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Lord & Man rule the jumps at Te Rapa

Glorious weather and the chance to see brilliant steeplechaser No Hero attracted a large and expectant crowd for the Premier Jumping meeting at Te Rapa yesterday. Two commanding victories in the Dunstan Horse Feeds-sponsored Hurdles and the Steeples didn't disappoint them, but unfortunately, No Hero's role ended at the first fence in the $50,000 Waikato Steeplechase, run over 4900 metres and sponsored by Braxton Car Lights.

The nine-year-old grey gelding appeared to lose his footing after clearing the fence, and although jockey Jonathan Riddell tried hard to stay with him, the pair parted company. Luckily, No Hero was uninjured, and quickly caught by the Clerks of the Course, but Crown Dancer, who lost his rider Kara Waters at the same time, presented a more dangerous threat to the remaining seven runners.

He circled the inside track ahead of the field, then crossed to the course proper at the top of the straight and was beginning to gallop back towards the rest of the field when No Hero's co-owner and trainer Paul Nelson managed to grab his reins over the birdcage fence. That he had the presence of mind to do that, after watching his own horse fall at the first, was warmly appreciated by the crowd.

Afterwards Paul was philosophical about No Hero's mishap and surprised that anyone had noticed him catching Crown Dancer, saying simply, "Well, that's jumping people isn't it?" Thankfully, both jockeys escaped serious injury, although Kara Waters was not able to be attended by the ambulance staff until the race was almost completed.

Meanwhile, in the Chairman's Room, owner and trainer Davina Waddell celebrated the easy, almost ten-length win by her nine-year-old gelding, Just The Man (Isle of Man-Albatross Road by Parkdale; bred by M.R. Blood, ridden by Nathan Hanley). However, she had been looking forward to matching her Great Northern winner against No Hero, believing the two would have produced a far more competitive race than No Hero's hot favouritism indicated.

Just The Man has now won six of his 51 starts and $144,000 and added some prestige to a pedigree that mostly lacks it, apart from the high-class racing career of his sire Isle of Man (also trained by Davina), his second dam's sire Sir Tristram and his fourth dam, sprinter-miler Silver Sunset, winner of the 1966 ARC George Adams H. G3 and second in the Railway H. G1. Mind you, Isle of Man had few opportunities to impart his racing class: he sired only 104 foals from 1985 until his death two years ago, and they did include two stakeswinners, Mahoenui Lass (New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' S. G2) and, in Malaysia, Hard Rock.

<< Waikato Steeplechase 4900m winner JUST THE MAN (Nathan Hanley).

PHOTO: Trish Dunell, courtesy of NZ Thoroughbred Marketing
>>
PRAISE THE LORD (Rochelle Lockett),
dashing winner of the Waikato Hurdles 3200m at Te Rapa on Saturday.

PHOTO: Trish Dunell, courtesy of NZ Thoroughbred Marketing



In the $40,000 Waikato Hurdles, Praise the Lord (Prince of Praise-Clockwork by Grosvenor; bred by W.P. Darling & Bill Knight) was every bit as impressive as Just The Man. Raced on lease, trained and ridden by Rochelle Lockett, he ran away from the field to win by nine lengths.

Like Isle of Man, Prince of Praise was a high-class flat performer, a Group One-winning two-year-old who hit his best form at five, when he defeated defeat March Hare and Soho Square in the 1994 AJC All Aged Stakes G1. At stud he's received more opportunities than Isle of Man, leaving 268 foals from seven New Zealand crops before his sale to Australia in 2000. They include two flat stakeswinners, the very good Skoozi (Please) and Izamaman, and a larger number of good jumpers, among them Praise the Prince, who achieved notable success in the United States.

Praise the Lord is from a family based for about twenty years at Chequers Stud where his dam and grand-dam, Arawa (by Bismark II) were bred. They, and Praise the Lord's third dam Romagna were themselves winners, and all but one of their progeny to race have won. Apart from Praise the Lord, who has now won eight of his 18 starts, the best of them have been Aracho (7 wins in Australia) and Pearl's A Singer (4 wins).

The Australasian taproot mare for this family is the quaintly named Tame Duck (GB), foaled in 1913, and dam of the brothers Admiral Drake (1931 ARC Auckland Cup) and Francis Drake (1938 ARC Easter Handicap and Great Northern St Leger and five other stakes-equivalent races). Their half-sister by Absurd, Duck's Egg, left New Zealand and Great Northern Oaks winner Belle Cane.

In a small piece of curiously coincidental timing, Belle Cane was sold to America and left a filly to War Admiral named Admirals Belle. She in her turn became the dam of Royal Orbit (by Royal Charger), the winner in 1959 of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the American Triple Crown. The 2006 renewal of the Preakness was won earlier today by Bernardini (A.P. Indy-Cara Rafaela by Quiet American).
- Susan Archer