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Ex-pat Kiwi enjoys breeding success with the promising So Wotif

Sally Cassels-Brown (Pearl Series co-ordinator) - So Wotif returns to the winners circle.  From left, Jim Bruford (NZB Insurance), Michael Martin (NZTBA CEO), Peter Francis, ( NZTBA President), owner Arthur Avis and Photo Trish Dunell
Sally Cassels-Brown (Pearl Series co-ordinator)

So Wotif returns to the winners circle. From left, Jim Bruford (NZB Insurance), Michael Martin (NZTBA CEO), Peter Francis, ( NZTBA President), owner Arthur Avis and Photo Trish Dunell

As promising three-year-old So Wotif (NZ) (Iffraaj [GB]) hit the line to score his biggest win to date in the Gr. 3 NZB Insurance Pearl Series Mr Tiz Trophy at Ellerslie last week, the cheering wasn't just confined to an enthusiastic support crew in the main grandstand.

Breeder and ex-pat kiwi Phillip Chen was also letting loose with a "you beauty" from the comfort of his lounge in Kurrajong, New South Wales where he now lives and has operated his own medical practice for the past twenty two years.

Chen was born in Taiwan and was just a one-year-old when his family immigrated to New Zealand. His father was an animal vaccine research vet and worked for Hamilton company Mannings until it was taken over by MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme). The family moved to Australia in 1979 however Chen stayed to complete his schooling at Melville High School as well as representing Waikato in rugby at schoolboy level where he was a livewire half-back.

Chen followed his family to Australia the following year and went to Sydney University to study medicine. After graduation he went on to become a general practitioner in North Richmond and along with establishing his medical practice he later became involved with the racing industry by taking a position as the Hawkesbury Racing Club Doctor and eventually a board member of the Club.

Chen's older brother fostered his interest in racing at High School where he would let the younger Chen use his TAB account whilst listening to races on the transistor radio he sneaked into the classroom!

He became involved in thoroughbred ownership in the early 1990's and raced the handy galloper Mr Bureaucrat (Aus) (Bureaucracy [NZ]) who numbered the Gr.1 Doomben Cup amongst his eleven victories. Chen and a business partner decided the breeding game would also be an option so bought Mr Bureaucrat's dam Explanation (Aus) (County [Aus]) and began the breeding adventure.

Amongst the progeny produced by Explanation was Gr.3 winner All Black Gold (Aus) (Canny Lad [Aus]). Chen displays his passion for rugby by naming a number of his horses with the "All Black" prefix as well as demonstrating his loyalty to the country he grew up in.

From small beginnings Chen has expanded to a broodmare band of four (down from seven due to the expense involved). He bought Electricity, the dam of So Wotif, in foal to Iffraaj where she produced the colt as her first foal for Chen.

"I sold the colt at at the Select session of the 2011 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling sale where he was bought by Robert Dawe for $115,000 said Chen. "It was a fantastic result so I had high hopes for the Perfectly Ready colt the mare produced from her second mating for me. However he was passed in at the 2012 sale which brought me back down to earth pretty quickly.

"I was lucky enough to have Murray Baker buy the mare's third foal this year, a filly by Darci Brahma, and I have sent the Perfectly Ready colt to him as well with a view to perhaps selling him further down the track.

"Of course after So Wotif's win the price just went up!"

Chen has used Lyndhurst Farm as a base when his mares have been in New Zealand after choosing Mark and Shelley Treweek from their good results and the positive recommendations he received. He also has nothing but praise for the experiences he has had with local studs which has enabled him to manage his breeding interests with relative ease from across the Tasman.

Chen currently has a racing interest in three horses including promising two-year-old Fuerza (Aus) (Snippetson) which is in the Sydney stable of Bjorn Baker and who will line up this weekend in the Gr. 3 Skyline Stakes at Warwick Farm.

Chen bred the colt from his mare Lady Min (Aus) (Nothin' Leica Dane) and has retained a 10% racing share after selling the colt at the Sydney Classic sale to Baker. Lady Min is a half sister to the dam of So Wotif and is named after Chen's wife.

He is also keen to follow the progress of So Wotif who is trained by Richard Collett for NZTBA member Arthur Avis who has been a long-time supporter of Collett's Pukekohe stable.

"Arthur has raced a number of horses with us including Riotous who has done well. However I really think So Wotif has the potential to be a very smart horse," said Collett. "He will have his next run in the three-year-old race at Ellerslie on Easter Handicap day at Ellerslie and then the Breeders' Stakes at Te Rapa later in the month."

All going well Collett is confident the horse will be competitive at the Brisbane Winter Carnival and will formulate an appropriate plan safely through the Te Rapa event.

If the horse does step out in Australia you can be sure there will be one very vociferous supporter cheering the horse on from his lounge in Kurrajong.


- Kevin Robertson