One of New Zealand’s richest horse races, the $500,000 Gr.1 Barfoot and Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m), was won by a horse that cost its owners $4,000.
Roger That, a seven-year-old gelding by Shinko King (IRE) out of the Yamanin Vital mare Heather Lyn, took out the event for a small group of owners who describe themselves as battlers.
He is trained on a farm outside Tauranga by Antony Fuller, a 59-year-old who gave up shearing to train racehorses and now has around 12 in work. His big rangy chestnut Roger That has now won six races and run 13 places and in 34 starts.
This season has been one of his best, running second last time out in the Listed Kaimai Stakes (2000m), and earlier in the season recording a second in the Gr.3 OMF Stakes (2000m).
According to his breeder, Waikato NZTBA member Roger Brooks, he was really bred by accident. Brooks, the father of Cambridge trainer Mark Brooks and successful polo player, pre-trainer and horse-breaker Kit Brooks is based at the family farm in Cambridge.
He has been involved with horses all his life growing up in Karaka where his father Harold farmed and was Master of the Pakuranga Hunt in the 60’s. He made the move to Cambridge in 2000 and from there his sons were successful equestrians before branching into their chosen fields and establishing Brooks Racing Limited.
“Roger That came about by accident really,” Brooks said, “The mare had fractured her pelvis and was given to Mark to rehab and work along, but she didn’t come back from that accident.
“The owners were going to put her down, but I thought you can’t do that, she is too well bred, so they gave her to me and we sent her down the road to Shinko King.”
At the time Shinko King was in his twilight years but was the sire of the group one winners Eskimo Queen, Thumbs Up, Bramble Rose and C’Est La Guerre. She visited that stallion twice and Roger That is a result of the second mating. Following that she produced another colt, Zinzan by Roc de Cambes, who has had one start from Mark Brooks' stable.
“He’s the best horse I have bred by miles, and I knew he would stay the two miles,” said Brooks who left the local polo match on Saturday to go home and watch the Auckland Cup on television.
One look at the pedigree of Roger That and you can see why Brooks knew he would stay.
Heather Lyn is by the Sir Tristram (IRE) stallion Yamanin Vital, out of the Random Chance mare De Montfort and was bred at White Robe Lodge by Hec, Brian and Lorraine Anderton and Eric Parr.
De Montfort was the winner of 10 races up to 2500 metres including the Gr.3 Easter Cup (2000m), Gr.3 Dunedin Gold Cup (2300m), and Gr.3 CJC Challenge Stakes (1600m). She also won twice at Listed level, and went on to produce 10 foals, of which only two were winners.
She in turn was a half sister to King Johny (by Seasoned Star [AUS]) who won the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m), and was third in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and fourth in the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m).
Two of her half-sisters also produced good stayers. Notable (by Danzighill [AUS]) a winner of two races produced Parthesia (by Raise The Flag [GB]) who won up to 2800 metres winning the Listed VRC Bagot Handicap (2800m) and the Listed Tasmanian Oaks (2100m).
Whereas Laura Dee (Personal Escort (USA)) produced Blood Brotha (by Danzighill [AUS]) who won eight races from 2000 metre to 3200 metres including the Gr.2 Wellington Cup (2400m) and the Gr.3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) twice. He was also placed in the Gr.2 ATC Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) and finished fourth in the Gr.1 ATC Sydney Cup (3200m).
They in turn were out of the unraced Noble Bijou (GB) mare Lal’s Gift, who was a sister to three time Group One winner Prince Majestic and Listed winner multiple Group winner Bi Noble and a three-quarter sister to The Bandette and Noble Task. Prince Majestic won 19 races up to 2400 metres including three at Group One level.
They were all out of the legendary Champion race mare Princess Mellay. She won 18 races, from five furlongs (1000 metres) to two miles (3200 metres) including three at two. Her wins include two New Zealand Cups, a New Zealand Oaks, Dunedin Guineas, Champagne Stakes and the James Hazlett Gold Cup twice.
Despite this family having a lot of success in Australia, Antony Fuller has ruled out a trip to Sydney for the Cup this year, and will continue to race Roger That in New Zealand over the next few months with and is likely to target the Gr.3 Campbell Infrastructure Rotorua Cup (2200m) on May 9. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA