Karaka Million a month later. 

A further month between races and he lined up in the Gr.3 Reid and Harrison Slipper Stakes at Matamata where he scarpered away to lead and won by an impressive five and three-quarter lengths. Two weeks later at Ellerslie it was a repeat performance, when he was gifted a soft lead and was never really challenged winning by one and a quarter lengths much to the delight of his owners the Te Akau Great Sword Syndicate.

Sword Of Osman is the sixth foal from Bunyah, an Irish bred mare who raced only twice. She is by the Mr Prospector(USA) sire Distant View (USA) out of Miss Mistletoes a mare by The Minstrel(CAN) from December Blossom(IRE). Bunyah is a half-sister to Governor Brown (IRE) a group three winner and Hataab who won four races, two of them at listed level in the United Kingdom.

Egan who describes herself as a small private breeder, purchased the mare in 2005. She was originally purchased from the Tattersall’s sale by Paul Moroney, but the client declined to go through with the sale. Moroney then listed the mare with a couple of other agents including Rob McAnulty who offered her to Egan.

“Rob McAnulty called me and asked if I was interested so I told him to email me the details and the pedigree,” recalled Egan.

“She looked very short legged in the photos, but any way I was quite interested in the pedigree and out she came from England, and I sent her to Savabeel and produced Sazzana who won two races from the Mike Moroney stable, before retiring to stud in Australia.”

After trying several stallions and not all of them that commercial, Egan decided in 2014 to send her back to Savabeel, and in fact Bunyah was the only mare she mated that year, but it was obviously the right one.

“Sword of Osman was always athletic, and independent,” enthused Egan, “I would go and visit him at Trelawney Stud where all my mares foal and my foals are raised, before they come back to our farm here in Rotokauri. David Ellis liked him from the first time he saw him at Trelawney as a youngster.

“African Pulse her second foal, by Johannesburg(USA) was another lovely foal. Our vet Noel Power reckoned he was one of the best foals he saw that year, he won six races and was fourth in two listed events. He won a race at two as well, she really does produce speed into everything she produces.

“Fortaleeza the half-sister by Darci Brahma had her first race in a two-year-old stakes race the Wellesley Stakes, where she ran third, and then got galloped on and never really showed any real ability after that.

“Even Arundel who I am racing, when he was born I thought here is my stayer, but Roger James reckons he has a lot of speed. He is currently spelling at Hallmark Stud, he has got plenty of talent as well. . I am terribly cautious with my mares, and I tend to be very patient. I am extremely patient with my horses, not so with people.”

Bunyah has a filly foal at foot by Ocean Park, and was not served this year as she foaled very late, she is not that easy to get in foal according to Egan. In fact Egan only mated three mares this season, Classic Legacy (Carnegie[IRE]- Super Sound), Lady Eiko (Stravinsky[Ire]- Lady Teruko[USA]) and Penny Bright (Pentire[GB]- Bright Beauty) who are all in foal to Vadamos (FR).

“I bought a share in Vadamos. He is the type of horse I like, classic with a bit of speed. It’s a bit different for me I don’t have to get them all in foal,” Egan explained, “that is one advantage of being a private breeder. I can wait three or four years for them to come right and race them, and also I can have some control on what happens to the progeny of my mares.

“Nothing is too good for my mares, you get to know them and know what they need, and what to do with their progeny. It’s a ladies world on my farm, and now I only have four active broodmares, and six retired mares, and some young fillies I hope to race.

“Fillies especially can be stuffed up so easily if trainers rush them, we all appreciate how under pressure trainers are to get horses ready for the big two and three year old races, but it’s not always good for the horses concerned.”

“Sandrine(Savabeel- Klairissa[AUS]) for example,” said Egan referring to one of the nice well-bred fillies she currently has in her racing portfolio.

“She won her first two starts easily and we should never have run her in the Eight Carat and the Desert Gold as she didn’t have the ring craft to race in those races. She coped with the trip to Trentham but didn’t know how to race in amongst a field of horses. She had 10 days off, after Trentham, and even grew a little bit in that time, and is back in work now.”

