Breeders' of the Derby Runners

New Zealand breeders will be hoping one of their products can put aside one of the derby anomalies from last season at Ellerslie on March 1.
The NZ breeding industry was justifiably proud after horses born on this side of the Tasman won four of the five Australian group one derbies – the Australian Derby (Fiumacino), Victoria (Efficient), Queensland (Empire's Choice), and West Australia (Guyno). Only the South Australian Derby, won by Lazer Sharp, avoided them.
For good measure, New Zealand-breds last season also won the Hong Kong Derby (Vital King) and the Singapore Derby (Lim's Prestige). The first group one derby of this season in Australia, the Victoria Derby, also went to a New Zealand-bred, Kibbutz.

But for all this, New Zealand breeders couldn't keep their own derby at home. Last year's New Zealand Derby winner Redoute's Dancer was not only trained by an Australian, he was also bred in Australia by Milburn Creek Stud, and his pedigree (Redoute's Choice (AUS)-Condescendence (USA) by El Gran Senor) contains not a hint of New Zealand blood in it.
This year's NZ Derby field also contains two Australian-breds, both of which have solid prospects. One, Mission Critical, is the second favourite after beating star older horse Sir Slick at weight-for-age in the Te Rapa International Stakes (Gr 1-2000m), while the other, Pierre Joseph, is currently a $16 chance after some useful lead-up form.
Holding fort for the New Zealand-breds are the other 18 contenders, of which Red Ruler, Nom Du Jeu and Six O'Clock News are the most favoured.
Just having a runner in the race is a major triumph for a breeder, and many of this year's contenders will be the first derby runner for their breeder.

