Snitzel double heads big Pukekohe day for transtasman bloodlines

By Dennis Ryan

23 Nov 2022

Snitzel double heads big Pukekohe day for transtasman bloodlinesValuable Snitzel filly Ethereal Star (Wiremu Pinn) wins the Barfoot & Thompson Challenge Stakes.

On a raceday headed by the Gr. 2 Dunstan Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes, how appropriate was it that the very best of New Zealand and Australian bloodlines should feature at Pukekohe Park last Saturday?
The flagship race for Auckland regional breeders was won by the Darci Brahma mare Darci La Bella, completing a hat-trick a full six weeks after her previous start win in the Gr. 3 Taranaki Breeders Stake at Hawera.
In the same mode as her older half-brother Tavi Mac, Darci La Bella is a large as life example that when it comes to performance, a racehorse’s size doesn’t matter. Recently retired Tavi Mac, aka Frodo, was the most unlikely of ultra-competitors, yet any supposedly physical impediments were pushed aside by the little bay gelding on his way to winning 12 of his 26 starts and $350,000.
At five years old, Darci La Bella is now the winner of 10 of her 16 starts for stakes a few dollars short of $300,000, and with plenty more in front of her under the shrewd training of New Plymouth-based Allan Sharrock.
Pukekohe on Saturday was also the scene of a notable first for New Zealand racing, a stakes double by progeny of one of Australia’s very best stallions, Snitzel. Leg one of the double, the Listed Barfoot & Thompson Challenge Stakes, went to Cambridge filly Ethereal Star, a $600,000 purchase at Karaka in March and now racing in the ownership of the Zaime Partnership, Hong Kong-based Ben Kwok and Wellington cosmetic surgeon Dr Henryk Poczwa.
Through trainer Andrew Forsman and bloodstock agents Andy Williams and Bevan Smith, Ethereal Star was retained in the face of stern international competition at the National Yearling Sale and after two starts she is now a stakes winner that has already justified her price tag.
The well-made chestnut was bred by Lib Petagna’s JML Bloodstock and reared at Blandford Lodge, her dam Eleonora being a grand-daughter of Hall of Fame stayer Ethereal. Forsman had valuable insight to the family through he and former partner training Eleonora when she won the Gr. 3 MRC Ethereal Stakes, no less, before finishing third in the Gr. 1 VRC Oaks and next autumn adding the Gr. 3 Sunline Stakes.
Close up in this Pencarrow Stud family is Eleonora’s half-sister Supera, a multiple Group Two and Three winner and several times placed at Group One. Ethereal Star races in the red, white and green colours of the Zaime family that have also been carried to big race success by the Forsman/Baker-trained Jon Snow and Aegon.
She and the stakes-placed Snitzel filly Rhetorical now head the order for the Karaka Million, which this season will be contested at Pukekohe, making Saturday’s experience of the spacious Counties track doubly valuable.
Ethereal Star became her sire’s 129th individual stakes winner, while another daughter already on that register, Letzbeglam, added further lustre to her page by winning the Gr. 3 Haunui Farm Counties Bowl. The Cambridge Stud-owned five-year-old, purchased for A$280,000 at the 2019 Gold Coast Yearling Sale, has shown ability from the start, winning the Gr. 2 Blue Diamond Fillies Prelude when trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.
She then finished second to her stablemate Tagaloa in the Gr. 1 Blue Diamond Stakes, but as Cambridge Stud CEO Henry Plumptre recalls, she went luckless through to her three-year-old season.
“For one reason or another she didn’t step up – feet problems, back problems, they all added up, so it’s wonderful to see her come back like this.”
The Cambridge Stud colours were carried by leading Challenge Stakes candidate Luberon, but the daughter of resident stallion Embellish had to settle for third. The overall result was still a good outcome, given Cambridge owns a half-sister by I Am Invincible to the winner Ethereal Star, and bred the runner-up, Almanzor colt Balance Of Power.
“The I Am Invincible filly is much bigger and has needed time, but she’s coming along well for Chris Waller, who tells us he has a lot of time for her,” added Plumptre.
“As for Snitzel, what an amazing stallion he’s been! Cambridge Stud has half a dozen of his daughters, we’ve bred a couple by him, but really, you can’t get enough of them.”
The fourth and final stakes race on the Pukekohe card, the Gr. 3 Pukekohe Traders Counties Cup, provided the closet contest of all between the Mark Walker-trained stablemates Aromatic, racing in the Te Akau colours, and Self Obsession, who is owned by Hong Kong-based David Price.
Sacred Falls mare Aromatic, stakes-placed three times previously, was bred by Milan Park principal Tony Rider, who part-owns Te Akau’s New Zealand 1000 Guineas winner The Perfect Pink.