Egan has also had success with Akoya (Bullbars[AUS]- Penny Bright) who has won four races and been placed five times from 10 starts.  She is also racing a Bullbars(AUS) gelding Beauden the last foal she has bred out of Belle Femme (Zeditave[AUS]- Cast Your Fate), who was one of her first stakes winners and out of the mare that changed her fate.

Around 20 odd years ago when Joan and her husband Peter were living in Clevedon, she was an accomplished dressage rider, but was having problems with arthritis in her hips, and had to have several operations.

According to Egan after the first hip replacement she realised she wasn’t supple enough to do dressage anymore and thought about breeding a nice hack, however her neighbours had other ideas.

“My neighbours Sandra Townsend and Brian Collins (Bee Cee) suggested I bred myself a racehorse instead.  I had always loved horses, I used to bike across Gisborne in the morning as a child to ride my pony before I went to school. As a teenager I had pictures of racehorses on my walls not popstars!

“Well I went and bought a mare, and paid next to nothing for her as her owners just wanted her to have a good home. Her name was Key Largo(Keyhaven-Fragant Cloud), and the first foal I bred was Such Fun by Racing Is Fun and he won five races.

“Sandra and Brian also introduced me to their friend the late Marilyn Kent and we struck up a close friendship, we went to Sydney together to look at mares to buy, and decided when we were there to pool our resources and buy one instead. We bought a mare called Cast Your Fate. Bletchingly[AUS]-Shannon Belle) she was in foal to Flying Spur(AUS) and that foal was Flying Babe, her next foal was Belle Femme (Zeditave[AUS]).”

Flying Babe was the Champion 2YO filly of her year, winning the Gr.2 Matamata Breeders Stakes, and the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes, and the Listed Great Northern Foal Stakes, at three she went on to win the Gr.3 Hawkes Bay Gold Trail Stakes, and has gone on to be a stakes producer.

Whereas Belle Femme won eight races including the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile, and the Listed Wairarapa Breeders Stakes. 

Commissionerstreet by Johannesburg is a stakes placed winner of seven races, while two more of Cast Your Fate’s daughters have gone on to produce stakes performers; Belle Toujours (by Flying Spur) produced the Karaka Million winner Fort Lincoln (by Charge Forward[AUS]) and Harmony Hall (by MInardi[USA])  has produced Belle de Coeur (Show A Heart[AUS]).

“As well Marilyn had her horses and I had mine, and by the time I moved down to the Waikato, I think I had 60 horses, made up of mares, and young horses. Cast Your Fate was very good to us,” she added.

In that time as well as the stakes performers from Cast Your Fate who hails from the same family as Star Belle, her third dam Roberta Belle is out of Belle of Ascot a full sister to Star Belle. She also bred the Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes and group one placed mare November Rain (Stravinsky[IRE]- Lady Teruko[USA]), Cheiron (Centaine-Splash of Beauty) who won 11 races including the  Gr.2 Sir Byrne Hart Stakes in Brisbane and the Gr.3 Marton Metric Mile, and Lamington Vegas(Elusive City[USA]- Piece of Cake[AUS]) who won the Listed Ryder Stakes.

Along with Brent Taylor of Trelawney Stud she also bred Astronomia (King’s Best[USA]- Astralita) who won the Listed Valor Lady Stakes at Belmont.

 When asked if she had a specific formula for breeding stakes winners or a philosophy she followed in the 20 odd years she had been involved in the breeding business Egan was very thoughtful.

“There are no rules as far as I am concerned,” she mused.

‘It’s probably much better to bite the bullet and go for a proven stallion for the first couple of years, and then I’ll try something that suits me. A small private breeder like me can always try things. When I started I just wanted to breed good racehorses.

“It’s tough for us small private breeders to have to compete against the studs with their magnificent broodmares bands. I am still looking for my classic winner, will the winner of the Oaks please put her hoof up? It’s the one race I really want to win, but having said that I am grateful for what I have got and achieved. - Michelle Saba


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