There was plenty of cause for celebration amongst the Waikato region’s thoroughbred breeding fraternity on Saturday afternoon following the running of the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick. The nail-biting last stride victory by Tofane provided a triumph for both her breeder, Curraghmore Principal Gordon Cunningham, along with Waikato Stud and their resident stallion Ocean Park who is the sire of the Mike Moroney-trained four-year-old mare.
Also celebrating were Kevin and Joanne Hickman’s Valachi Downs, who own Tofane’s dam Baggy Green, a half-sister to Group 1 winners Youngstar and Funstar, who is in foal to Ocean Park.
Tofane’s win continued a stellar season for multiple Group 1 winner Ocean Park who grabbed headlines during the spring through the deeds of his progeny like Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) winner Kolding and Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) winner Oceanex. Ridden by Kiwi jockey Opie Bosson, Tofane became Ocean Park’s second individual Group 1 winner while Group 3 Maurice McCarten Stakes (1100m) winner Star Of The Seas went agonisingly close to making it three when narrowly beaten into second in the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m) earlier in the month.
Waikato Stud Principal Mark Chittick was delighted to see further accolades head the way of Ocean Park, whos sits 10th on the Australian General Sires list, and was quick to pay tribute to Cunningham who has had a long relationship with the Chittick family. “We’re rapt for the Moroneys, for Opie and especially for Gordon Cunningham who we have had a long relationship with,” Chittick said. “Gordon was here when we took over Waikato Stud and he stayed on a little longer to help get us established and settled in which was hugely beneficial. “We had a yarn last night (Saturday) and agreed we definitely needed to have a drink when we can get together. “It’s a nice result for everybody, a nice local result and good for our community.”
Although there remains plenty of uncertainty surrounding the thoroughbred industry in New Zealand due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Chittick is upbeat about the upcoming breeding season. “We are in funny times but from the phone conversations we have had with our clients over the past few weeks we have been getting some pretty positive feedback,” he said. “That’s great and although we are preaching a little to the converted, we know that people with nice mares want to breed them to the stallions that we have available.”
Chittick was also rapt with the run of Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) winner Super Seth in the All Aged Stakes after he charged home for an eye-catching fourth behind Tofane after missing the start. The three-year-old colt is part-owned by a number of high-profile New Zealanders, including Waikato Stud where the son of Dundeel will stand once his racing days are over although Chittick believes that won’t be for another twelve months. “Like a lot of things, the future has been a little uncertain for Super Seth,” Chittick said. “I think my major concern about racing him on was that if the spring racing programme was affected it would put him in a tough spot.
“I’ve got to say that Australia has done an incredible job of keeping racing going and in my opinion, if their racing was going to be stopped, it would be by now. “We were very mindful about spelling him (Super Seth) there as if spring racing went haywire then we had lost the opportunity of racing and had shot ourselves in the foot in respect of getting him into the breeding barn. “I’m very confident they will be racing in the spring and he will be in for a big campaign based on what we saw on Saturday.
“James McDonald rode him and was full of praise about the run and was glowing about his turn of foot, which mirrors the opinion of his trainer (Anthony Freedman). “His final words were that we will be in for a massive spring based on that performance. “He’s going to the spelling paddock this afternoon (Sunday) and we will be discussing it with his fellow owners during the week, but the leaning is towards racing him on.”