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Otago-bred beats his own drum at Flemington

With a record of three wins and eighteen placings from 94 starts, Personal Drum (Personal Escort-Tympanum by Tawfiq; bred by NZTBA members Brian & Lorraine Anderton, White Robe Lodge) didn't seem a prime prospect in Saturday's $A250,000 VRC Grand National Steeplechase.

Personal Drum returns to scale at Flemington
last weekend
PHOTO: NZ Thoroughbred Marketing
Politely described as a "well-travelled fencer" by AAPRacing&Sports, the eight-year-old gelding nevertheless started favourite after rattling home for second in the MRC Australian Steeplechase last month. The punters proved to be spot on when Personal Drum won by six lengths, despite almost completely muffing the final jump.
Trained by Chris Hyland for Tasmanian Vern Poke, Personal Drum now holds fourth place in the JJ Houlahan Jumping Championship with 24 points. New Zealand-breds fill another five of the top seven spots:

Manzeal (Zabeel) – 30 points
Real Tonic (Victory Dance) – 26 points
Tadakatsu (Shinko King) – 26 points
Busby Glenn (Pentire) – 20 points
Sweet Shani (Kashani) – 20 points

The final standings will be determined by the last event in the series, the MVRC Hiskens Steeplechase on 29 July.

Personal Drum was purchased for $16,000 by well-known Perth agent John Chalmers at the 1999 NZ Select Sale. He's a fourth-generation product of Otago's famous White Robe Lodge, also the home of his sire, damsire Tawfiq and of Noble Bijou, the champion sire of his grand-dam.

Personal Escort, like Noble Bijou descended from La Troienne, has also been represented this season by classy stayer Envoy, winner of the WRC Wellington Cup G1 with 57.5 kg, and the Trentham S. G3, as well as a fine seventh in the Melbourne Cup G1.

Damsire Tawfiq has his own share of Melbourne Cup fame as the sire of the 1989 winner Tawrrific, one of his five stakeswinners, three of which were from Noble Bijou mares. Tawfiq's daughters have left six stakeswinners, the best of them being Victoria Derby G1 winner Arena from G1 Lee's Bid.
Tympanum was a winning half-sister to the talented SP Kakaho (known as Danger Danger in Australia) and the dam of multiple South Island stakeswinner Perceptible (11 wins). Tympanum, who was destroyed two years ago, has left five winners from her seven named foals, including the dam of Mr Bigalow, also by Personal Escort (2 nd VRC St Leger LR).

Second dam Auditory was a fine southern racemare a quarter-century ago, when that description more than likely meant a horse capable of winning a stakes race in Melbourne. She won 13 races up to 2400 metres, including the Riverton Cup LR and was three times placed at Group 3 level.

One of Auditory's three-quarter sisters left dual G1 Prized Gem; another left G3 Milly Bijou. Other family stakeswinners beyond that point include smart two-year-olds Attentive and Cock Your Ear, St Bruno (CJC New Zealand Derby, Dunedin Guineas) and, almost a century ago, Bonny Helen (CJC New Zealand Oaks & Metropolitan Handicap, Wanganui Guineas).

The Andertons acquired Personal Drum's fourth dam Lochlisten (Balloch-Listen In by Paper Money) in the late 1960s and have had the family ever since.

As they say in those popular Mainland cheese ads, good things take time…


- Susan Archer