This time last year I caught up with Coll MacRury as Travelling Light the filly he and his father bred, and race had just won the Gr.2 Barneswood Stud Soliloquy Stakes and was on a path to the Gr.1 1000 Guineas.
Be it groundhog day or déjà vu or just an incredible co-incidence but this week I called him to talk about Vitesse Bo (Proisir[AUS]-Cissey Bowen) a half-sister to Travelling Light, who is also on a path to the Gr1 1000 Guineas, after she won the Gr.3 War Decree Stakes at Riccarton.
For someone that has only one broodmare and races only the progeny of that mare, that’s a pretty amazing achievement.
MacRury and his trainer Ben Foote who also trains Travelling Light have always had a good opinion of the filly and even though she was still a maiden after two starts for a third and a second, knew that she wanted a bit more ground.
“We wanted to test her at Riccarton if we were going to have a go at the 1000 Guineas,” said MacRury.
“It was a bit of a roll of the dice, she was working really well, and we only made the decision on Thursday morning to send her down to Riccarton. She arrived on Thursday night and raced on Saturday. The further she goes the better she will be. Now she has three weeks before the Guineas and will lap up the mile.
“She just put her head down and got on with the job but she had to cover a lot of extra ground on Saturday so she should be more competitive if she gets a better run.
“She is very calm and quiet and definitely the most laid back out of that mare and could get the Oaks distance.
“She eats and sleeps. Even after the race she had cleaned up her feed and eaten most of her hay. She’s a big girl 540kgh big for a filly who has just turned three, wide through the chest, a real big horse but nice with it. She has a huge constitution and apparently that is a trait of a few Proisirs(AUS).”
MacRury was on hand at Riccarton to witness the win and is thankful to be in New Zealand to follow Vitesse Bo. Working in the meat industry he normally divides his time between Perth, Goulburn and Tauranga, where his father also resides.
“Fortunately, I got back two days before they closed the borders. I have spent so many years travelling so it’s been good working remotely from Tauranga and spending time here,” he said, “and I will be here to see her race in the Guineas.”
Racing has always been a passion in his family but during the late 70’s his interest in pedigrees was piqued and he has spent a lot of time over the last 30 or more years studying pedigrees. Having read Tesio and followed the likes of Ken Beer, and the late Harold Hampton and Jack Glengarry, it’s pedigrees he really enjoys as part of racing a horse.
So how did MacRury come by Cissey Bowen who from three foals to the races has now had three stakes performers?
During the mid-90’s he and his father Ian ventured into racehorse ownership. One of the first horses they raced was a Kingdom Bay(AUS) mare Bay D’Ore in a Te Akau syndicate. She won two races and was sold on and eventually went to stud.
Bay D’Ore was from a good honest Central Districts family that over the years had produced a number of good racehorses without having a host of black type performers, which was something that resonated with the MacRury’s. Bay D’Ore was out of Ace High, a winning Crown Lease(GB) mare who left nine winners including Sovereign’s Ace whose eight wins included a Listed Anniversary Handicap at Trentham.
In 2000 they saw Bay D’Ore pass through the sale ring and they tracked her down her owner Joan Scott who had sent her to Colombia, a stallion that MacRury was rather keen on due to his amazing bloodlines.
They bought the resulting filly and as Electra Dee she won three races, they liked her so much they went back and purchased her younger sister who they named Cissy Bowen. Bay D’Ore went to Colombia five times, and the mating in between the two successful fillies produced Tiger King, who won four races in Macau including the Listed Macau Derby Trial, and was placed second in the Listed Macau Guineas, and fourth in the Listed Macau Derby.
However, when it came time to begin their breeding venture it was decided to persevere with Cissy Bowen the better performed of the two mares, and she went to Jimmy Choux, and produced The Great Southern who as a three-year-old won a race and was placed third in the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas, and Gr.3 Bonecrusher Stakes before being sold to Singapore.
Cissy Bowen returned to Jimmy Choux and produced another colt, who unfortunately died following a paddock accident on Guy Fawkes night.
The next mating produced Travelling Light (El Roca) who at three won the Gr.1 Levin Classic, Gr.3 Soliloquy Stakes, Listed Uncle Remus Stakes, was second in the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas and third in the Gr.1 1000 Guineas.
It is on the subject of Cissy Bowen and her matings that MacRury’s enthusiasm really comes through.
“Cissey Bowen has two lovely strains of the successful sire Dante(GB)( Nearco[ITY]- Rosy Legend[FR]) on the filly side” he explained.
“She gets one through Eight Carat(GB) as he is the grandsire of Pieces of Eight(GB) and another through Kingdom Bay as the grandsire of Golden Plume(GB) the sire of Kingdom Bay’s dam Golden Praise, through her dam Bay D’Ore.
“I always look at why a pedigree works and why it is successful, in the case of Travelling Light I wanted the successful Fastnet Rock[AUS] and Zabeel cross which has produced a number of group one winners and is very successful with fillies as well, having produced Atlantic Jewel, not that I necessarily wanted a filly but I am pleased to have one.
“Atlantic Jewel was a big rangy filly and fast, Cissey Bowen is a small mare, and quite fast, I wanted to inject size and try and not take too much speed out of the family.
“Colombia mares have done well at stud,” continued MacRury, “outside of Winx(AUS) two of the best mares in Australia in recent times have been out of Colombia mares Viddora (AUS) (I Am Invincible(IRE) – Snow Flight) the triple group one winner and Mystic Journey(AUS) (Needs Further[AUS]- White Gold) this has influenced my breeding of Cissy Bowen as well.”
In regard to Vitesse Bo it was the influence of Mystic Journey that prompted the mating with Proisir(AUS) and produced a beautiful physical filly bred 6x6 to Special (USA) (Forli[ARG] – Thong[USA]) and that is exciting for a filly. Proisir(AUS) seems to be leaving some lovely fillies including the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks runner up Vancooga and group two placed Levante. Standing at Rich Hill Stud his oldest progeny are now four and include the Gr.1 Epsom Handicap placegetter Riodini.
“Mystic Journey(AUS) is by Needs Further (AUS) a son of Encosta de Lago(AUS) and Proisir(AUS) provides Encosta through his dam Prophet Jewel(AUS) who is by Encosta de Lago (AUS),” said MacRury, “and Viddora(AUS) was influential in the mating of Cissy’s next foal which is a two-year colt by Charm Spirit(IRE). Viddora being by the Invincible Spirit(IRE) stallion I Am Invincible(IRE) as is Charm Spirit(IRE).
“He has had one small prep with Ben and has just come back in he is a powerful little fellow and has shown us he has a real nice action. At least the mare is giving them a good chance. A big part of that is also due to the wonderful care they receive at Club Med Lodge as young horses. Cissey Bowen lives there and Vicki Pascoe does a wonderful job looking after her and raising her foals.”
Cissey Bowen missed the following season, and last year was served by Sacred Falls, but unfortunately lost that foal in September. She is currently under service to Ribchester.
“This mating will be exciting for a filly, as she will have three beautiful lines of Nureyev (IRE) and two lines of Dante, and it has a strong Round Table(USA) influence for a colt. It’s a nice balance no matter what you get, it’s one of the best crosses I have seen,” he enthused.
“There is definitely something in pedigree matching, you just can’t put a top horse to a top horse and expect to get a top horse, you need to put a bit more thought into it.”
Back to the subject of Vitesse Bo, and the plan now is if she does go well in the 1000 Guineas, the next target will be the NZB Filly of the Year Series.
“I think she will be at her best around 2000 metres and may well get to the New Zealand Oaks.” - Michelle Saba NZTBA