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Sculptor takes Guineas for His Royal Highness

Strathcarron Stud's admirable 16-year-old sire His Royal Highness is rarely without a good horse and on Boxing Day got his latest Group winner when Sculptor (ex Betelgeuse by Full Out; bred by Galaxy Exports Ltd; owned and trained by Peter McKenzie) won the ARC Great Northern Guineas 2000m G2 at Ellerslie.

Sculptor is his sire's 11th stakeswinner from 260 foals of racing age (excluding his current two-year-olds, none of which has yet raced), giving him 4.2% SW/foals. It's a figure that's especially impressive because His Royal Highness has never served the country's most fashionable broodmares, although breeders have given him solid support over the past four years with books of 82, 87, 89 and, according to Peter, more than 120 this season at a fee of $6,500. His best performers to date are the Group One winners Zvezda (WRC Thorndon Mile, Otaki-Maori WFA S.) and Wharite Princess (WRC New Zealand Oaks).

His Royal Highness has an intriguing pedigree, being by Sir Tristram's excellent racing and sire son Grosvenor from the Mr Prospector mare Gem In The Rough. The stud failures of Omnicorp and Westminster, and more recently the premature death of Ebony Grosve seemed to end Grosvenor's chances of leaving a decent sire son, but His Royal Highness has filled the gap. As a recent poster on internet forum Race Café has pointed out, sons and grandsons of Sir Tristram from imported mares, like His Royal Highness, appear to have done best at stud in New Zealand. Other examples are Zabeel (ex Lady Giselle by Nureyev), Kaapstad (ex Eight Carat by Pieces of Eight) and Yamanin Vital (ex She Might Hula by Caucasus).

Peter McKenzie is a remarkable achiever within the New Zealand thoroughbred industry, consistently producing tough and talented horses, for example, multiple G3 Reign Supreme, SW Empyreal and SW Elendil (all by His Royal Highness), SW Procyon, SW Destroyer's Image, and the half-brothers G3 Bejayjay, and SP Jaybejay. His very best horse, the brilliant Mr Illusion, is the only New Zealand-owned and -trained horse to win the MRC Oakleigh Plate G1 in the past 30 years, and one of two New Zealand-owned and –trained winners of the AJC Galaxy Stakes G1 in the same period (the other is Mr Tiz).

Peter, formerly a lawyer whose twin passions are acting and horse-racing, is also a shrewd breeder whose skill is evident in Sculptor's pedigree. His dam Betelgeuse, bred by Troy Corporation Ltd, is a descendant of the 1965 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Pochahontas, dam of five stakeswinners, including the very good sire Tom Rolfe. A non-winning son of Pocahontas, War Hawk II (by Sea Hawk), left 23 stakeswinners and was champion New Zealand sire in 1980-81, the season his son Drum was Horse of the Year. Former New Zealand sires Blanco and Dancing Dissident, and current sire Stay Tuned also belong to this family.

Betelgeuse has visited His Royal Highness nine times but produced only three foals, the fillies City of Dreams and Royal Doulton, and Sculptor, who is now likely to head for the ARC New Zealand Derby G1 in March. Before that, three yearlings by His Royal Highness will be offered at the 2006 NZ Festival Sale at Karaka.


Grateful thanks to Arion Pedigrees for pedigree, performance and statistical data.

- Susan Archer