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Breeder Andrew Fowler can not believe his luck

G3 winning Iffraaj filly Melt
G3 winning Iffraaj filly Melt

Pukekohe based breeder Andrew Fowler is struggling to believe his luck after his smashing Iffraaj(GB) filly Melt (ex Ticklish), demolished her rivals in the Gr.3 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders Stakes recently.

He can’t help but enthuse about his filly, her trainer and her jockey, and the way things have fallen into place.

“It was a big step up in that race, and she handled it well,” he said, “Sam knew just where to put her in the race. It was a tough race and she is in the paddock for a few days now. I am pretty lucky with Nigel he doesn’t push them, and I’m stoked to have Sam riding her she is such a good rider, and I think she thinks clearly when she’s riding.

Melt was having only her sixth start when she won the group three event, and was recording her fourth win and her third at black type level. She debuted at Counties on her home track in late November last year winning the listed Ashford Lodge Stakes.

In her next start she won the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie, on New Year’s Day, and then had a short break before the Gr.1 Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie, where she ran fifth behind Sword of Osman. A few weeks later she contested the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes and ran a sound second to the Champion Two-Year-Old filly Avantage, before a winter spell.

She returned to Ruakaka in early September and won a 1000 metre dash against her fellow three-year-olds before returning to that venue for the Northland Breeders event.

Melt is the fourth foal from the super speedy Maroof(USA) mare Ticklish, whom Fowler raced with a few mates.  Ticklish won nine races including the Listed CJC Pegasus Stakes and the Timaru Stakes. She was group one placed in the VRC Lightning Stakes and group two placed in the AJC Sapphire Stakes placed at listed level a further four times.

“Ticklish she just never quit, and that is hard to find in a horse,” recalled Fowler, “She had the world record for 1000 metres at 54.2. She never quit.

“I knew that if I invested money in her that I might be very lucky, and she might throw something with her ability, and with a good brain. And I think I have that in Melt. Her brother, The Ice Knight, isn’t as smart as her, and doesn’t try like she does.”

A chance meeting in Queenstown lead to Fowler becoming involved in Melt. As a property developer he was trying to buy a block of land in Wakatipu for a sub-division, when his real estate agent introduced him to a friend of hers Chris Cochrane.

Fowler picks up the story.

“We became business partners and friends. Chris told me that B J(Brian) Anderton had bought a filly that he needed some owners for and he asked me to go in with him and Peter Fennessy. So we bought her a third each then raced her with a bunch of guys. In the end they gave her to me.

“My mother Lola used to breed and race horses and I used to strap for her. We grew up around horses, and rode all the time.  She raced Shaitan (Hermes(GB)-Taringama) who won the 1976 Moonee Valley Gold Cup, and ran second in the Easter Handicap and I went to Australia on the plane with him when I was a 13- year-old.  My passion was polocrosse which I am still playing along with my son Josh, but owning Ticklish reignited the whole racing thing and it’s been a dream run ever since.

“Mum is pretty excited about Melt as well, hopefully not too excited though as she is in her 70’s now and the excitement was a bit much for her after Melt won at Ruakaka the first time and she ended up in hospital.  My brother has a share in Embellish and my sister Anna Milne has a share in London Express, so it’s a bit much for her I think with all the family having horses at the moment.

“Anna is texting me about the two fillies all the time and we may meet in the Soliloquy if we go there. I’m in no hurry to push Melt she is still growing and it was a big race for her at Ruakaka.”

The 2007 outbreak of Equine Influenza in Australia, put paid to Ticklish’s racing career and she was sent to stud while stuck there. She visited Artie Scheller (USA) and produced Hidden Knight who failed to win a race, and came home in foal to Lonhro(AUS) carrying the dual winner Hot In Pink, whom Fowler raced and now has in his broodmare band of two.

Ticklish returned to New Zealand and went to High Chaparral(IRE) but slipped to him, and later went to Mastercraftsman(IRE). Fowler sold that one, as he didn’t like her as a foal, and as if to prove him right, she was named Tickle Me and had five starts before being retired to the broodmare paddock.

“After that I wanted to have Ticklish closer to home, at the farm in Pukekohe I like keeping them close. So I decided to send her to Iffraaj(GB).

“I’m not really a pedigree man, although Mum does give me some advice on that. It’s more the shape of the animal. Ticklish is a great shape except she has no arse. Iffraaj on the other hand has a big arse and looks like a serious man. High Chaparral(IRE) and Zabeel were fabulous to look at too but I couldn’t afford Zabeel.

“Ticklish is going back to Iffraaj(GB) this season, and so is her daughter Hot In Pink, who is about to foal to Vadamos(GER). In fact I may as well get NZTR to send the stake money cheque direct to Mark Chitty at Haunui Farm,” he quipped.

Ticklish and Hot In Pink are the only mares Fowler owns but for a while he owned French Kiss the mother of Ticklish, after seeing her in a dispersal sale in 2007.

“I told my partner Moy I wasn’t going to the sales and I wasn’t going to buy her. Of course I was going, and was bidding on her, and unbeknown to me Moy was there too and I was bidding against her.

“We bred a few out of her with the best being Apollo Cavalier who won six in Hong Kong.

“The fillies in that family have all bred winners. I like the law of averages, the mares have all left winners, and one day one of them is going to leave one that is better than the rest, and that maybe Melt.”

Ticklish was bred by Lord Tavistock and is out of the Paris House(GB) mare French Kiss, who raced once. She in turn is out of Real Charmer an unraced sister to the Gr.1 VRC Derby winner and successful stallion Omnicorp(Grosvenor-Bourbon Lassie) and a half-sister to the group two winner Pharostan also a successful sire and Bourbon Boy a stakes winner of 9 races.

Another half-sister Crimson won the Gr.2 ARC Championship Stakes and the Gr.3 Waikato Guineas, and has produced the stakes winners Abidewithme (9 wins) and Miss Scarlitti and she is also the grandam of the multiple stakes winner Destiny’s Kiss.

Bourbon Lassie was out of Bourbon Lass who won 13 races and produced eight winners including the stakes winners Zamazaan Lass and Prince Bourbon. She in turn was by Bourbon Prince(USA) out of Kilt. This was a family developed by the Lowry’s at Okawa Stud and the various descendants have consistently produced numerous stakes winners over the years.

“I love horses and that’s why I spend my life around them, I love the people in the racing game, but we just don’t get the exposure we need, or deserve,” he mused.

“I hope the Messara Report does go somewhere for the sake of the industry. Look at all the people working with horses who are on the bones of their arse, getting paid nothing, because they love horses. I wish the general public could see what racing is really all about, its not flash days at Ellerslie it’s a grind.” - Michelle Saba


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