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Battle Eve's grand-daughter does the business at Tauranga for the Browns

Our Famous Eve (inner) digs in close to beat Viadana to the line - Photo NZTM website
Our Famous Eve (inner) digs in close to beat Viadana to the line

Photo NZTM website

There was a sense of déjà vu when Our Famous Eve (Fast'N'Famous [AUS]- Expoeve) won the group two Windsor Park Stud Japan Trophy recently.

She was upholding a family liking for the Tauranga track, her famous grandmother Battle Eve (Battle Waggon [GB] – Summer Eve) won the race 39 years ago, along with another 24 races in her career, and her mother Expoeve (Exploding Prospect [USA]- Battle Eve) only won one race and that was the Owens Services Handicap at that course.

Ironically it was Bay of Plenty committeeman Sir Bob Owens a transport magnate with connections to the Tauranga Port who had a lot of dealings with the Japanese through log exporting who was instrumental in establishing the Japan Trophy some 40 years ago, and in those days a $3,000 Toyota car was included in the prize package!

There was no car included this year, but that didn't make the win any less exciting for her breeders Philip and Catherine Brown of Ancroft Stud, who also share in the racing ownership of the filly. Philip is the son of Bill and Evelyn Brown and it was Evelyn who was a part-owner of Battle Eve.

"It was a very exciting day, probably right up there with the best that we have experienced as breeders. To have a mare win their first group race is a big thrill and you can then look forward to the future knowing that you have that precious black type," enthused Brown a member of the Waikato branch of the NZTBA.

Our Famous Eve is a lightly raced four-year-old, and this win is only her third, from 12 starts. After back to back wins early in her three –year-old season she ran a very game second in the group two New Zealand Bloodstock Royal Stakes. She then took on the big guns in the group one Darci Brahma International and finished fifth, before finishing fifth again in the listed Sunline Vase.

Shortly after that she went to Australia where she is part-owned and in September finished fourth in her only start there, before returning home to Matamata.

"She is a real home girl and likes her paddock, I knew in my heart that she wouldn't cope with Melbourne but with a number of her part-owners living so near to Flemington I had to let them have the opportunity to have her race there. It wasn't a hard decision to bring her home though," added Brown who with his wife Catherine races the mare with their good friends John Mugavin and Phil Grimsey and their wives. A group of their friends have a small shareholding as well.

And it has proved to be a good decision. Our Famous Eve returned to her former trainer Glenn Old and had had two starts back before winning the group two event at her third.

"We have a number of horses with John and Phil and well we have a lot of young stock.
John and Phil were clients of Robbie Lithglow and I met them a few times when they came to Matamata to view their horses. By the time Robbie left the thoroughbred game we were good friends and so naturally their horses came here. The friendship has just grown.

Our Famous Eve is the seventh foal from Expoeve, and her second stakes performer. Her first foal Irish Crusader by O'Reilly won six races and was placed in the listed Frank Underwood Cup, Ballarat Cup and Bendigo Cup. She had four foals to Pins (AUS) leaving two winners Snippety Eve and Alteration, before leaving a filly foal to Keeper (AUS).

As Keep Eve she has won two races for the Browns and John Mugavin and is now in foal to High Chaparral (IRE). Her next foal was Our Famous Eve and she has a two-year-old colt and a weanling by Perfectly Ready(AUS) and is in foal to Redwood(GB).

According to Brown Expoeve is quite a big mare and suited a stallion like Fast'N'Famous on type.

"Fast'n'Famous is a neat looking horse, and was always going to suit her on type and with Redoute's Choice on the top line and Zabeel on the bottom he has a nice pedigree.
Besides we do a lot of business with Waikato Stud, and we are shareholders in Pins."

Ancroft Stud was established in Matamata in 1965 by Philip's father Bill. A year later he leased a stallion that would ensure the name Ancroft Stud was carved in New Zealand thoroughbred history, called Battle Waggon (GB) (Never Say Die [USA]- Carrozza[IRE]) he went on to be a champion first season sire, and left such wonderful horses like the champion Battle Heights and leading three-year-olds Panzer Chief, Susan Jane, Fairview Lad and Breathalyser, and of course Battle Eve.

A winner of 25 races she was an outstanding racemare. She won the group three Great Northern Foal Stakes as a two-year-old, as well as winning the group two Japan Trophy, and group three Thames Valley Stakes (now Tauranga Stakes). She won the ARC King's Plate a listed weight-for-age mile event at Ellerslie (which is now the Darley Plate) four times, the listed Stretto Stakes three times and the Kelliher Plate and Taranaki Stakes (Cup) twice. She won a further four black type races and was group one placed when second in the 1000 Guineas.

At stud she went on to leave King Delamere (Balmerino) who won 10 races including the group two J J Feehan Stakes, Memsie Stakes and the J J Liston Stakes in Melbourne.
He returned to New Zealand and stood at Ancroft Stud for seven years in the mid 90's.

Although the Brown's did not breed Battle Eve, they acquired her dam and bred the multiple stakes winners Major Battle (Battle Waggon), Commissionaire (So Vain[Aus]) and Crest Star (Crest of the Wave [USA]). Currently the Brown's have two descendants of Battle Eve in their broodmare band being Expoeve and her daughter Keep Eve.

Around a decade ago Philip and Catherine made the decision not to stand a stallion at Ancroft but turn the property into a broodmare management and agistment farm.
"I basically found it very hard to get a good stallion and they were getting so expensive, I thought it was better to pool our resources with the major studs and surf in on their coat tails to get a good stallion.

"It certainly worked with Pins, and we have also bought shares in Redwood and Nom de Jeu, I like to invest in a stallion that has been a nice racehorse and has a good pedigree, they have a pretty good chance of success," he added.

The first year Pins stood at Waikato Stud the Brown's sent over their stakes winning mare Palos Verdes, a daughter of Oak Ridge (FR) who stood at Ancroft from the stakes placed winning Otehi Bay mare Raumancer, who in turn was a out of Chiquatito a stakes placed winning daughter of Battle Waggon and Miss Spy that the Brown's had purchased.

Palos Verdes produced a bay colt named El Segundo a champion race horse in Australia who went on to win 12 races including the group one W S Cox Plate. His full brother El Hermano who is part-owned by the Brown's did not race due to injury and stands at Frank Drummond's Cheval Stud just out of Cambridge.

Palos Verdes is still in the broodmare band and is in foal to Redwood, her daughter by Encosta de Lago (AUS) Palos de Lago recently did a tendon in Australia and will be served there this season before returning to Ancroft.

"We have about a dozen horses of our own and 15 outside mares, they belong to Australian clients and a few for Henrietta the Duchess of Bedford," said Brown.

Looking ahead to the future they now have another stakes winning mare to add to their band, and one that has strong ancestral ties to Ancroft and one its best representatives Battle Eve.

- Michelle Saba


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