The runners, with some pedigree observations, are as follows:1) Mission Critical (AUS): Ch c Fantastic Light (USA) – Trick Taker (USA), by Capote (USA). Bred by Darley Australia. By a world champion who excelled at 2400m. Dam won only once at 1200m but second dam Whist was a winner at 2300m in France. Third dam Wajd was one of the best staying fillies of her year in France, and fourth dam was the great staying mare Dahlia. Showed plenty of ability when winning International Stakes (2000m) and pedigree suggests 2400m should be little problem.
2) Fritzy Boy: Br g Brilliance (USA) – Fritzy Girl (NZ), by Cache Of Gold (USA). Bred by JM Jury. From the first substantial crop of his sire, a $2500 service fee horse last year who won one race of four in the US and a half-brother to Oak Tree Derby winner Lasting Approval. Dam won twice up to 1600m and second dam produced good stayer Hidden Keel, a winner up to 2750m. Yet to race beyond 1600m. Difficult to know if he will stay.
3) Prince Kaapstad: B g Kaapstad (NZ) – Brilliant Princess (NZ), by Spectrum (IRE). Bred by J A Burnet & R M Seal. By an outstanding sire whose top performers include Kaaptive Edition, winner of the BMW (Gr 1-2400m) and second in NZ Derby to The Phantom Chance. Unraced dam by a European Gr 1 winner up to 2000m from a mare that won up to 2200m. Family of Hunza, whose descendants include O'Reilly (a pure speed racehorse) and Our Pompeii (pure stamina, a derby winner and Adelaide Cup winner). Has stamina claims.
4) Red Ruler: B g Viking Ruler (AUS) – Ransom Bay (USA), by Red Ransom (USA). Bred by J S Cornish & Trelawney Stud. Sire a well-related Gr 1 winner up to 1800m in Australia and was well favoured for Victoria Derby before suffering bad injury. Damsire produced winners from sprints to middle distances, including group one winning 2400m horse Ekraar. Second dam Brooke's Tap Shoes a winner of 16 races in the US, including two listed races, and female line has numerous other US listed winners, but not too much sign of stamina in them. Outstanding winner of Championship Stakes (Gr 2-2100m), running race out as if 2400m would be no problem.
5) Sircross: B g Cape Cross (IRE) – Contra Aid (USA), by Hostage (USA). Bred by F Lee. Sire best up to a mile but his produce include champion northern hemisphere staying mare Ouija Board. Dam unraced but has produced six winners from eight to race, mainly up to 1600m. Some good performers back in pedigree that race at varying distances, including top sire Broad Brush and VRC Oaks placegetter Lan Kwai Fong. Good fourth in Championship Stakes. Take on trust at 2400m.
6) Pierre Joseph (AUS): B c Redoute's Choice (USA) – Market Price (AUS), by Scenic (IRE). Bred by Vintage Bloodstock. By outstanding sire, mainly a speed influence but also sired last year's NZ Derby winner Redoute's Choice. Dam a winner of 10 up to 1900m, including VRC Blamey Stakes (Gr 2), damsire the sire of derby winners Universal Prince and Blevic. Fourth dam the dam of VRC Derby winner Red Anchor. Third in Championship Stakes. Likely but not certain to stay 2400m on pedigree.
7) Il Divo: Br g Don Eduardo (NZ) – Rubiton's Best (AUS), by Rubiton (AUS). Bred by A S & Mrs C L McLachlan. Sire a $3.6 million yearling who went on to win AJC Derby, looking every inch a stayer. Damsire outstanding up to 2000m and has produced similar horses, including Fields Of Omagh, winner of two Cox Plates and second to Northerly in a Caulfield Cup. Half-brother to Naturo, twice a group winner at 1200m before injured. Family of many black type horses up to 1600m but also of Metropolitan Handicap winner Electronic and useful Melbourne stayer Sentire. Second in Waikato Guineas (2000m) and should stay.
8) Nom du Jeu: Br c Montjeu (IRE) – Prized Gem (NZ), by Prized (USA). Bred by Mrs W M Morton. By champion European 2400m performer who has sired Derby winners in Europe and last year's NZ Derby runner-up Mettre En Jeu. Dam won a Brisbane Cup (3200m) and Kelt Capital Stakes (2000m). Family full of stamina. Waikato Guineas winner and 2400m will be no problem, though might want some rain.
9) Avancer: Br/bl g Kaapstad (NZ) – Nuance (NZ), by Star Way (GB). Bred by G J & Mrs H A McCarthy. By outstanding sire whose son Kaaptive Edition won BMW (Gr 1-2400m) and narrowly beaten by The Phantom Chance in NZ Derby. Dam a winner at 1200m and half-sister to Monterey Bay, fourth in NZ Oaks. Damsire an outstanding producer of horses from 1200m to 3200m and damsire of Queensland Derby winner Empire's Choice. Limited stamina in family and trip could be a query.
