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Dream week for Canterbury breeders

Air Max winning the Listed Gore Guineas - Wild Range Photography
Air Max winning the Listed Gore Guineas - Wild Range Photography

Canterbury based breeder Cheryl Wilson is this week trying to catch her breath after a whirl wind week of racing and yearling sales.

Wilson and her partner Bruce Sheat, members of the Canterbury, Westland, Marlborough and Otago branch of the NZTBA, have just had a week that breeders often dream about. Successfully selling yearlings and breeding stakes performers.

And it all stems from their Hussonet (USA) mare Steel Stilettos (AUS), who produced Air Max the winner of the Listed Dunedin Guineas, Boots’N’All runner up in the Gr.3 White Robe Lodge Stakes, and a striking Super Easy yearling colt who fetched $45,000 at Karaka.

“It’s the kind of week you just dream of as a breeder, but it’s just too much to happen and take in all at once,” she said.

“I’m just too tired to even think at the moment, it’s all been a bit unreal, but I couldn’t not go to the races with two horses racing in stakes races.”

It’s not surprising she is tired after selling at Karaka she flew home on Friday night, drove to Wingatui on Saturday, watched the two horses they bred and race perform, drove back to Dunsandel, before flying out of Christchurch on the six a.m. flight back to Auckland to sell a yearling in Book 3 on Sunday. Only to get home late on Sunday night.

“Max (Air Max) winning his second guineas was the highlight and dear old Boots’N’All just missing out on the White Robe Lodge, we are just so proud of them they are both such lovely horses.

“Selling the Super Easy was really hard. I was in two minds, and I was getting a couple of texts telling me “don’t sell” but, I had to sell him so I can keep breeding my mares.”

Wilson has every right to be proud of Air Max (by Nadeem[AUS]) who has only been to the races five times. He commenced racing in October and failed on a very heavy track, and a month later finished fourth over 1200 metres at Motukara.  His next start was in a 1400 metre special conditions three-year-old race at Riccarton during Cup week, where he was beaten by More Wonder.

On Boxing Day he lined up at Wingatui again over 1400 metres and was beaten by Superstatic, but three weeks later turned the tails on her when he won the Listed Gore Guineas over 1355 metres. His next start was in the 1500 metre Listed Dunedin Guineas where he burst through the pack with about 100 metres to run and went on to win by three-quarters of a length.

It’s possible he may contest the Southland Guineas at Invercargill later in the month to complete the South Island Triple Crown, or be asked to prove himself further and take on the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas at Trentham in mid- March.

“We would love to see him travel to Trentham for the Wellington Guineas, but ultimately that is up to Lance (Robinson) and he always does what he thinks is best for the horse,” said Wilson.

“We are very lucky to have Lance as a trainer as he doesn’t push them, he has been great for me and my mares. Air Max is raced by a syndicate with 34 people in it, and they are on the ride of their life. We are the South Island version of the Te Akau Shark syndicate. And it’s a boost for the South Island industry to have good horses bred down here popping up and winning.”

A number of the 34 strong members of the syndicate were clients of Lance Robinson, who is also the trainer of Boots’N’All that Wilson and Sheat race on their own, after his failure to sell at the South Island Yearling Sale in 2014.

Now a six-year-old Boots’N’All has won nine races, and went into the Gr.3 White Robe Lodge Weight For Age the favourite on the back of a smart win in the Listed Timaru Cup late in December.  Also earlier this season he was second in the Gr.2 Couplands Mile. He was third in that race last season, as well as winning the Listed Timaru Stakes, and placing in the Gr.3 Canterbury Gold Cup and Listed Timaru Cup.

The dam of these two stakes winners Steel Stilettos(AUS) was purchased by Wilson in 2011 from the National Broodmare and Weanling sale at Karaka.

Wilson picks up the story.

“I went to the sales and I wasn’t going to buy a mare, the trouble is I say that but I usually do. I love Hussonet(AUS) so decided to stay and watch a mare going through from Rich Hill as a racing and breeding proposition, thinking she would be way too rich for me. But she was knocked down to me for $800.

“Shortly after the sale John Thompson and James Jennings approached me and said she had failed the scope, so I could have her for $500. I toyed with idea of racing her but decided against it and went about looking for a suitable mating.

“A friend and I went for a bit of a stud tour around and saw Perfectly Ready(AUS) and I liked his pedigree and his looks and thought that he would be a good first mating for the mare. It was always my intention to breed a racehorse to try and prove the mare.

“The next mating was to Towkay(AUS) as I was after the Last Tycoon(IRE) cross which had produced a stakes winner in the family in Vestey in Australia.”

That colt Toms was sold for $12,000 at the Festival sale in 2015 he has won two races. Steel Stilettos then missed to Dalghar(FR) before going to Nadeem (AUS).

“I also thought Nadeem(AUS) would cross well with Hussonet(AUS), with all my matings I always try and go for a good balance of conformation and try and get a good pedigree match as well.

“Once Steel Stiletto’s foals started to show something I started to get a bit more commercial, and I just loved Super Easy I thought the Gold Brose(AUS) would bring in a nice cross.  Then I went to Vadamos, he was a fabulous racehorse and I am a fan of Monsun(GER).

“I am really happy with the colt we got, it was a mission to get the mare to full term, from May we didn’t think she would hold the pregnancy, she had a foal alarm on all winter, and for the last month she went to Nevele R stud where they had 24 hour care. I am so grateful to all the staff there for the support they gave me and the result we got. Following that pregnancy we decided to give the mare a year off.”

Wilson has a number of other mares that she has sent to stud this year, and a nice of batch of foals to take through as yearlings next year, from the property she and Sheat share in Dunsandel about half way between Christchurch and Ashburton. The couple have downsized to around 55 acres where they raise beef cattle and an ever increasing number of horses.

She has been around horses all her life, and used to breed Arabs, until she got her first thoroughbred mare and that started it all.

“I am a small breeder but I am passionate, I only intended to have two mares, but now I have five. I am very much hands on and I send my mares away to stud but do everything else up until they go to the sales,” she added.

She had three yearlings to sell this year, the Super Easy colt out of Steel Stiletto for $45,000, a Dalghar(FR)colt out of Kindacool for $3,000 and a Contributor(AUS) colt out of Stars for $12,000.

Stars a Pentire(GB) mare has a Verdi filly foal at foot and is back in foal to that stallion, as is Temeraire (AUS) a Flying Spur (AUS) mare. While the Keeper(AUS) mare she bought last year Tihi Keepa – a sister to the group one winner Linky Dink – has produced a Reliable Man (GB) filly and is in foal to Dalghar(FR).  Needless to say going forward, there a sure to be more stakes winners in the Wilson and Sheat partnership portfolio. - Michelle Saba


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