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Patient owner-breeders get All Square in Manawatu Cup

Four generations of non-winning mares and no black type until the fourth dam isn't the sort of pedigree that attracts much attention in a sale catalogue. The racetrack is a great leveller, however, and today that pedigree, in the shape of six-year-old gelding All Square, (Vyner's Orb-Westerley Belle by Balmerino) won the $80,000 MRC Manawatu Cup 2300m G3 at Awapuni.

It was All Square's sixth win from 20 starts, and followed victories at Riccarton last month and Trentham earlier this month. To the casual observer this looks like very good success, but in truth his owner-breeders Gary Vile (who also trains him) and Ross Graham, who bred him with John Bradley, are only beginning to reap the rewards for their abundant patience.

All Square did not race until he was an autumn four-year-old, in April last year, winning his debut and again in January and March this year. He then failed in the Hawke's Bay Cup in April, before resuming with placings at Egmont and Feilding, and finally earned his first five-figure cheque at Riccarton.

All Square is the first Group winner for his sire who died in January 2003, leaving ten crops totalling a meagre 207 foals. A winning son of champion sire Zephyr Bay (by Biscay), from a sister to brilliant two-year-old and champion sire Crown Jester, Vyner's Orb has previously left five Listed stakeswinners: the good sprinter Vyner's Lane (12 wins), Aubwin (10 wins), Our Orb (six wins), Shady Bro and Australian stayer Rebbor.

Westerley Belle's breeding career began with All Square but ended with his full-sister a year later, and the mare herself has since died. Her third dam, Lesson, a half-sister to G1 Visit, was stakes-placed at two and left G3 winner Sonstone, as well as the dam of Northern Reward (STC Phar Lap S. G2, AJC Villiers S. G3).

All Square maintains the distinct pattern of success that Balmerino's daughters have had with the Star Kingdom line, especially via Biscay. Mares by Balmerino have produced 133 foals to Biscay's sons and grandsons, and ten of these are stakeswinners including Group One winners Sharscay and Showella. That's a 7.5% strike rate, well above the 3.0% SW/foals figure that Balmerino mares have achieved across the board.


Thanks as always to Arion Pedigrees for pedigree, performance and statistical data.

- Susan Archer