It’s been a pretty exciting month for Hunterville-based breeder Christopher Grace QSM, breeder of the Gr.2 Avondale Cup (2400m) winner Hinepara (Darci Brahma-Harinui).
“It’s pretty handy getting four wins, one of them a Group Two win, to update the pedigree page a week or two before the sales series start,” enthused Grace when discussing the win of Hinepara.
“I have two Almanzor yearlings to sell at Melbourne next week and two colts to sell at Karaka a week later all from this family.”
In Melbourne, on behalf of Grace and his wife Susannah, Bhima Thoroughbreds will sell an Almanzor colt out Tenacity (Zabeel – Taitanium) a winner of five races and dam of the stakes placed winner Motivation, and an Almanzor filly out of Waikaha (Towkay [AUS]-Harinui) a stakes placed winning half-sister to Hinepara.
Shortly after at Karaka Little Avondale will sell a Savabeel (AUS) colt out of Lottery (Carnegie [IRE] -Titania), which is a half-brother to the stakes placed winner Sweepstake, and an Ocean Park colt out of the stakes winning mare Hinemoa (Elusive City [USA] - Titania), thus a half-brother to the Listed Rangitikei Gold Cup winner Hinerangi (by Fastnet Rock [AUS]).
Grace’s recent run of luck commenced mid-January at the start of the Wellington Cup Carnival, where on the first day Hinepara recorded her fifth career win, and her younger half-brother Rangitata (by Savabeel [AUS]) finished fourth in another event. On the final day Rangitata won over 2100m with Hinepara just over half a length back in third place.
Fast forward a month and Hinepara, carrying a lightweight of 52kgs, stormed home late to take out the Gr.2 Avondale Cup and the following day Rangitata took out the Wairoa Cup with another close relation Motivation (Mastercraftsman [IRE]-Tenacity) just being nosed out of second on the line to finish third.
“It’s so satisfying to see this family going on,” Grace said. “On the first day of the Wellington Carnival there were six ‘cousins’ going around and I was involved in racing four of them.”
“I am lucky enough to still own Hinepara, she is raced on lease, so she will return to the broodmare band here when she finishes racing.”
Grace said it is a family he has developed over 50 years and it has produced at least 10 stakes winners and a further 10 stakes placed performers.
The journey began with a mare called Clearness (AUS) (Without Fear [FR]- Clearway). She was a three-quarter sister to the first horse that Grace owned named Hakawai (Le Filou [FR]-Te Awa), who won the 1964 Wakefield Challenge Stakes. At that time Grace was a young man from a Hunterville farming family steeped in racing history, who probably should have been heading off on an OE but decided to get involved with thoroughbreds instead.
Unfortunately, Hakawai died at four and Grace set about buying a replacement and sourced Clearness from Colin Hayes in Australia, she is the sixth dam of Hinepara.
Hinepara is the fifth foal from the placed Generous (GB) mare Harinui who has also left the stakes placed winner Waikaha (by Towkay) and her brother Tainui (2 wins) as well as Hinepara and Rangitata.
The second dam Waikawa (by Dance Floor [USA]) was unraced and only left three foals, Harinui, the stakes winner in Singapore Ace Aliado (by Towkay [AUS]) and Matawai a winner of two races.
The third dam Arahina (by Truly Vain [AUS]) was also unraced and left three winners from her six foals. While the fourth dam Hinekaha (by Otehi Bay) was a winner who ran fourth in the Gr.3 HBJC Gold Trail Stakes, she left 6 winners and was the grandam of the stakes placed mare Waiana Gold (Gold Centre).
The fifth dam is Hinewai (by Zamazaan [FR]) a winner and dam of six winners including Morar (Otehi Bay [AUS]) a winner of eight races including the Gr.1 WRC Telegraph Handicap, Gr.2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes, Gr.3 HBJC Gold Trail Stakes and Gr.3 Masterton RC Lowland Stakes. She is also the dam of Pinprick (by Pins [AUS]) a stakes winner of seven races and Kamahi (by Grosvenor) who in turn produced the Gr.3 Manawatu Cup winner Tullaroan (by Generous [GB]) and the stakes placed winner Primavera (Volksraad [IRE]).
Clearness had four other named foals who all won, including Out Clear (In The Purple [FR]) the dam of O'Malley's Boy (by Dance Floor [USA]) the winner of 11 races the best being the Gr.2 Avondale JC Concorde Handicap, and two other winners including stakes placed Taitanium the dam of the Group Two Wellington Cup winner Graphic.
Grace currently has eight mares in his broodmare band from this family who are currently in foal.
Not all of the host of stakes winners that Grace has bred over the past five decades have come from this family and the broodmare band has expanded over the years and now numbers around 16. It also includes the dual Group One winner Shillelagh (Savabeel [AUS] – Trocair [AUS]) and three other members of her family.
Trocair (AUS) (Flying Spur [AUS] -French Tide [CAN]), a winner of two races, was added to Grace’s broodmare band about 17 years ago. Her first mating was to Savabeel who Grace is lucky enough to have a share in and he maintains has been a big part of his success as a breeder. He now has a number of Savabeel mares and the two fillies by that sire that were born this season will not be going to the sales.
To Savabeel, Trocair produced the Gr.2 Brisbane Cup Tullamore, before visiting him five more times after that and producing a further four winners including Shillelagh whose wins include the VRC Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes and Cantala Stakes, the Listed winner Grazia and Irish Dream. She also left Shenanigans a stakes-placed winner by Ocean Park.
Irish Dream has a US Navy Flag (USA) colt in Little Avondale’s Book Two draft at Karaka next month, and along with another Grace youngster a Time Test (GB) colt out of the Faltaat (USA) mare Endeavour.
Although the Grace yearlings are presented in various drafts, all the preparation and early work is done on their own Surrey Farm property adjacent to the old Bulls racecourse, under the watchful eye of David and Kyla McKinnon.
“We were very lucky,” emphasised Grace. “David worked at Waikato Stud for a number of years but wanted to return to the Rangitikei so we snapped them up.
“They enjoy all parts of the equine business and our farm caters for everything, from yearling preps,
breaking in, pre-training, and spelling. We have around 40 horses of all ages there at any one time.”
Other stakes winners bred in recent years by Grace include Burgundy’s first stakes winner Hard Merchandize (ex Pride and Passion [AUS]) and that sire’s best performer to date Brandenburg (ex Wasesingyee) and his half-sister Luvaluva (by Mastercraftsman [IRE]), along with Gr.3 Taranaki Cup winner Beefeater (Alamosa - Karaka). He also received a nomination for Breeder of The Year in 2018, while in 2014 he was awarded the Queens Service Medal for his services to the racing industry and the Hunterville community.
Although now an octogenarian Grace continues to farm in Hunterville, raising beef and cattle and growing grain. When asked about the secret to his success as breeder, Grace was quick to laugh, and added that he didn’t know about success, but knew it was the fastest way of getting rid of his children’s inheritance. – Michelle Saba, NZTBA