In 2018 Australian historian and philanthropist Bill Gibbins approached the Warrnambool Racing Club about hosting a race to commemorate and honour the heroic servicemen and their horses who fought in the Middle East during 1915-1919.
Thus, the modern day Jericho Cup (4600m), restricted to horses bred in Australia and New Zealand to keep with the ANZAC spirit, was born.
The original Jericho Cup was held towards the end of the World War I. As the Australian Light Horse were planning a major offensive against the Turkish Empire, they decided to lull the enemy into a false sense of security by holding a race meeting in the desert.
The main race was called the Jericho Cup and was run over three miles through desert sands and was won by Bill the Bastard, possibly Australia’s greatest war horse.
Each year it has been won by a New Zealand bred horse - High Mode in 2018, Ablaze in 2019 and this by Count Zero this year.
After Count Zero (Zed – My Duchess) won the Jericho Cup his breeder Peter Smith was quoted as saying, “If you want to breed good horses, you have got to go to good sires and Zed is certainly turning into that.”
Zed is certainly enjoying another phenomenal season with his freakish daughter Verry Elleegant adding the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup to her impressive tally and Irish Flame winning the Listed Ballarat Cup.
Zed currently sits in fifth place on the New Zealand stallion premiership behind heavy weights Darci Brahma, Savabeel, Sacred Falls and Per Incanto.
Smith comes across as a man who knows how to breed a good horse and certainly knows what he is talking about.
The octogenarian farmer, who was born and bred in Wanganui where he still farms cattle, grows maize and raises horses, has developed and nurtured a family over the last 65 years that has produced dozens of stakes winners, from a Golden Slipper winner through to Cup winners.
Amazingly they are all descendants of a mare that his uncles Pat and Bob Smith bought in 1930.
“It was in the 1930’s that my family started breeding from this family and it has been in our family ever since,” Smith recalled.
“Over the years we have sold mares and youngsters from the family, but all the ones we race are all related and from this family.
“Probably the best is the Golden Slipper winner Courtza (Pompeii Court[USA]- Hunza), I bred Hunza and sold her to Waikato Stud during the tenure of Bunker Hunt, and of course Courtza is the dam of O’Reilly.”
“Left was the original mare, she started them all, I am the only one of the Smith family still breeding all the rest have died.”
Left was was imported by J F Buchanan of Kinloch Stud fame, who also stood Left’s sire Martian at stud.
During the 30’s and 40’s prominent descendants of this family included Champion three-year-old and Auckland Cup winner Beau Vite, VRC Derby and Melbourne Cup winner Skipton, Auckland Cup winner Motere, New Zealand Cup winner Menelaus and Wellington Cup winner Old Bill.
As a broodmare Left produced eight live foals including the stakes winners Peter Jackson (Nigger Minstrel – a brother to Desert Gold) who won the Moonee Valley Cup. Followed by Gaine Carrington (Hunting Song) a Caulfield Cup winner and Wotan (Siegfried) who won the Melbourne Cup while still owned by Pat and Bob Smith.
She only left one filly, Kriemhild also by Siegfried. She in turn only left one filly in Glamor Girl however she turned out to be a producer of fillies leaving Avonlea (Golden Souvenir), Catricia (Summertime) and Gay Dalliance (Fair’s Fair) and Glamin (Instinct) and from these mares there has been a plethora of winners.
Jericho Cup winner Count Zero descends from Avonlea, through her daughter Glamour Fair (by Fair’s Fair[GB]) and was bred by Peter Smith in the mid-50’s. He is the first foal from the unraced Volksraad(IRE) mare My Duchess, who is a daughter of My Governess (by Deputy Governor [USA]).
My Governess was the winner of six races, including the Listed Fielding Cup, and was Group One placed in the Auckland Cup.
My Governess is out of Regal Orphan, a Zamazaan(FR) mare who left five winners, out of Sovereign Fair(Sovereign Edition[GB]) out of Glamour Fair. Glamour Fair left Easter Handicap winner Nordic Star (Copenhagen II[GB]) and the WRC Whyte Handicap winner Fair Warning (Monitor[GB]) who was second in the Herbert Power Handicap.
Glamour Fair won three races, and her sister Fair Gold was a stakes placed winner. Her three-quarter brother Equal Terms (ex Glamor Girl) was a stakes winner and Gay Dalliance left the ARC Queen Elizabeth Handicap winner Lovestruck.
Her half sister Anne Gable (Le Filou[FR]) made a name for herself as the winner of nine races including the Cuddle Stakes at Trentham. She had two foals, both winners in Anne Lear (by Roi Lear[FR]) and Fille D’Anne (by War Hawk II[GB]).
Anne Lear is the grandam of the Wellington Cup winner Willy Smith, and third dam of the Hong Kong Cup winner It Has To Be You, both by Volksraad(IRE). While Fille D’Anne’s branch of the family was blessed with a stakes winner this season in Albarado (Savabeel[AUS]-O’Fille) the winner of the Gr.3 Caulfield Classic.
His dam O’Fille (by O’Reilly) won six races for the Smith and his wife Barbara including the Gr.3 Trentham Stakes and Cuddle Stakes. Albarado is her first foal, and her second foal a colt by Shocking(AUS) sold at Karaka last summer to Hawkes Racing for $200,000.
As well as breeding from O’Fille, Smith has this season retired her winning sister La Soeur. They are out of the unraced Grosvenor mare La Fille who is a half sister to the stakes placed winner Charmante and Master Painter.
It is from Glamor Girl’s daughter Glamin that the Hunza dynasty by Pakistan II(GB) developed. She is out of the Chatsworth II(GB) mare Chatty Lady a daughter of Glamin. Chatty Lady also left the stakes performers Hearts Are Trumps, Kapelle Lady, Lalos
As a racehorse Hunza was the joint Australian Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 1972-73, winning five races at two including the VRC Bloodhorse Breeders’ Plate. At stud she a super producer with all her foals winners including Courtza who won the Golden Slipper and the Blue Diamond Stakes and is the dam of the mighty stallion O’Reilly.
As well to Pompeii Court(USA) she left Our Pompeii who won seven races including the South Australian Derby and Adelaide Cup, Hunza Court who won five races including the Listed VRC Rising Star Stakes and went on to have relative success at stud.
Fixed Flush, by Brigand(USA), won 15 races including the BATC Doomben Handicap and had relative success at stud, and Lost Valley (Decies[GB]) won 16 races in Australia including the Gr.3 STC Canterbury Cup. His sister Minidece was a stakes placed winner of seven races and left a stakes winner in Tiszae (Pompeii Court[USA]), while Hunza’s Ace (Ace of Aces[USA]) was also a stakes performer.
Benazir won three races and went on to leave a stakes winner in Critic (Centaine[AUS]) as well as six other winners including Eastern Princess (Pompeii Court[USA]) the winner of six races and dam of Sayyida the dam of the Champion racehorse and now successful stallion Ocean Park, and grandam of multiple group one winner Grunt and stakes place Addison (Jimmy Choux) and Excelida (Exceed And Excell[AUS]). Eastern Princess is also the grandam of the Gr.1 Easter Handicap winner Prince Kaapstad (by Kaapstad).
So while Count Zero has only won four races and hasn’t won any black type yet, by winning the Jericho Cup over 4600 metres he deserves to add his name to the prestigious list of horse produced by Peter Smith. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA