Leading into the Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas this weekend Mount Maunganui based breeder Peter Gillespie is facing a few sleepless nights.
He will be wondering how Lion’s Roar – the Contributor colt he bred - will fare given his impressive win recently in the Gr.1 Randwick Guineas (1600m).
“It’s the first (Group One winner) I have bred,” Gillespie said.
“It was a huge thrill, I couldn’t sleep that night I was so filled with expectation of where we were going next, can he win the Rosehill Guineas, will he get to the Derby? It’s very exciting.”
The second favourite for the Rosehill Guineas, Lion’s Roar is the winner of four races from seven starts. Trained by John O’Shea he won on debut as a two-year-old in April last year, before being put aside. He ran second fresh up in August over 1400m and backed that up with a win over 1600m three weeks later.
Win number three followed at his next start over 1870m, and he was then stepped up to Group One company in the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) finishing second to Montefilia before being spelled again.
He appeared fresh up in the Gr.2 Hobartville Stakes and finished a creditable fifth, before a scintillating run out wide saw him cause an upset in the Randwick Guineas, winning by a decisive 1.3 lengths, and giving his young High Chaparral(IRE) sire Contributer his first Group One winner.
Lion’s Roar is the fourth foal of the Black Minnaloushe(USA) mare Minnaleo (NZ), a mare Gillespie bought as a yearling from Windsor Park Stud and raced to win four races. She was then dispatched to Wellfield Stud where Gillespie keeps five mares he owns outright, and the 10 he has in shares with Bill Gleeson’s Wellfield Holdings that are in his Pee Gee Bloodstock portfolio.
“I do most of my breeding with Bill, I leave that side of things to him, I trust his guidance and directions the majority of the time. I leave it to him to make the decisions and I just pay for them!” he explained with a hint of humour.
“The mating was done on Bill’s recommendation, unbeknown to me I had a share in Contributer that I knew nothing about until the foal was born.”
Minnaleo's first foal Minnamosa (by Alamosa) won four races in Australia, her second foal Pipsqueak Rose, also by Alamosa, has been placed four times in six starts, while her third foal is unraced.
Minnaleo has not had a foal since Lion’s Roar but is now in foal to Vespa. She in turn is out of the Grosvenor mare The Mighty Lions, the winner of six races including the Avondale Cup when it was a Group One event, a race she was also second in.
The Mighty Lions is a half-sister to the Marenostro a listed winner of 10 races and the stakes placed winners Promise Keeper and Grandissima. She is the dam of Vaquera (by High Chaparral[IRE]) and thus closely related to Lion’s Roar, the winner of three races including the Gr.3 Newcastle JC Tibbie Stakes, who was Group One placed in the Queensland Oaks.
This is the family that has also produced the Group One winners Press Statement and Pressday.
On the subject of Gillespie's broodmare portfolio, the Champion racemare Shez Sinsational is probably the one he is most proud of. The winner of 12 races including the Group One Auckland Cup, Zabeel Classic, Hawkes Bay Spring Classic and the Waikato International Stakes, she was crowned Champion Stayer in the 2011-12 season.
“Shez Sinsational has been a very rewarding broodmare for us,” Gillespie said.
“With House of Cartier and Sinarahma both placed at Group One level, we still own House of Cartier but sold Sinarahma as a yearling. The last one that we took to the market in 2020 was a filly by Savabeel that we got $420,000 for. Funnily enough it was purchased by a fellow who I bought my house off so I got some of my money back, then she went back to Peter Didham’s so she went back on the same float that she came up to Karaka on.
“From what Bill tells me our group of broodmares is as good as any major breeder in New Zealand.”
Included in that group is the group one placed mare Abeautifulred, whose Exceed and Excel(AUS) daughter Excelleration a dual stakes winner is currently racing for Gleeson and Gillespie, in the Wellfield colours, in fact is a live chance in Saturday’s Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes along with another mare they own Jessiegee. Just to add to the excitement of the race Sinarahma is also in the field.
Gillespie does have his own green and white colours which reflect his allegiance to the Palmerston North Marist Rugby Club and the Manawatu region, which is where his initial interest in the racing game began. It was through the rugby club that Gillespie met Bill Gleeson through his father, and it is that relationship led to his first racehorse.
“The first horse I was involved in was The Big Bopper, I raced him with Bill and Guy Sargent and John Sargent trained him,” he recalled.
“We had a bit of success with him he won the Kumara Nuggets. I was in charge of looking after the nuggets, and I think they are still somewhere in the house. We haven’t always had success, but we have had our fair share. I certainly enjoy the company of the people I race horses with. The people I have meet that love the industry are very compatible people.”
Lion’s Roar was purchased by John O’Shea, who trained Contributer in Australia, for $60,000 out of the draft of Wellfield Lodge. Owned by Godolphin, Contributer, also won four races in England in addition to the two Group One wins in the Ranvet Stakes and Chipping Norton while in O’Shea’s care.
“I remember at the sales when John O’Shea bought Lion’s Roar as he thought he was the closest to his father,” recalled Gillespie. “He looked at all the Contributer’s in the sale and he said he reminded him most of the old man. I believe he had difficulty syndicating him and gave the final 10% to his parents which is a nice touch, and I’ll be cheering for them this weekend.” -Michelle Saba, NZTBA