'FIrebolt' - The Result of a Family Passion for Thoroughbreds

'Firebolt' - Picture by Trish Dunell

Picture by Trish Dunell

With a little bit of faith and loads of loyalty to a family breed, the spell was cast and the magical gelding Firebolt (Stravinsky – Woodsong) the stunning winner of the group two Shannon Stakes at Rosehill was the result. According to Hawkes Bay Poverty Bay NZTBA member Gerard Moughan who bred and races Firebolt along with the Ski Syndicate, the gelding was named after the fastest broomstick in the world that with its magical powers is used for playing quidditch in the first Harry Potter book, and more importantly he is the fifth generation of a breed nurtured by his late father Frank since the late 1960's. Moughan an orchardist in the Hawkes Bay and his sister Mary Stanley raced the mare Woodsong, and when it came time to retire her to stud, put together the Ski Syndicate consisting of his wife Vera, Mary's husband Alan, John Dine, Tony and Kathryn Aldridge, Jeff and Gwenda Kevern, Ted and Marianne Wynands, Peter and Karen Scott, Dermott and Linzi Malley, Peter and Angela Callinicos, Rod and Sheila Chisholm, Jane Hodgkinson and Rowan Christopher. "We had quite an investment in Woodsong and really wanted to send her to a proven sire to commence her career and help establish her as a broodmare, with a young family I couldn't really afford to spend a lot of money, so we put together a syndicate of friends and fellow horticulturists. "The family means so much to me. I raced Woodsong's mother Kailey (Festal- Franmore) with Rob Mulcaster and she won the arc Railway Handicap (Group 1) and from this family that Dad had nurtured before me. There are a host of winners and three stakes winners in the five generations . Moughan says that back in the sixties his father Frank was a keen owner trainer and decided that breeding to race would be the way to go. He sought the advice of the late great Peter Kelly who suggested he try and get hold of a filly from the mighty Eulogy family. Moughan senior did a bit of research and discovered that the Richmond family also of Hawkes Bay had been breeding from Serenata (by Nightmarch) a daughter of Eulogy's daughter Praise (by Limond). They had in the back paddock running with the Angus cattle a mare by Tsaoko named Chidori. "Apparently she had broken a hip as a yearling and the Richmond's had kept her with the intention of breeding from her but had been advised that she wouldn't be able to get in foal, so they had dispatched her to the back of the farm without even breaking her in. "Not to be discouraged Dad took on this unbroken seven year old mare and sent her to stud. She produced three fillies by Faux Tirage (Big Game – Commotion) all of whom were trained by him and were winners. "Falsetto was one of them and she won a stakes race at Wanganui and she went to stud and produced amongst others Franmore by Taipan II. Dad died in 1982 and I was riding track work for Ian Bradbury at Woodville. Even though I was only about 18 I took out my owner trainer's license and trained Franmore. "In hindsight she would have been a much better mare if she had had a real trainer, she won a couple and ran a lot of placings. Anyway she went to stud and I entered into a foal for foal arrangement with Rob Mulcaster and she eventually went to Festal. "That mating produced Kailey, whom Rob and I raced to win the group one Railway Handicap. It turned out to be her last foal and when it came time for Kailey to go to stud I sent her to Woodman in Australia and luckily got a filly Woodsong. "Roger trained her and she had ability but unfortunately broke down after winning three races, and that was when we found ourselves forming the Ski Syndicate. "We have had so much fun with Firebolt, from the time he was foaled at Cambridge Stud the whole syndicate has followed his every stage, we all trekked to Cambridge to see him, and when he was back at home at our place we have had many social gatherings relating to Firebolt business. "We are usually all at the races, but I was the only one who was able to make the trip to Sydney as it was so last minute. It was pretty hectic and very expensive but boy it was worth it. With Roger deciding only on Wednesday night to send the horse over in search of a better track we didn't have a lot of time to plan anything. "Following his good form in Brisbane over the winter the plan has always been to contest the Epsom, and the whole syndicate is booked to go to Sydney that weekend," he added. Following the mating with Stravinsky, Gerard and Mary sent Woodsong to Keeper twice, and she produced two colts, the first is Firekeeper who is in work with Roger James and will be seen out again once the tracks improve. "Like a lot of Keepers he is big and late maturing, we formed the Keepsake Syndicate to race him, and it consists of mainly people who are new to racing. We have had a lot of laughs familarising them with all the racing terminology and some of the realities of racing a horse. "Vera and I have retained a quarter share in the second colt who is a three-year-old now, the other three-quarters are owned by a French gentleman and his New Zealand friends. He was visiting New Zealand and saw Firebolt race, and was so impressed with him that he wanted to buy him or at least a share in him. Firebolt wasn't for sale so he bought into his half brother instead. The colt has stayed here on the farm and we look after the syndicate," he said. The farm being the five acres Gerard has adjacent to his apple orchard in the Hawkes Bay which he has set up as a mini agistment farm complete with post and rail fencing, loose boxes, a lunge ring and yards. Woodsong a resident on the farm, missed to One Cool Cat and then the following year she missed again to Stravinsky. This year she will visit Pins. "I believe that on type Pins will suit her and he is a proven sire. This belief summarises the breeding philosophy that Gerard has. "Basically I follow a line breeding theory, but first and foremost I choose a stallion on type, followed by commercial demand and appeal, thirdly I take advice from people who are far more knowledgeable than I am," he concluded. Whatever the theory it seems that Gerard had the 'spell' right with Firebolt, and hopefully in the future will breed another filly and be able to race and breed another generation of this family that is so special to him and his sister Mary.

- Michelle Saba


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