Self-confessed pedigree enthusiast Kay Hood was delighted after homebred mare Monza Circuito (Showcasing – Monzahra) delivered a surprise victory in last Saturday’s Listed Timaru Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton.
The South Island breeder, who bred the seven-year-old mare under the Hedwood Thoroughbreds banner in partnership with her daughter Marie, said the Stephen Marsh-trained Monza Circuito had suffered some issues leading into the race and was full of praise for jockey Corey Campbell.
“She had run in the bog in December and got a foot abscess so had a few days off,” Hood explained. “Then the race after she tied up internally and her enzymes weren’t quite right.
“She came right and Stephen decided to give her the run as it would lead into the Group Three at Dunedin (This Saturday’s Gr.3 White Robe Lodge WFA, 1600m).
“The ride that Cory gave her was exceptional. He followed the instructions and was strong enough to hold her because when she gets out there, she has a mind of her own and is all business.”
The Hoods race Monza Circuito with an ownership group that includes Les Calder, Brian Ford and the 12 Monkeys Syndicate.
“Les and Brian sat down to have lunch with me one day at the races,” Hood said. “Brian hadn’t had a share in a horse before and they were interested.
“Richard, who manages the 12 Monkeys Syndicate, came out to fix our kitchen and left with a share in a horse which he still laughs about today.”
Based in West Melton, just outside Christchurch, Hedwood Thoroughbreds was established to cement the thoroughbred business developed by Hood and her daughter Marie and they got off to a winning start in 2005 with a horse bred out of Marie’s eventing mare Smokey Lady (All Glory x Blush).
“The girls were always horse mad and that was why we shifted out into the country 30 years ago.” Hood, an active member of the NZTBA’s Canterbury-Marlborough-Westland branch, said. “Marie’s first job was at Williams racing stables and then a job came up at Prebbleton Farm and Vets and then she went on to Wynyard Lodge Stud. That was the beginning of her involvement in breeding.
“The first horse we bred was Vapourizer which was out of Marie’s pony. He went on to win four races which was very exciting and that is how we got the bug.
“At the time I bred Afghan Hounds and Siamese and Oriental cats so pedigrees have always been in my life. I naturally gravitated to horses and got my pedigrees done by Clive Harper who tutored me in lots of aspects and invited me to join the Levin Breeders’ Forum.
“That was right up my alley and I have been a member for about 20 years, I absolutely adore pedigrees and I spend a lot of time with the programmes I have.”
In 2014 Hood travelled north to the New Zealand Bloodstock National, Weanling and Broodmare Sale and purchased Monzahra, dam of Monza Circuito, for just $1,500.
“I was attracted to her pedigree and her type,” Hood said. “I liked her dam line, two of our mares had been from that line and produced beautiful types of horses.
“Quite often we miss out on horses because too many other people want them but when Monzahra came along I think everyone had gone to lunch because we were some of the only ones in the bidding ring. I still can’t believe we got her for only $1,500.
“It was a dream come true for a small breeder like us to get a mare of that quality for that price.”
By Montjeu, Monzahra is out of two-time winning Zabeel mare Zahra who also produced dual Group Three winner Mr Ubiquitous (Tale of the Cat) and Orinda (O’Reilly), dam of Gr.1 Australian Derby winner Jon Snow (Iffraaj). It is also the family of former New Zealand Filly of the Year Solveig (Imposing x Soliloquy).
Monzahra produced four winners and was purchased in foal, carrying Monza Circuito who would prove to be her final foal.
“Sadly Monzahra died the following year,” Hood said. “We had bred her to Zacinto but she broke her hip in the paddock and after a fortnight of nursing we had to let her go.
“So we only got one foal out of her, Monza Circuito, and we were so pleased she was a mare because she was never going to be for sale, it was always our intention to keep her and race her.
“She has the most wonderful personality and is loved everywhere she goes.
“She has a great work ethic and doesn’t like being home spelling. When she is ready to go back to work she is prowling the fence line, not interacting with the other horses, just wanting to be out and doing something.”
As well as Monza Circuito chasing Group Three success on Saturday, there is plenty to look forward to for the Hedwood Thoroughbreds operation who are finding themselves retaining an increasing number of their stock, more by necessity rather than design.
“We just have a small band and we don’t breed them every year,” Hood said. “Sometimes we are forced to keep more than what we want as it is difficult in this market to get value for the horses. Now the South Island Sale has been canned we all have to take them to Karaka which isn’t always economical.
“One of our mares Edensong, who won six races, has an Alamosa that just went back into work yesterday. We also have Ruby Sunrise who is out of Eighteen Carat.
“The first foal out of Aide Memoire, who won the Captain Cook Stakes, is by Caravaggio and she won her first trial at Scone yesterday so that is exciting.”
Group One winner Aide Memoire was bred by Hedwood Thoroughbreds in partnership with Levin Breeders' Forum members Iain Gunn and Alan Groves, the latter sharing in the syndicate that raced her.
The future of Hedwood Thoroughbreds looks in safe hands and could well become a third generation operation with Marie’s six-year-old daughter showing a keen interest.
“Marie foals down the mares and I get up in the night too,” Hood said. “Marie’s daughter Georgia is right there too wanting to know what the sex of the foal is right away and is very interested in it all.
“She very much wants to be a part of it and gives them all names like Raspberry Sunshine which is a bit disconcerting when they go off to be broken in with these fanciful names. With the last two the breakers ended up calling them Johnno and Ben.” – Amie Best, NZTBA