A quick look at the breeding of Coventina Bay (Shamexpress - Coventina by High Chaparral [IRE]) the recent winner of the Gr.3 J Swap Sprint at Te Rapa, and you could be forgiven for thinking she was bred by Windsor Park Stud.
By their resident sire Shamexpress, Coventina Bay is a granddaughter of their fabulous matriarch Nimue, however a check in the stud book will tell you the breeder is EVB Ltd, the business operation of NZTBA member Wayne Darling.
New Plymouth based Darling counts himself very lucky to be the breeder of Conventina Bay, a filly he leases to a group of mates from his local haunt Sporty’s Bar and Café.
“I’ve got 20%,” Darling explained, “in the syndicate there’s John and Carmel Collings, Mike and Donna Bridgeman, Paul Hancock, Alison Butler, Eddie Mains, Wayne Niwa, Tim Rothwell, Mike Kapo and Richard Belk who was our van driver when we headed to Hamilton to watch the race.
“Winning at Te Rapa was a big thrill, a really big thrill, and we had a great time staying in Hamilton and partying on.
“They are a group of friends of mine from Sporty’s Café and Bar in New Plymouth, it’s our local and a lot of them are first time owners. I had the horse ready to go with Robbie (Patterson) and I persuaded them to come into a syndicate. We are having a lot of fun.”
That’s not surprising as Coventina Bay, trained at New Plymouth by Patterson, was recording her sixth win from just 10 starts when she won the Group Three event and went into the race on the back of a smart second placing in the Listed Legacy Lodge Stakes, also at Te Rapa, after she had blown the start.
Prior to that the five-year-old mare had had two placings this season, both at Te Rapa as well.
Coventina Bay commenced racing in May last year and won on debut over 1200m at Otaki, she followed that win with a fifth placing. A short spell followed, and she won fresh up over 1200, at the start of last season, she was freshened again and stepped up to 1400 and won at Te Rapa in November. She didn’t race again until February where she won on her home track of New Plymouth and a month later, just before Covid-19 hit, she won at Trentham.
Following that win she was diagnosed with Kissing Spine Disease, or Overriding Dorsal Spinous Processes (ODSP), which occurs when there is touching or “kissing” of the long, thin bones that project upward from the vertebrae of the spinal column in the horse’s back.
“Once we discovered that we sent her to the Waikato Equine Vet Centre in Cambridge, and they performed an operation to fix it,” Darling said.
“She then went to rehab with Kirsten Gollan in Ohaupo, who did a wonderful job, and was only out for three months. She recovered really well from the operation and it all fitted in well with her preparation for this season.”
Although her wins have all been over sprint distances, her next start may well be a step up to 1600m in the Rich Hill Mile.
So how did Darling come by a mare from this famed Windsor Park family?.
“Some years ago at Awapuni races I met up with Mike Moran and told him I was very interested in sending a mare to High Chaparral,” Darling said, “but I didn’t have a mare and asked if I could lease a broodmare from Windsor Park to send to the horse.
“I had a relationship with Nelson Schick and Windsor Park from the days when I had a share in Pays Anne (Alvaro[GB]-Ineru) back in the late 70’s early 80’s. She was raced on lease from Dave Barker who was a shareholder in Star Way(GB). Pay’s Anne won seven races including the Gr.1 Air New Zealand Stakes, and ran second in the Gr.1 1000 Guineas, and New Zealand Oaks.
“I was very surprised that they gave me Ninane (Casual Lies[USA]-Nimue) to breed from for two years, as she is a daughter of Nimue. I was so impressed with High Chaparral though and thought it was too good of an opportunity to turn down, and that’s how it all started.
“I bred two fillies, Coventina by High Chaparral and Kirkinini by Falkirk.
“Coventina showed a bit of promise whereas the other one, Kirkinini, I have just kept as a broodmare as she was a nice big mare.”
Coventina won three races up to 2100m before going to stud. Darling recognised the importance of loyalty and sent the mare to Mastercraftsman (IRE) and she produced a filly, Chapoutier, a winner of one race. She has since gone to stud and is in foal to Shamexpress thus carrying a three-quarter relation to Coventina Bay.
“I went and saw Shamexpress and he reminded me physically of Thorn Park(AUS). The way he won the Newmarket was a pretty good result, especially to win a Group One in Australia against their sprinters. Plus, he had the O’Reilly bloodline, so I thought he was worth having a crack at, he is still a relatively cheap stallion for what he’s doing.”
Covetina’s second foal is Coventina Bay, her third foal is Dozer Bay also by Shamexpress and she is a winner in Australia. Her third foal Winkle Bay (Rip Van Winkle (IRE), also leased to a syndicate and trained by Patterson, debuted at Otaki a week after the Gr.3 J Swap Sprint and ran on well for second.
Unfortunately, Covetina died foaling in 2018 and Darling also lost the filly foal by Rageese(AUS) she produced that year.
“Kirkinini has a bit more size and I kept her and bred from her,” Darling said. “She has a Proisir(AUS) colt who is three and has taken time to mature, a Puccini yearling filly, and a colt foal by Contributor(AUS). She is in foal to Rageese(AUS).
“I have stayed loyal I owe it all to Windsor Park, right back to when I originally became involved with racing horses. My racing interest morphed into a breeding interest and now I have quite a few young ones around me.”
Ninane, the mare that Windsor Park leased to Darling, was a winner at two and was second in the Listed CJC South Island 2YO Stakes. Her dam Nimue (Star Way[GB]-Eustaci) was the Champion 3YO filly of her year, winning the Group One 1000 Guineas and the Levin Classic and six other races. She in turn is a sister to stakes winners Smiling Like and Eurostar, and a three-quarter sister to the stakes winners Greenmailer and Lady Genesis who is the dam of the group winner Kapitain Kash and Dante’s Paradiso.
As well she is a half-sister to the Group One winner Sirstaci and the stakes performers Equuleus and Her Royal Highness and is the granddam of the stakes performers Deane Martin, Sarge In Charge and Lucky Feather. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA