The $2250 renowned Hawke’s Bay thoroughbred breeder Tom Lowry outlayed to buy an unbroken four-year-old mare 10 years ago is certainly proving to be a bargain.
Lowry, who has bred and raced numerous successful horses from his Okawa Stud over many years, has nowadays wound down his interests but is still as keen as ever to see horses racing in the famous Lowry black and white chequered colours.
One such horse is Testwin who was an impressive debut winner at last Saturday’s Marton Jockey Club’s meeting at Hastings.
The Time Test gelding was bred by Tom Lowry and he races him from the Hastings stable of his nephew Guy, who recently entered a training partnership with Leah Zydenbos.
Testwin had first use of the track at the Hastings meeting, when track conditions were at their best, and scored a dominant half length win in the hands of jockey Jonathan Riddell. Two torrential downpours later in the day saw the track downgraded from a soft-7 to a heavy-8.
The nice looking three-year-old wanted to over-race in the early stages but Riddell got him to settle third on the inside before angling across heels to mount a challenge turning into the home straight. Testwin drove to the front soon after and put in some huge strides over the final stages to win by half a length.
Testwin is out of the Don Eduardo mare Edwina, a mare that was purchased out of a 2013 mixed bloodstock sale as a four-year-old for just $2250.
“Michael Lowry bought the mare for me and she traces back to a good Okawa Stud family,” Tom Lowry recalled.
“She was unbroken when I bought her but was an outstanding looking mare. If you saw her in a paddock with other mares you would pick her out on looks just about everytime.”
Tom Lowry decided not to get Edwina broken in and sent her straight to stud, getting her in-foal to Niagara who was standing at Okawa Stud at the time.
The resultant foal was Nedwin, who started out in Guy Lowry’s stable but was sold to Gisborne couple Mick and Suz Gardner. He won three races on the flat before entering the Hastings stable of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal and has since won six of his 10 starts over fences, including last year’s Great Northern Hurdle (4200m).
Edwina didn’t leave another live foal until 2018, when she produced a filly by Darci Brahma that Tom Lowry also raced from his nephew’s stable and was named Darwin.
“She won a race but then her form started to drop away so we pulled the plug and we have retired her to stud too,” Lowry said.
Testwin is the third living foal out of Edwina and his win fulfilled one of Tom Lowry’s breeding rules.
“I usually say that if a mare can’t produce three winners before she is 12 years old then you should get rid of her. Edwina is 14 years old now but she has produced three winners so I think she’s worth keeping.”
Edwina has since produced a yearling colt by Rock ‘N’ Pop but failed to get in foal to the same stallion in the latest breeding season.
“The yearling looks a nice type too,” Lowry added.
Testwin had given an indication of his ability when winning a 1200m barrier trial at Foxton last month and Guy Lowry was confident of a bold debut showing.
“He has shown us plenty and, in all honesty, we thought he could in on his trial performance,” he said.
“He has a massive stride and we were probably a little lucky to get first use of the track when it was definitely at its best.
“He really is a dead set stayer and the mile suited, although he might struggle at that distance now as he just wants to go further.”
With that in mind Lowry has nominated Testwin for the Group 1 $1million Trackside New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie in March.
“We have him on a Derby path and his next run will be at Wellington on January 27, at this stage,” he said.
“As long as he goes well that day we will then look at either the Avondale Guineas (Group 2, 2100m) or the Wairoa Cup (2100m) on his home track before tackling the Derby.
“The Wairoa Cup might suit best as it is here at Hastings which means he doesn’t have to travel after a big trip to Wellington and then another to Auckland, which can be hard on a young horse.”
Tom Lowry was drawn to Edwina because she comes from a highly successful Okawa Stud family that produced such outstanding gallopers as Key, Fix and Cure, the latter winning of the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) and also finishing runner-up in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
Sequoia Star shines bright again
It has been a long time between celebration drinks for the connections of Hastings-trained Sequoia Star but the four-year-old mare indicated she could now go on to better things after winning on her home track last Saturday.
The daughter of Redwood took out the Rating 65 $40,000 AHD-Animal Health Direct Handicap (1400m), staving off a late challenge from Don Pauly to win by a neck.
It was a deserved success as Sequoia Star had recorded two second placings from her three most recent starts and was forced to cover a lot of extra ground when finishing ninth in the other one.
She now has a record of two wins, three seconds and a third from 13 starts, with her maiden victory coming over 1400m at Rotorua back in October 2022.
Sequoia Star was ridden to victory last Saturday by South African-born Billy Jacobson who had the horse sitting outside the leader in the running before lodging a challenge rounding the home turn.
The mare worked clear of her rivals and looked set for a dominant win until Don Pauly emerged with a fast finishing burst to close the gap significantly late.
Sequoia Star is prepared by John Bary and raced by the Red On Red Syndicate, a large group of racing enthusiasts that hail from both the North and South Island.
The syndicate, managed by Mike Sanders, has leased the filly from her Auckland breeders Daniel and Elias Nakhle.
There are a number of Hawke’s Bay people involved, including Neil Murphy, Wayne Wooster, Dave de Lange, Ken Taylor, Ray Holder, Wayne Hudson, John Byrne, Vicki Small, Wayne and Andrea Percival, Alan Rigby, Mike Strange, Stephen Wollard, Kylie and Taylor Wakely, Kaine Wilson and two others both with the names Joanne Wilson.
Sequoia Star is bred to be a stayer as she is a full-sister to Suliman, whose 10 wins have included three over fences and one of those was in last year’s Wellington Hurdle (3100m).
However her connections are now resigned to the fact that she is best kept to sprint racing.
“I think she is a 1400 to 1600 metre horse,” Sanders said.
“We tried to get her to the New Zealand Oaks last season but realised she couldn’t stay.
“But she looks like a mare that can handle most conditions as it was a genuine heavy track at Hastings last Saturday and she seemed to get through it pretty well.”
He added that Sequoia Star is now rated on 67 points following her latest win and it is proving difficult to find another suitable sprint race for her in the coming weeks.
Holymanz likely for Ellerslie feature
Highly talented Australian-trained galloper Holymanz is now set to return to the country of his birth after scoring an effortless win in the A$300,000 Coastal Classic at Geelong last Saturday.
The four-year-old races in the colours of Cambridge Stud owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay, who are keen to contest the inaugural $1million Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 27 with the horse.
The TAB reacted to last Saturday’s performance by cutting his odds for the four-year-old feature from $14 to $6.00. He is now an equal second favourite with Desert Lightning and Wild Night in a market headed by Legarto ($2.60).
Regardless of what the future holds for Holymanz, last Saturday’s feature win was itself an enormously satisfying result for the gelding’s connections following a setback.
After showing good potential as a three-year-old, including a second placing in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington, his progress was interrupted by a fall in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) that dented his confidence.
But trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have brought him back to the peak of his powers, winning two of his last three races. His 12-start career has now produced four wins and three minor placings.
Holymanz was sent out a $3.20 favourite last Saturday and jockey Michael Dee was delighted with how the horse was travelling throughout the race. He sat in a handy position before cruising into contention at the top of the straight.
He then quickened appreciably in the straight and soon put the result beyond doubt, coasting to a three-quarter length victory.
Holymanz was bred by New Zealand stud Jamieson Park and is a chestnut son of shuttle stallion Almanzor. He was purchased for A$400,000 as a yearling in Sydney by the Lindsays in partnership with Nicolas de Chambure of Haras d’Etreham, home of the high-class stallion in the Northern Hemisphere.