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Australian Group Two success for hobby breeders

Rotorua breeders Jenny and Murray McKechnie describe themselves as hobby breeders with one mare. Therefore breeding Gallopin, the winner of the Group Two Moonee Valley Cup, is quite an achievement.

"We keep pinching ourselves, and keep thinking how lucky we are that our one mare has done so well for us," a delighted Murray McKechnie enthused.

Their mare is Carla Rossi, a daughter of Spectacular Love and Live In Peace by War Hawk II from Peerless Peg, a Taipan II mare who left the Group winner Size Ten, and descends from the same family as the hardy campaigners Sindacato and El Questro who each won nine races.

She is the dam of Gallopin and seven other foals, including Mr Sportsman (O'Reilly), a winner of five races in Queensland before being sold to Macau, Rosellini a placed mare by Pompeii Court and Third Avenue a Pentire gelding who races in Singapore.

Her three-year-old Pins filly namely Miss High Heels – a full sister to Gallopin- is in work with Murray and Bjorn Baker, and her O'Reilly two-year-old filly was purchased by two of the owners of Gallopin, Steve and Len Phillips, for $210,000 at Karaka last January. She has a filly foal by No Excuse Needed and is in foal to that sire again.

"We have had this family for three generations now, as a fan of War Hawk II I bought Live In Peace and raced her, she was placed and then had a wind problem, we sent her to Spectacular Love and she produced just two foals; Amedeo Modigliani who won a race and Carla Rossi who won two."

"We are racing Miss High Heels and she has shown a bit, but we are not going to rush her. Gallopin took time to mature and look what he has done, so we will be patient with this filly.

"We have always had a very close relationship with the Chittick's and Waikato Stud and that is where Carla Rossi went to reside when she retired and that is where she lives now.

"Our philosophy with breeding is to breed to race or sell. We use stallions with worthwhile commercial possibilities and our association with Waikato Stud horses has suited us well. Over the years we have managed to 'break even' and this year for the first tim, selling the O'Reilly filly for over $200,000 has put us in the black."

A barrister based in Rotorua, Murray McKechnie has a number of clients throughout the North Island and as well as standard court work is regularly called upon to assist in judicial matters in the racing industry. He grew up in the South Island and attended his first race meeting at Riverton when he was aged about seven. He has been a fan ever since!

His family had no interest in racing or breeding, but he caught the bug and while studying at Otago University was a frequent visitor to the Wingatui racecourse. He developed a passion for pedigrees and admits to peering in stud books and stallion registers since he was a child. It's all part of the hobby.

He and his wife Jenny are relishing the success of Gallopin and were in Sydney when he ran fourth in the Metropolitan Handicap earlier this month, on an unsuitable track.

"The Phillips' boys are such enthusiastic owners and we have got to know them quite well and that makes it all the more exciting for us watching Gallopin achieve what he has. He has only had 18 starts for eight wins and over $500,000 in stakes," said McKechnie.

There is no doubt that there will be lots more excitement to come for the McKechnie's as the Spring carnival proceeds and if their luck continues there will be a lot more occasions when they will be overwhelmed by the achievements of their one mare.

- Michelle Saba


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