Dream Queen’s (Super Easy - Hampton’s Gold) win in Saturday’s Listed William Crockett Stakes (1200m) was celebrated by Hallmark Stud who had been nurturing her family for three generations.
“That’s what we strive for, winning a stakes race on a big day like Cox Plate day,” enthused a very humble Denny Baker of Hallmark Stud.
“We are very proud. It’s a great family with a long history on our farm going way back three generations to Estella Dawn, the mother of Miss Distinction who has gone on to be the dam of a Group One winner and grandam of two champion fillies.”
It is a family that Baker has so much affection for that he bought back Hampton’s Gold from a dispersal sale in Tasmania to add to his broodmare band.
According to Baker, Estella Dawn was originally owned by his neighbour and good friend Lance Wallace.
“She was a bit bloody excitable and one day Lance came over and asked me to take her,” recalled the astute horseman, well known for helping out and teaching fellow breeders.
“I told him I don’t want it - I am sick of other peoples’ rubbish! Anyway, we kept yarning and eventually went inside for a bit of lunch, then I asked him what is this horse you are trying to unload on me anyway?
“He showed me the pedigree and I said I know this family. It was owned by my old boss John Malcolm. (Baker had originally worked for John Malcolm at Kinross Stud, where Hallmark Stud is now located).
“The mare Estella Dawn was by Hasty Cloud out of a mare called Nam Sang and was a full-sister to Rising Damp, a top handicapper who had won 10 races.
“It was also the family of the Cox Plate winner Sir Dane (Summertime [GB] - Carsa) and traced back to a mare called Peeble II (GB) (Rock Flint [USA] - Petual [GB]) who was imported in the 1920’s.
“She could be naughty and a bit of a challenge but I believe that there has never been a horse born bad or mad, though some are predisposed to going that way if not handled well.
“So, I told him we’ll have a go and that is how Estella Dawn came to the farm.”
Before coming to Bakers she had produced four fillies including the unraced Mia Malagra (by Vaguely Tender [USA]), dam of Hampton’s Choice whose eight wins included a victory in the Listed Kiwifruit Cup (2170m).
Her first mating at Hallmark Stud was to Bletchingly (AUS) stallion Lord Ballina (AUS) and this mating produced Breaker Dawn, the unraced dam of four winners including the stakes placed Orakei Korako (by Any Suggestion [AUS]), Wazuzu (by Le Bec Fin) and Hampton’s Gold, the dam of Drama Queen.
Hampton’s Gold was purchased by Ace Shaw of Acelands Stud in Tasmania as a yearling. Baker bought her at a dispersal sale with a Husson (AUS) colt at foot who unfortunately died.
Her first live foal in New Zealand was Tumbleweed, also by Hallmark Stud’s resident sire Super Easy – a well-bred son of Darci Brahma and the blue hen mare Parfore.
From a limited number of mares, Super Easy has left seven stakes winners and 148 winners. His stakes winners include the leading two-year-old filly from last season Bonnie Lass, Super Strike, Easy Eddie and Prom Queen.
Dream Queen was Hampton’s Gold’s next foal.
“That year we decided to sell all our weanling fillies on gavelhouse, with a reserve of $1000,” said Baker. “Kenny Rae bought her for $1500 for Sue Martin and Kenny did a great job with her.”
Rae, who had a lot of success with nine-time winner Prom Queen (Super Easy – Finishing School), is a fan of the sire and a bargain.
Drama Queen raced four times as a two-year-old under his care including a debut win in early January before running second later in the month. Put aside she resumed in July with a second at Ruakaka and two weeks later won on that same track, after which she was sold to clients of Ben and JD Hayes. The win in the William Crockett Stakes came at her second start in Victoria.
Subsequently Hampton’s Gold has produced a colt by Derryn (AUS) which sold at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Weanling Sale last May for $20,000. She missed to Telperion (AUS) last season and will visit Hello Youmzain (FR) this season.
Returning to Estella Dawn, her next mating was the one that ensured the family’s position in Hallmark folklore.
"We bred her to Bletchencore (AUS), and she produced Miss Distinction,” he recalled.
“She was a little bit offset and we knew we would get hammered at the sales, but we both liked her as she was a deep girthed filly, so we decided to keep her.
"Eventually we leased her to Trevor Hurley and Kieran McCarthy to race, she won a race for them and they sent her back. Lance by this stage had just bought another dairy farm and wanted to give her away. He suggested giving her back to Trevor but on the condition that she only go to Hallmark stallions, unless we agreed otherwise and that is how the partnership and the family has developed.
"Miss Distinction went to Spectacularphantom (USA) and produced Miss Jessie Jay. We took her to the sales and couldn't sell her either. So, home she came and fortunately Trevor gave me the time to break her in and get her going along. She was a highly strung type of filly as well, but nursed along she was fine, and it paid off. Miss Jessie Jay won nine races including the Group Three Fayette Park Stakes and the Levin Classic.
"Her second foal was Miss Katella (The Commander) she didn't sell either and was a bit hot to handle, she came back here and I worked on her and she went on to win a race.
"When the two fillies – Miss Jessie Jay and Miss Kattella - that Trevor bred retired from racing they came back here for us to look after and we continued with the partnership arrangement whereby they went to Hallmark stallions. If they came right or the family took off that we still had a share with him and Trevor has been as good as his word."
The family certainly did come right. Miss Jessie Jay was the Champion Broodmare in the 2009-10 season, being the dam of the Group One winning champion fillies Katie Lee (by Pins [AUS]) and Banchee (by Oratorio [IRE]).
Miss Katella produced the Group One placed stakes winner San Bernadino (by Gold Mine [USA]) who won four races including the Gr.3 Stewards Handicap and Listed Welcome Stakes. He was also third in the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes.
More recently Miss Krisdel (by Spectatorial [AUS]) has left Qiji Express (by Shamexpress) a winner of three races including the Listed Mufhasa Stakes.
Keiran McCarthy, Miss Distinction's other racing partner, also bred from the mare. In 1999 he sent her to Jahafil (GB), and she produced a filly. As Gee I Jane she became a multiple Group One winner, winning six races including the Telegraph and the BTC Cup.
Baker may be 80 years old but he reckons he can still do what he loves to do and that is breed a good horse. He has faith there are more Group One winners to come to add to the Roll of Honour at Hallmark Stud and join the likes of those already mentioned plus Diamond Lover, Lycra and Carson’s Cash.
Don’t be surprised if that next Group One winner comes from this fabulous family. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA