Big Gaby marks big weekend for Kia Ora

4 min read
Stakes success across two countries provided Kia Ora Stud with a marquee weekend, including Loving Gaby's impressive debut victory in the G3 Chairman S. at Caulfield.

Loving Gaby (I Am Invincible) propelled herself into second favouritism for the upcoming G1 Blue Diamond S. at Caulfield, charging home from last on the turn to win after a masterful ride from Damian Lane.

Later that day, another Kia Ora product, Nafaayes (Exceed And Excel) claimed the G2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas at Turffontein in South Africa, while Rotator (Not A Single Doubt) went within a whisker of making it a hat-trick of stakes wins, when she was second on debut in the G3 Widden S. at Rosehill.

Significantly, Loving Gaby, prepared by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, was the first Australian black-type winner for her owners Phoenix Thoroughbreds, who have emerged as a major investor in Australian racing over the past two years.

Kia Ora Stud's manager Alex Kingston sees a strong future for Loving Gaby, who always loomed as a big filly who would take a bit of time to develop.

"She was a big raw filly when we sold her and she obviously had a bit of quality about her, but she was a very big first foal. We were extremely happy with yesterday," Kingston said.

"She was a big raw filly when we sold her and she obviously had a bit of quality about her, but she was a very big first foal. We were extremely happy with yesterday," - Alex Kingston

"Ciaron still says she is still big and raw. Yesterday looking at her on the screen, you could tell she was a lot bigger than all the others still."

"I'd say she's going to take a lot from this and keep improving. He has looked after her very well. I think she’ll go from strength to strength."

Loving Gaby

Another star for Vinny

I Am Invincible is having a sensational run with his 2-year-olds in Melbourne at the moment, with the winners of both Blue Diamond Previews last weekend by the Yarraman Park stallion.

Loving Gaby owes much of her precocity to her sire, but her dam Maastricht (NZ) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) did win on debut as a late 2-year-old before placing over 1600m at Group 2 level at just her third start.

She would go on to be placed in a G2 Adrian Knox S. and G2 Alister Clark S. over 2000m as a later 3-year-old, and given Loving Gaby's size and development, Kingston sees her too stretching out in trip in the next 12 -18 months.

I Am Invincible

"(Maastricht) was a quality filly as well, running second in the Edward Manifold S. She was purchased by Alan Bell and Mr Krishnan as a yearling and then raced by Alan and Kia Ora and now is a broodmare," she said.

"I think in time Loving Gaby will develop into more like her dam. I think the 1200m will suit her next time and I think she'll go on from there."

Phoenix paid $500,000 for Loving Gaby at last year's Easter Yearling Sale, a good buy for a filly of her quality according to Kingston.

"I thought she would have made a little bit more. She was such a nice filly, and well received. I know that Phoenix, Dermot Farrington and Ciaron Maher were heavy on her and combined together to buy her," she said.

Maastricht is a half sister to G1 Goodwood winning mare Velocitea (Volksraad {GB}). Having missed to More Than Ready (USA) the year after Loving Gaby, she foaled a Sebring filly last spring.

"She's a beautiful filly, strong and well balanced filly," Kingston said of the new arrival.

Maastricht is now in foal again to I Am Invincible and all is progressing well according to Kingston.

South African success

Nafaayes became the latest success for trainer Mike de Kock and owners Shadwell in South Africa, following on from their Group 1 win in the Cape Derby last month, with the Australian-bred filly having won four from six starts.

Nafaayes was a $350,000 buy from Kia Ora's 2017 Easter Sales draft by Exceed And Excel out of Group 3 winner Decelerator (USA) (Dehere {USA}). She has a 2-year-old filly by Snitzel and a yearling colt by More Than Ready (USA), who sold for $200,000 at the recent Magic Millions.

Nafaayes pictured as a yearling

Rotator, a $270,000 buy for Spicer Thoroughbreds from Kia Ora at the 2018 Easter Sale, looks very close to a win after being nudged out by Amercement (Lonhro) on debut at Rosehill in the G3 Widden S.

She is trained by Chris Waller and her full brother will be offered as Lot 17 of the upcoming Melbourne Premier Sale by Bhima Thoroughbreds on behalf of Kia Ora.