Lisa Chittick honoured with fitting result

By Dennis Ryan

28 Feb 2024

Lisa Chittick honoured with fitting resultright back Andrew Scott, Harry, Garry Chittick front Paul and Dave O’Sullivan, Mary Chittick

For so many members of the local community, Matamata Breeders’ Stakes Day is the highlight on the annual calendar in the racing-embossed eastern Waikato town.
That was underlined again last weekend when a big crowd witnessed the Matamata training centre’s largest stable, Te Akau, win three times on the nine-race card topped by the feature with unbeaten filly Captured By Love. Later in the day Te Akau’s wide net completed a Group Two double as Campionessa, who hours after her final gallop on Tuesday morning had jetted to Melbourne to join the operation’s Cranbourne stable, added the Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield.
The locals also took Saturday’s other juvenile feature when Ballymore Stables colt Savaglee upset the favourites in the Gr. 3 Fairview Matamata Slipper. But the day’s most popular win belonged to Karman Line in the Lisa Chittick Plate, the race named after someone integral to Matamata racing and breeding who passed away nearly 10 years ago.
Lisa Chittick’s brother Lance is the third family member to operate Wexford Stables, in partnership with Andrew Scott. They decided to throw the dice with Karman Line and take on open grade mares with one that qualified for a Rating 75 support race, and come away with a hugely satisfying result.
Amongst those on course to share in the occasion were Lisa Chittick’s father Dave and brother Paul, as well as the youngest of her three children, 18-year-old Harry. His post-race presentation comments were as appropriate as the win itself – “It’s so fitting to see a Wexford horse win this race – there’s nothing like keeping it in the family,” he said succinctly.
Harry was representing his father Mark, who opted for Caulfield where he had two runners, and his older siblings Charlotte and George, both currently working in Sydney. For the past 20 months, 22-year-old Charlotte has been employed as an account manager for bloodstock industry marketing agency Kick Collective, while 21-year-old George spent a similar length of time at the Thompson family’s Widden Stud in the Hunter Valley.
He was back in Waikato Stud kit at Karaka in January before returning to New South Wales to broaden his experience with the first lady of Australian racing, Gai Waterhouse, and her Randwick training partner Adrian Bott.
“Charlotte and George have been keen on the horses from the start, but not Harry, he just wasn’t that way inclined,” their father explained. “I didn’t have a problem with that, I was just happy that he had proved he could apply himself working for a local fencing contractor.
“Then in January I asked him if he wanted to come with us to the Magic Millions and it was as if it flicked a switch, he was keen to get involved. When we got home I said he could either stay on the farm and help the team back here or come up to Karaka.
“He said he’d like to get involved with the sales, he ended up taking his first yearling through the ring and this week he’s started work at Ohukia Lodge with Jamie and Chanel Beatson. On his first day there I messaged him to see how it was going and he replied ‘Mean Dad!’. From that I take it he’s enjoying himself.”
The upshot is that Chittick is looking forward to his three eldest children – and not dismissing keen signs from their seven-year-old brother Charlie – becoming part of the team at New Zealand’s leading stud. Charlotte’s role at Kick Collective ends in two weeks, George plans to fully utilise his remaining time in Australia before being back ahead of the breeding season, and Harry intends making the most of working with highly experienced equine educators.
“It’s great that they’re all wanting to be part of the farm. All jokes aside, you can’t get away from the fact that we’re all getting older and for me it’s reassuring to have that sort of back-up for the future.”
More immediately, Chittick continues to enjoy the success of Waikato’s resident champion Savabeel, whose tally of stakes winners went to 140 on Saturday when the home-bred Savaglee won the Gr. 3 Matamata Slipper. Past the midway point in the season, the 22-year-old-old son of Zabeel holds a clear lead on each of the three recognised stallion tables, the Grosvenor, Dewar and Centaine premierships, and is well-positioned to take his tally of Group One winners to 33 when Orchestral lines up as the hot favourite in Saturday’s Trackside New Zealand Derby.
Savaglee, who was sold to The Oaks Stud for $400,000 at Karaka last year, is likely to get his chance at Group One honours in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Trentham in early April. In common with seven of Savabeel’s Group One winners, both Savaglee and his blood sister Orchestral are out of daughters of former champion Waikato stallion O’Reilly, who as it happens is well on the way to another broodmare sire title.
“Savabeel covered something like 110 mares last season and got 90 of them in foal, and showing him off for some visitors today, there’s no way you would think he’s the age he is,” Chittick said.
“A lot of the credit for that goes to our stallion manager Ryan Figgins. Over the past five or six years he’s really got to know him and does a fantastic job keeping him in just the right condition.
“It would be great to see him top Zabeel’s list of stakes winners (166), but with what he’s done he’s already got the record on the board.”