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Belmont Cat's family has much to purr about

Belmont Cat (Felix the Cat x Morgan Glory by Justice Prevails) braved sheets of rain and a heavy track to take home the New Zealand Bloodstock Listed Warstep Stakes at Riccarton on Saturday, and thus the title 2007-2008 New Zealand Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year. The win added seven points to her previous tally of six earned through placings in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Airfreight Stakes and the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance Stakes at Wingatui.
Belmont Cat's victory on Saturday won her the 2007-2008 NZ Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year title
Photo: Annie Studholme



Timaru resident Eddie Thompson and his wife Betty bred the lightly-tried three year old filly and are delighting in her success. The Thompson's bred Belmont Cat's dam Morgan Glory in partnership with their longtime friend Mr GV Clough. "She is by an unpopular sire and you know when I went to the stud I had no intention of sending Morgan Glory to Felix the Cat," says Thompson.

Following his intuition and good judgement, Eddie Thompson made a decision that would produce a stakes winner. "I was going to send her to another sire Wynyard Lodge Stud stood at the time but when I saw his athletic appearance and general conformation I changed my mind, and she went to Felix the Cat."

The story doesn't end there. Belmont Cat was orphaned from birth and learned her trademark toughness from an early age. "We were terribly sad when Morgan Glory died foaling Belmont Cat," says Thompson. "You see when the mare died our partner had dispersed all his property and we had no where to raise her. Being elderly, we didn't want to get up every two hours and feed a foal as you have to do with an orphan foal and we had nowhere to keep her."

"The first people we consulted was our very good friends the Maynes - he's the President of the Timaru Racing Club and he and his wife are very avid racing fans and breeders. We asked them if they could do something with the foal, so they fed her and then the vet Miss Williamson within a week had found a standardbred mare who had lost her foal. They put them together and she took to the foal with no trouble, which you know can be a very difficult thing to achieve."

The Thompson's showed their appreciation to the Maynes and Miss Williamson by gifting them the foal, and they now race her in partnership. As for the Thompson's, Eddie says, "Currently we don't have any mares. We are elderly and we don't have a property to run them. We have a share in a filly named Tantalize. She is by Postponed out of a mare that we bred named Amara. We go to the races frequently, we're a bit one-eyed, though - we go when there's something running that we've been involved with."

"We've been lifelong racing fans, we've always enjoyed racing and been interested in thoroughbreds particularly. I come from Irish descent, my parents were always keen on horses, and it was always in the back of my mind. And of course being a Fisher and Paykel dealer I was influenced by Sir Wolf Fisher who had established Ra Ora Stud way back," says Thompson.

Their direct involvement in thoroughbred racing began nearly 40 years ago. "I was in the electrical appliance trade as a retailer and a friend (GV Clough) and I decided we would start a little interest by purchasing a couple of broodmares," says Thompson.

"So we first of all purchased a horse to race and then we went on and started breeding. The mares we bought weren't in the top category but one of them was Take Courage (Darnley x Vesture) who is sort of a foundation mare for us. Milton Leigh (Heir Apparent II x Woodleigh) was another one which we raced and did well breeding from."

Belmont Cat can be traced back to Take Courage. Her dam Morgan Glory was bred from Morgan Page (Balmerino x Take Courage). "Morgan Page was an extremely promising horse trained by Jan Hay. Then we also had Morgan Bay from her, who held the track record at Riccarton for a long time for 1200 metres as well as Lodore Magic. Then we bred Morgan Glory and she was a nice horse trained by Mandy Brown," says Thompson.

Milton Leigh became the dam of 1990 Magic Millions Classic winner Milton Magic. "We were fortunate enough to have some luck because we bred the winner of two Magic Millions races a few years apart. One was Milton Magic (Famous Star x Milton Leigh) and the other was Lodore Magic (Kingdom Bay x Morgan Page)," he says.

Lodore Magic won the 1996 running of the Listed Magic Millions Classic and a few weeks later went on to win the Group 2 Matamata Breeder's Stakes.

"It was that success that set us up and put us on a better plane. We moved up to better stallions like Kingdom Bay. We carried that on until my partner Mr. Clough died. Now we mostly play golf and bowls when we're not watching Trackside. My wife is an avid gardner and we just love our garden. Really we've had tremendous success with horses and an awful lot of pleasure out of it."

- Stacey Akers