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Hawkes Bay Racing Column 4 Oct 2019

London Express one that got away from the boys

(By John Jenkins)

   Four close friends who have raced several horses together spanning more than 25 years are now rueing the fact that they agreed to have London Express put into the ownership of their wives and partners instead.

   The four-year-old Shamexpress mare brought up her fourth victory from only 12 starts when taking out a $30,000 Rating 82 race over 1200m at New Plymouth last Saturday and also has five minor placings to her credit and more than $100,000 in stake earnings.

   Hawke’s Racing CEO Andrew Castles, the chairman of Rita in Dean McKenzie, New Plymouth trainer Allan Sharrock and Auckland’s Gary Milne are the four men while their partners are Tess Castles, Anna McKenzie, Emma Davies and Anna Milne.

   It was Emma Davies who initially picked London Express out as a likely type and persuaded the men that the girls should form a syndicate to race her.

   The four women now lease a 50 per cent share in the mare, with the other 50 per cent raced by the horse’s Taranaki owner-breeders.

   “I think the boys are squirming a bit now,” a delighted Tess Castles said this week.

   “It is probably one that they wish they never relinquished.”

   London Express was resuming from a short break when she lined up on her home track last Saturday, her last race appearance resulting in a seventh over 1400m there in July.

   Davies rides a lot of trackwork for her partner Allan Sharrock and suggested that the horse be tried in a one-eyed blinker when she resumed.

   It certainly made a huge difference as, after getting back fourth last in the early stages, apprentice rider Kozzi Asano was able to quickly improve London Express through the field coming to the home turn before angling her into the clear early in the straight.

   London Express showed a great turn of foot on the heavy-10 track conditions to dash clear of the opposition over the final stages and score by 2-1/2 lengths.

   Trainer Allan Sharrock provided the winning quinella in the race with Mars Bars running home nicely for second, 2-1/4 lengths clear of third placed Secret Allure.

   Tess Castles has had small shares in other horses in the past, but nothing compares to the enjoyment she and her partners are getting from London Express, whose previous wins include the Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui as a two-year-old.

   “She is not very big but she tries really hard,” Tess Castles added.

   “She won her first jumpout by 7 lengths and the guys probably knew then that they had made the wrong decision in not racing her.

   “She is giving us a great thrill and one of our group, Anna McKenzie, is presently over in the United States but made sure she listened into last Saturday’s race.

   London Express is now likely to step up to open class in a $35,000 1200m sprint at Otaki on October 20, although there is an outside chance that she may instead run in the Group 3 $70,000 Sweynesse Stakes (1215m) at Rotorua the previous day.

   Trainer Allan Sharrock still thinks the horse is six months away from reaching her peak and, with the onset of firm tracks, he is likely to turn her out for a spell after one more run and bring her back in the autumn.

London Express shows great stretch for a small horse as she dashes clear of her rivals in a $30,000 race over 1200m at New Plymouth last Saturday in the hands of promising apprentice Kozzi Asano.

Pacorus back in winning vein

   It has been a long time between celebration drinks for the connections of Pacorus but the horse returned to his best with a game win in a $35,000 Open 2200m race at Ellerslie last Saturday.

   The eight-year-old Tavistock gelding, part-owned by Havelock North couple Dave and Jenny Morison, was chalking up his 10th win from 50 starts but it was his first success since he took out the $40,000 Kiwifruit Cup (2100m) at Tauranga in June 2017.

   The Morisons bought Pacorus for $15,000 from the 2013 Karaka yearling sales and the horse has now won more than $250,000 in stake money. They have retained a 20 per cent share in the horse, with the other 80 per cent spread among some of their friends and clients of the horse’s Cambridge trainer Chris Wood.

   The Morisons are no strangers to racing success as they shared in the ownership of champion galloper Dundeel, whose glory days on the racetrack saw him rack up 10 wins, six at Group 1 level, and amass stake earnings of more than $5.3million.

   Dundeel is now standing at Arrowfield Stud in New South Wales, Australia, and the Morisons still retain a small shareholding in the stallion.

   Pacorus relished the heavy-10 track conditions at Ellerslie last Saturday and his win followed a good second over 2200m at Ruakaka on September 14.

   Rider Darren Danis positioned the horse perfectly fourth on the fence from the start last Saturday and bided his time until the home straight. He then pushed the gelding through a gap and he shot to the front inside the last 300m.

   Mont Ventoux lodged a likely challenge in the final stages but Pacorus maintained a strong run to the line to win by a long neck.

