Following the postponement of the Ebbett VW Hamilton National Breeding Awards until a later date the NZTBA is pleased to announce the finalists for the Sir Patrick and Justine Lady Hogan Breeder of the Year Award.
The finalists for the supreme award are Gordon Cunningham, Suncroft Bloodstock and partners, Explosive Breeding Limited and partners, Nearco Stud and Waikato Stud.
This year a new award, sponsored by Luigi Muollo, has been added to the list of awards honouring small breeders, for which the finalists are Willy and Karen Calder, Joan Egan, Don Goodwin and Marie Leicester.
The deeds of Tofane (Ocean Park-Baggy Green) at the Queensland winter carnival where she completed a Group One double in the Stradbroke Handicap and Tatt’s Tiara, have propelled her breeder Gordon Cunningham into contention for the Breeder of the Year title.
Cunningham, the proprietor of Curraghmore Stud, also bred the Gr. 3 Canterbury Breeders Stakes winner Aimee’s Jewel (Proisir-Aimee’s Idol) through his Suncroft Bloodstock partnership, and the Listed Dunedin Guineas and Gore Guineas winner Showemhowitsdone (Showcasing-Jaffari) in partnership with Alona Parfonova.
Another New Zealand-bred to feature prominently in Australia was Explosive Jack (Jakkalberry-Extra Explosive) who won three Derby classics – the Gr. 1 Australian Derby, Gr. 1 South Australian Derby and the Listed Tasmanian Derby. He also finished second in the Gr. 1 Queensland Derby.
Explosive Jack was bred by Novara Park owner Luigi Muollo, who has a band of around 35 mares, 10 of whom are from the Explosive family. Muollo also bred the Gr. 2 Doomben Roses winner Only Words (Sweynesse-Jungle Pago), who earlier in the season when trained in New Zealand won the Listed Wanganui Guineas.
A previous winner of the Breeder of the Year title, Greg Tomlinson’s Nearco Stud is again a contender. Nearco Stud bred the Gr. 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas winner Kahma Lass (Darci Brahma -Distinctive Lass) and her half-brother Southern Lad (Ocean Park), who won the Listed Ramornie Handicap in New South Wales.
Annavisto (Reliable Man-Avisto) and Quattro Quinta (Darci Brahma-Quintette) were also Listed winners for Nearco in the season under review. Tomlinson has a broodmare band of around 40 mares.
Waikato Stud is again among the nominees for the prestigious Breeder of the Year title, having already won the award on seven occasions. Waikato Stud has had another stellar season, breeding 19 black type winners and 21 black type placegetters from a band of around 200 mares.
Among their leading lights for 2020-21 were Aegon (Sacred Falls-Toss Up) and Amarelinha (Savabeel-Hopscotch), respective winners of the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas and Gr. 1 New Zealand Oaks. Aegon narrowly beat Amarelinha in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic as well as winning the Gr. 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas and Hobartville Stakes. Amarelinha’s three other Group-race wins added to her credentials for the the prestigious NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year title.
Fellow Waikato Stud graduates Probabeel and Mo’unga starred in Australia. Probabeel (Savabeel-Far Fetched) won the Gr. 1 Epsom Handicap in Sydney and Gr. 1 Futurity Stakes in Melbourne, as well as a brace of Group Three races. Mo’unga (Savabeel-Chandalier) won the Gr. 1 Rosehill Guineas and the Listed Dulcify Handicap, while his placings included second in the Gr. 1 Randwick Guineas.
Group One-winning racemares feature prominently in the portfolios of the inaugural Small Breeder of the Year nominees. Avantage, bred by Southland couple Willy and Karen Calder, was the winner of no less than five Group One races – the Railway, the Telegraph, BCD Sprint, Otaki WFA Classic and New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes. She also ran second to stablemate Melody Belle in three Group One races.
Melody Belle’s breeder Marie Leicester is also among the contenders for the new award. As a six-year-old the daughter of Commands and Meleka Belle won four races, all at Group One level. In the spring she won the second and third legs of the Hawkes Bay Triple Crown, the Windsor Park Plate and Livamol Classic, before finishing third in the Gr. 1 LKS MacKinnon Stakes at Flemington.
In the second half of the season, Melody Belle added the Thorndon Mile and Bonecrusher Stakes, setting a new mark of 14 Group One wins by a New Zealand-trained thoroughbred. She is the first foal of the Iffraaj mare Meleka Belle, who was also represented by two-year-old gelding Tutukaka (Tavistock), winner of the Listed Members’ Stakes in Brisbane.
Hamilton-based breeder-owner Joan Egan had a memorable season with two graduates of her elite Legacy Lodge broodmare band. Concert Hall (Savabeel-Classic Legacy) kicked off her summer campaign by winning the Gr. 3 Thomson Handicap and Gr. 2 Tauranga Stakes before finishing second in the Gr. 1 Captain Cook Stakes and then breaking through for victory in the Gr. 1 Zabeel Classic.
Fellow six-year-old Beauden (Bullbars-Belle Femme) came of age in 2020-21 with wins in the Gr. 2 Awapuni Gold Cup, Gr. 3 Canterbury Gold Cup and Listed Marton Cup. He also won the Taupo Cup and finished fourth in the Gr. 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes and Bonecrusher NZ Stakes.
The fourth nominee for the Small Breeder of the Year award is Aucklander Don Goodwin, the breeder of Verry Elleegant (Zed-Opulence). Goodwin has just the one mare, who is a descendant of Hall of Fame broodmare Eight Carat. Verry Elleegant won five Group One races in Australia last season beginning in the spring with the Winx Stakes, followed by the Turnbull Stakes and Caulfield Cup.
She returned in the autumn to add the Chipping Norton Stakes and Ranvet Stakes, then in her final start for the season she was narrowly beaten by the highly rated international competitor Addeybb in the Gr. 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
It is hoped that the breeder awards along with the Arion Pedigrees Eight Carat Broodmare of the Year award, the AGrowquip Mary Lynne Ryan Young Achiever Award, the Seton Otway Horse of the Year award and the NZTBA Personality of the Year award will be able to be presented on the re-scheduled date of September 25th. If not the NZTBA will once again revert to digital presentations similar to the presentations of last year’s awards.