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Life long interest in breeding thoroughbreds rewards Wanganui Breeder/Farmer

Wanganui breeder Iain Elliot is like a number of other small breeders in New Zealand. He is a man of the land, he has been involved in racing and breeding all his life, as was the norm for a lot of farmers of his generation, he has a broodmare Blue Symbol (Bluebird [USA]- Regal Salute) descended from a family nurtured by his father and maintained by him. She was a promising racehorse, achieving two wins and two placings from seven starts, before she sustained an injury and was sent to stud.

Blue Symbol's first foal won four races in Hong Kong, so Iain continued to breed from her and had reasonable success at the sales, however the family is slow maturing, and by the time foals seven and eight came along and were fillies, they were only eligible for the Festival Sale. With foal number six an unsold three-year-old colt by High Chaparral (IRE), a yearling filly by Perfectly Ready(AUS) and a filly foal by Any Suggestion (AUS) at foot, Iain made the decision to stop breeding from the mare, until something changed and luckily it did change at the Sydney Autumn Carnival this year, when foal number six, Western Symbol, won the group three Cellarbrations Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes at Rosehill. Maybe now his old mare and his fillies may have some value.

"It was a bit of a thrill, and it's quite exciting to see some of your faith restored," according to Iain, who fortunately has a 1600 acre farm and was able to keep his mare along with the two fillies.

"You can appreciate what it costs when you have a couple of fillies and you know they are only eligible for Festival where there is no return, so I thought if I leave the mare empty something might happen and it did.

"Western Symbol was sold to Gai Waterhouse when he was an unraced four-year-old and she has kept us informed all the way through. She has always rated him and I believe she is going to run him next in the listed Japan Racing Association Plate at Randwick."

Western Symbol commenced racing in March last year and ran second at his first start. He won at his next outing at Hawkesbury over 1800 metres and followed that with a fourth over 1900 metres at Canterbury before being spelled. He resumed in the spring and ran three placings before scoring his second win, this time a 2200 metre event at Warwick Farm.

He returned to that track a fortnight later and in a roughly run race ran second over the same distance, then stepping up to 2400 at Randwick a fortnight after that, he scored his third win. Waterhouse then took the gelding to Victoria where he ran third in the listed Bendigo Cup before a luckless run at Flemington over 2800 metres on Melbourne Cup Day.

A spell followed the Victorian campaign and he resumed with a win over 1500 metres at Hawkesbury in March before heading to Rosehill to take out the Group Three event.

"He was a November foal and was a bit immature, and was at Curraghmore Stud undergoing a yearling preparation when Gordon Cunningham decided he wasn't going to be ready for the sales and we should give him more time.

"Gordon did a bit of work on him up there and then he came back to the farm here and we just forgot about him for about six to eight months. He eventually went down to Karen Zimmerman and she brought him up to trial stage. His first trial was pretty promising, his second one was pretty ordinary, then he won one impressively and was sold to Gai."

"She was always so enthusiastic about Western Symbol and was confident she could develop him into a black type horse, so on the strength of that I decided to send Blue Symbol back to stud this season, she was served by Guillotine three times but didn't get in foal. Next season I will try again, although I haven't decided yet where I will send her."

In the meantime Iain still has the two fillies, the Perfect Ready filly he is racing with a group of friends and is in work with Roydon Bergerson and the Any Suggestion filly is currently being broken in by Chris Rutten at Te Horo.

Blue Symbol, is the first foal of Regal Salute a Crested Wave (USA) half sister to the Western Australian Derby winner and subsequent sire Starjo and his brother, the stakes placed winner Hong Kong Friend.

"I raced Regal Salute and she won a couple of races. She was trained by the late Kevin Thompson and when he relocated to Australia we sent the mare over as well. Unfortunately she broke down and so we sent her to stud over there, she was served by Bluebird and returned home. That foal was Blue Symbol."

"Alijo (by Trictrac [FR]), bred by my father and me, wasn't much of a racehorse, but she was a reasonable broodmare, and is out of the 1961 Oaks winner Fair Symbol that my father bred."

Fair Symbol was the dam of eight winners including the stakes placed winner Fair Bounty. She in turn is a daughter of the stakes winning mare Signify (Contact[AUS]-Gratify) who ran second in the Auckland Cup won by Beaumaris.

"My father bought Signify from Jack Macky of Pirongia Stud, she was a fantastic mare just about everything she produced was a winner, she left a terrific horse called Woambra he won about 25 races in Australia."

In fact Signify had 11 foals, nine of whom raced, eight were winners and besides the stakes winners Fair Symbol and Woambra (Faux Tirage[GB]), she also left the VRC St Leger winner King Cobbler (The Cobbler[GB]). As well she left the stakes performers Testify, Araleum, and Red Signal, and a legacy which now five generations later is still leaving stakes winners in Australia for a small breeder who farms in Wanganui. - Michelle Saba


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