Better Knuckle Up doing the business for the Stotts

By Rob Courtney

Long time Auckland harness owner/breeder Peter Stott is obviously a keen 'student of the game'.

Nearly 25 years after breeding Perfect Seelster (Falcon Seelster - Perfect Parcel) who went on to win the 3YO PGG Sales Series Open Pace ($120,000), Stott and his wife Joan have once again been thrust into the limelight with the highly promising Better Knuckle Up. He won his third race from only four starts at 'The Park' last Friday night.

Of course the sales are now run by NZB and that 3YO race is now referred to as the Harness Million, worth $200,000.

Perfect Seelster, sold through the sales, won six from only 12 NZ starts and $146k in stakes but broke down in a heat of the Victorian Derby. He was later onsold to American interests where he had minor success.

The Stotts, in partnership, bred Perfect Parcel several times over, the best being Good Bad And Deugly who won 37 races and nearly $400k in stakes.

Precious Rose (23 wins + $300k) was another group performing daughter who is now breeding on back in NZ.

In 2022 Peter Stott had sorted out Lot 17, a Bettor's Delight colt from the eight-win mare Bare Knuckle at the Karaka sales complex and had given notice of his wish list to northern horseman Frank Cooney.

Bare Knuckle, by Raging Bull, showed real ability in a short career and was good enough to race time in 1.51.5 and Better Knuckle Up was her first foal.

Offered by Breckon Farms, the nuggety colt had a hefty reserve placed on him and was passed in at $85k but Cooney later 'did the business' and was able to secure him on behalf of the Stotts for $90k.

"The key to securing him was the fact that his third dam was Scuse Me", Stott explained.

Of course Scuse Me, herself won eight, then became a superstar broodmare leaving 13 winners from 15 foals including another superstar mare in Adore Me (26 wins, $1.7M in stakes and a race time of 1:47.7).

Trainer Frank Cooney had a serious medical event and the horse was transferred to the Purdon/Phelan barn.

"It is such a pleasure to have a horse in their stable," Stott says, "their complex is immaculate and their communication is first rate."

Better Knuckle Up came to prominence last November when he set a track record at 'The Park' over a mile for two-year-olds in 1:53.3 and the Stotts are certainly enjoying the current ride but are realistic as some big targets loom large for their horse.

"The draws will be so important in those classic races coming up" Stott said.

In 2023 Stott splashed out another $100k for a full brother to Group 1 winner Lancewood Lizzie (13 wins + $258k in stakes) and Blackjack is also now in work with the Purdon /Phelan team.

It is unlikely that he will attend the 2024 sale but it would not be beyond the realms of possibility that he invest further in a sport that he clearly remains passionate about.

Footnote: The horse that got closest to Better Knuckle Up last Friday was stablemate Escape Artist and he has Perfect Parcel as his fourth dam. A full brother (3rd foal) to Better Knuckle Up (Lot 112) is being offered at the 2024 Auckland sale on February 18.



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