IN Racing
John Jenkins | October 21, 2023
Hastings-trained Psyclone - Photo: Race Images

Hawke’s Bay couple have high hopes for impressive Rotorua winner

Hawke’s Bay racehorse owner Greg Miller and his wife Donna are hoping their horse Psyclone can provide them with a silver lining after their business was put out of commission by February’s Cyclone Gabrielle.

The Miller’s own Valley d’Vine Restaurant, which is part of Linden Estate Winery in the Esk Valley.

The winery and most of the surrounding buildings were devastated by the widespread flooding caused by the cyclone and, although the restaurant was basically left high and dry, there was no way it could continue to operate.

“I was lucky enough to be two stories up and so we had no actual damage but everything else in the winery was under water,” Miller said this week.

“We have finally just about got everything back in order again and, hopefully, we can resume operating in a couple of weeks’ time.”

At the time the cyclone struck Miller and his wife Donna had purchased a filly by Rageese out of the Savabeel mare Sensibility for $1600 off the online auction site Gavelhouse.

They had to come up with a name for the filly and decided on Psyclone, being a play on the word cyclone, and the horse was put in work with Hastings trainer John Bary.

Bary gave the filly a brief preparation as a two-year-old, at the beginning of this year, and she showed promise by finishing second in an 850m trial at Foxton in April.

She was then turned out for a spell and resumed at the beginning of this season, recording another second in a 1000m Foxton trial at the end of August.

Psyclone then made her race debut over 1200m at Woodville on September 21, where she finished fourth out of 10 after being slow away and racing greenly in the running.

The three-year-old obviously derived plenty of benefit from that run however and was a much fitter horse when she lined up in a $40,000 race over 1215m at Rotorua last Sunday, where she was a maiden up against race winners and was sent out the rank outsider in a six-horse field.

Psyclone wasn’t quick out of the barrier and settled second last in the early running, with jockey Joe Kamaruddin following instructions from John Bary to keep to the inside. They were held up behind the leaders coming to the home turn but Kamaruddin managed to secure a rails run early in the straight and the filly finished strongly to win by 1-1/2 lengths.

“I told him (Kamaruddin) to get her to settle and ride her for luck and if she didn’t get a gap then it was my fault. But she got the perfect run through on the fence,” a happy Bary said.

Psyclone returned a dividend of $17.80 and $5.80 for a place and her win was a welcome change of luck for the Bary stable, which had come within centimetres of winning two races at the Hawke’s Bay premier meeting at Hastings the day before.

Bary saddled up Lilly Laguna to finish second, beaten a nose, in a $65,000 Rating 75 race over 2000m and then produced Blissful Belle for a runner-up position in a $65,000 Rating 75 race over 1400m, where she went down by half a head.

Bary took four horses to Sunday’s Rotorua meeting but only got to start two of them, My Boy Zac (seventh) and Psyclone. The meeting was abandoned after race four with the track deemed unsafe for racing on after horses had slipped just after passing the winning post.

Psyclone, who is a half-sister to another winner in Lockdown Legacy, has come through Sunday’s win well according to Bary but won’t be rushed at this stage as she still has plenty of maturing to do.

He is keen to test her against the top three-year-old fillies later this season however and has the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) at Awapuni in December as a likely target.

Greg and Donna Miller race 90 per cent of the filly with Greg’s brother Trent and one of his close friends leasing the other 10 per cent.

Donna Miller is a daughter of well known Hawke’s Bay thoroughbred owner-breeder Murray Andersen. She and Greg are part of the Andersen managed Waimarama Partnership Syndicate that raced the high-class filly Saavoya, winner of both the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.

That daughter of Savabeel also finished second in the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa and in the Group 3 Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie.

Greg Miller has also taken up shares in Fortuna Thoroughbred syndicates and has a 15 per cent share in the two-race winner Fay Khan It and a 10 per cent share in Malborough Bay (two wins).


