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Living the dream through Ististar

A scheme to help a mate with a yearling draft a number of years ago was the catalyst that set Taupo NZTBA members and breeders Steve and Marlene Clark on the path to breeding Saturday's dual Platinum Homes NZ Tauranga Classic Listed winner Ististar(Istidaad- Marlanda Star by Star Way).

"What Ististar has done is a wonderful thrill, breeding a stakes winner is what you dream will happen when you start out and when it does happen the feeling is out of this world. We have been to see a number of her races and seeing her win is an amazing high," said Steve Clark as he recalled how he and Marlene became involved in the breeding industry.

Steve and Marlene, both school teachers, had a passing interest in horse racing, but they had a good friend who was more directly involved in the industry and was preparing a yearling draft for Karaka.

"He didn't really have a standout colt, either on type or pedigree so a group of us including Gordon Calder who was working at Windsor Park Stud at the time, got together and spent $20,000 on a weanling colt by Star Way out of Truism. The colt sold reasonably well to Bevan Laming and as Mr Orbit won a couple of races on the Gold Coast," recalls Clark.

However the seed was sown and not long after the Clarks heard that Truism was for sale and in foal to Star Way so they bit the bullet and bought her, the resulting foal was Marlanda Star – named in recognition of Marlene and the Clark's daughter Amanda. A little later and along came a couple of other mares and a 17 acre property north of Taupo to keep them on.

Truism then went to Woodborough and produced a further two foals before dropping dead from a massive heart attack. By this stage Marlanda Star was of racing age but had received an injury in the paddock as a youngster. Ironically the McKee's were consulted about training her but confirmed that they didn't think the injury would stand up to racing, so the decision to send her to stud was hastened.

"I decided to send her to Istidaad for two reasons. Firstly she didn't have a race record of her own and neither did her mother so I wanted a stallion that was well performed on the racetrack and Istidaad was certainly that. As well someone had told me – and I can't quite recall who it was – had said that Marlanda Star would be best suited by a Danzig line horse – so Istidaad got the nod."

Steve was certainly right about the lack of race performance in the immediate dam line but looking into the pedigree it certainly has its share of good performers. Truism is out of Clue an Imposing mare who won a race at two, she in turn is a half sister to Wallstreet a Group Three winner in Western Australia and a winner of nine races, and Makamint a stakes placed winner of three, and Tea For You who won six races in Hong Kong.

Their dam Hint was South Island Filly of the Year in 1984 winning nine races including three at two. The daughter of Three Legs won five listed events at three and was fourth in the Group One 1000 Guineas behind Burletta. She ran second in the Group Three Arawa Stakes at Rotorua.

Marlanda Star was the Clarks only mare to foal in 2002 and that filly foal being a first foal wasn't all that big. They decided to send Marlanda Star to Nick and Anne-Marie King at Brighthill Farm to be weaned and rather than returning the weanling to Taupo advertised her for sale in the Friday Flash. Tina Bryant responded to the advertisement and purchased herself a filly formed a partnership to race her, named her Ististar and the rest is history.

Ististar has now won nine races and over $300,000 in stakes including bonuses. Her win in the listed Platinum Homes NZ Tauranga Classic for fillies and mares last weekend was her second in that event and her third win at Tauranga, early last month she scored in the Listed Ingham-Sears Mercedes Benz Bay Of Plenty Stakes a fillies and mares event also over 1400 metres.

She backed that form up with a win at Wellington over 1400 metres and went into Saturday's race with almost a month between races. The five year old mare will head to the spelling paddock now – and be served early in the spring before returning to work to have a crack at the Group Two NRM Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes, a race in which she ran a gallant second last year.

"After we bred Ististar we didn't send Marlanda Star to stud for a couple of years. With three mares to send to stud we started consulting Anne Meredith to assist us with our matings. On her advice we sent Marlanda Star to Spectatorial and sold the resulting colt at Karaka this year, and then she went to Sandtrap and produced a gorgeous filly that we may keep, and now is safely in foal to Scardee Cat. Anne has helped us focus on more commercial stallions than we may have considered before."

As well as Marlanda Star the Clarks are breeding from Chateau View(Crested Wave-Chateau Bleau by Rocky Mountain) and Lady Anne(Grosvneor-Show About by Showdown).

"We purchased Lady Anne from the Paramount Lodge dispersal sale in 2004. She was in foal to Arcadian Hero and had left three winners at that stage including Krystal Klear, Hanzan and Unique Express. She had also produced a Mellifont colt that had been sold to Singapore and he turned out to be World Delight, a winner of six races in Singapore."

World Delight's wins include the listed Three Rings Trophy and a second in the Group One Singapore Derby last year, and at his last start in Singapore in late May he finished fourth behind Jay Peg in the Singapore Airlines International Cup Group One. Jay Peg's previous start was winning the Group One Dubai Duty Free Mile in Dubai in March.

"The Arcadian Hero foal is Atalante and she is in work with John Sargeant, we have retained the Thorn Park yearling filly as well. Lady Anne is now in foal to Spartacus."

Chateau View is an unraced daughter of the Stakeswinning mare Chateau Bleau from the family of Mayo Gold and Surfers Paradise. She has a Deputy Governor colt at foot but is not in foal, she has left one winner in Dungarvan Bay.

The 10 years or so that the Clarks have been involved in the breeding industry have certainly been eventful and exciting - Steve is now a relieving teacher to enable him to be "hands on" with the mares and foals, their children are now adults, Amanda is an interior designer in Wellington and Kieran is a panel beater in Taupo, but pops out to feed up when Mum and Dad need to get away, and they are living the dream breeding stakes winners. As for the friend who had that yearling draft that needed an extra colt – well he is no longer involved in the industry but rings up to congratulate and catch up whenever Ististar wins a race!

- Michelle Sabe


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