In the shadow of The Everest at Randwick last week was a group three race worth around A$500,000 the weight-for-age Craven Plate over 2000 metres.
It was a supporting race on the day, but on any other race day could well have been the feature event. It attracted a field of 14 runners, four of whom were Group One winners with another five placed at Group One level, every horse in the race had black type form including the winner Moss’N’Dale (Castledale[IRE]-Hot’N’Moss).
A six-year-old gelding Moss’N’Dale was bred and is part-owned by Te Runga Stud proprietor Wayne Larsen, who was delighted with the win, and happy to talk about “Mossy” the horse he describes as a typical New Zealand bred racehorse.
He has now won 14 races from 30 starts, and went into the Craven Plate on the back of a win in the Listed Tokyo City Cup at Morphetville, an 1800 metre race at set weights conditions.
According to Larsen, Peter Gelagotis (the trainer) has been a master at picking the low lying fruit, especially when it comes to races like the Tokyo City Cup, and last year the Listed Sale Cup.
Moss’N’Dale was originally prepared by Larsen and had two trials here before he was transferred to Gelagotis in 2015 and he won his maiden in December that year. He is raced by a large syndicate of owners which includes Larsen and Lenny Russo and various members of his family and friends.
“As a young fellow Lenny Russo worked for me when I first moved to Auckland,” recalled Larsen.
“He had a love of thoroughbreds and wanted to be a bloodstock agent, and came to me for some hands on work experience. He worked for me for about two years, then he went on to become a bloodstock agent and we have remained friends ever since.
“He was the one who put me onto Peter he reckoned that he was a trainer worth getting involved with when I decided I wanted to sell the horses I breed direct to Australia.”
“Lenny also raced Mossy’s mother Hot’N’Moss (Strategic Image[AUS]-Moss Arising) and I bought her back to bred from after she had won a couple of races. Some of the members of the syndicate that raced her are in on Mossy and his younger brother, some have 2.5% some more, it’s all about having a racehorse, the next one is already sold.”
The next one is a two-year-old full brother which Larsen has given a couple of preps and will join the Moe stable of Gelagotis around April next year. Hot’N’Moss has also foaled another full brother this spring but has a date with a different sire this season.
“She is going to Almanzour(FR),” stated Larsen.
“Where else would you get a horse who is the best of his generation for $30,000? Only in New Zealand it’s a no brainer and if I get a filly to retain that would be amazing. You don’t get many chances on the road to life so you have to take them.
“She has had four colts in a row, so I might be lucky, she is from one of those hard hitting, late maturing good New Zealand families, Moss Downs didn’t race until he was four and he was winning at group one level at eight, and Sobay she was good mare in her day. They are just good race horses that is all they want to do. They are tough.”
Hot’N’Moss was out of the He Is Risen(USA) mare Moss Arising, and was bred by Larsen under a foal share arrangement with the Hrstich family.
Moss Arising was a half-sister to Moss Downs (Tom’s Shu[USA]) a winner of nine races including the Group One races the Captain Cook Stakes and Kelt Capital Stakes. They were out of the Moss Trooper(USA) mare La Moss who also left five other winners. Another daughter Ballermoss by Lord Ballina was unraced but left the Group One winner Sphenophyta.
La Moss (ex Amaze) was unraced, but was a three-quarter sister to the stakes winners Surprise Moss, and Rossmoss and a half-sister to Sobay, who won six races, two at group three level and went on to be a top producer.
In his day Moss Downs was ridden by former jockey and trainer Chris McNab, who trained Moss Arising. Larsen recalls that when he was trialling Moss’N’Dale he mentioned to McNab that he thought he had a good one from that family. McNab then told him that Moss Arising was the slowest horse he had ever trained, and was surprised that she had even made it to the broodmare paddock.
Larsen had no idea of McNab’s opinion of the mare when he decided to breed from her, but bred from her on the basis of tough family background.
“A mare like her definitely would not get a chance to become a broodmare these days as people don’t want to breed a horse to race anymore, they want something more commercial, but because of this we are losing those good old tough New Zealand families that produce good race horses,” stressed Larsen who still stands Castledale at his Te Runga Stud on the outskirts of Pukekohe.
“Mossy’s mating worked because of those good old bloodlines and for all the reasons that I stood Strategic Image(AUS) and Castledale(IRE) at Te Runga Stud.
“Strategic Image(AUS) is still in the top 10 fastest milers to race at Flemington, and Peintre Celebre(USA) – the sire of Castledale - is probably still one of the top race horses and stallions of his generation. Strategic Image was a top speed influence, and Castledale was a group one winner on the turf and the dirt, and leaves versatility.
“Castledale’s numbers are pretty shallow, and I don’t do any promotion, I send a few mares and I have a bunch of loyal supporters who have had some pretty good results that still support him. But basically in the industry these days there are not a lot of people who want to breed a horse to race,” mused Larsen, “a horse like Mossy.” - Michelle Saba