B D Joe just the start of something big for Stonewall Stud
By Garrick Knight, courtesy of the HarnessXpress
The biggest talking point in the lead up to last Sunday’s huge Harness Jewels day at Cambridge centred around the 3YO Emerald and just what the tactics would be with second favourite B D Joe.
He drew perfectly in gate one but the punters’ elect Krug was on his back. Stablemate Alta Wiseguy – a noted speedster – was in gate three but there were question marks over his ability to endure a tough lead.
From the moment the draws came out on Friday, May 29, B D Joe’s driver Benjamin Butcher had a big decision to make.
As did the horse’s co-trainers, Steve and Mandy Telfer.
And it wasn’t until two days before the race that the plan was ultimately settled – B D Joe was too good to risk in the trail and he deserved his chance to lead and win a Group 1.
“It was last Friday morning that we decided,” said Steve Telfer.
“We had been stewing over the different scenarios all week and eventually I said to Ben, forget all the outside noise, what do you want to do?
“He’d driven both horses, he knew both horses.”
It was seemingly a moment of clarity for Butcher as his instincts were telling him to lead.
The stable had taken Alta Wiseguy to the Jewels workouts a week earlier, where he led and won in 1.53.8 against a high-quality field.
But there was no mid-race pressure and it wasn’t really a simulation of what could potentially await him on the big day.
The risk was that Alta Wiseguy could be attacked in front and would not carry B D Joe to the passing lane.
“That’s exactly the conversation that took place,” said Telfer.
“We all know he has the speed, but he’s perhaps a bit one-dimensional at this stage.
“And is it turned out, after sitting parked he dropped out and ran last so we made the right call.”
Commentator Aaron White had Krug home 100 metres out but B D Joe kicked back defiantly to win.
Krug’s co-trainer, Cran Dalgety, noted earlier this week his charge switched off once he hit the front but Telfer wasn’t so sure, though wasn’t prepared to state the opposite.
“I was watching from in front of the main stand, 50 metres from the finishing line.
“It did look like Krug was going to get him, but Ben had read the race well and executed the plan perfectly.”
A cheeky second quarter in 31.5 effectively put the back half of the field out of commission and the first four home were the first four at the quarter peg.
There were jubilant scenes in the Cambridge Raceway winner’s circle after B D Joe’s triumph.
Steve Stockman, the usually stoic principal of Stonewall Stud along with former wife Jill, exhibited rarely-seen emotion and zeal as he enjoyed the win they had all worked so hard for.
“You don’t see it very often from ‘Stocky’, but he was pretty chuffed because it was his first really big win.
“When he accepted the champagne in the winners’ room, he was going to pop the cork and spray it all over everyone.
“It was good to see him like that.”
There are dozens of syndicates run by Stonewall Stud but the lucky group behind B D Joe is a mix of new owners and longtime stable clients.
“The idea with our syndication model is that anyone can take as much as they want or as much as they can afford, no matter how big or small.
“There are plenty of choices for them to go into and I guess for the B D Joe group, they were lucky enough to get the best one that year.
“Some of the syndicate members, like Glenys Sharpe (from Taranaki) have been with us from day dot and I was so pleased for her especially.
“Then there are others like young Mitch Davis, who works at New Zealand Bloodstock. This was his first foray into owning a horse.
“The excitement on all their faces makes all the long hours and hard work worth it.
“It’s a really good reward for us.”
Telfer is also thrilled for the horse, who has had been a feature in the big races amongst his crop all season.
Second placings in the Sires Stakes Final on New Zealand Cup Day and the New Zealand Derby underpinned an excellent season that was just missing that elusive big win.
“He came up to us after being educated by Michael House down south where he had one start right before the big lockdown.
“Then he came north to us, had one more start and then was straight into the delayed 2YO Sires Stakes Final back in September.
“And he’s been in the first five of every major one since then with the exception of the Northern Derby, which was down to trainer error.
“So, definitely, I think the horse really deserved a nice win given how well he has performed all season.”
Few will deny that the team at Stonewall Stud are deserving of a syndicated Group 1 winner given the massive effort that has gone into their new business model over the past three years.
More than $2.1 million has been spent in the sale ring in that time meaning upwards of 100 horses have been on the books at the Ardmore base at times.
A huge advertising and sponsorship push has taken place in both racing and national media on television and in print, no doubt at great expense.
There’s been a significant investment at the already well-appointed Ardmore base recently with a second state-of-the-art barn opening this season.
And added to that is the new Canterbury base being developed in Weedons at the 88-acre property made famous by the late Jack Smolenski.
After acquiring it in late 2019, work is well underway for it to become a permanent base for Telfer’s sister, Mandy.
“We’re aiming to kick off down there on September 1 with a team of about 12.
“It’s going to take us between nine and 12 months to put the finishing touches on the place and really doing it the way we want it.
“But ultimately, I expect we will have a team of 25 to 30 there at all times.”
Ex-pat Australian David White has been recruited to join Mandy at the Larcombes Road property and Telfer confirmed discussions are underway to try and lure another big name to the team.
Tim Williams has elevated himself to be one of the country’s leading drivers so when he resigned from his long-time employment at the former All Stars Racing Stable – now Cullen Racing – just over a fortnight ago, Stonewall were quick to act.
“We put our pitch to him in a meeting on the Saturday before the Jewels,” said Telfer.
“Nothing’s in place yet but we are very hopeful of securing his services either as our driver, a staff member or both.
“He’s a driver that knows the Canterbury scene very well and I have to say he was very impressive when we spoke to him.
“We’ve put a few options to him and expect to hear from him in the next couple of weeks.”
So at a time when many are downsizing or even getting out of the game, Stonewall are expanding and using their considerable resources to make a concerted effort to increase horse and ownership numbers nationwide.
Their colours will now become common place around Canterbury with an arsenal of in-work horses likely to number 70 or even 80.
“We’ll still continue to do all the babies up here though.
“Down south we see as pretty much a racing stable rather than one for breeding or breaking in.”
The completely overhauled racing calendar, due to be unveiled to a captive national audience later this month, will hold significant interest for Telfer.
“I’ve actually just started a three-week holiday on Waiheke Island, but I might cut it short to two weeks so I can go to Christchurch for a meeting about next year’s calendar.
“I’m keen to get my head around what changes are there and how things are structured so I can start planning everything for horses over the next 12 months.”