Waikato Branch member Darrell Hollinshead is the first to admit that his family have been spoilt with good horses over the years, but even he now agrees that the family’s latest star Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle[IRE]-Bak da Chief) is pretty special.
“Over the years we have had some good horses starting with Dad having Judena, then Bak da Chief, and more recently Pondarosa Miss and Ecuador,” Hollinshead said after Te Akau Shark claimed his first group one in Australia in the Chipping Norton Stakes, “but I think this one is extra good.”
Te Akau Shark was having his 12th start when he won the Chipping Norton and recorded his seventh win, his second at group one level following his impressive victory in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint at Te Rapa last month before he travelled to Sydney.
That win at Te Rapa was fresh up from the spell he had after running third in the Gr.1 W.S. Cox Plate last spring, in an Australian raid that also saw him run second in the Gr.1 Epsom Handicap to Kolding and second in the Gr.2 Tramway Stakes.
At the start of the season he ran second in the Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate. As a four-year-old last season he only had the three starts and won them all; a rating 82 1200 at Hastings, followed by the Gr.3 Red Badge Spring Sprint also on that course, and the Gr.2 Couplands Bakeries Mile at Riccarton, later in the spring.
As a three-year-old he had three starts winning the first two, before running fourth in the Gr.1 Al Bastri 2000 Guineas won by his stable mate Embellish.
Te Akau Shark is the fourth foal of the Chief Bearheart(CAN) mare Bak da Chief herself the winner of five races including the Gr.3 Waikato Cup. She in turn was out of Havitbak (Bakharoff[USA]-Gold Nadjan[ITY])a mare purchased by Darrell’s father in the 90’s.
“Havitbak was a mare we bought through a Dalgety’s sale she was bred by Jim Campin, who then sold the mother to Korea and that side of the family disappeared,”Te Awamutu based Hollinshead recalled.
“However, her fourth dam is the Rockefella (GB) mare Riches (GB) and she in turn is the sixth dam of Miracles of Life, so that branch has been successful in Australia. Havitbak won eight races and was group three placed twice, she is the dam of eight foals, seven to race and six winners.”
Bak da Chief is the dam of eight foals, and three of those are winners including Urulu (High Chaparral [IRE]) and Roldana (Mastercraftsman [IRE]). She returned to Rip Van Winkle(IRE) after Te Akau Shark and produced Melarita a four-year-old mare who had two seconds at three before sustaining a fracture in the 2019 running of the Gr.2 Royal Stakes, but according to Hollinshead she is fully recovered and back in work at the family stables.
The next mating produced Baby Shark who has had two starts from the Te Akau stables. She has a yearling by Redwood(GB), whom Hollinshead admitted he bought a share in as he is by High Chaparral(IRE), who will be sold at the Sydney yearlings sales this Easter and has a colt foal at foot by Rip Van Winkle(IRE), and is back in foal to him at the moment.
The unraced foal was Bak da Princess and her first mating was with the Windsor Park stallion Thorn Park(AUS) and produced a filly known as Prickly Princess who won four races. This coincided with a period when the Hollinsheads were supporting only Windsor Park stallions, and by mating Bak da Princess to High Chaparral (IRE) discovered this family crossed beautifully with Sadler’s Wells(IRE) line stallions.
Bak da Princess produced Pondarosa Miss and Ecuador to that stallion and between them they won 16 races, with Ponderosa Miss winning six including the Gr.1 Easter Handicap for the Hollinshead family before joining their broodmare band. Ecuador won10 including the Listed ATC Lord Mayor’s Cup, Carrington Stakes and W J McKell Cup as well as being group one placed three times, group two placed twice and group three placed three times.
“Basically, my philosophy is to cross two good athletes and you should get a good athlete,” Hollinshead enthused.
“We are so fortunate now with shuttle stallions that we can do this. We have access to all those fabulous Coolmore horses who have proven themselves as elite athletes and we get to send our mares to them. My association with Windsor Park is testament to that philosophy.”
With High Chaparral(IRE) relocating to Australia the next obvious choice for a Sadler’s Wells(IRE) line stallion was Rip Van Winkle(IRE) who shuttles to Windsor Park. More recently Hollinshead has used this line with Tavistock and Tarzino as well.
Harking back to Bak da Princess she has now produced 12 foals and a further four winners; two by Rip Van Winkle in Honor and Rip Em Up and Moderation and Bak da Master by Mastercraftsman(IRE). She has a two-year-old and a yearling by Reliable Man(GB) a filly foal at foot by Tarzino which the family will retain and she is in foal to another High Chaparral(IRE) stallion in Ace High(AUS).
“Dad (Peter) started the interest in the horses, much to Grandad’s horror, but he soon came round and he and my Nana followed Dad all over the country with the team of race horses. It’s thanks to his legacy that we had the big dairy farm, which we reduced to the 40 acre block where we run the mares, and train half a dozen or so horses.
“We are now concentrating on breeding rather than racing and of the half dozen or so mares that we have between us, all are from the one family with the exception of one. It’s affordable because we can do it all ourselves and we have a family that is a better than the middle market. In the end Grandad set it up for Dad and me to enjoy.
“As a breeder I think you get as much thrill out of them winning as you do when you own them,” he enthused, “well we do anyway, and we plan to go and see “The Shark” race in the Queen Elizabeth II as it coincides with sale time.” - Michelle Saba