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Fay Fay - Another Chapter in an Eighty Year Old Tale

The NZ suffix has become synonymous with the honour roll of the HK-1 Hong Kong Derby in recent years, with Fay Fay (NZ) (Falkirk) continuing the tradition in 2012 with a determined victory in the Sha Tin showpiece.

The race has been dominated by New Zealand-bred horses over the past decade, with Aoteroa providing no less than six of the past nine winners including subsequent Hong Kong Champions Ambitious Dragon (NZ) (Pins) and Vengeance of Rain (NZ) (Zabeel).

For Wanganui breeders Peter and Barbara Smith, Fay Fay's win is another chapter in a dynasty that has been eighty years in the making.
"Peter's dad always loved racing and Peter used to spend a lot of time with his dad." Mrs Smith said.

The story begins with Peter Smith's father and uncles; Bill, Bob and Pat Smith, who raced and then bred from Fay Fay's eighth dam, a mare called Left (NZ) (Martian). Left (NZ) turned out to be a remarkable producer. After her first foal failed to make it to the track, her next two foals, colts by the name of Peter Jackson (NZ) (Nigger Minstrel) and Gaine Carrington (NZ) (Hunting Song) started the Smith family on a memorable journey. Peter Jackson (NZ) took out the Great Northern St Leger Stakes and the New Zealand St Leger whilst Gaine Carrington (NZ) recorded wins in the Great Northern Champagne before being leased by Melbourne bookmaker Jack Phillips for their Australian campaigns.

Her sixth foal, a colt by Siegfried named Wotan (NZ), was destined for a similar fate after demonstrating ordinary form in the ownership of his breeders as a two-year-old and winning just one race at three. However, the colt's indifferent performances had failed to catch the eyes of likely buyers, and Wotan (NZ) remained in the ownership of his breeders. In a stroke of genius, the Smith brothers decided to send the horse to Melbourne in the spring of 1936 in the hope that his form would improve and he would attract a buyer.

The Australian bookmakers could not contain their mirth when Wotan (NZ), winner of one race, was entered for the 1936 Melbourne Cup but were not so jovial after the race. Wotan (NZ) put in a once in a lifetime performance in the 1936 Melbourne Cup after an inglorious second last in the Cox Plate, unleashing a phenomenal finishing burst to claim a landmark victory. Subsequently, Wotan (NZ) won just two races, before retiring to a moderately successful stud career.

The Smith brothers' appreciation for Left (NZ) has been never ending, with their family still racing and breeding her descendants today.
Left (NZ) is a grand-daughter of the celebrated taproot mare Hebrew Maid who was imported to New Zealand in the early 20th century. Left's influence on the New Zealand racing and breeding industry has been profound over the past eighty years, with cornerstones of the industry such as O'Reilly (NZ) (Last Tycoon) and Courtza (NZ) (Pompeii Court) descending from this matriarch. The mare has also had a considerable impact on the fortunes of the Smith family's breeding enterprises over this time.

"Left had just one filly foal, a full-sister to Wotan named Kriemhild, who in turn only produced one filly, Glamour Girl," Mrs Smith recalled." It's amazing to think that the family line almost died out before it even got started when it has been so successful."
"All of our stock descend from Left."

Willy Smith
Willy Smith

One star descendant of Left (NZ) is the Peter and Barbara Smith-bred Willy Smith (NZ) (Volksraad) who gave the couple a memorable victory five years ago in the then Group One Wellington Cup. It was a win that had not been surpassed in recent times until Fay Fay's gallant win in the time-honoured HK-1 Hong Kong Derby.

Other descendants of Left (NZ) bred by the Smiths' include Group One winner Kapchat (NZ) (Centaine) and Hunza (NZ) (Pakistan II), a Group Two winner in Australia, best known now as the dam of Champion Two-Year-Old and modern day blue hen Courtza (NZ).
"When we were just getting started, we used to sell the majority of our stock," Barbara said. "And back in 1972 we sent Hunza to the sales and she was purchased by Waikato Stud."

"Over the past forty years we have bred a number of horses to Waikato Stud stallions and we used to breed some of our mares in partnership with Marie Chittick.

"As a result, everything we bred in partnership had to go through a sale which is why we sold Kapchat to Australia instead of keeping her."
These days, the Smiths routinely sell all their colts and retain their fillies to race and breed from after they finish their racing careers. They have around fifteen mares on their Papaiti farm although Barbara jokes that Peter chooses not to count them too often for fear of having too many.
Sold through the Maara Grange draft at the 2010 New Zealand Bloodstock Festival Yearling Sale for the value price of NZ$13,000, Fay Fay (NZ), from the Centaine mare Glamaine (NZ), has proven the strength of his heritage.

"We've seen every race Fay Fay has been in, and winning the Hong Kong Derby is a really major achievement – it's our biggest for a while," Mrs Smith said. "He was such a lovely looking yearling. He had a vein sticking out in one of his legs which was a blemish that put off alot of people because they like them to be perfect.
"It has never affected his performance though. " Nancy [Wong, co- owner of Fay Fay] never even inspected the horse. He caught her eye as he was parading in the pre-parade ring and decided that he was going too cheaply and bought him." "They got a bargain. But it's a big thrill to breed horses like him."

Glamaine (NZ) is due to give birth to a full sibling to Fay Fay (NZ) this spring, after delivering a colt by the recently passed New Zealand Champion Sire Volksraad. The mare also has a yearling filly by Brilliance and a three-year-old named Ravenscroft (NZ) (O'Reilly) who is unraced but in training in Sydney with John O'Shea.

"It is a good result for the New Zealand breeding industry," Mrs Smith said.
"He has been a rising star in Hong Kong but we were worried that he had drawn the outside. However, he overcame that really well and it was exciting to watch."

Fay Fay (NZ) was one of the favourites for the HK-1 Hong Kong Derby after scoring four wins in succession in Hong Kong earlier this season. The son of Falkirk (NZ) suffered luckless runs in both Derby lead ups but proved his talent when it counted to give six-time Hong Kong Champion Trainer John Size his first Derby winner.
"He is probably unusual, a horse that won as a two-year-old and able to win a Derby two years later. You wouldn't find that too often, but the year off racing at three has probably stood him in good stead for the long term," Size said after the race.
"There were a couple of things that kept him out - firstly, he had splints in both legs and they caused him a lot of pain. Then he got over that and one day he became cast in his box. He stood in the corner for a couple of days, unable to move with lameness in both hind legs. He couldn't walk." "I never panicked. Maybe the owners didn't enjoy it too much but it was like with Entrapment - Fay Fay had done enough as a two-year-old to know that he had plenty of talent and you know that they'll make up for the lost time very quickly, as long as you get them back in good shape again," Size explained.

In his short yet stellar career thus far, Fay Fay (NZ) has recorded six wins from just eleven starts including a nose second behind Sweet Orange (War Front) in the HK-1 Classic Mile and earnings of HK$14,469,500.
With races of the calibre of the Group One Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup on the radar for Fay Fay (NZ), Peter and Barbara Smith are destined to again etch their names in the annals of racing history as the breeders of another star galloper.

- NZ Thoroughbred Marketing


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