NZ flavour to Australian Success in Oaks
By Brad Reid - NZSBA
The New Zealand Oaks may have had an Australian flavour to it, however the New Zealand undertones to the success are prominent throughout.
Australian breeder George Tennent was at Addington having travelled from Victoria to watch his pride and joy take on the best fillies in New Zealand on Friday night, and his recipe for success is one of many highs and lows.
George bred Shez All Rock after eying up her mother at the New Zealand Yearling sales in 2011.
“I bought the mare Irish Loch at the Yearling Sales where I had up to six people check her over and nobody could fault her," he said.
“Murtel McCarthy told the people I had inspecting the filly she was looking for a huge amount which had me worried, but I managed to pick her up for $11,500.
“And then the Earthquake happened, and I was thrown to the ground and had never experienced anything like it before!”
“I’d been doing research on a filly that had been racing with Hamish Hunter and he had a horse called Timely Loch and I’d seen her race a bit. Next thing I see the sale book over there and here’s Irish Loch."
Irish Loch is the Mach Three dam of Shez All Rock and was out of the lightly tried Falcon Seelster mare, Lady Loch.
While the Mach Three/Falcon Seelster cross was lightly tried at the time, it would go on to produce the likes of Fly like An Eagle, Fiery Falcon and Venus Serena.
Timely Loch (Christian Cullen) was easily the best of the Lady Loch foals who were seven fillies no less.
Timely Loch would win three races for Hamish Hunter and one for Michael House before racing in New South Wales and retiring with 12 wins to her name.
The irony and good fortune for her owners is she has just this season left her first foal, a colt by Rock N Roll Heaven no less but we come back to them shortly via the Shez All Rock purchase!
There had been a slew of good horses come out the family and you don’t have to look much further then Shez All Rock’s fifth dam Heatherloch (Lumber Dream) who was an honest mare that won six races.
She was sold by Roydon Lodge at a dispersal sale after failing to set the world alight as a broodmare, but that would soon change.
She was sold with a Yankee Reb colt at foot whose deeds among her other progeny would credit her with New Zealand Broodmare of the Year in 1989.
Yankee Loch (Yankee Reb colt sold at foot with mare) was the only trotting bred foal from the mare but he would win the Rowe Cup, Interdominion Trotting Final and New Zealand Trotter of the Year in the same season his mother was awarded Broodmare of the Year.
Other good performers from the maternal family included Scottish Loch, Patches, Global Force and Black Loch who was injured after winning the Sapling Stakes and prematurely being retired from racing.
While it was a solid family, it wasn’t a great one given the number of foals that were bred and the top sires many of them were by. However, patience was eventually rewarded for those that have persisted with the family.
Tennent unfortunately never got the opportunity to try his acquisition as a racehorse after taking her home to Victoria.
“I should have left her in New Zealand with Ernie Knight to be broken in but I made a big mistake before bringing her back to Australia," he said.
"Usually I do a lot of research with the people I send my horses to be educated with. But someone told me to send it to such and such and it was the biggest mistake I ever made because they wrecked the filly before she could even get started and she never recovered.
“I tried with various trainers to correct her issues and bad habits but a Mach Three filly who had that much speed was never to recover from being broken in poorly. She never even qualified. She has developed into a beautiful mare but you move on and we made the decision to breed from her.
“I then had contact with a man in South Australia called Robert O’Court who does breeding analysis and sets up the bloodlines, and he reckoned Rock N Roll Heaven was the one.
“She was prepared for the sales and she had only had a few people inspect her over the three days the sales were on.
"Frustratingly she went for only 12,500. It was disappointing because other ones we had bred were averaging around $30k, and I guess she was quite small and I’m not sure if the white blaze on her face put people off.
“She’s missed at stud and slipped at stud, but is safely in foal to Pet Rock this season,” he said.
Pet Rock currently sits fourth on the USA 3 year old sires list and stood his first season at stud in New Zealand this year.
“When we sell our yearlings, sometimes my wife will say kiss er goodbye because they can go to the wrong people.
“But Mark Pitt whose a lovely fella and we get on well, he purchased the filly even though a lot of people were trying to turn him off buying her. But his family are part of a very famous harness family in New South Wales called the Dieberts, and they purchased Timely loch, and that’s where the connection come up.
“They knew all about the family and originally Timely Loch was trained by Hamish Hunter down south where she broke down. Somehow or another Timely Loch ended up in Michael House’s care and he was able to get her to win in a very fast time at Ashburton over a mile (1:55.5) and sold her to the Dieberts. Shez All Rock must have shown some ability because they sent her to Rock N Roll Heaven,” he said.
“They had a few problems breaking her in I believe but I got a call some months later asking me if there any more progeny out of the mare which in hindsight tells you she might have been a bit special."
Shez All Rock was looking to join a very select list of fillies to complete the New Zealand, Victorian and new South Wales Oaks on Friday night.
Dream About Me, Fight For Glory, Copper Beach and Pullover Brown have pulled off the Victorian/NZ Oaks double in recent years and Elect To Live and Under Cover Lover had done the NSW/NZ Oaks double.
Only Bonnie Frost in 1970 had ever done the three-peat showing just how remarkable the accomplishment is.
“Mark Pitt called me on Friday before the Oaks and told me that Mark was happy with how she was working. And it was such a thrill to travel over and watch her win the New Zealand Oaks from the birdcage. The hospitality we experienced was unbelievable and you people treated me like royalty it was just remarkable.
“When she won the Victorian Oaks there was only one board member present and there wasn’t even an official presentation,” he said.
The filly with a blaze Sweet Lou would be proud of was hard to miss as she made her way around Addington in the green Harness Jewels colours, and even harder to miss were the tears of joy in Tennent's eyes as he tried to take it all in.
It is what we breed horses for and the emotion and buzz from seeing your stock win races like that is not a thrill you can get from a bottle.
Tennent says the mare will be mated this season with Art Major as it is a cross he is keen to try before the stallion retires.
“There is plenty of time to go back to Rock N Roll Heaven,” he joked.
Whoever Irish loch is served by, you can bet George Tennent who is a seller of his stock will do better than the $12,000 he got for her first foal when he takes the next one to the sales!
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