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Auckland breeder wins NZTBA feature

Auckland owner-breeders Don & Rochelle McLaren weren't on-course at Ellerslie on Saturday, but their four-year-old mare Calveen was impossible to miss as she sprinted almost five lengths clear of the field in the Counties RC Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes G2. She cut out the 1400 metres in 1:22.03 and was chased home by The Island Storm (Hennessy) who fought on well after setting the pace, and Barcelona (Desert Sun).

Part of memorable trebles on the day for trainer Lance O'Sullivan and jockey Leith Innes, Calveen is the second Group winner in a week for the McLarens and their friends John Ede, Bill Wilson and Lyn Stevens (chairman of the Auckland Racing Club). The group also races the admirable seven-year-old gelding Millennium who won the Tauranga Stakes 1600m G3 on 13 November.

Calveen's win was especially fitting for the McLarens who are long-standing members of the NZTBA Auckland branch that sponsors the $70,000 race for fillies and mares in conjunction with NRM Feeds. She is the 35th stakeswinner for 1990 Golden Slipper winner Canny Lad and the best of two winning progeny of the Varick mare Calvinia, a half-sister to G1 English Wonder, dam of champion three-year-old an useful sire Dr Grace, and G1 Asia. Calveen has now won five of her 13 starts and prizemoney of almost $70,000.

Don and Rochelle McLaren have bred and raced horses from their Northfields Stud for more than 25 years. Their leading performers include Flitter (STC Winfield Classic S. G1, BATC Doomben Ten Thousand H. G1), last year's Brisbane Cup G1 winner Piachay, Millennium (12 wins incl. ARC Great Northern Guineas G2, BoPRC Japan-New Zealand Trophy G2) and Group 1-placed Jetski. The McLarens were finalists for the 2003 Mercedes New Zealand Breeder of the Year award. Don, chairman and co-founder of animal health products supplier Bomac Laboratories Ltd, is a member of the Order of New Zealand.

The Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes was first run in 1970 as the South Auckland Breeders' Plate Handicap when it was won by Jack Lindsay's three-year-old filly Milk Biscuit. Since then it has been won by many of New Zealand's best racemares among them Battle Eve (1976), La Mer (1977), Glamour Bay (1981), Tri Belle (1988), Fun On The Run (1990), Lycra (1992), Tycoon Lil (1998) and Sunline (1999 & 2000).

- Susan Archer