The Wellington Branch of the NZTBA held their annual awards evening last Thursday recognising the achievements of local breeders.
The event, run in conjunction with the annual general meeting, was held at the QT Museum Hotel and saw breeders of six stakes winners honoured with Breeding Excellence Awards.
Bagalollies, dam of Gr.1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) winner Toffee Tongue, was named as Broodmare of the Year while the coveted Horse of the Year Award was won by Two Illicit and presented to her co-breeder/owner Faith Taylor who said she was pleasantly surprised but the honour.
“I wasn’t expecting to get the Horse of the Year award,” Taylor said. “It was a great thrill and it is sitting on my dining room table much admired.”
A winner of the Gr.2 Royal Stakes (2000m), Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) and Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial Stakes (1500m), Two Illicit is yet to run out of the money in seven starts and was also runner up in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
The daughter of Jimmy Choux is raced by Taylor in partnership with Brent and Cherry Taylor, Jane Taylor and Scott Malcom, with her runner-up finish in the NZ Derby a standout performance.
“I actually thought her run in the Derby was wonderful,” Taylor said. “She was the only filly in the field and though she was beaten she fought every minute of the way and I thought she raced a bit like a colt.
“She’s got that personality, she is really tough, but is absolutely wonderful. I was very proud of her that day.”
Current executive chair of the TAB Dean McKensie was guest speaker on the night, with NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry and NZTBA CEO Justine Sclater also in attendance.
The evening was also marked by long-serving president Darryl Burrow stepping down from the role he has held for 15 Years. Alex Kelly, a current council member of the national body, was elected as the new President.
“I’m leaving it in very capable hands with Alex,” Burrow said. “I have great confidence in Alex and the committee and am sure the branch will continue to be successful.”
“I’m quite proud of our little branch to be honest,” Burrow said. “Of the 70 members there would be less than half breeding, most are people with an interest or have been breeders in the past.
“The results year in year out are always excellent.”
Burrow can recall several highlights during his tenure but is most proud of the contribution the branch has made to furthering the education and careers of young people.
“A definite highlight is that we are still going with members that are still active in breeding and being successful. We also have some money in the bank which is good.
“Probably the most important thing we have done is set up two scholarships. One to the English National Stud and one to the Irish National Stud.
“We sent 33 young people overseas before it was taken over by Faith Taylor and the Keith Taylor Trust. They have sent one, sometimes two, to the Irish National Stud each year ever since.
“I’m a big believer in education and worldliness, which is what the scholarship does. It gives them an introduction into how things are done in other parts of the world, international contacts and builds confidence. It gives them a great exposure to different things and life experience.”
Burrow was the deserving recipient of the John A Higgs Award, recognising his accomplishments and continued support of and service to the thoroughbred sector.
Wellington based breeder John Higgs was a foundation member of the NZTBA when it was established in the 1940’s. He continued on to bred and race horses right through until the 1980’s and his last horse before he passed away was Vin d’Amour who won the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Breeding Excellence Awards
John Barnao, Tommy Heptinstall and Tom Pivac for Toffee Tongue, winner of the Gr.1 SAJC Australasian Oaks
Faith Taylor for Two Illicit, winner of the Gr.2 Royal Stakes, Gr.2 Waikato Guineas, and the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial Stakes
Peter Sewell for Mauna Kea winner of the Gr.3 Thompson Handicap
Lib Petagna for Frosted Gold winner of the SAF Gr.3 Graham Beck Stakes
Lib Petagna for River Capri winner of the Listed The O'Leary's Fillies Stakes
Luigi Muollo for Sitarist winner of the Listed Dunedin Gold Cup
Broodmare of the Year
Bagalollies- dam of Toffee Tongue, owned by John Barnao, Tommy Heptinstall and Tom Pivac
Runner up: Gemini- dam of Two Illicit, owned by Faith Taylor
Horse of the Year
Two Illicit, part-owned by Faith Taylor
Runner up: Scott Base, part-owned by Chris Rutten
John A Higgs Award