Breeding Profile - Graeme and Katrina Walsh
By Brad Reid, NZSBA
Cup Week 2018 had some fantastic moments, particularly where the New Zealand stud book is concerned.
Not only did we see the first Cup Winner with a Cup winning dam in his pedigree, but Reality Check (Armbro Operative – Maureens Dream) became the first mare to leave two Sires Stakes Final winners, and probably less remarkably they were full brothers to boot.
The only glaring difference between Ultimate Machete and his younger brother Ultimate Sniper heading into the Sires Stakes Final was, well, not much.
You see the similarities go deeper than blood. And to be fair, it’s not just any blood. Their maternal pedigrees are entrenched with blood as blue as the trainers silks they represent.
Both Machete & Sniper got the nurture of a West Coast upbringing by breeders Graeme and Katrina Walsh, away from the harsh Canterbury winters, with year round grass.
Both got prepped for the sales by the master, David Shadbolt at Broadfield Lodge.
On sales day, Machete was an $84,000 yearling purchase by the Kennards.
Sniper was an $85,000 yearling purchase by the same group.
Machete has the edge when it comes to a two-year-old resume, simply because he was deemed ready by Mark & Nat.
Sniper was already beating stablemates A Bettor Act, Jesse Duke and Another Masterpiece at the juvenile trials before the decision was made by the master preparers to put him aside. We know how the trio of stablemates fared last year, so it’s probably no great surprise to some we write this tale!
Machete wasn’t the dominant force he was to become at three, but by the end of his two-year-old year, the writing was on the wall when just about pinching the two-year-old Emerald at Cambridge.
And while Machete didn’t go into the Sires Stakes final a raging favourite like his younger brother, there wasn’t a lot between the performances that saw them both crowned three-year-old kings on the second Tuesday in November.
Neither of the Bettor’s Delight bro’s saw the pegs on a 1:52 mile, and were simply way too good for the best the country has to offer.
Even their breeders Graeme and Katrina Walsh brought some commonalities to the party when it came to taking in the triumphs!
“We just did the same thing we had two years before when Machete won the Sires Stakes, we watched it home on the TV with the kids who finished school early to watch the race with us,” said Graeme.
One area you could say one has the edge is between their legs, but I’ll leave that to the breeder to explain.
“Sniper had an issue with his testicles that was discovered when he was only 24 hours old where he had ruptured one of them at birth.
“So that was surgically removed and the uncertainty around that come sales time was probably the only thing that held him back from going past $85,000,” said Walsh.
Machete, two. Sniper, one.
All jokes aside, the two brothers find their true differences in both appearance and temperament.
“Reality Check leaves really big strong foals, but Sniper was the strongest colt the vet had ever seen at 24 hours old. In saying that in the 12 months leading up to his sale we used to go out into the paddock and say is he big enough, is he big enough?
“And while he has rounded out into a fine specimen now, the worry with Machete was that he was going to be too big. Sniper ended up being compact chunky yearling, a typical Bettor’s, but he was never a big scopey horse like his brother.
Post sires stakes victory, Phil Kennard discussed the purchase and their differences in temperament.
“We don’t usually buy full-brothers, but Mark liked him and he left it to Glenys and I to decide,” Philip Kennard said.
“We debated it, debated it and debated it and we kept coming back to the fact we kept liking him.”
“Sniper is so much more friendly; Ultimate Machete will play-bite you.”
“But this fella will stand in the stables resting his head on the chain - he is so relaxed.”
The Walsh’s and the Kennard’s will be hoping Sniper can step up and assume the mantle his older bro couldn’t, and that is win a Derby.
Machete was victim of a Dexter Dunn special in a strange Northern Derby and then ran into Vincent at Addington and Menangle.
While there doesn’t appear to be either around in Dexter or equine athlete, it would be hard to fathom anything waiting in the wings capable of a performance like we saw last Tuesday!
With all the success the Walsh’s are having on the Coast, one has to wonder whether they can do their groceries in peace?
“We do get lots of well wishes etc and it’s great to see it can be done away from the traditional breeding areas. We own a supermarket so a lot of the people come in and know whats going on whether racing people or what have you.”
In a classic case of the apple not falling far from the tree, the brothers’ dam Reality Check wasn’t a bad nag either.
She broke two minutes for Geoff Small, earning $139,495, with half of that coming when beating Spicey and Weka Lass in the 2YO Sales Series Final for fillies.
Her crop didn’t get any easier when it included the likes of One Dream, Running on Faith, Top Tempo and Ohoka Moon, but Reality Check was able to pick up four wins and six placings from 24 starts.
Her pedigree meant she was destined for the broodmare paddock.
“We bought the mare from Paul Davies. We never saw her until she arrived with her Christian Cullen filly at foot! It was a good family and when I showed the mare to my father who trained horses for years he said shit that’s one of the best families in the stud book. It’s Father Dan’s he would say, just get into it!”
Father Dan would be Dan Cumming’s of Tuapeka Lodge and he should need no introduction.
The family shouldn’t either with Reality Check’s dam, Maureens Dream the recipient of the 2011-12 Broodmare of Excellence Award having left the likes of Ideal Scott, Zacharia and Mister Odds On from her daughters.
“The Christian Cullen filly wasn’t a very good doer and only brought $22,000 at the sales,“ said Walsh.
Named Ultimate Reality, she would qualify but was unraced and has since began a stud career with two foals on the ground.
The next foal was originally named Just Like Mum, but was later renamed to Major Reality. It was this Art Major mare that would give the first glimpse as to what was to come in terms of race track success.
“I don’t know if this was public knowledge but Mark Purdon came round and had a look at her, so there was some interest there. I’m not sure if he was the under bidder or not but he was interested.
She was knocked down to Kim Prentice of West Australia for $31,000.
“She was one of the leading mares there until she left Perth winning 21 of her first 30 starts,” said Walsh.
She would win the WA Oaks in her sole Group One victory, but has multiple Group Two and Three credits to her name. She raced as recently as Saturday coming 5th in a Group Three, and currently has $431,655 in the bank to go with her 23 wins.
“Harvey Kaplan has just bought her for breeding purposes and she won at Menangle the other night in 1:50.9 making her the fastest in the family at present,” exclaimed Walsh.
“We are breeding from an American Ideal daughter currently, our only other broodmare. She qualified at two and she was a real big filly. She showed lots of promise but got a couple of wee bumps. We thought we’d just put her straight in foal, so she went to Bettor’s Delight and we dropped off for foaling on our way to Fiji on Saturday.”
Reality Check foaled another cracking type this season when leaving an Art Major filly in September, with significant interest coming for her at a tender age.
“We had a lot of interest in the filly prior to Cup Week, she’s a lovely filly. We will just see at this stage, we haven’t put her on the market but were in a position where time will tell us what to do. She’s very forward and whatever sale route we decide she is very advanced in her development.
“We get a real good kick out of watching them run. It’s quite funny because the kids still think that we own them, we feel like we do anyway when we watch them. At this stage we will just keep breeding and the time may come when we retain one to race but at this stage they’re earning too much money to keep,” joked Walsh.
With Reality Check back in foal to Bettor’s Delight, a full brother would have a hell of a lot to live up too.
Whether it has two testicles, one testicle or no testicles, Reality Check has proven she can leave them all and it won’t be long before we are seeing her name in lights again as a three time, multiple Group One winning dam for the Walsh’s of Westport.