Dream day at the races for breeder Tim Harrison

NZTBA Auckland branch stalwart Tim Harrison is no stranger to breeding stakes winners, but the win by Alamer (Alamosa-Clerio[GB]) in the listed Trevor Eagle Memorial at Ellerslie was very special as it was the first stakes winner that he has raced.

Just to make the day at Ellerslie even more special was the fact that Harrison also bred and raced the winner of the first race Castle Bee (Castledale [IRE]- Might Be), and the third place getter in the last race Prince of Passion (Castledale[IRE]-Hidden Passion[AUS]).

"I didn't drive home," stressed Harrison who lives in the nearby suburb of Remuera, "even if I hadn't been drinking I was so high on adrenalin after a day like that that I couldn't have driven!"

"It all started about two days before the races, when the rain was forecast I knew that Castle Bee would appreciate it, and I felt Alamer would handle it, but wasn't sure about Prince of Passion. Don Bishop my old mate from university, who lives in Thailand, has shares in both Castle Bee and Prince of Passion and he was skyping me continuously right through until after the races on Saturday."

Harrison has been breeding horses for over thirty years and a couple of years ago when the market for fillies capitulated, he decided not to offer his fillies for sale any more but to race them instead. Alamer and Castle Bee are among those fillies, Prince of Passion is another story altogether.

"I decided to keep the fillies instead of trying to sell them at the sales, with the thought of perhaps cutting back on the mares but that hasn't happened, said Harrison.

"So I decided to get them broken in and try and lease them out. I put an ad in 'The Informant' for two fillies to lease, and Sheryl Lang who had seen Alamer at the Beatsons while she was being broken in, contacted me and Roger Lang (Alamer's trainer) had leased her before the ad had even come out.

"She won a trial at two and had one start for a second, before turning three. She ran a couple of nice races before breaking maidens at Waipa in early October, then went straight into the Soliloquy Stakes where she got bowled at the start by Untamed Diamond, and then hampered again in the straight by that horse when it was tiring and she was getting balanced for a run home.

"She got crowded again in a three-year-old event at Tauranga at her next start as well. We decided that in the Trevor Eagle Memorial we would try and get to the lead and keep of trouble. She is a gutsy filly so we thought we had a chance if she got in front and so it proved."

Alamer is the 12 th foal of the Soviet Star(GB) mare Clerio(GB), a group three winner in England. She is her 10th winner, and the fifth bred by Harrison who has a penchant for buying older mares, and purchased the 14-year-old mare in 2007 from the Sydney sale for $35,000.

"She was in foal to Sharmadal(USA), back then he had done nothing and the resulting yearling didn't get a bid at the yearling sales, but by the time the Ready To Run had come around they were firing and the colt sold for $110,000. Named Able Charm he won two races here before going to Hong Kong, where he injured a knee.

"Danerio the next foal, (Danasinga[AUS]) won, the next foal by Keeper (AUS) did nothing, and then the next was an O'Reilly filly who sold to Roger James for $75,000 and has had five starts for a win and two placings."

Clerio has a Tavistock yearling colt in the Select Sale this summer in the Te Runga Farm draft, and is in foal to Roc da Cambes, so is carrying a three-quarter relation to stake placed Our Rokkii who is out of the unraced Clerihew.

Clerio's dam Lady of the Sea by Mill Reef (GB), won one race and left a stakes winner in Bahr (Generous[GB]) who in turn left two stakes winners. She is also the grandam of a stakes winner in Queensland named Noogoora Blue. She is a half-sister to Cirpriani a stakes winner in Ireland and they are both out of the champion New Zealand mare La Mer (Copenhagen II[GB]-La Balsa).

Castle Bee a four-year-old mare has now won three races, and scored easily in the 2100 Dunstan Feeds Championship Qualifier. She is trained by the Baker Forsman team at Cambridge.

"I bought Castle Bee's dam Might Be (Zabeel – Taoanganui) from Rolly Rolston, a client of Colin Jillings as a racehorse. She was a half sister to the good winter galloper Tangarakau. She was placed and I sent her to Australia where she won three races before she broke down. So I put her in foal to Encosta de Lago(AUS) and brought her home. That foal sold for $200,000 and as Dandenong won two races in Australia.

