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Holiday Group Winners Review: Donna Rosita & Dezigna

The conspicuous Group success of owner-breeders this season continued at Ellerslie on New Year's Day, when Donna Rosita won the $200,000 ARC Railway Handicap 1200m G1, and Dezigna took out the $120,000 George Adams Handicap 1600m G2.



A relaxed DONNA ROSITA enjoys the attention of the winner's circle at Ellerslie after winning the Railway Handicap G1 on 1 January.
PHOTO: Susan Archer
Owner-breeders have won 18 of the 41 Group races held in New Zealand so far this season, and six of the ten Group One features to 1 January. That number reflects both the continuing high level of involvement in domestic thoroughbred racing by breeders, and the failure to sell yearlings experienced by many private breeders, in particular, over the past few years.

That's how Kumeu-based members of the NZTBA, Jim and Kay Wheeler ended up racing four-year-old mare Donna Rosita (Woodborough-Nippoh Madonna by Pompeii Court) who gave them their first Group One success in the Railway Handicap.
Donna Rosita was injured a week before she was due to be offered at the 2004 Karaka yearling sales.

Jim Wheeler says, "Then we entered her for the Ready To Run sale, but we were only offered $14,000 so we kept her and decided to race her ourselves. Her mother died when she was a yearling so she's always been a bit special to us." The Wheelers, who race Donna Rosita in partnership with their daughter, Paulette, under the banner of Roselane Thoroughbreds Ltd have only one broodmare at present and Donna Rosita is the only horse they have racing. Remarkably, the Railway was only her third win.

Woodborough shuttled to Windsor Park Stud from 1997 to 2002, before being sold to South Africa. He made little impression on our breeding scene and Donna Rosita is the best of the four SW he left from 331 New Zealand-bred foals: the others are G3 Bank Note, SW Shinnecock and SW Ultra Vires.

Her damsire Pompeii Court has been a much more significant contributor to New Zealand breeding and racing. Imported by Jack Lindsay of Balcarres Stud in 1984, he stood at Waikato Stud until his death in February 2000, leaving 31 SW (4.0%) from 760 foals, among them six Group One winners. Best of these were two brilliant juveniles Courtza (STC Golden Slipper) in Australia, and Pompeii Pearl in New Zealand.

Pompeii Court is now the damsire of 25 SW, notably international champion sprinter-miler Starcraft, New Zealand Horse of the Year, and leading sire O'Reilly, Hong Kong Champion Stayer Super Kid and New Zealand Derby winner Hail.

Although Donna Rosita's first three dams are either unraced or unplaced, there is no shortage of black type beneath her third dam, Sweet Time, dam of G1 Gay Poss, grand-dam of G1 Grosvenor and third dam of 2004 Australian Horse of the Year Lonhro and his G1-winning brother Niello. 1988 Melbourne Cup winner Empire Rose, last season's G2 La Sizeranne, and current performers G2 Gaze, G3 Estelle Collection, G3 Rosetti Bay and SW Bus Us also belong to this distinguished family, which stems from Locket (GB) (1872).


The admirable DEZIGNA may not have won a race between November 2004 and December 2006, but he never stopped trying.
He's made the first five in 75% of his 48 starts, and has now won at Group 2 level, taking his record to seven wins and 19 placings and more than $300,000 prizemoney.

PHOTO: Trish Dunell
Another Auckland owner-breeder, Emma Evans, and her aunt, have bred from the family of Dezigna (Volksraad-Label Basher by Conquistarose) for four generations. Emma currently owns four broodmares including Label Basher, who is in foal to Black Minnaloushe.

If he'd been offered for sale, Dezigna's catalogue page probably wouldn't have attracted much attention. It's a family that the online New Zealand Stud Book records only as far as Dezigna's eighth dam Clemency (b. 1928) by champion sire Limond, and the closest black type in his pedigree comes from his dam's half-brothers SW Kiwi Kid and G1-placed Greathings Happen.

However, the online Australian Stud Book identifies Clemency as a daughter of Australasian taproot mare Sweet Charity, from the Bruce Lowe No. 14 family, via the mare Banter. It's a branch that produced the brilliant Tetratema (1920 English 2000 Guineas) and 1880 Melbourne Cup winner Grand Flaneur, and more recently in New Zealand, outstanding classic winner Little Brown Jug and G1 sprinter-miler Diablo Girl.

Volksraad is having another splendid season, and now holds second place behind Pins on the New Zealand general sires' premiership – a contest he has won for the past five years. He has five domestic Group winners this season to date: Dezigna, G2 Veloce Bella, G3 Fiscal Madness, G3 Clifton Prince and G3 Sir Slick. He has 35 yearlings catalogued for the 2007 NZ National Yearling Sales, ten of them in the Premier Sale.

The most recent of his sire's 41 SW, Dezigna is also the 14 th SW from a Conquistarose mare, and the second by Volksraad, after G3 Volronoamo.

- Susan Archer/NZTM