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Entriviere rewards breeder with Group Two win

Entriviere winning the Gr.2 Sheraco Stakes.

Photo: bradleyphotos.com.au via NZ Racing Desk

Entriviere winning the Gr.2 Sheraco Stakes. - Photo: bradleyphotos.com.au via NZ Racing Desk

Breeding a stakes winner is nothing new to octogenarian Kevin Gray, but he does admit to being particularly thrilled and proud of the ATC Gr.2 Sheraco Stakes winner Entriviere (Tavistock- Marcey’s Belt).

In his long and colourful working life, which started at 16 when his only form of transport was a pushbike without a mudguard, Gray has been a drover, freezing worker, shepherd and stock agent.

As a youngster he rode in shows, went hunting and rode as an amateur but the call to the racing industry was always there.  He broke-in and pre-trained thoroughbreds and owned a Group One winner before he even trained his first winner.

That Group One winner was Copper Belt, a Gold Sovereign (GB) gelding who was one of the best gallopers in the 70’s and trained by the legendary Brian Deacon. Copper Belt’s 28 wins included the Topsy Stakes, Hawke's Bay Challenge Stakes, Stars Travel Stakes and Marlboro Mile (now Captain Cook Stakes), and it was after him that Gray named his training establishment when he set up as a racehorse trainer some 40 years ago.

From that time all the horses he and his wife Kathleen have bred or raced have carried the word Belt in their name.

Marcey’s Belt (Golan[IRE]-Stray), the dam of Entriviere is one such mare. Gray purchased her as a yearling in 2007 at the New Zealand Bloodstock Festival Sale for $35,000. She won three races for the Grays before joining their broodmare band.

By the time she went to stud she was a half-sister to stakes placed winner Pump It, and her dam Stray had become a half-sister to the Gr.1 W.S Cox Plate winner Maldivian. Soon after two more stakes winners were added to the pedigree with Stray leaving Adrift and Imperial Win.

A five-year-old mare by the ill-fated Tavistock, Entriviere has now won six races. Breaking her maiden as a four-year-old she progressed rapidly through the grades. Under the guidance of Te Akau Racing’s Jamie Richards, she ended her four-year-old year with five wins including the Gr.3 ARC Brighthill Farm Concorde Handicap, and the Gr.3 ARC Haunui Farm King’s Plate and a second in the Gr.2 ATC Sapphire Stakes. The Sheraco Stakes win was her first race as a five-year-old.

Entriviere is Marcey’s Belt’s sixth foal. She has had five foals to the races and four winners, including Satin Belt (by Power[GB]) a winner of three races and stakes placed in the Listed Castletown Stakes. Granite Belt a full brother to Entriviere has won five races and Welcome Back by Zed has won once.

Gray has a three-year-old filly and a yearling filly by Burgundy out of Marcey’s Belt and he has a high opinion of them both.

“I have given Gucci Belt (the three-year-old) plenty of time and she is ready to go to the races as soon as the tracks improve,” said Gray.

“And the yearling filly I am hoping to sell at Karaka this summer, I’m just waiting for the New Zealand Bloodstock boys to come and inspect her."

On the day Entriviere was taking out the Sheraco Stakes, Gray was trekking north to Cambridge Stud where Marcey’s Belt had a date with Hello Youmzain (FR). Also, resident at Cambridge Stud now is Satin Belt after they purchased her from the Grays.

“Hopefully I will breed another nice one,” said Gray who has had a long and successful association with Cambridge Stud.

“I suppose you gotta go to the good ones, but I have usually spent $30,000 all up on five or six mares not one mare!

“At my age I can easily go to the sales with $30,000 in my pocket and buy a colt that is ready to go, instead of waiting the three years it takes before you get the ones you breed to the races, but there is always a thrill and satisfaction in breeding them.”

The Grays have two other mares going to stud this season. Deedee’s Belt (Danasinga[AUS]-Minnie’s Belt) is also going to Cambridge Stud and will visit Embellish, while her half-sister Classic Belt, who is in foal to Embellish, will visit Staphanos (JPN).

Minnie’s Belt (Oregon[USA]-Lady Di) was the winner of six races including the Listed Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes twice, as well as being Group Three placed twice. She is a half-sister to Master Belt who Gray owned and trained to win the Gr.1 CJC 2000 Guineas.

“I am 84 and a bit long in the tooth to be breeding too many and I have enough young horses around me,” he mused.

“The add on costs that are creeping into the industry at the moment, are what annoys me, the added expenses. I like to send a mare to stud and know she can foal down there and be served there, not have to go through a secondary party for foaling down and walking in. I don’t want to risk my foals on and off floats more than necessary.”

However, the man who has trained over 1000 winners including the winners of the Australian Oaks, New Zealand Oaks, Kelt Stakes, Two Thousand Guineas, One Thousand Guineas, Levin Classic and Windsor Park Plate,  classy gallopers like Legs, Daffodil, Porotene Gem, Country Rose and Miss Jessie Jay, has no thoughts of slowing down and isn’t ready to give up training yet.

“I have 35 horses in work, and I enjoy it,” he said, “I’m at the stable at five in the morning and have eight or nine staff working for me.

“We have a private track on the farm of 140 acres, as well as the horses and cattle and sheep. What else would I do? I love fattening cattle, I have my ewes and lambs it keeps me fit and it keeps me well.” - Michelle Saba, NZTBA

Kevin Gray

Photo Credit: NZ Racing Desk

Kevin Gray - Photo Credit: NZ Racing Desk


 

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