Around April this year Don Goodwin, a retired businessman with a passion for horses, decided he and his wife Christine would go on another Melbourne Cup tour this year.
They have been before with popular broadcaster Des Coppins and enjoyed the tour and opted to go on his tour again this year.
As a throwaway line he said to Nick Bishara who he had a couple of horses in work with, that he had better get his act together and get one ready for Melbourne this November as he was going to be there.
“When I said that throwaway line to Nick I thought maybe he would get (Verry) Flash(Zed- Opulence) to Melbourne for a race,” recalled Goodwin, “never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be going to watch Verry Elleegant (Zed-Opulence) compete in the Gr.1 VRC Oaks.”
At that stage Verry Flash was still a four-year-old maiden who had had two starts last season and Verry Elleegant the favourite for the VRC Oaks was only just in work. Fast forward to now and Verry Elleegant has an impressive race record of five starts for three wins and two placings, including the Gr.3 Ethereal Stakes at Caulfield and Verry Flash has won four races and run two placings since April. He is now being aimed at the Auckland Cup next March.
Verry Elleegant became the 10th stakes winner for Zed the son of Zabeel and Emerald Dream who stands at Grangewilliam Stud in Whanganui.
Ellee has she is affectionately known by Goodwin, made her debut at Te Rapa in early July.
According to Goodwin - who likes to have a bit of a punt - she was paying 33 to one in a seven horse field.
“I said to the boys in the syndicate at the time, you better get on as she will never pay that in her life again. I gave it a bit of a whack and she got beaten by Cyber Attack.”
How right was he? At her next start at Whangarei she won and paid $3.20 and followed that with a $2.00 win price when she won at Matamata. At her first start in Melbourne in the Gr.2 Edward Manifold Stakes she was opened at $3.50 and in the Ethereal ended up paying $2.50.
It’s certainly been a bit of a whirlwind year for the progeny of Opulence, the only broodmare that Goodwin owns with all three of her racing age progeny winning over the past few months, and all under the care of Takanini trainer Nick Bishara.
Goodwin has always had an interest in racing and over the years has raced a few horses, and won a few races. It’s a passion he has shared over the years with John Carter Senior, father to John Junior and Mark Carter of Jomara Bloodstock and Humidor fame.
“I’m a great friend of the Carters and their father John and I grew up in the same street, went to the same school, and played at the same rugby club. I enjoyed the ride with Emerald Dream when she was racing and when Zed was born I became a shareholder.
“He never got the chance to show how good he was but he had the breeding. When he went to stud I had a share in a useful horse called Desert Sheik with the Carter boys, he won a few races and was out of a Vice Regal mare called Chance of Luck, a three-quarter sister to the group one winner All Glory. I bred a couple of Zed’s out Chance of Luck, they were beautiful foals but didn’t go on to be good racehorses. So I went out and bought Opulence.”
Now the Carters are known for having a huge love affair with the Eight Carat family. Emerald Dream was a descendant through Cotehele House, as was the group one winning mare Luna Rossa also bred by Jomara Bloodstock, while Humidor and Cyber Attack descend from Eight Carat’s half-sister Habibti. Needless to say they had a bit of influence in getting Goodwin to buy the mare for $14000 in foal to Towkay(AUS), at the 2011 NZB National Mares sale.
Opulence is a winner of two races and was being sold by her trainer Nick Bishara. She is out of the King’s Theatre(IRE) mare Mulan Magic (AUS), herself a winner and dam of five named foals all winners. She is out of Chalet Girl an unraced Imposing(AUS) mare who is a half-sister to the successful sires Danewin(AUS) and Commands(AUS) along with Theme Song(AUS) the dam of Emerald Dream.
“She had the Towkay foal and Nick Bishara whom I didn’t know really from a bar of soap, I know he had trained Opulence and we exchanged numbers over a beer after the sales, when I bought her, but that was all,” recalled Goodwin, “well low and behold he bought the foal back, and as Black Lace she has won three races.
“Opulence went to Zed and had a filly foal that was a little too early and died, then she didn’t get in foal and fostered a foal that year. By that time Zed had returned from the wilderness down south and had come to Grangewilliam and she went to him again and produced Verry Flash, followed by Verry Ellegant, then a Haradasun(AUS) colt, that I sold for $10,000 last January which Sue Walsh is training. She throws cracking foals and had a colt foal this year, he’s a cracker and she is back in foal to Zed and I am hoping for a filly.
“In fact one of the guys at Caulfield the other day asked me why I thought Ellee was so good, and I asked him if he had ever heard of Eight Carat and he said yes, and said well she’s got a direct line to Eight Carat on both sides of her family and two lots of Danehill(USA) to boot, as the sire of Emerald Dream, and through Danroad(AUS) the sire of Opulence. It’s an amazing family.”
After Bishara had shown so much faith in the mare by buying Black Lace, Goodwin decided to send him Verry Flash.
“Not many people are interested in buying Zed’s so I sent him Flash and we race him together. Nick is a real good guy his horses are so well looked after, I’m really happy for him. It’s tough when you don’t have good horses in your stable.
“Anyway when it came to racing Ellee, Nick leased 20% I kept 50% and a syndicate leased the rest, with a decent right of purchase I might add, which of course has gone now.
“After she won at her second start we had a lot of offers. I was at a rugby club lunch on the eve of the Bledisloe Cup, with John Carter senior and the boys John and Mark, and I said we had had a big offer for Ellee. Come on Bones (Goodwin’s nickname) they said tell us how much, so I told them and they said a Zed had never fetched that kind of price before.
“Well that offer fell through and we raced her at Matamata. After the race was enjoying my first beer in the shout room at Matamata when Mark Carter rang and said we want to buy that filly. I said well you know the price.
“So it was discussed, Jomara would take a quarter, a quarter for us, a quarter for four guys in Auckland and then he got in touch with Weir and he said he’ll take a leg, and within quarter of an hour it was done, and she was off to Australia to race.
“I was happy about that as I still get to race her. There were seven of us from here at the races at Caulfield when she won, but there will be a lot more on Oaks day, all going well, you know what can happen with horses.
“Earlier this year, I was out at the track one Saturday morning watching her work and I said to one of the syndicate members afterwards, this filly will win the Oaks, but I wasn’t referring to the VRC Oaks, I was thinking more along the lines of the Oaks at Trentham. Having the favourite for the VRC Oaks it’s the stuff dreams are made of. - Michelle Saba