10) Six O'Clock News: B g Zabeel (NZ) – Maurine (NZ), by Harbor Prince (USA). Bred by Mrs H G, Miss K B & W G Bax, Sir Patrick & Lady Hogan. By the leading source of stamina in southern hemisphere. Dam won two Avondale Cups (2200m) and produced NZ St Leger winner Aeroforce One. Sister Maurita won an NZ Oaks and produced Japan Cup winner Marvellous Crown. Second in Championship Stakes and won't lack stamina.
11) Twoeezy: B g Keeper (AUS) – Stareel (NZ), by Zabeel (NZ). Bred by Mrs J P & M M Andersen. Sire a winner of Gr 1 sprint over 1200m and has produced two Gr 1 winners at 1600m in New Zealand and Gr 2 winner over 2000m, Royal Stakes winner Keep The Passion. Dam unraced but by outstanding staying influence and out of NZ Oaks winner Staring. Plenty of stamina on distaff side but doubts about sire's ability to produce 2400m horse.
12) C'est La Guerre: B g Shinko King (IRE) – La Magnifique (NZ), by Kampala (GB). Bred by A & Mrs B C Smith. Sire underrated and has produced NZ Oaks winner Bramble Rose. Dam unraced half-sister to top miler Atrapar and good Sydney galloper Mr Victory, a winner up to 1900m, but did produce steeplechase winner over 4700m. Second in St Leger Trial and winner over 2100m at Wairoa. Will probably stay but untested in this class.
13) Borrack: Ch g Black Minnaloushe (USA) – Swift Swallow (NZ), by Chem (USA). Bred by Mapperley Stud Partnership Syndicate. Sire a group one winner at 1600m in Europe, progeny mainly sprinter-milers to date. Dam produced Zola, winner of ARC Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) and winner up to 1600m. Family almost all sprinters except for third dam Some Swallow's grandson So Casual (by Casual Lies), winner of the NZ Derby in record time. Must be stamina doubts.
14) Steel: B g Zabeel (NZ) – Tennessee Midnight (AUS), by Danehill. Bred by G Harvey. Sire an outstanding stamina influence. Damsire also a breed-shaper, producer mostly of sprinter-milers but also some derby horses. Dam a sprinter and family mainly of speed horses, though third dam Tennessee Vain ran second in VRC Oaks. Disappointed in Championship Stakes but has pedigree to see out the trip.
15) Butwaittheresmore: B/br g Lord Of Warriors (USA) – Wind Flower (NZ), by Sepulveda (USA). Bred by C G Morris. Sire a winner up to 2200m at Hong Kong Gr 3 level; from same family as Fritzy Boy's sire Brilliance. Second dam of sire the dam of Allez France and Noble Bijou. Dam won Dunedin Cup (Gr 3-2300m), second dam won up to 2100m and produced a 2400m winner. Could stay trip but not running in Derby-winning form.
16) Pentour: Br g Pentire (GB) – Our Lucy (AUS), by Walking Ring (IRE). Bred by T N Boys, P G Harris & B G Hutchinson. Sire a high-quality stamina influence, sire of 2004 NZ Derby winner Xcellent among other staying horses. Dam won up to 1800m but black-type stamina not evident until descendants of fourth dam, (Sir) Trutone and Trousseau. Damsire has an 1153m stamina index and has not produced black type winner. Won well over 2100m on Championship Stakes day but will need to improve.
17) Abitofado: Bl c Black Tuxedo (JPN) – Fleet Dream (NZ), by Khozaam. Bred by J M Luxton. Sire a black-type winner in Japan up to 2200m. Dam an unraced half-sister to NZ 2000 Guineas winner Be Boss. Third dam produced Great Northern Oaks (2400m) winner Springtide. May stay but battled in Championship Stakes and appears to lack Derby class.
18) Sing Song Girl: B f Generous (IRE) – Shanghai Girl (GB), by Distant Relative (IRE). Bred by P O'Brien & B Tait. Sire an Epsom and Irish Derby winner whose progeny generally stay. Dam won up to 1200m but produced 3200m. Second dam produced two three-quarter relatives to Sing Song Girl in Europe that won black type races; one won up to 2000m, another to 3900m. Good second to Red Ruler (with all favours compared to winner) in late January, then disappointed Sir Tristram Classic. Can stay but class a question.
19) Thumbs Up: B g Shinko King (IRE) – Regelle (NZ), by Exploding Prospect (USA). Bred by Miss S A Hale, N W Johnstone & R M Stent. By good quality sire whose progeny include NZ Oaks winner Bramble Rose. Damsire mainly a speed influence; family mainly producers of milers but fourth dam produced Queensland Derby runner-up Mr Marceau. Won well at Hastings two starts ago and well fancied in market should he gain a spot in the field.
20) Strengthtostrength: B g Ustinov (AUS) – Raise The Roof (NZ), by Maroof (USA). Bred by GG James & Tom Jamison. From first crop of a son of Melbourne Cup winner Let's Elope that won up to 2000m in AAMI Vase as racehorse. Dam a three-quarter sister to South African champion Hoeberg, multiple group one winner up to 2000m; from family of another South African champ Petrava (by Sir Tristram), a winner up to 1900m. Last-start maiden winner at 1600m but unknown in this class, maybe also some stamina doubts.

- Alastair Bull


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