Countdown to completion – Challenge No.9

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New Year Quote

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Per Incanto filly ready to debut for Challenge

Belle Amore seen at the Te Teko Trials, 22 November

The Challenge No.6 Syndicate, which was formed from two purchases at the 2015 NZB Ready to Run Sale, looks set to have its’ first runner at Ellerslie next Wednesday evening.

Belle Amore (Per Incanto ex Platinum Belle, by Generous) has been nominated for the Maiden 3YO 1400m and Opie Bosson booked for the ride.

The filly is prepared by Shaune Ritchie at Cambridge and really pleased me when she ran second at the Te Teko Trials last Tuesday week.

The Challenge No.6 Syndicate also race a filly from the first crop of Cape Blanco.  Named Avid, she had a three month spell after an educational trial and has just returned to pre-training.  She is prepared by Lance O’Sullivan & Andrew Scott at Matamata.



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Per Incanto filly set to trial for Challenge

BELLE AMORE (closest to camera) before a gallop at the Cambridge Training Centre last Wednesday

It’s nice to have a Per Incanto filly in the Challenge Syndications mix as the Little Avondale stallion has been doing a fine job in the early part of his career with 55 individual winners including five at Black Type level.

I selected Belle Amore (Per Incanto ex Platinum Belle, by Generous) at last year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale.  I liked her strength then and as you can see from the photo included she’s a solidly-built girl 12 months on.  Her action at the Breeze Ups appealed too and I got another taste of that when she worked in company at the Cambridge Training Centre last Wednesday.

We gave the filly one trial in the autumn and she was not at home on the rain-affected going.  But you have to find out sometime.  So tomorrow’s second trial at Te Teko on what should be a perfect surface, will give us a good line on what we’re working with.

Belle Amore is raced by the Challenge No.6 Syndicate who also own another three-year-old filly, Avid (by Cape Blanco).

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Vitesse set to resume on Sunday

Vitesse with trainer Shaune Ritchie and stable foreman Noel Waddell after her gallop at the Cambridge Training Centre on Wednesday

Vitesse, a half-sister to the talented Jimmy Choux 3YO with Chris Waller Chaussure, is set to resume at Te Rapa on Sunday provided track conditions are in the Good to Dead range.

The four-year-old, who is by Makfi from a half-sister to Mufhasa, was due to kick off at Ellerslie on Melbourne Cup Day, but a pricked hoof put pay to those plans.

Vitesse is raced by the Challenge No.4 Syndicate and was a winner last season at three over 1600m at Te Rapa.  She was tried in Black Type company in the Royal Stakes but a rain-drenched Ellerslie that day told us it was not her favoured footing.

Vitesse is one of four horses Shaune Ritchie prepares for Challenge Syndications, the others being Belle Amore (unraced 3YO filly by Per Incanto), Chiquitita (unraced 2YO filly by Swiss Ace) and Chouxs Wisely (unraced 2YO filly by Jimmy Choux).

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Sam Weatherley to have first ride for Challenge

I’m delighted to have young gun apprentice Sam Weatherley aboard Vitesse at Te Rapa on Sunday for the Challenge No.4 Syndicate.

I have watched his development since he had his first ride at Arawa Park in the mud on Rotorua Cup Day in May.  Craig Thornton kindly gave him that first ride and I have to say the 17 year old’s progress since then has been remarkable.  Not only does he have natural balance and ‘feel’ but he is developing his skills/technique by the week.

Mind you, I shouldn’t be surprised – dad (Darryn) was a jockey, so was grandad (Dan).  What’s more his boss is Lance O’Sullivan (12 NZ Jockey Premierships) and his riding master is Noel Harris, one of the most naturally-gifted jockeys I’ve observed in my long career in this industry.

I watched Vitesse (Makfi ex Keepa Cheval, by Keeper) gallop at the Cambridge Training Centre this morning.  Shaune Ritchie’s stable foreman Noel Waddell rode the mare and said she felt good but wasn’t suited by the rain-affected going.  The close relative of Champion galloper Mufhasa will only run on Sunday if the track is in the Good or Dead range.

