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Oaks win will be savoured as a 'Keepsake' by breeders

"My Keepsake" a star in Queensland

Photo by Trish Dunnel

Having a passion for breeding is a good start when you are a newcomer to the thoroughbred industry but like any industry it pays to get good advice and follow some basic ground rules. Kylie Fawcett and her partner Eddie Wright of Oxford Thoroughbreds in Tirau have the passion and did just that when they ventured into the game some four or five years ago and recently they were rewarded with Group One glory when My (Miss) Keepsake won the Group One Queensland Oaks. In 2005 an enthusiastic Kylie keen to get into the thoroughbred business ventured to the National Broodmare Sale with her good friend Rachel Spriggens. They went looking for a young mare with good bloodlines and together they purchased Jacilo (Entrepreneur- My Tripos) in foal to Sandtrap for $2,600. "She had a good pedigree behind her, despite the fact that she was unplaced, she was a half sister to a winner of 11 races, and My Tripos although unplaced as well was a sister to Grosvenor, National Gallery, Kyrie Eleison and Garfunkel, a three-quarter sister to Mahaya, Bon Cher, De Lisle, and Vernal, and a half sister to My Marseillaise all stakes winners. You can add to that as well the close relations, La Sizeranne, and Shadea the dam of Lonhro and Neillo and the list just goes on. It is a fabulous family, Kylie explained with great enthusiasm. "Rachel is on the staff at Cambridge Stud, so we decided to take a punt on Keeper he was a well performed young stallion and was leaving nice foals, and I guess it paid off. To be fair though, My Keepsake was not a pretty foal.
Future Oaks winner Cute but not pretty -
My Keepsake as a foal

"We sold the resulting Sandtrap filly, and by this stage Eddie and I had decided to forge ahead with Oxford Thoroughbreds so we purchased the mare outright from Rachel, but to be fair she had a big part to play in breeding My Keepsake so she deserves as much credit as we do," she concluded. In that five year time span Oxford Thoroughbreds has gone from being a dream to a reality, from starting out on a two acre property in Matamata to a 60 acre holding off State Highway 27 between Matamata and Tirau. And along the way Eddie and Kylie have built up their band of broodmares to eight, presented a couple of nice yearling drafts at Karaka and established some great business contacts, clients and mentors. Kylie was born in Matamata but grew up in Te Aroha, as a youngster she was an accomplished rider in the hack and hunting field, but had had nothing to do with thoroughbreds until she met Eddie. He grew up in Te Awamutu and came from a family that had a passion for racing, often going as a family to the races, sharing in the occasional racehorse and enjoying having a flutter each weekend. Through this Eddie developed an interest in pedigrees which has morphed into a keen interest in line breeding. When Oxford Thoroughbreds was in its infancy Eddie decided to attend the Magic Millions Weanling and Broodmare Sale with the view to buy weanlings to pin hook and possibly another mare or two. At the airport he got chatting to fellow Matamata resident Robbie Hewitson, who happened to be travelling to the same destination with prominent race horse owner Kevin Algie. "Robbie offered Eddie a ride to the sales grounds, and over the following week they spent a fair bit of time with each other. At one stage Eddie was bidding on a horse against Kevin, and when Kevin purchased it he suggested to Eddie that he take it home and look after it, and from that time Kevin has become a big part of our operation. "In the early days everyone advised us to be careful as it's an easy industry to get enthusiastic and excited about and it's so easy to buy and breed horses, and before you know it they have a habit of multiplying and you have horses all over the place. With this in mind we restricted our buying to good pedigreed mares and started to pin hook," said Kylie. Oxford Thoroughbreds presented its first draft at the 2009 Karaka Yearling Sales Series with mixed results. "2009 probably wasn't the ideal year to be presenting our first draft of yearlings so soon into the recession however we went to Karaka prepared to meet the market and our yearlings sold accordingly. This year was a little kinder to us, and we managed to sell just about everything we took up there. "As My Keepsake wasn't an ideal sales filly we decided to keep her to race and through Robbie Hewitson she ended up at Andrew Scott's and with his help we put a syndicate together to race her. "Eddie and I own 35% and the smallest share holder has 5%, and the great thing is we are all relatively new to the racing game," she enthused. "Eight of the nine syndicate members were in Brisbane to witness the win and needless to say had an absolute ball." "With the help of the O'Sullivans' and Robbie, Scotty hatched a plan to get My Keepsake to the Oaks and it worked out beautifully. When she left New Zealand in early May she had had four starts for a win and three placings but not enough money in the kitty to go to Australia or to qualify for the Oaks. On the advice of the O'Sullivans' Scotty took her over and raced her at the Sunshine Coast on the ninth of May where she won, and again at that venue a couple of weeks later where she produced another win and won just enough money to make the field. "It was an absolute thrill to see her win she just seemed to weave her way through and get up she's a tough little filly. Honestly they are a great bunch of people and it's not about making money it's about racing this lovely filly who has raced well beyond our expectations. We were all just wrapt that she had made the field," Kylie said with obvious pride and delight. My Keepsake is the first stakes winner bred by Kylie and Eddie, and now they are contemplating where to send her dam Jacilo this coming year. "She is in foal at the moment to Any Suggestions with a nice early mating so we may take the opportunity to send her to Australia. I rather like Starcraft and think he is reasonably priced this season. I think with the way his stock is performing that his fee will go up next year. Alternatively we may just send her back to Keeper instead. "We kept her two-year-old filly by O'Reilly and she is just being broken in, and following that the mare she missed a year." "At the same sale where Rachel and I bought Jacilo, Eddie and I also purchased another mare Kiss In Vain (Vain- Brushing Kiss) for $3500 and like Jacilo she has left a group one winner since we purchased her. She left the Galaxy winner Proprietor (by Belong To Me). We loved her pedigree being by Vain out of a Sir Ivor mare and now luckily for us she as also left a Group One winner," she said. "At the end of the day that's really what it comes down too though – luck – you just got to have luck?"

- Michelle Saba


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