A gold medal for her marching team and a Group Two winner in one weekend provided a huge thrill for Matamata septuagenarian Glenice Dando.
Dando, along with her son Casey, is the breeder of Tokorangi (Redwood[GB]- Agent Ziva) who took out the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas at Te Rapa in impressive style, and for good measure she also has a share in the smart filly.
However, commitments to her Leisure Marching team saw her in Whanganui instead of Te Rapa for the Annual Masters Games, where the Matamata based team won Gold and had two third placings.
“I scared the living daylights out of the girls in the van on Saturday,” said Dando who returned to marching about 12 years ago, a sport she was involved in up until she was 17, after a hiatus of 46 years.
“We were out the back of Marton somewhere with no cell phone coverage, and I knew we weren’t going to be anywhere where we could watch the race. So, when we did get some coverage, I sent Casey a text and said just send me a text after the race.
“The next time we got coverage my phone pinged, and the text said WON. For some reason the van load of ten women had chosen that moment to all stop talking, and I let out this almighty screech and said she won.
“We had a little celebration that evening though, and a few of the husbands backed her as well.”
It was a well-deserved win for Tokorangi who has had only eight starts and has never been out of the money. As a two-year-old she ran second on debut in December and won at her next start in January. She was put aside and appeared fresh up in the spring in the Gr.3 Hawkes Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes over 1200 metres where she finished fourth.
At her next start the Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard trained filly ran a creditable third in the Gr.3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) after failing to find clear ground. A tilt at a Group One saw her travel south to Riccarton and step up to 1600m in the New Zealand 1000 Guineas where she finished fifth after being badly hampered at the 400 when making a late run.
Following a brief let up she returned on Boxing day to run fifth in the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes, before a game finish in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) in late January.
“Pam (Gerard) has always said she would be a stayer,” said Dando, “and I was really interested to see how she would go over 2000m and she did. She was running to the line very strongly. I always wanted to breed a stayer, and now it looks like I might have.”
The Dando’s bred Tokorangi from a family they have nurtured for over 30 years, after Glenice and her late husband Ron purchased her third dam Mezmerize (Marceau[AUS]- Zamareign) as a yearling. In fact it was almost 34 years to the day since Ron Dando passed away when Tokorangi won, and it seemed very fitting that such a significant winner should descend from the last horse he purchased.
“We went to the Karaka sales with some friends as we were selling a horse,” Dando recalled.
“On the way up we said to the husbands don’t buy anything. We sold the horse and us ladies trotted off to the bar to drink bubbles. Casey kept coming in and asking me to look at a filly with him. She had already been through the ring and passed in.
“So, off we trotted in our high heels and there was Mezmerize and she was a gorgeous filly hence a couple of half-cut ladies made an offer on her, and they took it, and we brought her home.
“About three or four weeks later Ron passed away and left me with this filly and as it was the last one he had bought I took a few friends in and raced her. When I named her, I wanted to keep the Z from her dam Zamareign who was by Zamazaan (FR) so I named her Mezmerize and just swapped the s’s for z’s.
“I kept it going right through with Bemuze and her daughter Agent Ziva until Tokorangi which Dennis Ryan (Matamata identity and well-known industry administrator and journalist) actually named, Tokorangi being an area in the Redwood forest just outside Rotorua.
“When Pam has a syndicate horse, she gets all the owners to submit a name and then draws them out of the hat. Dennis was the lucky owner and he still apologises for not putting a Z in the name.”
Tokorangi was purchased by Paul Moroney from Bradbury Park’s Book Two draft at Karaka in 2019, and was placed in the Moroney/Gerard stable for syndication. Dando races the filly with her good friend Maureen Allison and fellow syndicate members Aziz Kheir, Matthew Hamilton, James Harrison, Christopher Swadling, Michael Kerz, Dennis Ryan, Savvy Racing Steelers Syndicate (Mgr: Keith McDonald) and Paul Magill.