A special family photo - Dan, Sam & Darryn Weatherley

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Ormond Road’s first foal part of new Challenge Syndicate

This filly by Alamosa from Ormond Road is one of two yearlings forming the new Challenge No.9 Syndicate











Yesterday I inspected the two fillies who form the latest Challenge Syndicate.

I noticed real improvement in the filly photographed, by Alamosa from Ormond Road.  She went through a plain stage post weaning time but has matured nicely through spring and is clearly thriving in the no-pressure environment of Gordon Cunningham’s outstanding Curraghmore property.

Her dam, Ormond Road (City on a Hill) won 7 races for trainer and part-owner Tony Bambry and she was also twice Listed Race-placed.  Late in her career the mare changed hands and was prepared by Kevin and Pam Hughes to run 2nd in the CJC Metropolitan Trophy-LR and 4th in the Canterbury Gold Cup-Gr.3.

Graham Richardson will train the Alamosa filly for the Challenge No.9 Syndicate.  He prepares the twice Group One-placed (1000 Guineas & Oaks) Strada Cavallo, who is by the same sire.

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In-form John Bary looking forward to delivery of quality Jimmy Choux filly

The Jimmy Choux ex Fait Accompli filly; one of two youngsters making up the brand new Challenge No.9 Syndicate











Fresh from saddling up three winners over the weekend, Hastings trainer John Bary is not one to rest on his laurels and was on the phone to me today checking on the progress of a filly he will be training for the latest Challenge Syndicate.

The horse in question is by Jimmy Choux, the colt who put John on the map as a trainer with a magnificent career including five Group One races.  She is from Fait Accompli, herself a half-sister to the HK$11m winner Real Specialist.

I photographed the filly at Gordon Cunningham’s Curraghmore property today and was delighted with her progress.  She is athletic with more-than-a-touch of class and a lovely temperament to boot.

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Challenge mares now producing

One of the reasons I greatly enjoy working with fillies and mares is that – providing they are well made and possess a good enough pedigree – there is an opportunity for them as a broodmare off the back of their race careers.  Obviously any racetrack form – particularly Black Type – adds enormous upside to their worth going to stud.

Right now five of the fillies/mares I managed under my Challenge Syndication business have gone to stud and here is an update, in alphabetical order, on their respective careers.

AVISTO – produced a Savabeel colt and has been covered by Reliable Man

SECRET SPIRIT – recently retired & scanned in foal to Shocking

STARLIGHT ANGEL – recently retired & covered by Reliable Man

THETRUTHISOUTTHERE – first mating is Jimmy Choux & safely in foal

TRES RAPIDE – produced first foal this spring, a colt by Reliable Man

Thetruthisoutthere, a quality mare by Starcraft from Absolute Faith (Not a Single Doubt), is in foal to Jimmy Choux

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Secret Spirit retired

Secret Spirit seen here winning the 2015 Bonecrusher Stakes-Gr.3 (1400m) at Ellerslie - it was her fourth Black Type victory in succession

The racing career of the four time Black Type winner Secret Spirit (Swiss Ace ex Spirit of Sandford, by Kilimanjaro) is over.  The decision was made yesterday after a below-par performance at Rotorua.  The talented four-year-old mare pulled up sound, but will not be risked any further.

Secret Spirit was bred by Nearco Stud.  She was born & raised at Bradbury Park before being leased to the Challenge No.2 Syndicate.  She now returns to her owner and has been booked to rising star stallion Shocking.

The Challenge No.2 Syndicate enjoyed four Stakes Race wins with Secret Spirit from the stable of Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott.  She won the Great Northern Foal Stakes-LR and Ryder Stakes-LR at two.  She followed immediately on at three with victories in the O’Leary Stakes-LR and Bonecrusher Stakes-Gr.3.


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