Retirement has taken on special meaning for John Cassin through the emergence of his exciting three-year-old filly La Crique (Vadamos - Destiny Cove).
The former medical supplies company executive had dabbled in thoroughbreds for more than a decade, breeding, racing, buying and pinhooking. Since selling his company shareholding last year to pursue a life of leisure, he and his wife Jan have had more than enough to capture their imagination.
Central to that has been their broodmare Destiny Cove, a daughter of Dubai Destination that Cassin took a 50 per cent share in after she was purchased for $60,000 by then Hawke’s Bay couple Simon and Katrina Alexander at the 2008 National Yearling Sale. When Destiny Cove retired as the winner of five races, Cassin bought his partners out.
Now she’s the dam of four-win Proisir gelding Bari, and more importantly last Saturday’s Gr. 3 Desert Gold Stakes winner La Crique, a member of the first crop of Proisir’s Rich Hill Stud associate Vadamos. Even being confined to their specific owners’ enclosure at Trentham didn’t diminish the pleasure the Cassins took from their filly’s demolition job in the seventh leg of the NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series.
“It was just great to be there, we really enjoyed it,” says John Cassin. “To actually see it happen like that makes you realise you’ve got a pretty smart racehorse.”
All of a year ago Cassin got the tip that the Alexander-trained La Crique possessed the sought-after x factor. “Katrina told me this one might be special, we could be in for a bit of fun. It’s quite something when it all comes together like it has.”
After two educational trials in the autumn – the second of which she won – La Crique finished second on debut in October at Taupo to Belle En Rouge, the leader now on the NZB Filly of the Year table with wins in the Gr. 3 Eulogy Stakes and Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic on top of a third placing in the Gr. 1 NZ 1000 Guineas.
La Crique won her next two starts by a combined margin of more than nine lengths, and signed off the first half of the season with a third placing in her first black-type test. A wider appreciation of her ability came when she resumed at Ellerslie in the second week of January and narrowly got the better of NZ 1000 Guineas winner The Perfect Pink.
That was a natural lead-in to the Desert Gold Stakes, which she won by four and a half lengths as the $2.20 favourite, and now she’s high up the order for all three of her possible autumn targets, the New Zealand Derby and Oaks and Levin Classic.
This week the Cassins were due to head south from their Bombay Hills lifestyle property to a meeting in Matamata with the Alexanders, when the decision would be made as to which direction La Crique would take.
“We’ve turned down some big offers for her, mainly because when I retired last year I decided I was going to have some fun, and that’s what it is with a filly like this,” says Cassin. “The important thing in my mind is that we don’t overtax her, we want a horse that we can still be racing at four and five.
“We have to respect our trainers though; after all they’re the ones we pay to do their job and they know her better than anyone.”
La Crique is the most recent live foal produced by Destiny Cove, who was not served in two subsequent years and missed in the other, but now she is in foal again to Vadamos.
“The original intention had been to send her to Proisir, who I really like also,” explained Cassin, “but then we made the call to switch her to Vadamos, and the good news is that she’s back in foal.”
Saturday at Trentham was another big day for Rich Hill Stud in what has been a glorious summer for the Walton nursery. On the first day of the carnival Proisir claimed his first Group One win when the hugely talented Levante won the Telegraph.
On Saturday La Crique became the third stakes winner for Vadamos, while the other proven member of the Rich Hill roster, Shocking, notched a double headed by the Gr. 3 Wellington Cup win by Lincoln King. -Dennis Ryan, Raceform