Two Black Type winners in two countries on the same day for Kaiaua couple

Imagine having two black type winners in two different countries in one day, it maybe the norm for the Maktoums, and Magniers of this world, but for a farming couple from Kaiaua with a small hobby team it's certainly not the norm.

'Comme Tu Veux'

Picture by Trish Dunell

Elizabeth and David Olsen experienced the excitement of achieving this recently when their filly Comme Tu Veux (Howbadouwantit-Justa Babe) won the listed Ray Coupland Stakes for three-year-old fillies in the South Island, and their veteran galloper Mandela(Ebony Grosve- Wairongai Belle) won the listed Darley Seymour Cup in Victoria a couple of hours later.

Elizabeth was in Australia cheering home a horse that is very special to her, while David was in Ashburton ensuring that Comme Tu Veux was awarded the race in the inquiry room after being interfered with twice in the last 150 metres by Corsage.

In 2002 when Elizabeth told David she was heading to yearling sales and might buy a horse, he quipped that she could but he wouldn't be paying for it! She didn't break the budget when she bought Mandela for $1750, but only after she had been advised by auctioneer Steve Davis that she was bidding against herself!

Mandela is now a millionaire stake earner with nine wins to his credit including six stakes races the Group Two Avondale Guineas, and the Geelong and Werribee Cups amongst them. He has had a chequered career with injury and illness often preventing him showing his true potential.

"He's a wonderful racehorse we have had a lot of enjoyment out of him, but he does seem to get into trouble. He injured his leg when he ran third in the Auckland Cup in March and for weeks after and throughout winter Vanessa Randall who does all our horse work here on the farm, hosed his injured fetlock. When he returned to work he spent a couple of months with Moira Murdoch at Kariotahi beach before heading back to Richard Yuill at Pukekohe.

"We are very fortunate to have someone with the qualifications and experience of Vanessa handling our horses for us. We have about 20 acres that we set aside and developed into the 'horse property' and that is her domain. All the mares, foals, racehorses and stock of varying ages are resident there," stressed David.

The Olsen's farm at Kaiaua which is about an hour south east of Auckland is predominantly a fat cattle unit with an increasing amount of forestation. David learnt to ride when he first went shepherding as a youngster and has been a keen horseman ever since.

"I had to groom my horse and the boss's horse each morning before we started work, we used the horses for all the stock work on the station in those days. When I started farming here I still used a hack before I switched to a farm bike, but I still kept a hack or two just to ride.

The Olsen's ventured into the horse business about 10 years ago purchasing a string of well bred fillies with a view to racing them and then breeding from them. These fillies were placed in the care of Colin Jillings and Richard Yuill and all carried the name "Babe". These days the horses all have French names.

They included the Champion Two-Year-Old of 2000-01, Flying Babe (Flying Spur- Cast Your Fate) and the Group Three CJC Gold Cup winner Classic Babe (Classic Fame-Ala Nami) and later another Flying Spur filly Justa Babe (Gift of Wings) who was injured after running a number of places in maiden ranks.

To date the breeding exploits have not really been as successful as the early racing deeds of these mares with Comme Tu Veux being the first stakes winner they have produced and they actually had to buy her back.

"We sold Justa Babe to Windsor Park Stud for the price of a service fee to Volksraad, and as I really liked Howbadouwantit we decided to buy back the filly at the yearling sales. Unfortunately for us, by the time the sales came around Here De Angels had cropped up in Melbourne as a granddaughter of Gift Of Wings and we ended up having to pay $80,000 for her. Needless to say the $50,000 TBS Bonus we won with the Ray Coupland Stakes has helped the pain of that.

Prior to her success in the South Island Comme Tu Vuex loosely translated as 'anyway you like it', had won two races as a two-year-old and was third behind Lamington Vegas in the listed Ryder Stakes. She will probably stay in the South Island and contest the New Zealand Bloodstock 1000 Guineas.

"Flying Babe has not had a lot of success, her first foal by Strategic was injured then she went to Montjeu twice. I copped a bit of flack for sending a speed mare to a staying horse, but both have been winners," he added.

Azincourt has won three races two over 2100 metres, and Dunkerque now a four-year-old is a winner over 1400 metres. Her next foal is La Chatte Vite by One Cool Cat, and she is currently in the paddock having a spell. All are raced by Elizabeth and David.

When selecting a stallion David looks for horses with plenty of length as well as proven pedigree and performance, he then seeks the advice of his good friend Joan Egan, who was the breeder of Flying Babe.

"After One Cool Cat she went to Pins, and left a filly that was born in Queensland, after we sent both Flying Babe and Classic Babe to Show A Heart. Unfortunately they got held up there with EI, and it really did turn into a bit of an expensive disaster, although the yearling filly by Show A Heart out of Flying Babe is a stunner, and she is due to foal to Falvelon.

"Classic Babe was in foal to O'Reilly and that foal needed an operation, and when she needed another one, we ditched her. She subsequently sold for $80,000 odd. Classic Babe had a Show A Heart colt, and she came home empty. This year she has been to Shinko King.

"Classic Babe's early foals by Black Minnaloushe and Pins have done nothing, but her third foal by Montjeu, Passchendaele is doing well for us and won earlier this month. She has had six starts for John Sargent and won three. We have been patient with her and its starting to pay off.

With the Olsen racing team showing form right now, and Mandela campaigning in Australia for the next few weeks, there may be more memorable days with two stakes winners in two countries to come.

- Michelle Saba