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Tavy wins the Trevor Eagle Memorial

Tavy wins the Trevor Eagle Memorial. - Picture by Trish Dunell
Tavy wins the Trevor Eagle Memorial.

Picture by Trish Dunell

There is something special about Tavy (Tavistock-The Cat's Whiskers), the recent winner of the listed Trevor Eagle Memorial, in more ways than one.

Tavy was bred by Henriette the Dowager Duchess of Bedford and is raced by her in partnership with former NZTBA councillor Peter Hutt and Filiberto Rayon-Villela. She also bred her sire Tavistock which was named after her late husband Robin.

"She is a very special filly to me and it's so exciting to see her doing so well and nominated for the Derby," stated a very delighted Henriette the Dowager Duchess of Bedford.

"Her mother The Cat's Whiskers (Tale of the Cat[USA]- Good Faith) was the most expensive horse we had ever purchased at $450,000 and at the time I thought she was going to be our next Mrs Moss," she said referring to the great matriarch mare's long and distinguished career as a broodmare. She provided the impetus for turning the Duchess of Bedford's Bloomsbury Stud into an internationally successful nursery.

Mrs Moss however had only cost 2100 guineas when Lord and Lady Tavistock as they were then, purchased her in 1975. She won one race at two and at stud produced 15 foals, 12 to race, 11 winners – four of them stakes winners before leaving an international dynasty at stud where over 50% of all the foals that have descended from her have been winners. Mrs Moss is the third dam of Tavistock.

"That year we sold 10 yearlings at the sales and that still didn't cover our investment in The Cat's Whiskers, I was convinced she was going to be special. She won a race here in New Zealand when trained by Roger James – Tavy's trainer – and then we decided to take her to England to race.

"She was trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam and although she worked well on the gallops she didn't have any fight on the race track. It was almost as though she would hit the front and politely say to the horse beside her 'oh do pass me'.

"We bred from her in England and her first foal was by Exceed and Excel(AUS) and called Walk on Water, she was trained by Henry Cecil and won her first start at Ascot. She won two races and hurt herself. When we had our dispersal sale I bought her back, and I am breeding from her in the Northern Hemisphere. Her first foal is a three-year-old and is called Showing Off.

"The Cat's Whisker's next foal was the best looking colt I think I have ever bred in my life, and he was entered into the Tattersalls sales, when they came and inspected him they loved him too and within three weeks he had died of grass sickness. She also had an Oasis Dream filly called Pussycat Dream.

"Her next foal was a Sakhee's Secret (GB) filly called Secretly, and then I decided to bring her back to New Zealand and send her to Tavistock I knew that is what my late husband Robin would have wanted me to do, and we got Tavy.

"She then went back to Sahkee's Secret here in New Zealand and had another filly, who had an accident and died, then the following year she died foaling a Pour Moi(IRE) filly which also died. So that is why Tavy is very special to me.

"Tavy is such a determined filly and appears to love racing. Her next start will be in the Eight Carat and Roger tells me he has nominated her for the Derby!

"Tavy went through the 2013 Select Yearling sale through the draft of Brighthill Farm and I sold half of her to Peter Hutt and his partner Filiberto Rayon-Viellela and although I haven't met them yet they are incredibly excited as I am."

Hutt and Roger James were friends as teenagers in South Canterbury and Hutt had been keen to get a filly with James for some time. He gave James a buying order in 2013 and secured a half share in Tavy.

Both Hutt and Rayon-Viellela were on course to see Tavy win the Eagle Memorial at Ellerslie, her second win from three starts, the Duchess however was in Brisbane presenting an award on behalf of the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia.

The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia was founded in 1992 by Robin Bedford after he suffered from aphasia following a stroke in 1988. With aphasia, people lose the ability to speak and they can also have difficulty reading and writing. With surgery and intensive therapy it can be improved and the trust works to improve the quality of life for those with aphasia, their families and caregivers.

Harking back to Tavistock (Montjeu[IRE]-Upstage[GB]) the horse, he is making a huge impact with his first crop of runners. Tavy is his seventh stakes-performer, and running second to her in the three-year-old event was another Tavistock – Midnitemagicman who was already a stakes performer at two.

He was bred by the Bedford's Bloomsbury Stud and was sold as a yearling for $85,000. He went on to win six races and was the Champion Sprinter in New Zealand in 2009-10 after winning the Group One Waikato Draught Sprint, the Mudgeway Partsworld Stakes, and the Group Two VRC Blamey Stakes in Australia.

He was then purchased by Cambridge Stud, syndicated and commenced stud duties in 2010.

"I have two shares in Tavistock, Sir Patrick offered them to me as soon as he bought the horse, and I have some lovely fillies coming along besides Tavy. I also have the last foal out of Snap, she is called rather appropriately Happy Endings, she is three but I haven't done anything with her yet. She is pretty special given Snap was the start of it all for me in New Zealand.

"We bought Snap when we first visited New Zealand and by the time she had finished racing we had been here a lot," she said.

In the early 90's as a result of meeting champion trainer Dave O'Sullivan at the Japan Cup meeting when Jupiter Island (St Paddy[IRE]-Mrs Moss) defeated Waverley Star, the Tavistock's travelled to New Zealand for a visit and purchased Snap, who went on to be the champion three-year-old filly of her year, a Group One winner at two, three and four and the foundation broodmare of Bloomsbury Stud in the southern hemisphere.

Just days before Tavy's win, Snap's second to last foal Snapshot (Stravinsky [USA]) made a winning debut at Te Aroha. She is raced by the Duchess and her good friend Berri Schroder along with first time owners and All Black legends Richie McCaw and Ali Williams.

"That was a very determined effort, and a brave first run, he looks a very exciting horse. Two winners in a week. I suppose it's so special and exciting when it's all going right, and it can often go so wrong. I always say breeding and racing horses is character building, and my husband used to say that he thought his character was already built," she quipped.

Although Bloomsbury Stud was sold and the stock dispersed in 2007, the Duchess still retains a small house in Matamata on the outskirts of what was the stud, and lives in New Zealand for about seven months of the year. She also has seven broodmares in the southern hemisphere residing at Brighthill Farm, Ancroft Stud and Coolmore and two in the north. With the future looking bright for Tavy it's safe to say she will be happy spending a lot more time here.

- Michelle Saba


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