The winner of the listed John Turkington Forestry Ltd Castletown Stakes London Express was destined for last year’s Ready To Run sale, instead she is providing plenty of excitement for her breeders Kerrin and Mary Brophy and Kevin Landrigan and a syndicate of likely ladies.
London Express was making her fourth race day appearance when she won the Castletown Stakes and provided Windsor Park Stud’s first season sire Shamexpress with his first stakes winner. For good measure Qiji Express also by the same sire was second.
She debuted at Trentham in March, where she ran third over 1000 metres, a month later she ran another third this time over 1100metres. In both these starts she dawdled at the start and ran home late.
In May she made headlines winning over 1200 metres at Pukekura Park, when ridden by rookie apprentice Wiremu Pinn who was having his first race day ride. However senior jockey Jonathan Parkes was in the saddle when she came from the rear to down a smart field of two-year-olds by half a length.
London Express is raced by her Taranaki based breeders Kerrin and Mary Brophy and Kevin Landrigan, along with a syndicate of ladies put together by her trainer Alan Sharrock.
“I was working the horse up for Kerrin in preparation for the sales, and I persuaded him to keep her, and said I would take a half share,” said Sharrock.
“I lined up some mates Butch Castles, Dean McKenzie, and Gary Milne to go into the filly. When we were at the Karaka Millions this year and we were talking about the filly, my partner Emma Davies, suggested it would be a good filly for the girls to race, so that’s how Emma, Tess Castles, Anna McKenzie and Anna Milne are now racing her.
“She is in the paddock now and I will bring her back in and target the O’Leary Stakes for fillies also at Wanganui, I don’t mind taking money off the O’Learys – they got plenty of Ladies First,” he added referring to the Group One Auckland Cup winner he trained for the family earlier this year.
London Express is not the first stakes winner bred and raced by the Brophy’s and Landrigan, that was Gold Merit (Gold Blend[USA]-Teresavari) who won the Listed Whakatane Cup in 1998, but more about that later. They also bred the 2009 Gr.2 Wellington Cup winner Megapins (Pins[AUS]-Instant Divorce), and now London Express who is also from this family.
When asked about the partnership’s beginning, Kerrin Brophy went to check a photo on the wall, the photo being of a horse called Kaytu(Rocky Mountain[GB]-Anarua) who won a steeplechase at Woodville on the 8th of May in 1983.
“I was a young dairy farmer then, farming at Okato, and my young accountant was Kevin Landrigan, and he asked me to look after and work a young horse for him, that was being prepared for a jumping career,” recalled Brophy.
“I didn’t have a license so I gave it to Jimmy Clements down the road in Hawera to take to the races where he won a maiden steeplechase at Woodville. I can remember it vividly, it was a big meeting at Woodville, to commemorate their centenary I think, and I had to give a speech in the birdcage.”
That was the start of the partnership, and fast forward 35 years and once again Brophy was in the birdcage at Wanganui giving a speech on behalf of the partnership.
The next horse they had was a horse called Sister Noeline who was a half-sister to Kaytu and she became their first broodmare and it has continued from there. From this family they bred Gold Merit who won the listed Whakatane Cup and also in the field that day was Instant Divorce. And that was what led to the purchase of Instant Divorce (Fiesta Star[AUS]-Ebony Jane) from an advertisement in the Friday Flash.
Instant Divorce was bred by Graham de Gruchy and won six races. She was out of Ebony Jane (Three Legs[GB]-My Jane) a winning half-sister to the group one winner Prince Shifnal.
Her first mating produced Blue Blade a winner of four races by Justice Prevails(AUS). The next mating produced Centrelane (by Centaine[AUS]), a winner of one race, and he was followed by a full-sister called Rich Return who showed potential but bled. Her next foal was the Gr.2 Wellington Cup winner Megapins, and she has also left Whispering (by Darci Brahma) a winner four races in the South Island. Her last foal Lady Halpin is an unraced four-year-old also by Pins(AUS).
Rich Return was retained by the partnership and sent to Handsome Ransom(AUS), and produced London Dream a winner of four races trained by Karen and John Parsons who trained Megapins and currently train Whispering.
She has also left the three other winners in Lotto by Kashani(AUS), and No Return and Silver Lady, both by Pins(AUS). Affluent a three-year-old filly by Pins(AUS) has had one start for the Brophy’s and Landrigan.
”London Dream was leased out to Karen Parsons in the South Island and won four races including the Duoro Cup, when we got her back we decided to send her to Shamexpress,” explained Brophy, “he was a good racehorse from a good family, we liked the pedigree, and being by O’Reilly made it an easy decision. As partners we decided he looked the part.
“Her second foal is a colt by Showcasing(GB) and he is going to the be sold either at the Ready To Run in November or the Sydney Horses in Training Sale in October. She missed to Shamexpress but is safely in foal to Pins(AUS). I think we will be keeping that one too.
“We had London Express entered in the Ready To Run sale last year, Alan was working her along and he gave her a bit of a gallop and said that’s not going to the sales! We kept a half-share and Alan put together the syndicate to fill the other half.”
London Dream, the four other mares and their young stock, owned by the partnership are all resident on the Okato dairy farm, which has grown to around 500 acres, and where Brophy keeps about half a dozen paddocks for the mares. He no longer milks the 320 cows also on the farm but prefers to spend his time looking after the horses.
Footnote: The win by London Express not only gave Shamexpress his first stakes winner but boosted his earnings to make him the current leading first season sire in New Zealand. The group one winning son of O’Reilly and the Volksraad(IRE) mare Volksrose, has sired five individual winners.
“It’s great to have a young stallion coming through on our roster,” said Windsor Park’s Steve Till, “he hasn’t had many runners until late in the season and these runners have come through and given him a stakes winner.
“Shamexpress was a good two-year-old that improved to be a better race horse at three, and his stock could well improve, like he did, we expect to see them as good three-year-olds, we are pleased to have him on our roster as he could well be one of those stallions who is capable of upgrading mares.” - Michelle Saba