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Mr Baritone' Stradbroke win a fitting legacy for the late Graeme Stubbings

Mr. Baritone (Stravinsky x Tunisia by Sanglamore), the six-year-old winner of last week's Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane, was bred by Raffles Farms' Fred Lee and the recently deceased Graeme Stubbings. Mr. Baritone is a success of Graeme's making and just the beginning of his legacy.

Graeme's daughter Leigh East, who worked closely alongside her father managing the administrative and accounting duties at Raffles, was touched by the Stradbroke outcome. "Dad watched Mr. Baritone's last race before the Stradbroke and thought he would win but Mr. Baritone just didn't quite get to the winning post in time. So to have the horse win the Stradbroke, a Group 1, just after Dad's passing, is just really special to us, to his legacy. It was a bit too late but I'm sure Dad was watching from somewhere. I believe it's a legacy that will carry on for a long time with the horses Dad has bred," says Leigh.

Graeme Stubbings was diagnosed with a melanoma on his liver three months ago and his health was in rapid decline in the months before his death. "The doctors said he had ten weeks to three months to live and they were right on the money. It was sudden and Dad had a lot to organize pretty quickly. I helped him with the accounts and administrative side, and to hand over the farm. He was just too sickly in the end. He was 62," his daughter Leigh said.

Raffles Farm was established in 1998 by Graeme Stubbings and his business partner Fred Lee of Singapore. Graeme, aware of his impending fate, found overseas investors to take over Raffles with Lee upon his death. Leigh East has stayed on at the farm to manage the accounts and the new owners have hired Bruce Sherwin to manage the farm.

"Raffles Farm has been sold. The new owners took over on the first of June. They bought it before Dad died. About four weeks before he died his business partner (Mr. Lee) came out from Singapore and they did a deal and the new investors are from overseas as well. They found Bruce Sherwin from Macau to manage the property, so he is there now," says East.

After ten years in Macau, Bruce Sherwin is happy to return to New Zealand and Raffles Farm. "We have 150 acres adjacent to Chequers Stud and across the road from Trelawney Stud, so we are well situated for breeding. Basically, it will be business as usual here. We will be looking to invest in new broodmares over the next year to 18 months to add to the dozen mares we have now".

Mr. Baritone's dam Tunisia (GB) (Sanglamore x Tunaria) is a mare Graeme Stubbings bought out of Ireland as part of the first band for Raffles Farm. She was bred by Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, a successful stalwart of breeding in the Northern Hemisphere. He sent her to top European sprinter Stravinsky in his first season at Cambridge Stud. The resultant foal, her first, was Mr. Baritone.

"Dad chose the stallions for her and when Mr. Baritone was 2 years old he sent him to Lance Noble to trial and sell, which is exactly what happened. The colt won a trial and was sold to clients of the Moroney's," says East. Just after the sale Mr. Baritone was injured and spent nearly a year away from the races, but the owners have been rewarded for their patience. "

"He had given us the impression that a win would be just around the corner, but for it to come in the Stradbroke is fantastic. You need a bit of luck in the game and it was his day. He had the draw and was well ridden. The staff were thrilled, some of them are a bit better off financially after the Stradbroke," says Sherwin.

"Going by what Dad said about the horse, we're not surprised at his success," says East. "He was a very straight-up man, when he had a horse that he saw would be nice because it was a good type and pedigree - he just didn't give up on it. He did a lot of work as a bloodstock agent and he wouldn't give up on selling something he thought was a good horse. Sometimes you can be wrong, but dad was very passionate and persistent in that way, and he very rarely was wrong. I had a client of Dad's call me up and say that he should have listened to him and bought Mr. Baritone when it was offered to him."

Graeme Stubbings hailed from the East Coast where he grew up on a sheep and cattle property. East recalls he was always passionate about horses despite his drystock background. "When he moved to the Waikato he brought the passion for thoroughbreds with him and started Raffles Farm. He really commanded respect from people and he got it. The staff at Raffles really respected him, he loved the horses but he really cared for the staff as well."

"Dad had done a lot for us kids in his life so it was nice to be able to take care of him on his deathbed and do something nice for him that mattered," says daughter Leigh.

Tunisia will be represented at Karaka next January with a yearling filly by Breeder's Cup Turf winner Johar. She is currently in foal to Pentire and the staff at Raffles Farm will doubtless look forward to foaling a sibling to a Group 1 winner bred by Graeme Stubbings.

The President, Council and staff extend their sympanthy to the Family of Graeme Stubbings, a long time member of the NZTBA.

- Stacey Akers