“I hadn’t wanted to sell her as a yearling, but Casey and Michelle were in the business (Bradbury Park) and needed the cashflow, her reserve was $25,000 – and she went for $30,000. I had forgotten about her, and then Casey told me they were still looking for owners,” Dando said.
“So, I made enquiries with Pam and the filly had just had a trial and run third, and I liked what I saw. Maureen kept hassling me and saying we needed to get another racehorse, so I rang her and told her I was buying back in and she said I’m in and that’s how we bought our small share. I said to her, but you don’t even know how much, and she said I don’t care I’m in.”
Allison had been in a number of horses over the years with Dando dating back to when her husband Ron was alive. It was through him that her involvement in thoroughbreds came about. Ron Dando started out at 14 as an apprentice jockey, and when he became to heavy, retrained as a plasterer.
“When you have been involved with horses it’s hard to give them up,” she said, “and once we were married and living in Tauranga Ron had a go at training. He trained a reasonably good horse called Hudu and then he thought he would get another one and then another one. We eventually moved to Matamata and bought a property and got a few horses around us.
“Initially I was petrified of them, but I have learnt a lot over the years.”
Hudu (Mabub Aly[GB]-Stradella) won nine races including the Listed Avondale Jockey Club Anzac Day Handicap, he was a half-brother to the Perth Cup winner Ulyatt and the Arodella who won 10 races.
Harking back to Mezmerize she was a talented mare winning seven races up to 1600m including the Listed Matamata Cup, a race she was also placed second in. She was campaigned in Australia where she ran second in the Gr.3 AJC City of Liverpool Cup, and the Listed Belle of the Turf Stakes at Gosford.
A daughter of Marceau(AUS) she was a half-sister to the Gr.2 P.J. O’Shea Stakes winner Mountain Rule, her dam Zamareign was unraced, and she in turn was a sister to Inhabitant the dam of the stakes winners Romford and Crystal Brook. They were daughters of Bygone(GB) a Busted(GB) mare imported by Whakanui Stud, whose descendants also include the group one winner Heroicity and stakes winners Jan Valachi, Aquinas, Global Win, My Mo Rally and Le Drakkar.
At stud Mezmerize produced five named foals, four of whom were winners, Bemuze, Peirize, Inept and Magical Stare. Bemuze was retained by Dando and went on to produce six winners with all but one with Z in their name. Maz Quin – named after the champion surfer but with an N dropped off his surname – was the best winning three races and running second in the Gr.3 Cambridge Breeders Stakes, before being sold to Hong Kong. There as Regency Dragon he went on to win a further three races and place in the Listed HKJC Sprint Cup and Macau Trophy.
Zoe Quin (by Kashani[USA]) won four races and has left a winner in Singapore in Sayonara (by Shocking[AUS]), Themoneyzmine (by O’Reilly) also won four and left Cate Blanca (by Cape Blanco [IRE]) a winner last season, and High Viz (by Perfectly Ready[AUS]) and Nga Tim (by Kashani) each won two races.
The sixth winner Agent Ziva (by Savabeel[AUS]) won five races and is the dam of Tokorangi. Her first foal a filly by Reliable Man(GB) has been retained by the Dando’s and is destined for the broodmare paddock. Her next two matings were to Redwood(GB) that produced Tokorangi and her two-year-old sister Platinum Oak who purchased last year by Lisa Latta for $17,000. She has a filly by El Roca(AUS) at foot, but unfortunately didn’t hold her mating to Ten Sovereigns(IRE).
“Agent Ziva is my last mare,” mused Dando, “Heartache who has been so good to us is retired now and living a free happy horse life on the farm.”
Heartache was the dam of seven winners including the Gr.2 Emancipation winner Sworn To Secrecy (by Keeper[AUS]) along with the stakes placed winners Bear Heart, One Night Stand, and Tenko. Another daughter Accidentally In Love left the multiple listed winner Guns At Five, and the stakes placed Fantastic Honour.
But for now, Dando has plenty on her plate, including a place in her marching team which is due to compete in the North Island and National Championships the day before Tokorangi has a tilt at the Derby, setting her up for another memorable weekend. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA