Westbury signs off big season with a flourish

By Dennis Ryan

4 Aug 2021

Westbury signs off big season with a flourishSuliman heads a Redwood trifecta completed by Timberlake and Border Leicester in the Taumarunui Gold

The last weekend of the 2020-21 season provided a fitting finale for Westbury Stud, headed by outstanding results for its stallion duo of Redwood and El Roca.
Fastnet Rock sire El Roca stamped his name on the final stakes race of 2020-21 when his two-year-old daughters Ima Roca Bee and Flash Mary finished first and third in the Listed Ryder Stakes at Otaki. Later on Saturday afternoon, the year older El Roca filly Esta La Roca added a black-type placing to her four-win record when finishing third in the last stakes race on the Australian calendar, the Listed Lightning Stakes at Morphettville.
Not to be outshone, Redwood capped his breakout season with a trifecta in the last major staying handicap of the season, the Taumarunui Gold Cup at Rotorua. Suliman, already a more than capable middle-distance performer with five wins, came out on top in the 2200m feature with victory over fellow Redwood geldings Timberlake and Border Leicester.
The icing on the cake was that all three horses were bred by Westbury Stud owner Gerry Harvey, rounding off a huge year on both sides of the Tasman for the marketing maestro.
“Talking about the trifecta someone made the comment that it’s got to be some sort of first for a stallion and breeder to do that in a single race,” said Westbury Stud general manager Russell Warwick. “I know the Taumarunui Cup is no longer a black-type race, but it’s still one of the more important races at this stage of the season.
“It was also a good way for Redwood to end his best season yet. He’s had a huge 12 months with Rock On Wood giving him his first Group One win in the Captain Cook Stakes, Tokorangi winning the Waikato Guineas and a horse like Romancer a stakes winner at Flemington.”
Even before last weekend, El Roca’s season had likewise been trucking along well. Travelling Light, who had credited her sire with his first Group One winner in last year’s Levin Classic, came through a difficult four-year-old season with a string of feature race placings headed by the Gr. 1 Otaki WFA Classic, BCD Sprint and NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes.
“With a bit of luck Travelling Light could have won another decent race, but there’s still time for her to bounce back,” added Warwick. “The same goes for Bella Mente, who was Group One-placed at three and is getting ready for the new season after a long layoff, and there are others like Miss Cartier who won on debut and is held in high regard by her trainer Stephen Marsh.
“El Roca is well thought of in Australia, and up in Hong Kong he’s got horses like Lucky Patch, who is really putting his hand up as one of their emerging sprinters.”
Westbury stallion Reliable Man also added to his record during the season with Inspirational Girl winning the Gr. 1 WATC Railway Stakes for Perth’s leading owner-breeder Bob Peters, along with Miami Bound adding the Gr. 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup to her VRC Oaks title, and on the home front Hypnos winning the Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile.
“It’s been a very good season with something like 166/170 winners off the farm, and a good number of stakes winners amongst them, plus clients like Jamieson Park breeding their first Group One winner,” said Warwick in reference to Inspirational Girl.
“Gerry keeps a keen eye on things and while he’s not one to heap praise on any achievements, he did come through on Saturday night with a simple two-word text that made me smile: ‘Good day’.”
Other highlights of the past year include young sire Telperion landing a Group Two result from his first crop in Wakefield Challenge Stakes winner Stormy, and fellow freshman, VRC Derby hero Tarzino, also breaking through with his first winner.
Harvey’s commitment to the New Zealand breeding landscape includes a gilt-edged guarantee for any broodmare owner patronising a Westbury stallion, by which a service fee is not payable until a viable live foal is on the ground.
“It’s something that has been common practice in America for some time, and we’ve seen it in Australia with the likes of Darley and now this year Vinery,” said Warwick. “We just felt that it’s beneficial for breeders and their cashflows to not have to pay a fee until the foal arrives, especially when so much can happen from the time a mare conceives.
“There’s a lot of competition for what is a diminishing broodmare band, and it is satisfying when you get a call from someone saying they would be breeding two mares rather than just one.
“As an industry we need to have a long-term vision that understands what it means if our foal crops continue to fall. I would like to think that at Westbury we’re playing our part by offering value and quality to anyone who breeds a mare to one of our stallions.”