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Caellum returns to New Zealand and sprints ahead

Caellum (Trudy Thornton) scored his second win in two starts since returning from Australia in the Counties Bowl - Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell
Caellum (Trudy Thornton) scored his second win in two starts since returning from Australia in the Counties Bowl

Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell

The recent listed Counties Bowl winner Caellum (Fast'N'Famous[AUS]- Cheetie), could well be the sprinting find of the season.

A week before his impressive Bowl win, he dished out a galloping lesson to a handy field of rating 85 sprinters at Tauranga at his first start in New Zealand for three years.

"The Bowl win was stunning really, amazing, you go out with the hope of winning, but more often than not it doesn't happen," said Tony Smith, who bred the horse with his wife Corrine.

Calleum started his racing career in New Zealand from the stable of Nick Bishara, who also has a share in the horse, and after a couple of placings he was placed in the care of Brian Smith at Eagle Farm. He won five races in Queensland and just under $200,000.

"His form in Australia tapered off so we decided to bring him home and see if he was finished, and obviously he wasn't. His last two wins have been a bit of a revelation really. After his win at Tauranga we threw in a nomination for the Railway, and he will run in the Newmarket before that. That was a dream and now after the win in the Bowl that group one dream is a little bit closer".

"I don't know if it was the spring grass, the change of environment being in a paddock instead of a box at Eagle Farm, or the fantastic work by equine physio Claire McGowan, but he is certainly a rejuvenated horse. He wasn't a happy horse when he came home."

Smith and his wife Corinne have had a lifelong love of horses, and after they started racing one or two it was really only a matter of time before they got into breeding. They own a 52 acre block in Hunua in South Auckland, where they graze a few horses and run cattle.

In the late 90's Corinne worked for Takanini trainer Ray Bishara, who along with his wife Colleen bred Loader (Pre Catalan[AUS]- Rhapsody Rose), the winner of 13 races including the group one Railway and Telegraph Handicaps, his half-brother Native Chief was also a stakes winner of 13 races. She worked there for seven years before briefly holding her own trainers licence. So the relationship with the Bishara family goes back a long way.

"We maintained a friendship with Nick after Ray passed away and I am surprised he doesn't get more horses. He certainly has the passion and the ability and he struggles with cheap horses but gets the results. He is a shareholder in Caellum and Nighean," added Smith.

Nighean is a five-year-old half-sister to Caellum, who has won two races, she is Cheetie's fifth foal. Her fourth foal Caileag (Danroad [AUS]), won a race by eight lengths but bled, and is now a resident on the Smith Farm.

Caellum is the third foal from the mare and her first foal Redding Hill (Ekraar [USA]) was also a winner. Cheetie (Felix The Cat[USA]- Pleasant Outlook) their dam has had five to the races for four winners, and her three-year-old by Showcasing – Popovich has been placed in a barrier trial at Cranbourne.

She also has a two-year-old filly by Showcasing that has had a couple of preparations, but will be given time to mature.

"Cheetie missed last year, and this year we were in two minds about breeding her again so we left her empty, she is in the paddock here at home, but will definitely go to stud again next year. It wasn't the smartest decision we have made".

"She was the first stakes winner we bred, we bought her mother as an unnamed Sackford (USA) mare for $1100. We bred a few foals, the first one by Conquistarose (USA) won, and then Ray Bishara suggested we send her to Felix The Cat. He thought it would be a great mating. Unfortunately he died just a few days after she won her first race. He was an integral part of her being and picked she would be a good race mare. She won at two, three, four and five years, winning five races including the listed Wanganui Waikato Stud Stakes."

As far as Caellum's mating goes that was a different story. The Smiths were in a breeding partnership with Delph Common's Sandra Townsend and Brian Collins in a mare called Cabella (Senor Pete [USA]-Miss Fiesta) who won seven races and was second in the New Zealand Cup.

"Cabella was going to O'Reilly, so I thought we may as well take them both to Waikato Stud and chose Fast'N'Famous as it was his first season. I am quite keen on first season sires. Cheetie's first foal, Redding Hill was by Ekraar (USA) when he stood his first season".

"We kept that O'Reilly foal out of Cabella, her name is Saphira and she has just produced an Ego filly. Caellum was the last colt we bred so you can see why we were reluctant to send Cheetie back to the stallion".

"You get the bug you go through phases and ask yourself why are we doing this then you get a winner and you don't get many highs higher than winning a black type race, especially against a couple of the best sprinters around. The last 150 metres of the Bowl he showed he can foot it with anyone".

"It's good for the battling breeder, it keeps us going," he stated, "but it's been a long time between drinks."

- Michelle Saba


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