Laminton Vegas earns plaudits for her breeder

Ryder Stakes winner Lamington Vegas
Photo: NZTM website
The breeder of Lamington Vegas (Elusive City-Piece of Cake), the recent winner of the listed Ryder Stakes, Waikato Branch member Joan Egan is quite philosophical about the fact that she no longer owns her dam Piece of Cake.

"I sold Piece of Cake at the May sale at Karaka. It was time for me to scale down some of my interests and I reluctantly let her go. I think I was the only vendor at the sale who was crying because I had sold," she quipped.

The lucky purchaser of the mare was Hawkes Bay breeder and NZTR Industry Marketing Co-ordinator Jo Griffin.

"I am happy for her new owners. I like to sell horses with some value still left in them and 'Cake' is still a relatively young mare and all of her foals to race have been winners.

Joan bought 'Cake' in Australia specifically to send to some of the stallions she had shares in that she didn't want to send her best mares too.

"I have always been a fan of Snippets and it was a useful pedigree, and I knew she would suit a wide range of stallions. She has already left four winners Tariki (Sandpit) has won six races in Australia, Mahnik Bashah (Mellifont) has won five races in Singapore, Coretta (Deputy Governor) won one race, and Mud Cake (San Luis) didn't race and she has since become a hack.

"I went to Elusive City because of my association with Brent Taylor and Trelawney Stud – we bred Astronomia (King's Best- Astralita) a stakes winner in the United States - in partnership together. It was the first season Elusive City stood in New Zealand, and I liked the big strong horse. Lamington Vegas was always a lovely foal and she grew into a lovely filly.

"I decided to sell her as a weanling as I thought that would be the best place to market her, and it was a great result. A very good judge in Jo Wilding from Te Mania Thoroughbreds purchased her for $35,000. She then prepared her for the yearling sales and Lance O'Sullivan bought her for $110,000 for a client, who races her from Andrew Scott's stable, and now she is a stakes winner.

"The mare went back to Elusive City and produced an even nicer foal, but unfortunately I over fed her and she didn't present all that well at the sales and was sold to a gentleman in Taranaki for $8,000 – he's a very delighted gentleman right now owning the full sister to a stakes winner!

"And that was the same price Jo Griffin paid for 'Cake' in foal to Spartacus at the May sale."

Jo attended the May sale with the intention of purchasing some nice weanlings to pin hook and sell as yearlings, but was unable to find anything in her price range. Instead she came home with three lovely mares.

"I always wanted a Snippets mare but could never afford one," said Jo, "there is certainly plenty of value in buying mares in these current times, if you are establishing a band of mares, especially if you can get them at these realistic prices in foal to good stallions.

"She is a lovely mare and Lamington Vegas winning the Ryder is just a huge thrill, we have already booked the mare to return to Elusive City," concluded Jo.

Under the Pacific Trust banner Jo purchased two other mares, both by Bigstone, and in foal to Iffraaj - Granita (ex Café Miss) a winning half sister to two stakes winners, and Trebuchet (ex Prunotto) the dam of two winners and a half sister to Shy Hero.

It was not an easy decision for Joan to scale down her mares, but she still has 10 mares expecting foals this spring and they will go back to stud.

These mares include Cast Your Fate, the dam of the stakes winners Flying Babe and Belle Femme, who is also now part of the broodmare band and resides mainly in Australia. Joan owned Cast Your Fate with her good friend from Clevedon, Marilyn Kent who passed away earlier this year. Joan's interest in breeding was developed while she lived in Clevedon, about 15 years ago.

A keen horsewoman who enjoyed dressage and hunting, she found arthritis was curtailing her riding career, and she thought she would have a go at breeding a hack. Another neighbour Brian Collins, President of the Auckland Branch of the NZTBA at the time, persuaded her to breed a thoroughbred instead, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Joan and her husband Peter have since relocated to Te Kowhai where they reside on Legacy Lodge along with Joan's mares. Her weanlings are resident at Trelawney Stud.

Not to be left out, Peter decided he would take an interest in this racing business and joined a racing syndicate. Luckily for him it was the syndicate that raced the Group One two-year-old winner San Luis, and following that success he took a share in St Reims, the Group One New Zealand Derby winner. Peter has since retired from race horse ownership.

"I am still waiting for my Oaks winner and I want to breed classic horses," added Joan.

"I still believe that we breed the best classic horses in New Zealand. Even if the Aussies do have the best sprinters in the world, we still breed better classic horses. This year I will send a mare to St Reims, he's a classic horse, and I think he will do well.

"I want to make enough out of my breeding investment to pay for itself, and that doesn't include my wages. I work for nothing because like most breeders I love my horses.

"It is hard because the best stallions are too expensive and the preparation costs for yearlings have risen about 20% and the sales returns are down by about 30%. It is a lot tougher than when I started. The demand is greater at Karaka - you need to have the best conformed horses and it has turned into a fashion parade and a pedigree parade.

"You need to be pretty resilient, and that is what I believe most breeders are, and those fellow breeders and their passion is one of the things I love about this game."

- Michelle Saba