Drinks were flowing at Epona Park on Saturday night, the boutique 40-acre property owned by Cambridge couple Tony Forlong and Jennifer Jones after they cheered home emerging star I’m Thunderstruck in the Gr.1 Toorak Handicap (1600m).
The pair bred and initially raced the son of Shocking, who became the second individual Group One winner for the Rich Hill Stud stallion and his 15th stakes winner to date.
A chartered accountant originally based in Auckland, Forlong’s passion for racing and breeding stems from doing stud accountancy work, a niche field few are trained in.
“I was living in Kumeu and it was pretty extensively standardbreds but I got involved with Brian and Val Langsford, who were out there at the time, and really grew a love for racing,” Forlong said.
“I met my wife Jenny who was involved in equestrian sports and she suffered a pretty serious injury and she couldn’t ride any more.
“We decided one day that we would have a bit of fun and buy a foal and we rang Danny Rolston who is a friend of ours and he bought us Primadonna Girl.”
Bloodstock Sales Manager for New Zealand Bloodstock, Rolston sourced the daughter of Edenwold for just $2400, and whilst not initially a racing success, it is in a breeding capacity that Primadonna Girl has excelled.
“We raced her, but she got injured so we decided to breed from her,” Forlong said.
“Her first foal was Cantstopthefeeling, by Swiss Ace, who was a winner and finished runner up in the Auckland Guineas (Gr.2, 1600m) and was sold to Hong Kong, where he has won.
“Jenny wanted to breed the mare to Shocking because she liked the fact that Shocking won a Melbourne Cup sitting three-wide throughout. She thought any horse that can do that must be extremely tough.
“We didn’t think we’d get a good price for I’m Thunderstruck as a yearling, so we thought let’s race him and see what happens.”
Sent to Matamata horseman Daniel Miller and named Thunderstruck by AC/DC fan Forlong, the son of Shocking impressed when winning a trial at Te Aroha by three lengths in July of last year, despite racing greenly over the concluding stages.
Bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo identified the talent and recommended the horse to long-time client OTI Racing.
“He put in a really good run at Te Aroha at the trials and we got an offer for him and we are sellers. He has gone from strength to strength since joining Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr,” Forlong said.
“Of course, in hindsight now, we would love to have kept a share, but we love breeding and he enabled us to buy our property in Cambridge, which is a 40-acre block called Epona Park.”
Primadonna Girl also has a two-year-old full brother to I’m Thunderstruck by Shocking and a yearling colt by Charm Spirit, with the mare proving to be a boon for the small breeders.
“The two-year-old was sold to OTI as well and has just started training at Caulfield for the Price-Kent stable and they like him a lot,” Forlong said.
“He is similar to I’m Thunderstruck but a bit more scopey, he has more length to him.
“They also bought the Charm Spirit colt at the same time.
“We are really happy dealing with OTI and find them to be really ethical owners who do a good job and that’s what we’re about as well. We love our horses and want to see them in good places.”
With I’m Thunderstruck landing a Group One success at just his eighth start, just weeks after a luckless run when third in the Gr.1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m), the five time winner has plenty of wins in store and will target the A$7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m) at his next start.
“He should have won a Group One last start, but we were just so ecstatic with the win and so proud of both the horse and our mare as well.
“She has produced a lovely family for us and her first four foals have far exceeded expectations.
“She is a lovely mare, she is beautiful and is affectionately known as Sally. She is in foal to Ocean Park and is due in a couple of weeks. We are really hoping for a filly.”
With Primadonna Girl known for exceeding the usual gestation period by four to six weeks each pregnancy, she will not be mated this season.
With a broodmare band of six, which includes young Zabeel mare Shimmy, the dam of Gr.1 VRC Derby (2500m) hopeful Samarkand, Forlong and Jones have more to look forward to this spring.
“She has just gone to Proisir. She unfortunately lost her foal last year and we have just bought another Zabeel mare, Eden Valley, who is from a strong Trelawney Stud family, so there are a few paddock mates for Sally,” Forlong said. – NZ Racing Desk