HRNZ Owner/Breeder of the month for January 2024

To recognise those people who keep harness racing going, HRNZ selects a monthly breeder and owner award.

It is done randomly, with the sole criteria being that you must have had a winner the previous month.

For January Michael Brennan has been selected as "owner of the month" for being part of the ownership group that races Cote D'Azur, who won at Tauherenikau on January 2, and the "breeder of month" is Alabar after Cardi B's win at Methven on January 28. Plaques are on their way to both winners.

Owner of the month - Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan is a Wellington-based 27-year-old who is a cash settlements analyst in the financial services industry.

"I've been involved in harness racing all my life."

"Mum (Catherine) and Dad (Kevin) are very passionate about harness racing and get to as many meetings as they can to see our horses. Dad wanted to get us kids involved so we could go to any race meeting as an owner and share in some of the winnings. That works well as he pays the bills!"

Michael wasn't on course to see Cote D'Azur's win. The Doug Gale-trained Downbytheseaside three-year-old won his first race at his eighth start. He was three back the fence before getting a great run in the passing lane to win easily in the end.

"My folks were there. I’ve probably checked out the replay at least half a dozen times though."

Cote D'Azur's part-owners the Brennan5 syndicate consists of Michael, his parents, and two sisters Erin and Nicola.

Brennan5 also has shares in the Group 1 winning American Me, Private Eye, It's Nae or Never, and Major Break

"We had an amazing year following American Me in 2023, culminating in his amazing run for fourth in the New Zealand Cup and then winning the Invercargill Cup."

As for Michael's goals for 2024?

"A top three finish in the Cup this year would be a dream outcome. Also seeing Cote D'Ázur develop into a nice country Cups pacer and Nae winning a top three-year-old fillies race would be pretty amazing."

"We have been very fortunate to be involved in some exciting horses and it's a lot of fun and great to share the excitement with family and mates."

Breeder of the month - Alabar

Bred by heavyweights Alabar, Cardi B (Sunshine Beach - Woodlea D J) was foaled in December 2019. Her win at Methven was her fifth victory in 25 starts and it was a tough effort. Trained and raced by the Twidles at Rangiora, she was three wide and then parked the trip before careering away to win easily.

"I’ve had a lot of pleasure out of watching Cardi B race as she was a filly we had to withdraw from the weanling sales and Tom Twidle trusted us and took a chance on her," says Alabar General Manager Graeme Henley, "I’m really pleased that he’s being rewarded for that trust."

"I get a kick out of any progeny of our stallions winning races but when it’s ones we’ve bred and raised ourselves it’s another level again. So following the progeny is a fun part of what I do," says Henley.

"We predominantly breed our mares to the stallions under our management so that is all the sires at Alabar Victoria plus Lazarus at Nevele R. We generally produce around 60 foals with virtually all of them being sold through the weanling and yearling sales."

At the upcoming NZB National Yearling Sales among their 11 offerings is a three quarter brother to the unbeaten Millwood Nike. Lot 105 has certainly created a lot of interest!

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