Gordon Cunningham’s dedication to his horses have been rewarded this year, most notably in the past month by dual Group One winner Tofane (Ocean Park x Baggy Green).
The catch phrase of his Te Awamutu-based Curraghmore is ‘the proven source’ - an accurate description of the farm that was once again in the top ten vendors by aggregate at Karaka 2021 and that has produced a large number of winners this season in six different racing jurisdictions.
14 of those winners have Cunningham’s name listed in the breeder column.
As well as success on the track, Cunningham was presented with the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Associations’ Flying Geese Trophy in February, an accolade awarded to an Irish horseperson who has represented their home country on the world stage with distinction
“It has certainly been a very fulfilling year for our team and everyone associated with Curraghmore ,” Cunningham said. “Karaka went well for us despite the variables and concerns we had prior to the sale.
“It was a huge honour for me to be acknowledged by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association with the Flying Geese Award.
“Our horses have again performed really well on the track this season and for Tofane to join Khama Lass as our second Group One winner of the year was very special.
Homebred mare Tofane has been Cunningham’s headline act of the season, signaling she was returning to her best when runner up in the Gr.3 BRC Sprint (1350m) in May before recording back-to-back Group One victories in the Stradbroke (1400m) and Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) in June.
“I’m so pleased for Tofane and for her connections,” Cunningham said. “Having beaten so many top horses in the All Aged Stakes last year, its great that she‘s endorsed herself in an elite class by winning the Stradbroke and Tattersall’s Tiara also .
“I’m proud of all the good horses that we’ve been associated with at Curraghmore but she’s very special in that we we bred her ourselves. ”
Tofane’s black-type success is no anomaly, Curraghmore has been represented by an additional five individual stakes winners this season including Gr.1 NZ 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Kahma Lass who was sold through the farm’s 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 draft.
Cunningham’s breeding theory is not a complicated one - find a mare you believe in and send her the stallion you think will suit her.
“A mare should have enough good horses in her family, supported with her sire lines, to give you the belief she has the genuine potential to breed to the best of her family," he said.
This year Curraghmore will foal down around 45 mares and Cunningham is looking forward to welcoming the next generation to carry the Cm brand and watching them develop in the ideal New Zealand conditions.
“We’ve got some lovely mares due in the spring but like every farm our focus is just to have safe births for all our mares,” he said “We don’t go past that and we give them the best start to life possible”
“I honestly feel privileged that I can breed horses in New Zealand and every week I feel proud of the results our breeding industry achieves.
“It’s the quality of our land, our climate, our pastures and our people that enables New Zealand to produce so many top horses, year after year."
There is one race Cunningham has on his wish list that has eluded him thus far.
“I’d love to breed the winner of the New Zealand Derby,” he said. “That’s definitely a goal.”
With Curraghmore continuing to prove week in, week out that it is the source of quality horses, no doubt he has a pretty good chance of seeing a horse carrying his brand take out that New Zealand three-year-old classic.