Things haven’t always gone to plan with Princess Kereru (NZ) (Pins) but they seem to be working out just fine now.
The recent Gr.3 Waikato Stud Plate (1200m) winner was bred by Paul Humphries and his sons Kevan, Richard and Michael with the intention to sell her at auction as a yearling.
“We bred Princess Kereru to sell at Karaka," Humphries said.
"She was slightly offset in one of her knees and was not a big filly as a yearling.
“Wayne (Larsen of Te Runga Stud), who has been a great mentor for us over 14 or 15 years while our mares have been with him, said the offset knee may have some effect on buyers looking at her but it certainly wouldn’t affect her racing.
“He was right. We set a reserve of $40,000 but nobody wanted her, she didn’t get a bid.”
It was back to the drawing board with the daughter of Pins and Humphries eventually bought her from the breeding syndicate and now races her in partnership with Kevan and Richard.
Princess Kereru won on debut as a three-year-old but what was shaping up to be an impressive campaign was cut short when she was galloped on at her fourth start.
“She lost most of her three-year-old year because of that deep gash on her hind leg, we were so lucky it didn’t go into her tendon,” Humphries said.
“Bev Kelso (co-trainer) was amazing with her. She was attended to by the vet and then Bev treated her every day with manuka honey and now you can’t even see where that injury had been.
“Sometimes these things work out for the best. She wasn’t able to race much as a three-year-old but it has given her time to really develop and strengthen.”
Now five, Princess Kereru has a Group Three win and Group One placing to her credit and Humphries is full of praise for her training team.
“Ken and Bev Kelso and Mark Donoghue have been terrific. They are great trainers and guardians of our special girl,” Humphries said.
“I’ve always had a lot of faith in Princess Kereru. She doesn’t always get a lot of luck in her races but she is such a great little horse. She has the best nature you could ever imagine. Ken has said to me on numerous occasions that he has never had a horse like her in terms of temperament and that she is just an amazing horse.
“We got a huge thrill and a huge surprise when she ran second in the Railway (Gr.1, 1200m). She burst through and was only just nabbed on the line by Santa Monica, we couldn’t have been happier if she had won.
“It was her first black-type and it gave us a bit of confidence and justified some of the faith we had always had in her. The Waikato Stud Plate that was a reinforcement of how good a horse she is developing in to.”
Humphries sticks to a quality over quantity mantra with his breeding stock and Fleur d’Amour (NZ) (Thorn Park), the dam of Princess Kereru, is all that remains of what was once a five strong broodmare band.
“I guess we are like many others who are bemoaning the state of the industry. We had five broodmares but have divested ourselves of them over the last couple of years and now we only have one.
“We hope Princess Kereru carries on and we would like to keep racing her and keep her as a broodmare to extend her future into the breeding barn.”
Humphries was part of a syndicate that raced Fleur d’Amour who won three out of five starts in Australia before injury put an end to her three-year-old season.
“She came back to New Zealand and we tried to race her again but she didn’t get through surgery and so forth good enough to race well again,” Humphries said.
“I bought her from our syndicate to breed from.”
Fleur d’Amour has had two foals to race for two winners, and Humphries has retained a share in the three-year-old gelding Mr Renaissance (NZ) (Pins) who is in Australia working towards his first start. The yearling colt by Shocking will head to Karaka in May.
“He is a lovely colt, a good sized fellow and we are hoping someone falls in love with him for his good looks and the abilities his half-sister is showing,” Humphries said.
Those abilities will be put to the test in future black-type races including a likely start in the Listed Gavelhouse.com Lightning Stakes (1200m) at Trentham on March 16. – NZTBA