   “He tried really hard,” successful rider Darren Danis said after the win.

   “We got into the perfect position and, when he got the split, he was really strong to the line.”



Pacorus and jockey Darren Danis hold off the challenge from Mount Ventoux (Christopher Dell) for a long neck win in the 2200m open handicap at Ellerslie last Saturday. It was the horse’s first victory since June 2017.

Authentic Paddy retired

   Hawke’s Bay-owned warhorse Authentic Paddy has been retired from racing after a career of 101 starts that netted 11 wins and 35 placings and just over $780,000 in stake earnings.

  Awapuni trainer Lisa Latta announced this week that the 10-year-old has run his last race, bringing down the curtain on the career of one of the most popular New Zealand-trained thoroughbreds of the past decade.

   Hastings sisters Marilyn Te Paa and Christine Gray and their Havelock North brother Tony Gray own Authentic Paddy in partnership with their Paraparaumu-based brother Phillip and their sister Janice Berry, who lives in Upper Hutt.

   The family members became involved in racehorse ownership through their late uncle Don Robinson, who bred Authentic Paddy as well as his younger half-brother The Rippa.

   “When our uncle passed away we bought Authentic Paddy and The Rippa off his estate,” Te Paa said.

   A consistent black-type performer, who was always relied upon to give his best, Authentic Paddy’s biggest and last victory came in the Group 1 $200,000 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie in December 2017.

   It was a most deserving Group 1 success for the Howbaddouwantit gelding after five placings at the elite level, including two previous third placings in the Zabeel Classic.

   Prior to his Group 1 triumph Authentic Paddy had won the Group 3 Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) at Riccarton. He was also runner-up in consecutive runnings of the Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham and third in the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa.

   Trainer Lisa Latta and the horse’s owners made the decision to retire the horse while he was still in perfect health, with his last race resulting in a seventh out of eight over 2000m at Hastings on September 21.

   “He’s been battling in his last few races,” Latta said.

   “He’s been such a good horse to us that we don’t want to see anything go wrong with him. He’s been retired to a good home and will be well looked after.”

   The great galloper will see out his days on a neighbouring farm to one of his Hawke’s Bay owners.


Danzdanzdance in Waller stable 

   Recently crowned 2018/19 New Zealand Champion Middle Distance horse Danzdanzdance will do her future racing from the Sydney stable of ex-pat kiwi Chris Waller.

   The multiple New Zealand Group 1 winner has been prepared for the majority of her career from the Ruakaka stable of Chris Gibbs and Michelle Bradley but was transferred into Waller’s care last Monday.

   The Mastercraftsman five-year-old is raced by a large syndicate of owners, headed by former international model Kylie Bax, who purchased the mare from the Blandford Lodge draft for $5000 at the 2016 National Yearling Sale.

   Speaking on behalf of the ownership group, Bax explained the rationale behind the move.

    “We have taken the decision to move Danzdanzdance to Chris Waller primarily to assess her future racing and breeding options in Australia,” Bax said.

   “Chris and Michelle have done a wonderful job to develop her into a genuine Group One contender and we can’t thank them enough.

   “She is however at a little bit of a crossroads as to where she goes from both a racing and breeding perspective, so we wanted to keep her in Australia to examine the best options for her, rather than bring her back to New Zealand, especially after her last start performance which certainly didn’t go as planned.”

   Bax was referring to the mare’s last place finish in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 21 where she trailed the field throughout in a lacklustre display.

   “She had her excuses last time as she was heavily in season,” Bax said.

   “We know that’s not her real ability so we would like Chris to assess her now and provide us with his opinion on where we head with her.”

   The winner of the Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) last season, Danzdanzdance was also placed third behind Avilius and He’s Eminent in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) during that campaign and has won four of her 16 career starts.


Pleasing run by Rondinella

   A slashing run for second in last Friday’s Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at The Valley was just what the doctor ordered for trainer Roger James and his quality mare Rondinella.

   James, who prepares the five-year-old Ocean Park mare at Cambridge with training partner Robert Wellwood, was keen to see just how his charge would handle the unique Moonee Valley track as well as her first attempt at racing under lights.

   After being held up at a vital stage approaching the home corner, Rondinella saw daylight a fraction too late as she charged through a gap to finish second to Group 1 winner Princess Jenni.

   James was delighted with the run which was the mare’s second in a campaign that has the iconic Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) back at The Valley on October 26 as her main aim.

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