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Gorbachev Wellington Cup win a great thrill for breeder and part-owner

Gorbachev winning the Wellington Cup - photo credit racing images
Gorbachev winning the Wellington Cup - photo credit racing images

Days after the Gr.3 Wellington Cup win by Gorbachev (Gorky Park – Gimmeawink[AUS]) the enormity of it all is starting to sink in for his breeder and part-owner Kevin O’Donnell.

“It was a great thrill, it wasn’t until I thought about it when I got home, that it started to sink in,” O’Donnell a member of the Central Districts branch of the NZTBA said.

“Everything happens so quickly at the time, I was worried about having to make a speech, and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.”

The phone at O’Donnell’s Manawatu property has been running hot for days with dozens of congratulatory calls, along with well-wishers popping in to help celebrate part-owning and breeding his first black type winner, of the iconic $250,000 race.

It’s not like it’s he hasn’t had success in the racing game either, as O’Donnell was a shareholder in Distinctly Secret a winner of 10 races including the Gr.1 Kelt Capital Stakes, along with a further five group one placings.  But this he said is different.

The win was no surprise to O’Donnell who races the horse along with Paul Bardell, Brian O’Dea and Joe Huwyler, as he felt Gorbachev had not had a lot of luck in recent races. This was his fourth career win but he has run a string of placings in recent times, including a fourth behind Bizzwinkle in the Gr.3 New Zealand Cup again at the ultimate staying distance of 3200 metres.

Gorbachev is one of a handful of horses trained by former international equestrian Bryce Newman at Bulls just down the road from O’Donnell’s farm.

He is the third foal from the Carnegie(IRE) mare Gimmeawink(AUS) who is a daughter of an English bred mare called Kindergarten, a group three winner at two in France. Gimmeawink herself could only manage a couple of placings before she went to stud, and Gorbachev is her first winner.

Kindergarten is also the dam of Bruxaar (by Xaar) who won five races in Hong Kong and was placed in third in the Gr.3 Wellington Stakes and fourth in Gr.1 Levin Classic. She has also left two other daughters that have produced stakes winners; Berceuse is the dam of Cartabianca a winner of five races in France including the Listed Deauville Prix Petite Etoile, along with the listed winners Toni Blue and Nina Candela, while Birthday has left Extremely Vintage a stakes winner of five races in Italy.

Gimmeawink is currently in foal to Gorky Park and has a Gorky Park yearling that O’Donnell intends to race as well.

“I went back to Gorky Park a couple of years ago when Gorbachev was showing a lot of promise, and I went back again this year, I think I may have been the only mare to visit him,” added O’Donnell.

And he was right. Wayne Carter who now stands Gorky Park is hoping that what the real Gorbachev did for Russia the equine Gorbachev can do for Gorky Park, and bring him out of the isolation.

“Gorky Park is still alive, and suffering from depression at the moment as he hasn’t had enough girlfriends and he is feeling a bit lonely,” quipped Carter who stands the well bred son of Montjeu(IRE) at his Pyes Pa property on the outskirts of Tauranga on a walk-in only basis.

“He’s had very few mares in the last couple of years. In fact Gimmeawink is the only girl who visited him this season. I didn’t breed any of my mares to him this season as I have a few of his progeny that I need to get out there. If anyone is looking for one they should contact me.

“He is a much underrated stallion and hopefully Gorbachev’s win will make a few more people take a bit of notice.”

Gorky Park commenced stud duties in 2012 and stood at the Henk Smit’s Paxton Park for three years, Smit is still the major shareholder in the stallion along with Carter.

An impressive looking son of Montjeu(IRE) he won four races in Melbourne including the listed Duke of Norfolk Stakes, and the Geelong Derby Trial. He was second in the VRC Derby behind Elvstroem in 2003.  His dam Steluta (Defensive Play[USA]-Karman Gal[IRE]) is a half-sister to the stakes winners Lord Mick, Galroof and Manzeal and five other winners. 

Steluta herself has left four other winners including Akris who is the dam of the group one performers Planet Rock and Ringo.

O’Donnell purchased Gimmeawink (AUS) while she was carrying Gorbachev, and when he inquired with the vendor why she had gone to Gorky Park, he was informed that Gorky Park was the closest stallion at a reasonable price.

As he is part of the Levin pedigree group that meets one a month, he ran the mating past them, and was delighted to find it was actually a good match.

He is bred 3 x 3 to Sadler’s Wells through Montjeu(IRE) and Carnegie(IRE) and has two strains of Top Ville(IRE) (High Top[IRE]-Sega Ville[Fr]), who is the sire of Floripedes (FR) the dam of Montjeu(IRE) and Children’s Corner(FR) who is his third dam.

Horses have always been a part of O’Donnell’s life, growing up on a farm he had a pony and horses were always on the farm.

“I used to go to the races with my dad and we would go to the saddling paddock and pick out horses to back rather than looking at the tote or the form,” he said.

“I have been involved with the A and P Society for many years and have been a judge, and my daughter Christina is heavily involved in show jumping and we have always been involved with her. Getting involved in racing was just a natural progression.

“I have been involved with syndicates, with Rogie and David Ellis, I think they are great for racing. In fact when I bought Gimmeawink I couldn’t help thinking of David and his famous wink in the sales ring, and thought it must be a lucky omen that I am buying her.  He is always trying to get me into another one of his syndicates, but as much as I enjoyed being in a syndicate, I like to have a say in what’s going on.”

The dairy cows have gone from O’Donnell’s farm and he now concentrates on finishing cattle, and the paddocks are shared with show jumpers, and his mares and their young stock. Along with Gimmeawink, he has three other mares Jewel of Savabeel (Savabeel –Bejewelled), The Beeliner (O’Reilly- The Beekeeper) and Effloresce (Montjeu[IRE]- Encens).

Jewel of Savabeel has a Rock’N Pop yearling and is in foal to Road to Rock (AUS), The Beeliner has a Per Incanto(USA) foal and is in foal to Wrote(IRE) as is Effloresce. She is the dam of Showboy (Showcasing[GB]) a winner of seven races in Malaysia and two other winners, and O’Donnell is racing her daughter Majella May.

In the meantime O’Donnell will continue to enjoy the excitement created by Gorbachev who has been turned out for a well earned spell. - Michelle Saba


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