"She left a few more winners but when this filly was born Wayne Larsen who looks after all my horses on his Te Runga Farm at Patumahoe, said you have to keep this one. When Don Bishop came back one New Year he said he wanted to get back into horses, so I sold him a share in her. We race her with my good friend Cathy Young, and her good friends Carol and Gavin Faull.

"Don is also in Prince of Passion, I bought his dam from Australia as well, and she was in foal to Lion Heart (USA), that foal was Marmi who is a stakes placed winner. I sold a Tavistock colt out of her at Karaka last summer for $40,000 to a good judge in Paul Willetts. I had a lovely Reliable Man (GB) filly but she electrocuted herself in the paddock and the mare hasn't got back in foal yet.

"I couldn't sell Prince of Passion so I gave him to Jon Millar to rear. He won a trial and then failed the vet, so I gave him half the horse and Don and I took up the rest. Then he broke a cannon bone which they had to put three screws in, and now we are racing him. He has won two races and has only been unplaced twice in nine starts."

Harrison became interested in horses thanks to an uncle who was a big client of the late Bill Sanders.

"He had a good horse called Ironbark who won the Te Awamutu Cup, and my brother and I had a bet on it and we were hooked. I owned my first horse in the 70's when I was still at university, and it took a while before I got a good one. Ntamack (French Park [Gb]- Noble and True) was probably the best horse I have raced, he won seven races and was third in a Counties Cup, and latterly Britt Ekland (Elvestreom[AUS]- Sidestar) has won five.

"I started out buying stallion shares in the late 70's and bought my first mare in the mid 80's. I believe that there is still money to be made in stallion shares, if you buy the shares at the right time. Buying them at syndication is a gamble, but buying them when they have horses running is a better bet.

"What happens is buyers go off stallions, but they don't actually read the horses' statistics they read the promotional material and they end up missing out. Last year, Jimmy Choux's yearlings sold for twice as much as Pentire's. Everyone punts on first season sires because everyone has sent their best mares there, and the quality of the second year drops, and the third, and all of a sudden no one wants them, unless they have left a stand out champion or two. Even O'Reilly and Savabeel(AUS) had quiet years in the past.

"I recently bought a share in Alamosa for $10,000, I knew that Stolen Dance would easily win a stakes race – which she did in the group three Eagle Technology Stakes the same day as Alamer won, it's looking like not a bad deal.

"He is underrated in my view. He got a group one winner in his first crop, he gets winners every week, and has done it all from the Manawatu. I have shares in Tavistock, Alamosa, Shocking(AUS), Prosir(AUS), Showcasing(GB) Reliable Man(GB), Bachelor Duke (USA), and Castledale.

"I have around 15 mares, and have eight foals this season, and 10, maybe 12 mares in foal.

"Out of this crop of three-year-olds, I have bred Cylinder Beach (Showcasing[GB]-Queens Colours[GB]) who was third in a group two and fourth in a group one at two, and Alamer. Both are out of older mares Queens Colours is 17, Clerio is 22.

"The fillies have been bred by Wayne Larsen, foaled, weaned and handled by him before they head off to the breakers, and then sent to good trainers. They have all been looked after and if you take your time with horses you will get there. I owe a lot to Wayne and Ali Larsen I couldn't do this without them, and a successful business. "

Harrison believes that buying older mares is a good way to get into the broodmare market and that there are some good opportunities there. He believes you can buy older mares if they are well bred and have three or four foals and if you bred them well there is a fair chance that in the future they will come up with a good one.

It's a theory that has worked for him in the past. He bred Gordons (by Kaapstad) from Dash (Sovereign Efition[GB]-Tang) when she was 14, Rodrigo Rose ( by Rodrigo de Triano) from Rosebrook(AUS) (Vain[AUS]-Loani[AUS]) when she was 18,and Lonestar Lady (Deputy Governor[USA]-My Good Omen[AUS]) was out of a 13 year-old mare.

- Michelle Saba


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