Furore furor aplenty at Haunui

6 min read
For better than a decade, well-respected horseman Mark Chitty has served the Karaka-based Haunui Farm as its managing director with great distinction.

A respected reproductive veterinarian and former vice president of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, Chitty has raised a nice horse or two in his career and takes this simple - yet inherently complicated - approach.

“Our aim here is to maximise the genetic potential of the horses and that’s through rearing the horses well,” Chitty said when TDN AusNZ contacted him at the farm earlier this week.

Haunui’s current success story is Furore (NZ) (Pierro), who will look to add Sunday’s HK$10-million (A$1.8 million) Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) to his stunning success in the Hong Kong Classic Mile four weeks back.

Furore was imported into New Zealand in 2014, his unplaced dam Stormy Choice (Redoute’s Choice) -raced by Jonathan Munz - having been covered by the exciting Pierro during the previous breeding season. Stormy Choice was sent across to New Zealand with the intention of being bred to Ferlax (NZ) (Pentire {GB}), who was campaigned in partnership by Munz to win the 2013 G1 Australian Guineas before returning to stand at Haunui. Ferlax died at Haunui in January 2017, but is the sire of fillies out of Stormy Choice in 2016 and 2017.

Stormy Choice produced a bay colt by Pierro at Haunui on Oct. 24, 2014.

Being put on a pedestal

“He was a nice, medium-sized horse who was very easy to deal with in terms of his growth development plan,” Chitty recollected. “He was the kind of horse that you really didn’t have to do anything special with. He just grew up very easily.

He continued, “He was nice and correct, but he didn’t really stand out. He was a really easy-going horse without being what you would call outstanding. When you have 80 to 90 weanlings, I would say he was just one of those nice horses that flowed through the system. But he’s probably gone past quite a few of them now - he sits up on the pedestal a little bit!”

“He was the kind of horse that you really didn’t have to do anything special with. He just grew up very easily. " - Mark Chitty

Furore was ticketed for the yearling sales at Karaka in early 2016, right about the same time that his then 4-year-old half-brother Blizzard (Starcraft {NZ}) was being prepared for his own run at the 4-Year-Old Classics in Hong Kong. Chitty said Furore took everything in his stride at Karaka.

Furore as a yearling

“He was a horse that had a great attitude. He coped with the pressure very well,” he said. “He was one of those horses where anyone could handle him. Some yearlings, when they get to sales, they become a one-leader horse, they get a bit uptight, but he could handle everything very easily and I think that stood him in great stead as a racehorse as well.”

"He could handle everything very easily and I think that stood him in great stead as a racehorse as well.” - Mark Chitty

Less than 24 hours after Blizzard finished a commendable third as a 16-1 chance to Sun Jewellery (Snitzel) and future Horse of the Year Werther (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}) in the Classic Mile, Furore was hammered down for NZ$210,000 to the bid of Australian Bloodstock and trainer Kris Lees.

Australian beginnings

“We saw him, as we were heading into the market, as sort of a $175-200,000 animal and he just ticked over that,” Chitty explained. “We think that he made a very good price for that time. It was just tipping on three times Pierro’s service fee or so, so it was OK. It wasn’t outstanding by any means, but it was still a very good price. Anything over $200,000 in my mind is a very good price for an unbroken thoroughbred yearling.”

Trainer Kris Lees

Sent off at odds-on in his first four runs, Furore was the easy winner of a BM 71 handicap at Wyong trying 2000 metres for the first time in March 2018 and covered himself in glory next time out, filling third spot behind D’Argento (So You Think {NZ}) in the G1 Rosehill Guineas. In his final run for Lees, Furore was sixth as the 4-1 choice in the G1 Australian Derby.

Furore was having just his third start in Hong Kong when taking out the Classic Mile, having finished seventh on his 1400m debut Dec. 16 before improving to third behind Ka Ying Star (GB) (Cityscape {GB}) over the metric mile Jan. 6. The Classic Mile outcome came as a bit of a surprise to Chitty, albeit a most welcome one.

“When you saw what he did in a race like the Rosehill Guineas, well, you see that he’s back to the mile and you’d think he’d be running on nicely and that if he runs in the first three, you’d be pretty happy,” he said. “But the way that he accelerated from a good position was absolutely fantastic.”

Success for Haunui

For all that Haunui has achieved, never has a farm graduate succeeded to the extent Furore has in Hong Kong.

“We haven’t had the stallions that have really appealed,” Chitty explained. “We stood Elusive City and a number of them went to Hong Kong, but they didn’t reach the giddy heights of a Hong Kong Derby, potentially. It’s very exciting.”

“We haven’t had the stallions that have really appealed." - Mark Chitty

With that 2000-metre centrepiece another month down the road, Chitty isn’t eschewing the opportunity to dream a little bit.

Mark Chitty

“The interesting thing about a Hong Kong Derby is that most of the successful horses are sourced off race form from around the world, you have horses from Europe and Australasia. So it’s very gratifying to see a horse whose race form has been assessed and people are convinced by that horse to try to win such a prestigious race in Hong Kong.”

An esteemed professional who has already achieved much within the Thoroughbred industry, Chitty takes much pride in having played a role in Furore’s development.

“The great thing about breeding farms is when you’ve watched the development from in utero to foaling them down to developing a young horse through the winter months into the spring and then into the sales. Some horses you remember a lot more intently than others.”

Chitty clearly already possesses a soft spot for Furore and surely won’t be forgetting him anytime soon.