Windsor Park Stud proprietor Rodney Schick is delighted but not surprised by the recent deeds of resident stallion Turn Me Loose (Iffraaj [IRE] – Indominable [GB]).
In the space of three weeks Turn Me Loose, whose oldest progeny are only three, has had four stakes winners, with three occurring within six days.
The run started with Alabama Gold (ex Attalla) winning the Gr.3 Fairview Matamata Slipper Stakes on February 26, then on March 15 Lickety Split (ex She’s Slinky) took out the Gr.1 ATR Sistema Stakes. The following day Ancient Girl (ex Herculaneum) triumphed in the Listed Morphettville Guineas, and four days later Prix de Turn (ex Prix de Sang [AUS]) won the Gr.2 MVRC Alister Clark Stakes.
“Three stakes winners in a week in three different places shows you how versatile a stallion he is,” Schick said of the former New Zealand Horse of the Year who won at Group One level in Australia and New Zealand.
“I am the eternal optimist when it comes to buying stallions and I always believed his progeny would make autumn three-year-olds, but he’s had two stakes winning two-year-olds as well.”
Turn Me Loose, bred by popular Cambridge identities George and Mary-Anne Simon, was crowned Champion Sprinter and Middle Distance performer at the completion of his four-year-old season and went to stud as the winner of seven races from 1200m to 1600m and earnings in excess of $1.7m.
The son of Iffraaj, together with Kermadec, was rated by Timeform the equal highest colt of his generation in the mile, a higher rating than both the Champion sires Savabeel (AUS) and Thorn Park (AUS).
Group Three winner Alabama Gold was bred by Warwick Jeffries out of his stakes placed winning Volksraad (IRE) mare Attalla, herself a three-quarter sister to the Group One winning sprinter Vinaka and his stakes winning brother Vaalu.
The other three stakes winners were all bred by current or former staff members of Windsor Park Stud. Lickety Split was bred by Nick Hewson and Dean Hawkins who both commenced their careers in the thoroughbred industry at the Waikato-based farm as 18-year-olds. Ancient Girl was bred by former employees Dave Morris and Jason Thomasen and Prix de Turn was bred by Steve Till’s Alchemy Family Trust and Windsor Park Stud.
“Steve Till bred Prix de Turn with me and it’s cool when everyone wins,” Schick enthused.
“Nick and Dean both worked for me as 18-year-olds and they have stayed mates and now Nick is backing working here and Dean is working in the family business at Wentwood Grange.
“Dave and Jason both played for the local Hautapu Rugby Club and came here to work so they could work around training and playing. They bought a mare, it was a big risk for a couple of young guys, and it’s good to see them have success and be actively involved.
“I always tell the young ones thinking about investing in thoroughbreds, making money in chunks is better than earning wages. If you want to get ahead investing in horses is a good thing for a lot of people. I get as much enjoyment out of seeing them do that. It’s always been a part of our family business most of my staff are participants in one way or another.
“I actively want my staff to participate in the business, Mike Moran, Steve Till, Nick Hewson, everyone on the farm in the management team has an involvement. If they engage in the business, it makes it easier for everyone.”
Dave Morris no longer works in the industry but is still very much involved, and along with Jason Thomasen wisely passed in a half-sister to Ancient Girl by Mongolian Khan (AUS) two days before the Morphettville Guineas.
“We thought a lot of Ancient Girl,” Morris said. “She had already won two races and run third in the Gr.3 VRC Vanity Stakes by then so we put a decent reserve on our yearling and we will make a decision on what to do with her later on.”
Morris and Thomasen were working at Windsor Park Stud when they purchased the Herculaneum half-sister to the Gr.1 Brisbane Cup winner Art Success off gavelhouse.com for $11,000. After Morris moved on Thomasen worked at the stud a little longer and is now in his second year as an apprentice farrier with Grant Atkinson in Cambridge.
“We both just liked the mating with Turn Me Loose and Roddy (Schick) recommended it to us,” Morris said. “Turn Me Loose was a serious racehorse, and it was a good match. Roddy is really good to his staff and very encouraging when it comes to breeding horses. He has been very good to us.”
The resulting foal, Ancient Girl was sold by the pair at the Melbourne Inglis Sale for $150,000 to Clint McDonald for a partnership that included Tod Hartley an original owner along with Lindsay de Souza of Turn Me Loose. Hartley’s loyalty to the stallion is something that is not lost on Schick.
“I am so pleased for Tod Hartley,” Schick added, “he was a part-owner and now he has bred them and bought them and now he’s had the racing success. She (Ancient Girl) could be a live chance in the Australian Oaks or the Queen of the Turf Stakes.
“Lindsay de Souza has been pretty awesome as well and has backed the horse all the way, he loved him right through and it took me a while to actually negotiate the deal to get Turn Me Loose stand here.”
Hartley also has a share in Prix de Turn who recorded his second win from seven starts when taking out the Gr.2 Alister Clark Stakes. He is the sixth foal of the Elusive City (USA) mare Prix du Sang, herself a stakes placed winner of three races that Schick describes as a good little race mare and a nice type.
She is now the dam of three winners, and she has a two-year-old full sister to Prix de Turn and a weanling filly by Mongolian Khan (AUS) that have been retained by the stud. She is in foal to Tivaci (AUS).
The final stakes winner in the recent quartet is Lickety Split who is now heading to the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce this weekend. As mentioned, he was bred and is part-owned by Nick Hewson and Dean Hawkins. Hewson is now on the Windsor Park Stud team selling nominations after a 15-year stint playing rugby in Hong Kong.
Lickety Split is the third foal of She’s Slinky, a stakes-placed Handsome Ransom (AUS) mare that Hawkins bought for the pair while Hewson was in Hong Kong.
She won four races and is one of only two foals out of the unraced Elnadim mare She Sed. The family produces good fillies and mares, with She Sed being a half-sister to Classic Babe, a stakes winner of six races who produced Passchendaele, whose six wins included the Gr. 2 Waikato Gold Cup, and she in turn is a stakes producer.
Their dam Ala Nami was a half-sister to the grand racemare Danjiki, whose 10 wins included seven at stakes level here and in Australia. Her list is headed by the Gr. 2 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes and she also finished second in the Gr. 2 QTC Stradbroke Handicap. Further back in the pedigree is the champion racehorse and successful sire Strawberry Road.
“Roddy encourages all the staff to get involved in breeding horses and gives advice very freely,” Hewson said.
“It’s part of the whole Windsor Park ethos bringing young staff through and encouraging them to get involved, and now it’s great to see the staff and the ex-staff having some success in the breeding field.”
For the record Turn Me Loose has had 54 runners for 17 winners of 24 races. He has five stakes winners, the four afore mentioned along with Turn The Ace who won the Listed Waikato RC Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre Stakes last season. He has also left the stakes placed runners Verbek, Kia Ora Jewel and Bond Street Beau.
“Turn Me Loose was a tough front running horse,” Schick said, “He was such a versatile animal and now he is proving to be a tough, versatile stallion.
“It’s been an interesting few years since we stood Champion sire Thorn Park and it’s nice to have a horse like Turn Me Loose to kick on with.” -Michelle Saba, NZTBA