Generations of breeding reward the Fraser family

For many years the backbone of the New Zealand breeding and racing industry lay in the provinces with farmers who had a mare or two, and a racehorse or two, in the back paddock.

Sir Patrick Hogan (2nd from left), sponsor of the Sir Tristram Fillies Classic, with representatives of Due Diligence's ownership group at the presentation ceremony
Photo: Trish Dunell
The local racing club was a social focal point and trips to the local race meetings were often family affairs, and generations of New Zealanders got involved in the racing and breeding game through their family and kept their equine families going the same way.

The equine family of the WRC Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (GR 2) winner Due Diligence (Danasinga – My Amazing Grace) is one such family. The Fraser family of Halcombe, about 10 minutes inland, east of Feilding, have been racing and breeding this family for over 50 years.

According to Tom Fraser who farms a sheep, cattle and cropping farm that he has lived on all his life, his mother Olga owned My Amazing Grace ( Seige Perilous), and her mother Amazing Grace, (Sobig- Aurora's Pride) who was bred by another Mrs Fraser being Tom's grandmother.

"My grandfather Tom was New Zealand Owner of the Year in 1931, and owned the winners of over 100 races, including Hunting Cry who won the Derby and five days later won the Railway, so I guess you could say that racing and breeding are in the blood," said an obviously delighted Tom Fraser when discussing the win of Due Diligence.

"Mum raced all this family, she raced the grandam Amazing Grace who won six races, she was a sister to So and So who won 24 races including a listed steeplechase in Germany and a half sister to Gatcombe(All A'Light) who won six races including the AJC Chairman's Handicap. He was also third in the AJC Sydney Cup. They were out of Aurora's Pride (Tauloch – Lady Aurora) herself the winner of 10 races including the WRC Parliamentary Handicap – she was a good mudder!

"From Amazing Grace she bred Gatcombe's Pride who we raced from Don Grubb's stable. He had also trained Gatcombe. Gatcombe's Pride(Vice Regal) was a great horse - he won 15 races, including the ARC Cornwall Handicap twice and the Trophy Handicap at Tauranga which was also Group Three.

"Mum died in 1994 and I started breeding from My Amazing Grace shortly after that.
She went twice to Vice Regal and left a three race winner in Auorica who we are also breeding from, and then we joined forces with the fELL boys at Fairdale Stud.

"My boys, Stuart, Eion and Hamish are all mad keen on the game as well and have been involved in breeding from My Amazing Grace. We are hobby breeders and we have to sell a few to keep going. Over the past 10 years we have been involved with the Fell boys whom we have always known, and we go halves in the yearlings we take to Karaka," he explained.

My Amazing Grace produced a colt to Oregon in 1999, which was sold at Karaka to Singapore interests for $32,000. He was named Dreyfuss and won the Singapore Derby. The following year she produced another colt to the same sire and he sold to John Wheeler for $46,000. He was named Treefeller and was placed. The mare then produced two fillies by Howbaddouwantit, the second of which went to Western Australia for $50,000. Her Riveria foal was retained by the family and leased to the South Island and will return to go to stud next season.

"Due Diligence was bred using the Fells' nomination from their share in Danasinga (AUS).
She was an outstanding individual, always a looker, and we sold her to Lance O'Sullivan for $50,000. This year we passed in another Howbaddouwantit filly at Karaka who is also a lovely looker, and brought her home to Halcombe where most of our horses are kept. Unfortunately My Amazing Grace died last season, shortly after producing a stunning Lucky Unicorn filly.

"We also sent Auorica to Lucky Unicorn at the same time and we are very pleased with that foal as well. A group of us are racing her first foal Lozen (Daggers Drawn) and her second foal also by that sire is being raced by Stuart and his friends. We sold a His Royal Highness colt from this mare at the Ready to Run sale last November.

"It was a great thrill for all of us to see Due Diligence win the Group Two race, especially for Hamish who is home from London at the moment. Coincidently he was at Canterbury University with some of the members of the Ona Bender Syndicate, Matt Karam and Tim Gillespie," said Fraser.

There are 10 members all together in the syndicate and they are, as the name would suggest, having a lot of fun, and it's a case of third time lucky as the syndicate had previously lost the first two fillies they tried to race. The syndicate also includes former All Black Byron Kelleher and former Chiefs and Waikato player Sims Davidson, whose family are involved with Mapperly Stud which is why she races in tthe Mapperley colours.

Hamish Fraser is a commodity trader in London, and his brother Stuart is currently also in the United Kingdom, living in Harrowgate where his wife is a veterinary pathologist. The third brother Eion lives in Auckland and works for New Zealand Bloodstock Limited in the Airfreight Division. Needless to say, as Due Diligence heads onwards towards the Group One New Zealand Oaks, they will all be keeping in touch and paying close attention to what is happening at Ellerslie in the first week of March, then at Trentham a fortnight later.

- Michelle Saba


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