Free Bee defied the odds

Hastings owned and trained Free Bee overcame adversity when chalking up her fifth win in an $18,500 Rating 75 race over 1400m at Taupo on Wednesday of last week.

The five-year-old Rageese mare was having only her second start back from a spell and was coming off a second to last placing over 1200m at Woodville last month.

She started the rank outsider in a seven-horse field and her chances were not helped when rider Bailey Rogerson dropped her whip on the point of the home turn.

Rogerson was only able to urge Free Bee with a hands and heels ride over the final stages but she still managed to score a decisive a decisive 1-3/4 length win at odds of 17 to one.

Free Bee is prepared on the Hastings track by the husband and wife partnership of Mick Brown and Sue Thompson, who took two horses to the Taupo meeting and also came away with a good second placing with Fancy Like Lass.

Free Bee was bred by well known Hastings owner Lucy Scoular and her late husband John and is now raced by her in partnership with her son Andy and daughter Sally Toothill.

She was named Free Bee as Lucy Scoular won a free service to the stallion Rageese and had him mated with the family’s Volksraad mare Bizz, who was the winner of three races.


Ravenna Rose a deserved winner

Hastings owned and trained Ravenna Rose capped off a string of minor placings with a deserved maiden success at Taupo on Wednesday of last week.

The Redwood five-year-old mare was having her eighth race start, with her previous four races reaping two seconds, a third and a fourth.

Her Taupo victory was mainly attributed to an outstanding ride from last season’s champion New Zealand jockey Michael McNab.

He jumped the mare out quickly from the extreme outside draw in the 16-horse field and quickly got her across to be one-off the fence and in a trailing position after 300 metres.

McNab then bided his time until just before the home turn when he sent his mount forward to take the lead.

Ravenna Rose quickly put a break on the field and maintained a strong finish, under a vigorous ride from McNab, to score a half-length win.

Ravenna Rose is owned by the Hawke’s Bay father and son combination of John and James Bridge and cost just $500 as a weanling from the online auction site Gavelhouse.

She is out of the No Excuse mare Marcelle, who was the winner of one race and was out of the Zabeel mare Proustian.


Group 3 quinella for HB owner

Waipukurau racehorse owner Michael Ormsby has enjoyed more success this week with two horses he has shares in filling the first two placings in the Group 3 $100,000 Barneswood Farm Stakes at Ashburton on Monday.

Ormsby has a small shareholding in several syndicates run by Te Akau Thoroughbreds.

Star Of Justice, raced by the Te Akau Fair & Just Racing Partnership, won the Barneswood Farm Stakes by a length from Viva Vienna, who is owned by the Te Akau Empress Of Austria Racing Partnership.

Star Of Justice was having just her third start and was following up a maiden win over 1200m at Riccarton last month.

The Australian-bred filly is by Justify out of the Fastnet Rock mare Fair Isle and was a $190,000 purchase by Te Akau principal David Ellis at the 2022 Karaka yearling sales.


Injury sidelines La Crique

La Crique’s spring campaign is over with the talented mare now in the spelling paddock after suffering bruising to her right front foot.

The Group 1 winning mare was set to cross the Tasman for a two-race Australian campaign, however, those plans have been foiled by feet issues following her third placing in the Listed Matamata Cup (1600m) earlier this month.

“After Matamata we did a full vet inspection on the horse with the mindset of sending her to Australia. We just wanted to make sure everything was all good with her before we sent her over,” said Katrina Alexander, who trains in partnership with her husband Simon.

“She has some bruising in her off fore foot and that has turned into something that is quite a niggle for her.

“She has gone to the paddock where she will be closer to the farrier that does the work on her.

“Hopefully we can get that right sooner rather than later.”

While an Australian spring campaign has been ruled out, Alexander is keen to get La Crique over the Tasman in the autumn.

“Once we have got this right with her, and we are happy with her, she could possibly go over and do a preparation there,” she said.

“I think the horse warrants to go around in decent company over there.”