A prophecy made by Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers three years ago came to fruition last weekend when Mondorani (Burgundy – Del Mondo [USA]) won the Gr.3 New Zealand Cup (3200m).
When the horse first arrived in his stable as a four-year-old Myers told his breeder John Murdoch that he thought the horse was a bit weak but in time he would win a New Zealand Cup with him.
Murdoch who bred and races the horse with his wife Karlene had been patient with Mondorani until he went to Myers and was happy to leave the campaign planning and training to him.
Thirty-two starts later the son of Burgundy outstayed his rivals and came with a late run to win that New Zealand Cup.
Along the way he recorded three wins and 18 placings including the start before the Cup where he ran a slashing race in the Listed Metropolitan Handicap (2500m).
“We couldn’t believe our luck,” said a jubilant Murdoch.
“It’s very exciting, the phone has been going mad for the last couple of days. It was a pretty eventful day, we had been to a memorial service for my old friend Waka Nathan with his family and we came home and caught the race, we didn’t even have time to record it.
“We knew he was fit after the Metropolitan but it was pretty unbelievable.”
Murdoch, a member of the Auckland Branch of the NZTBA, owns five mares and their various off-spring and keeps them at Ardmore Lodge on the outskirts of Papakura. It is a property he part owns with his brother-in-law Jamie Graham, which features the training centre where Verry Elleegant began her career.
In 2008 he enlisted the help of astute bloodstock agent Robt Dawe to source a couple broodmares to run at Ardmore Lodge.
“In those days Robt Dawe used to make frequent trips to Kentucky to buy mares,” he recalled.
“I bought two mares, Wildcat Woman (USA) (Forest Wildcat [USA]-Arborea [AUS]) who was unraced and Royale Wannabe (IRE) (Sadler’s Wells [IRE] – Fantasy Royale [USA]) who was a stakes placed winner.
“They both had filly foals at foot, Del Mondo (USA) (More Than Ready [USA]-Wildcat Women) and Wannabe Queen (USA) (Bernstein [USA]-Royale Wannabe) and I raced them both.
“Wildcat Woman was a family that Robt picked out for me. The grandam Arborea was a VRC Oaks winner and a number of stakes winners have since descended from that mare.”
Mondorani is the first foal out of Del Mondo and is by the ill-fated Burgundy who caught the eye of Murdoch when he was racing.
“I saw Burgundy at a race meeting” he said. “He was a lovely looking horse, I liked his breeding. He was by Redoute’s Choice (AUS) out of Grand Echezeaux, he was a lovely looking animal and really struck me in the birdcage.”
He followed that mating with two visits to Super Easy, before deciding to sell the mare.
“About four years ago I sold Del Mondo on Gavelhouse.com for not a lot of money,” he said.
“I thought at the time that I shouldn’t have done that, however as it turned out I have got her back. I sold her to Trish Aird and Murray Beange, and we kept in touch, in fact they rang on Saturday to congratulate us.
“They foaled down a Sweynesse (AUS) colt known as King Mondo who was placed last Thursday at Pukekohe. Then they had a friend with a share in Tarzino so they sent the mare there twice. Following that Trish rang me up and said they didn’t want to carry on and did I want her back, so I jumped at it.
“She’s back now and I’m breeding from her again, she is under service to Sweynesse (AUS). Now Del Mondo has left a black type winner it will be interesting to see what happens, it’s all very well racing them but you have to sell a few along the way to get through.”
Murdoch’s comment about Del Mondo’s grandam Arborea is quite right. Her eight wins include the Gr.1 VRC Oaks, the Gr.1 VATC One Thousand Guineas, the Gr.2 VRC Wakeful Stakes, the Gr.2 STC Phar Lap Stakes and the Gr.3 BTC Chairman’s Handicap. At stud she produced 14 foals, 11 to race and eight winners including Delta Foam a winner of eight races including a group two in the States and a group three in South Africa.
Her daughters have left stakes winners in Australia, South Africa and Peru.
An octogenarian, Murdoch was a bit of a late starter in the thoroughbred game. He grew up in Mangere Bridge where his father trained trotters and was adept at driving trotters on the track on their property. But they just went around and around, and he became with bored with that life and moved into the building industry where he forged a successful career in property development. For a number of years his company Murdoch Newell was a sponsor at the Counties Racing Club.
It wasn’t until he married Karlene, whose sister Lindsay is married to Jamie Graham who had been a jumps jockey and at that time was a trainer, that he became interested in thoroughbreds.
“We had jumpers as an interest,” he said.
“About the time Takanini was closing, together we bought the 60 acres at Ardmore and developed Ardmore Lodge. It’s nice to have the property to be able to go down and give them a carrot or an apple. Lindsay looks after the mares and young ones and does a great job with them.”
If the mares and youngsters are not at Ardmore Lodge then they are usually at Hallmark Stud, which is where Mondorani was raised under the guidance of Mark and Denny Baker. That association with Hallmark also goes back to the Mangere Bridge days and to Waka Nathan’s family.
“Where I grew up in Mangere Bridge, my Dad was a great mate of Pat Nathan – Waka’s dad, and we were all great friends,” he recalled.
“We both played rugby at Otahuhu, along with my brother Peter who was also an All Black, that’s when I first met Denny back in the sixties. Every year we used to go down to Denny’s property in Te Kauwhata in the duck shooting season, so we go back a long way. That was at Hallmark’s original property on the other side of the road.” -Michelle Saba, NZTBA