|Highview Stud's Align, sire of G3 Out of Align & G1-placed Everswindell|
He's the breeder of two talented three-year-old fillies by Highview Stud's young sire Align, the strapping Everswindell (ex Hilarion Lady by St Hilarion), and Out of Align (ex Limerick Lea by McGinty).
Everswindell was an excellent second in Seachange's CJC NZ 1000 Guineas G1 in November, and third to Shikoba and Fancyfree in last weekend's Waikato RC Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic G2. From the same family as Wanganui Guineas winner Shaquille and Australian stakeswinner Major Decision, she is racing as if the New Zealand Oaks will suit her down to the ground.
Out of Align failed on Saturday, but had already earned black capital status with victory in the WRC Desert Gold S. 1600m G3 on 28 January, her third win in a career now totalling ten starts. Out of Align is from a winning half-sister to the champion New Zealand three-year-old of 1987-88, Weston Lea, who won the NZ 2000 Guineas but died before that season's New Zealand Derby.
On top of these successes, Andrew and his mother Lorraine won a maiden race at Tauherenikau on 6 February with their three-year-old gelding Go Johnny Go (Kaapstad-Font by Canny Lad).
This flurry of excitement hasn't blurred Andrew's understanding of current New Zealand racing economics. He notes that Go Johnny Go earned about $2000 after expenses for that win, and owes them about $60,000. "Returns for owners need to improve. It will be worth keeping horses rather than selling them when maiden races are all worth $10,000 or $20,000.
"We recently found an Opaki racebook from 40 years ago which showed that a maiden win then paid a full year's training fees. We should still be able to do that.
"I do have confidence at the moment because of the government's promises to the industry. It's about time something happened.
"But it's one hell of a thrill when you win a race, and we are absolutely buzzing. It does make it easier to get out of bed in the morning!"
A Pony Club childhood eventually led Andrew to thoroughbred breeding and racing, after ten years as a plumber. He left the plumbing trade and set out to gain relevant experience with horses, working for six months for Arthur Williams at Ashford Park Stud in 1995, and six months with trainer Graeme Begg in Sydney.
Returning to New Zealand, Andrew planned to be a public trainer but says, "After six months I realised if I carried on much longer with that, I'd be broke." He bought a few broodmares and began pin-hooking and trading horses. "And that's why I've lasted so long."
Andrew was holding Everswindell's two-year-old half-brother by Rossini for his farrier when we caught up with him by telephone yesterday. He was quick to say "He's a very nice horse, and he's for sale!" Which is a clue to the robust commercial approach Andrew has taken to his thoroughbred investments since his first purchase a decade ago.
That first horse, bought for $700 from breeders Tony and Mary-Lynne Ryan, was Bartholomew, who won the first two-year-old race of the 1997-98 season and was promptly sold for $70,000.
Beginner's luck hasn't yet deserted Andrew, and other profitable sales of racehorses, principally to Hong Kong, have enabled him to expand his original ten-acre block to fifty acres, now owned in partnership with Lorraine. Bob's Boy (Lord Ballina-Conchelle by Sound Reason) gave them "a good thrill", winning the 2003 BTC Doomben Classic G3 and Rough Habit Plate LR before his sale to Hong Kong.
Andrew now owns eight broodmares but all of them are currently leased, giving him "a breather" from breeding. Like most of his fillies, Out of Align and Everswindell are raced on lease, with no right of purchase, while Andrew retains the colts, because he can train and sell them.
Out of Align's two-year-old half-sister by Al Akbar is in work with Brent Hrstich, and her yearling half-brother by Rossini will go to the New Zealand Ready to Run Sale, if he's not sold beforehand. Limerick Lea has been leased to John O'Brien and Gary Vile, and is in foal to Sakura Seeking. Unfortunately, Everswindell's dam Hilarion Lady died two years ago.
Andrew takes a straightforward approach to selecting stallions for his mares. "I like a bit of size, and try to pick the flavour of the moment. It's mainly guesswork, to be honest. We've been lucky, and you've got to have luck."
- Susan Archer