Blandford offers quality in diversity

6 min read
As the nursery for recent stars of the turf such as Lucia Valentina (NZ) and Criterion (NZ), it is no surprise to see Blandford Lodge bring a typically strong representation of 12 yearlings to Book 1 of the NZ Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka.

Graham and Helen-Gay Bax, together with Blandford Lodge partner Lib Petagna, have focussed on presenting plenty of diversity for the buying bench at Karaka, with 11 different sires represented among the draft of 12.

"The quality is every bit as good as previous years. We’ve got a few more fillies than normal, but we’ve got a good selection of different stallions and very nice, correct horses. We expect the quality to be right up there with the usual standard," Graham Bax told TDN AusNZ.

Graham and Helen-Gay Bax

Two of the nine fillies Blandford Lodge put forward are by first-season sires in Coolmore's Vancouver and Mapperley Stud's Complacent.

"We expect the quality to be right up there with the usual standard." - Graham Bax

Bax singled out the Vancouver filly, Lot 332 out of Ravenna (Redoute's Choice), as one of his best for the sale. Her half-sister by Dissident, was sold for $150,000 at last year's Karaka sale and now races for Michael Moroney and Pam Gerrard under the name Shake That Tush (NZ).

Bax was at the Gold Coast Magic Millions where Vancouver topped the first-season averages and aggregates and was impressed with what he saw.

"They sold very well. I see Gai Waterhouse was very active on them. There is no reason why this filly won't be one that won’t catch the buyers' eyes. She's a good walking, strong filly," he said.

Lot 332 Vancouver x Ravenna

One of 12 Vancouvers available in Book 1, her dam was an unraced half-sister to Downhill Racer (Danehill Dancer {Ire)) from a family that includes stakes-winners Schubert (Salieri), Recast (Thunder Gulch {USA}), Gonski (Danehill {USA}) and Pinezero (Danzero).

Lot 337, the filly by Complacent, is also out of a Redoute's Choice mare, in Redscilla, the three-quarter sister to Group 1 winning mare Royal Descent.

One of four Invincibles

The stallion which dominated the overall sales at the Gold Coast, Yarraman Park's I Am Invincible, has only four yearlings at Karaka, including Lot 477, the filly being offered by Blandford Lodge out of Thora (Pins).

"I would think she will be one of the star lots as well as far as pedigree goes." - Graham Bax

"If you had an I Am Invincible on the Gold Coast, you got a really good price. They were very well received. He's doing a great job and he's the hot sire at the moment," Bax said.

"I would think she will be one of the star lots as well as far as pedigree goes. She's out of Thora. She's a nice medium-sized filly that I could see get-up and be an early type."

Lot 477 I Am Invincible x Thora (NZ)

That filly's older half-brother by Shamexpress, Tiny Terror (NZ), is already a winner while the dam's full brother Legsman was a stakes-winner in Australia, and her full-sister, Prickle, produced the G1 Queensland Derby winner Brambles (Savabeel) and his stakes-winning siblings Lopov and Lincoln Blue.

Nice pedigree update

Blandford Lodge also offers two other fillies by Australian-based sires in Dissident (Lot 214) and Foxwedge (215).

The Dissident filly received a nice pedigree update when her relative Danzdanzdance (NZ) (Mastercratsman {Ire}) won the recent G1 Captain Cook S and the G1 Zabeel Classic. That mare and this filly are out of half-sisters, who are out of stakes-placed (Star of) Gretchen (NZ), herself a half-sister to the dam of Lucia Valentina.

"She's a good Karaka Millions type. She’ll get up and run early," Bax said.

Lot 214's half-sister sold for $125,000 at last year's sale.

Lot 214 Dissident x Miralago

The filly by recently on-the move stallion Foxwedge is a half to stakes-placed Hong Kong galloper Khaya (NZ) (Librettest {USA}) out of an unraced half-sister to Group 1 winner Bentley Biscuit (Peintre Celebre {USA}).

Bax is also excited about offering Lot 427, the Savabeel filly out of Spiriting (NZ) (Montjeu {Ire}) .

"She's a lovely filly. She's a half to a very good horse in Hong Kong called Clement Legend (Ocean Park {NZ}, who has won four straight there," he said.

Ocean Park's time coming

Speaking of Ocean Park, Bax offers a colt by the Waikato Stud stallion that hails from the same family as Lot 214, mentioned earlier, out of a full sister to the dam of Lucia Valentina.

He is a big believer in Ocean Park and feels the 2012 G1 Cox Plate winner is not far away from having that star horse which can propel him to another level.

"To be honest with Ocean Park, he's been unlucky he didn’t have a couple of Group 1 winners." - Graham Bax

"To be honest with Ocean Park, he's been unlucky he didn’t have a couple of Group 1 winners. He's doing a good job, he needs a good headliner and he is away, I wouldn't discount Ocean Park," he said.

Lot 361 Ocean Park (NZ) x Runeasy (NZ)

In addition, Blandford Lodge offers a colt and a filly by Tavistock (NZ), a colt by Per Incanto {USA), a filly out of the final crop of ill-fated Mapperley Stud stallion Atlante and a filly out of the final New Zealand crop of Makfi {GB}).

That Makfi filly, Lot 381, is another one that Bax highlighted as a standout. She is out of Savanite (NZ) (Savabeel), making her a close relative to recent Listed winner Indecision (Per Incanto).

Reputation drives success

Pleased with his draft, Bax also takes comfort ahead of the sale from Blandford's reputation for producing top-quality racehorses, something that he said has been earned by everyone involved.

"The proof is always in the pudding. If you are not producing the goods then people aren't interested in your stud," he said.

"The proof is always in the pudding. If you are not producing the goods then people aren't interested in your stud." - Graham Bax

"We seem to be getting good horses year in and year out. It's not that I am a genius in what I am doing, I think it comes from right from the start and the ground that you are on."

Blandford Stud graduate, Lucia Valentina

"The farm is fantastic and we’ve got good management behind it and you get good vets and you get good farriers, and you have everything going in your favour."

"Once they get in the hands of a good trainer, they are half a chance of being a good horse."

And Bax is predicting even bigger things to come with the yearlings in 2020, highlighted by the likes of Lucia Valentina's first colt by Snitzel and her dam Staryn Glenn's foal by Capitalist.

"Next year you will see a different draft again which we think will be better again. We are just improving our stock along the way and we've got some good stock," he said.

"It’s a process that you keep upgrading and you get to a point where you produce good horses and more and more stakes winners."