The Waikato Branch of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association held their annual Cathay Pacific Group One Awards dinner last Friday.
For the first time the awards were presented to breeders of Group One winners from around New Zealand, not just the Waikato region. Eighteen horses were acknowledged for their elite level wins, with Hong Kong champion Beauty Generation (Road To Rock) crowned horse of the year.
“We are playing with the idea of making it a national Group One awards, and it was really well received by everybody,” Waikato Branch president Keith Lunn said.
“The Waikato members in particular enjoyed hearing stories from outside the region, it was new faces telling new stories.”
The evening is one of the major events organised by the Waikato branch committee and takes months of planning and recruiting sponsorship.
“We were absolutely stoked with how it came together, it was a fantastic evening,” Lunn said.
“There was a sponsor for every award, plus the auctions, so at the end of the day that was 38 sponsors to arrange and it was done by all of the committee, it is not a one person job.
“Cathay Pacific and Mills Reef have been sponsoring the event for 23 years and that is still going strong.”
There were over 400 guests in attendance and the evening has become a must attend event for industry participants.
“When we phoned Stuart Hope, the breeder and owner of Santa Monica, he said that he was sorry but he couldn’t make it,” Lunn said.
“He then rang back and said he had cancelled his trip to Australia to come to the night and flew his son over to join him at the table.
“As he said, you might only win one Group One in your life so make sure you celebrate it. That probably shows just how treasured a Group One win is.”
The Mills Reef Personality of the Year was awarded to Joan Egan who has bred or co-bred several topline thoroughbreds including Flying Babe (Flying Spur) and Fort Lincoln (Charge Forward), and last year celebrated her first Group One winner as a breeder when Sword of Osman (Savabeel) won the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m).
Egan had a love of horses from a young age and competed in dressage on a national level. Her first foray into thoroughbred breeding was by chance as she had taken on a thoroughbred mare with the intention of breeding it to her Hanoverian stallion.
Sandra and Brian Collins, Egan’s neighbours at the time, suggested she breed a racehorse instead. The resulting foal was a winner of five races and so Egan’s success as a breeder began.
Egan had a successful breeding partnership with the late Marylin Kent, and has also enjoyed a long and successful association with the Taylor family of Trelawney Stud.
“The committee puts together a list of names during the year of potential winners and at the end of the day we felt Joan’s story was a great story,” Lunn said.
“She had her first Group One win last season and then followed it up this year with another horse racing at Group One level in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha.
“She has been breeding for a long time and is a lovely person.”
Benji King was the recipient of the Mary Lynne Ryan Young Achiever award. King, who was awarded the Sunline Trust International Management Scholarship in 2015, has a wealth of international experience which he puts to good use at the family owned and managed Brighthill Farm.
King recently experienced his first taste of success as a breeder of a stakes winning horse when Sacred Day (Azamour) won the Listed Grafton Cup (2350m). King was gifted a service to Azamour as a 21st birthday present and went on to sell the resulting foal for $90,000 at the 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sales when purchased by Raffles Racing.
“The young achiever award was the hardest to pick,” Lunn said. “We probably had eight names that were all equally as good.
“Benji has done all the right things and has had a good career progression.
“We also gave out an industry service award. That went to Brian de Lore to recognise his work done in the result of the Messara report.”
Plans are underway for the 2020 edition of the event and Lunn said there was potential for the awards evening to grow further.
“There are three stallion awards, the broodmare of the year and breeder of the year award given out at the Racing Awards,” he said.
“There is thought that we could bring them across and make it a national breeders night.
“That is the carrot we have left everyone with and that was the reason for the trial.” - NZTBA