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Needuask the first stakeswinner for Bruce Vickers

Bruce Vickers could be forgiven for thinking the thoroughbred game is easy.
Vickers and his racing partner John Gilbert had instant success when their first buy proved to be a group three-winning racemare who has produced three multiple winners her first three foals.

The latest of them, Needuask, became the first stakeswinner they bred themselves when he won the Concorde (Gr 2-1200m) at Avondale on December 5.

Vickers, a marine engineer, moved to Levin about 10 years ago from Wellington, partly on the advice of Horowhenua identity Warren Robinson. Shortly afterwards Robinson, who had by this stage done well with the multiple stakes winner Waihora's Lass, convinced Vickers and Gilbert, a real estate agent from Pukerua Bay, to get into racing.

"I'd only been to the races a couple of times but Warren talked me into going and then into buying a horse with him and Grant Laursen," Vickers said.
"We got Sky Mist from a farm in Hawke's Bay for about $10,000 and it went from there."

Sky Mist turned out to be very good, winning three races, including the Gold Trail Stakes (Gr 3-1200m) at Hastings in 1996.

Sky Mist went to stud in 1999, by which time Laursen had passed his share onto Robinson, Vickers and Gilbert. Knowing little about breeding, Vickers sought out Gerald Fell of Fairdale Stud near Palmerston North, and to date all of Sky Mist's foals have been from Fairdale sires.

"I asked if he was interested in doing a 50-50 share deal with him and once he looked at the family he was very interested," Vickers said.
"I owe a lot to Gerald and Rex Fell. They've been fantastic and looked after the mare and her foals."

Sky Mist's first filly was Phaedra, by Jetball, a winner of six. By the time she produced her second filly, Robinson had sold his share, leaving Vickers and Gilbert in sole ownership of the mare, and they have also retained Phaedra.

Getting a filly that wins six races from a mare's first foal is good enough, but even better was to follow. Sky Mist's second foal was Anca, by Howbaddouwantit, a winner of seven races for the Stephen Marsh stable, including a race in Queensland.
"She's very good but she injured herself last year. I believe she's back in training now and hopefully she'll get back to her best."

Fell convinced Vickers and Gilbert that Howbaddouwantit was a good match for Sky Mist and she went back to him straight after producing Anca. The result was Needuask.

"He was a very nice foal – a little shy, but very nice. All her foals seem to be good types," Vickers said.

Fairdale took Needuask to Karaka in 2005 and sold him to Aucklander Barry Neville-White for $34,000. He soon showed the family ability and had won four times from 16 starts prior to the Concorde, which he won easily.

Somewhat fortunately, Vickers and his wife Pat were there to watch Needuask win the Concorde.

"I've had to come to Auckland for a kidney operation, which I had on October 19," he said. "I'm still recovering but when we were told that Needuask was running in the Concorde we thought we'd come along. It was a real thrill to see him win."

Sky Mist next went to Riviera, producing a three-year-old colt now named Want, before going back to Howbaddouwantit and producing a colt. Both went to Karaka and both were knocked down to Stephen Marsh, who had clearly become a fan since seeing what Anca could do, for $30,000 and $80,000 respectively.

Sky Mist also has a yearling filly by Howbaddouwantit but was not served last year and is having trouble getting in foal this year.

"Duncan Fell rang to say she's having trouble holding," Vickers said. "We're going to get her cleaned out in the hope that she can foal, but she may miss this year as well."

Vickers' success has seen him increase his broodmare band to four, though his two stars are definitely Sky Mist and Phaedra, who this year produced a foal to Howbaddouwantit. For the future, Vickers is considering other mating options for Sky Mist, especially after her last foal made it to premier level at Karaka.

"I think she'd go well with Pins," he said. "But for now we just want to make sure she can keep a foal."


- Alastair Bull