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Vonusti's Group One Telegraph Handicap win overwhelms his breeders

"It's quite surreal, breeding a group one winner is what happens to other people, not people like us, who potter around with a couple of mares on a 10 acre block," according to an almost overwhelmed Liz Fairweather, who along with her husband Jeff bred the Group One Telegraph winner Vonusti (Ustinov-Reasonably).

"Since he won the $1million Telegraph Handicap it's been a three day champagne fest that looks like it could go on for a week or more! The phone has been running red hot since the win - it's so exciting. On Monday night we went down to the Carters to see him and he paraded in his fancy rug and we were just so proud of him."

The Fairweathers have a 10 acre lifestyle block in Hautapu just outside of Cambridge, and their property is only about 500 metres from that of Margaret and Tim Carter, the trainers of Vonusti.

"We went down to see him and Lisa O'Shea who works for the Carters led him out of the box, and her dad Brian O'Shea is our vet, and his brother Tom and nephew Phil part own Vonusti, along with Ramesh Patel, so it's almost like celebrating a 'family affair'. It's been a good connection - we get lots of updates on Vonusti and his progress."

"When Vonusti didn't sell as a yearling, he was a nice colt but a bit immature he returned to the O'Shea's Poplar Lodge, and Brian was pretty instrumental in getting his brother and nephew to buy him initially as a Ready to Run prospect. However, they kept him to race and the rest is history.

Also linked to the Fairweathers in that 'extended family affair' are Nick and Anne-Marie King of Brighthill Farm where Ustinov (Seeking the Gold- Let's Elope) stood, as Liz also works part-time in the office there. Vonusti is the first group one winner for the stallion.

Members of the Waikato Branch of the NZTBA, Liz and Jeff moved to that area about 15 years ago and purchased their first mare. Liz had a life long involvement in the equestrian world and had been a dressage judge in the Auckland area.

About 12 years ago, they were at the Cambridge Lodge Sales, when they happened to see a gorgeous dark brown mare being offered for sale by the late Ray Hipwood and his wife Evelyn. And that is how they became the proud owners of Reasonably (Sound Reason-Marlass). Reasonably is a full sister to Justa Taste, a winner of three races before she went on to produce the stakes winners Mynzawine and Dabeer Zaheer. Another half sister has produced the group three winner (Lord) Woburn and the stakes-placed Volkarrie.

Her dam Marlass (Marceau) was an unraced half sister to the stakes winners Zamazaan Lass, Prince Bourbon, and to Bourbon Lassie, the dam of Omnicorp, Crimson, Pharostan and Bourbon Boy. It's a prolific stakes winning family.

"She is a gorgeous looking mare and Jeff and I are big softees and we loved the look of her and took her home. We have been blessed though as she has a fabulous temperament and fortunately throws that into all her foals. She is a pleasure to have around the place," she says with obvious pride.

Vonusti is by far her best performer. From nine foals to date she has produced four winners, a placed runner and a trial winner. To Lord Ballina she left The Builder and Balfour Park who were both winners in Australia and the latter has gone on to be a producer. A visit to Centaine produced Best Reason also a winner in Australia, and then she was mated with Ustinov to produce Vonusti, followed by Viking Ruler to produce the placed mare Royal Choice. Following that she has produced two more foals to Ustinov - a three-year-old trial winner named Strapping and a yearling who will sell in Brighthill Farm's draft at the Select Sale next week.

Liz will be at the sales helping to organize the Brighthill parades and bragging about her beautiful yearling.

"We went to Ustinov because he is without a doubt a stunning looking stallion, and he has a great pedigree and temperament as well. Vonusti is very laid back and so is this colt. We don't have any theories we follow, and we don't profess to be pedigree experts we just potter along with our mares, and the stallions we like the look of which is another reason we went to Perfectly Ready and this season she produced a gorgeous filly to him and is back in foal to that stallion.

"She is 19 now and so I think that is just about her lot. She is like part of the family and is pretty special to us but she is beginning to have high maintenance feet like a lot of broodmares," added Liz in a very matter of fact manner, and she should know as she has encountered a great number of broodmares in her role as foaling manager at Cambridge Stud, where she has worked for the past 12 years.

The Fairweathers are also breeding from a mare they bred and raced named Replete (Cape Cross- Durga Ma). She won a couple of races and has a yearling filly by Ustinov that Liz intends to break in and race, and she has foaled a Keeper colt this season. It was a late foal so they left her empty this season. As well they have a Last Tycoon mare White Crow, who has also had a Keeper foa. She is already the dam of a winner in Salthill.

"Our mares and foals, they are all wonderful, and we have had lots of luck, but this week has been so special it will take a lot of beating," she concluded.

- Michelle Saba


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