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Ombre Rose sniffs success for Canterbury friends

The victory of Ombre Rose (O'Reilly-Lady Chanele by Citidancer) in Saturday's CJC Inglewood S. 1600m LR confirmed the class she'd already shown in four previous wins. It also gave her Canterbury owner-breeders Michael and Michele House, and Sheldon Murtha another reason to be very satisfied indeed with their first joint venture in thoroughbred breeding and racing.

Michele & Michael House, part-owners & co-breeders of Ombre Rose
Michael is a harness trainer, and he and Michele have recently expanded their successful breeding operation in that industry by taking over Roydon Lodge Stud. However, Michele's background is in thoroughbred racing: she's a grand-daughter of Riccarton trainer Robert "Woodrow" Wilson.

Racing broadcaster Sheldon, who gave half of his share of the filly as a birthday-cum-Christmas present to his father, well-known commentator Reon, picks up the story:

"I bought Lady Chanele from Clive and Rona McKay when she was a three-year-old, running nice races for fourths and fifths in the South Island fillies' series. She caught my eye when I was a host on Trackside and by being in the right place when the McKays wanted to sell her, I bought her for $5000.

"At the time that was plenty of money for me to spend on a horse, so I got a mate, Michael House, to come in with me. We won a couple of races with her quickly, then retired her to stud."

Lady Chanele's first foal, a colt by Centaine, was sold at the NZ Ready To Run Sale for $43,000. Named Mr Liverpool, he has won three races in Macau. Her second foal, a colt by Danasinga named Daneger, is a winner in the South Island. Sticking with Waikato Stud's stallion roster, the partners then sent Lady Chanele to O'Reilly, resulting in her only filly to date.

Described by Michele House as "a sweet-natured, delicate and very feminine filly with a good temperament and a good heart", Ombre Rose is named for a French perfume* worn by one of Michele's friends on her wedding day.

Naming the filly appears to have been the only difficult aspect of racing her so far.
Michele says "We tried fifty fragrance names but none of them were available, and we finally came up with Ombre Rose under pressure because the filly was due to race that weekend."

That was at Banks Peninsula last October. Ombre Rose duly won her debut, won again at Riccarton and ran sixth in December's MRC Eulogy Stakes G3, won by subsequent New Zealand Oaks G1 winner Legs. Ombre Rose resumed in March with a win at Ashburton, and has since won the first two of the three Listed Races targeted by trainer Shane Marr. Her autumn campaign will conclude with the CJC Warstep S. LR on 6 May, after which her owners may well begin looking at the spring racing programmes in Australia.

Michele gives Sheldon credit for selecting Lady Chanele's mates, all of which have clearly stamped the mare's foals. Waikato Stud sold her Danasinga yearling colt last year for $22,000 and her rising two-year-old Faltaat colt will be offered for sale by Michael, Michele and Sheldon later this year. Lady Chanele is due to foal to Pins for Waikato Stud in the spring. As Sheldon explains, "We've leased her to the stud for a couple of seasons when we couldn't afford to breed from her." The partners have all agreed to return her to O'Reilly this year.

Choosing the trainer was the role of Michele, who met Shane and Megan Marr through a mutual friend, Grant Davidson, and as clients of her business, Canterbury Saddlery. "Shane broke in Ombre Rose, and wanted her back to train her so we gave him a chance. They're good people who work very hard." Shane has now recorded 16 wins and prizemoney of almost $180,000 for the season.

Ombre Rose is the most recent of O'Reilly's 14 stakeswinners (2.7%) from his 527 foals of racing age and the third of them to feature Noble Bijou as second damsire. The former champion sire also appears in that position in the pedigrees of multiple G1 winner The Jewel (and her G1-placed brother The One), and SW Salsa.

Ombre Rose is the sixth stakeswinner from a mare by Citidancer, best-known in New Zealand as sire of the breath-takingly brilliant two-year-old Ballroom Babe. Other daughters have left Hong Kong Sprint G1 winner All Thrills Too and G3 winners Diamond Dash, La Rumba, Tahni Girl and Hidden Dragon.

Although a relatively minor performer herself, Lady Chanele is half-sister to the excellent stayer Aquidity (17 wins, incl. VATC Herbert Power H. G2 & AJC Queen's Cup G3, and five times G1-placed in Australia up to 2400 metres). Their dam, Lady Joelyn is a three-quarter sister to the dam of the good sprinter-miler Platonic (10 wins, incl. WRC Cuddle S. G3, VRC Chester Manifold S. LR & VATC Summoned S. LR). Platonic was sold after her racing career to Australian owner-breeder Gerry Harvey and has had fillies by Encosta De Lago and Danehill Dancer.

Taproot mare for this family is Lady Manna (GB), imported to New Zealand more than sixty years ago.

*Just in case you think we don't know much about French perfume, Ombre Rose is a rich floral fragrance created by Jean-Charles Brosseau.


- Susan Archer