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Durham Town wins the Concorde for his Whakatane breeders

The breeder of Durham Town (Falkirk-Durham Walk), Debbie Seebeck, wasn't going to miss seeing that horse have his first race in stakes company and insisted that she and husband Peter made the three hour-plus trip from Whakatane to Auckland to see him race in the group two Aussie Butcher Concorde Handicap.

After seeing him win that race with ease, they are pleased they were there.

Having only his seventh career start, the lightly raced son of Falkirk became that stallion's first stakes winner, when he won his fifth race. All five wins have been at Ellerslie and all going to plan, his next start will be back at that track in the group one Railway Handicap on New Year's Day.

"We are still buzzing - it was fantastic," said an enthusiastic Peter Seebeck, "I was quite happy to sit and watch it on TV but Debbie insisted we went and her parents Rod and Zelda Eivers from the Waikato came along as well.

"We were so lucky. Donna and the other owners who were on course - John Hart, David Wale and Paul Collins - all made us feel so welcome when we joined in the celebrations. I had to keep reminding my father-in-law that we didn't actually own Durham Town any more!"

Members of the Waikato branch of the NZTBA, Peter and Debbie have a small lifestyle block in Whakatane known as Nerobella Lodge, where they keep one mare, a yearling, and maybe a foal, along with a sport horse each. They both still ride competitively and for the past nine years they have taken one yearling to the sales at Karaka every year

"The first horse we took to Karaka was a Prince of Praise filly out of a Centaine (AUS) mare and she was in the festival sale. We thought she looked stunning and were absolutely delighted when we got $8,000 for her.

"It was such a thrill, a real buzz and sense of achievement – the way we both felt you would have thought we had got $80,000 or $800,000, but we were hooked and we have been taking one yearling a year through ever since.

"After our initial success, we decided we needed to upgrade our mare and kept trying to get a good cheap mare. We found Durham Walk at the sales and nabbed her."

Durham Walk is by Marju (GB) out of the Sir Tristram (IRE) mare Majestic Walk, and like her dam she was unraced. Majestic Walk is out of the Sharp Edge mare Sharp Walk, a stakes winner of the VRC Ottawa Stakes who was also group one placed. She is a three-quarter sister to Classic Walk (Grosvenor) the winner of the listed CJC South Island Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes and to Eminent Walk, the dam of the stakes winners Darcybee (Fasliyev[USA]) and Te Hama (Centaine[AUS]).

Sharp Walk is out of the Golden Slipper winner Fairy Walk, who is also the dam of Cheyne Walk, winner of the group one Australasian Champion Stakes and the Queensland Derby, and Jubilee Walk, the winner of the AJC Flight Stakes. Jubilee Walk is the dam of Boardwalk Angel who won nine races including the group one Goodwood Handicap before leaving the ARC Railway winner Coogee Walk. She in turn has left two stakes winners in Activation and Crawl. This family also produced the recent group one winner Distill (Volksraad [GB] – Fairy Tipsy).

Durham Walk had produced one foal by Van Nistelrooy (USA)when she was purchased by the Seebecks. She was in foal to him again and following that foal she went to Falkirk and had Durham Town before visiting Lucky Unicorn(AUS) and producing a filly.

"She isn't the best looking mare but as luck would have it, she seems to produce a nice looking yearling. The first colt we bred by Van Nistelrooy sold for $45,000 and the following year Durham Town sold for $43,000. We were rapt and with a little bit of money in the kitty we went and bought another mare, Astrology.

"We bred her to Sahkee's Secret and that foal, a filly ,is our yearling for Karaka this year and we have now made it to the Select Sale."

Astrology won six races and has produced four winners from five to race. Her dam Star Worship won the group three Manawatu Breeders' Stakes and descends from the same Waikato Stud family as Legs, Guyno, Arletty and Firetaine.

"We have since sold Astrology, with only 16 acres we can't afford to keep too many horses, and so we decided to keep Astrology's foal to sell and stick with Durham Walk.

"Besides, breeding is so expensive, it's a lot of money to have going out before you get a return. We can't afford to go to the top end stallions and with the market slowing down and being depressed, if you get a filly you're in trouble.

"And as it's turned out our last two foals have been fillies – the first by Lucky Unicorn, then the Sahkee's Secret out of Astrology. After Durham Walk foaled the Lucky Unicorn filly we decided not to mate her again but to sit and wait and see what her progeny did.

"The two colts by Van Nistelrooy looked to have potential but showed nothing on the track. Then along came Durham Walk. When Donna purchased the Lucky Unicorn filly last year that gave us a little bit of faith in our decision to stick with her and now hopefully after two years off, she is back in foal to Falkirk.

"Naturally we were disappointed when we only got $1000 for the filly, but we are fairly realistic. She was a smallish filly and it was the Festival sale, and even though we had done our money, we were happy to let her go to Donna as we knew she would get every opportunity.

"Besides we are not paying the bills anymore. The options for fillies that don't sell aren't that great unless you race them which is more cost, and we still have the mare at home in the paddock. It's easy to get bitter and twisted about that sort of result but in our case we had had eight or nine years of good sales and you have to take the good with the bad.

"We live in hope and pray for luck and try to do the best we can. If it was easy to breed a good horse then every bugger would be doing it!"

Always a keen horseman, Peter Seebeck joined the staff at Waikato Stud during the halcyon days of Nelson Bunker Hunt. He spent a couple of years there and was on the yearling team that took horses to Trentham a couple of times. From there he headed off overseas and spent some time in a show jumping stable in Italy.

On returning to New Zealand he worked briefly in the industry then took the advice of Ric Wylie and enrolled in the Glen Ormiston College in Victoria to complete an Associate Diploma in bloodstock management.

"I learnt so much on that course. It gave me excellent grounding, good skills and knowledge. After a couple of years I left the industry and then I met Deb (nee Reivers) who was in the police force at the time. She was also involved in sport horses. She came from a family who loved racing and we became completely involved in the game.

"I now work in Whakatane as a carpet salesman and Deb works for the Police in a civilian role but our horses are our life.

"Deb's father Rob raced a couple of good horses with Laurie Collett in the early 80's but he never won a race at Ellerslie. He was so thrilled to be there and see Durham Town win, he was really buzzing. For him it was as exciting as actually owning a winner.

"We were so lucky to be included in all the celebrations and that made the win really special. It was really neat to be made so welcome. Breeding our first stakes winner is such a thrill, I have been bragging about it at work all morning I think my workmates think I'm a little crazy," concluded an obviously delighted Peter Seebeck who will no doubt be hoping he can brag some more come New Year's Day.

- Michelle Saba


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