Waverley set to celebrate another Group 1 success

4 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

A brotherly favour may lead to further Group 1 success for Waverley, a farming-orientated community that has already made an indelible mark on Australasian racing.

Located in South Taranaki, halfway between Wanganui and Hawera, it’s most famous in racing terms as the home of the grand stayer Kiwi (Blarney Kiss {USA}).

Purchased by sheep farmer Snow Lupton and his wife Anne for NZ$1000, the chestnut rose to greatness in 1983 when he came with a paralysing burst from the tail of the field to win the G1 Melbourne Cup under Jim Cassidy.

"I didn't have a penny on him. I never bet much, but I had bet nothing on him," a laid-back Lupton said after that epic performance.

“He came through it with dignity, he kept his head high. That was the sort of man he was." – Jim Cassidy.

Kiwi returned the following year to defend his Flemington title, but was controversially scratched by stewards. They deemed the horse was lame despite Lupton maintaining there was nothing amiss with the gelding.

Kiwi, legendary winner of the Melbourne Cup

"I think that was probably the lowest point of his career," Cassidy later said. “He came through it with dignity, he kept his head high. That was the sort of man he was."

Undeterred, Lupton and Kiwi were back in 1985 to finish 11th and the following year he ran a creditable fourth behind At Talaq (USA) (Roberto {USA}). The hardy stayer also travelled further afield between times and ran sixth in the 1984 G1 Japan Cup.

Time for more Glory

Fast forward to this Saturday and Bill Thurlow is looking to bring the town of Waverley to the racing fore again in New Zealand’s premier distance event, the G1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup.

He trains the in-form and aptly-named mare Glory Days (NZ) (Red Giant {USA}), a last-start winner of the G2 Avondale Cup.

“She’s really well and I can’t get her any better,” he said. “She couldn’t do any more than she has, she’s won five of her last seven starts.”

Glory Days was bred by Gloria Kenny and the late Jack Georgetti, an outstanding horseman who co-bred, part-owned and trained the 1993 Auckland Cup winner Ligeiro (NZ) (Lanfranco {GB}).

The mare is a daughter of Bilancia (NZ) (Montjeu {Ire}), a half-sister to the dual stakes winner Katsumi (NZ) (Shinko King {Ire}) and the family of the Group winners The Right Money (Magic Of Money), Ourforeignminister (NZ) (Dubai Destination {USA}) and Bell Academy (Royal Academy {USA}).

Glory Days

She was sourced by Thurlow for his brother Grant and his wife Pat and Waverley neighbours Brent and Sue McAree.

“They raced a few horses over the years and hadn’t had much success,” he said. “I said to them to take stock of things, they’d spend a bit of dough and got nowhere, and see if we can lease one.

“We leased this mare off Gloria with a right of purchase and that was exercised last year.”

To be ridden again by Sam Collett, Glory Days has won nine of her 23 starts up to 2400 metres and Thurlow is confident Saturday’s 3200 metres won’t trouble his 6-year-old.

“As a younger horse she was a bit quirky, but she’s very relaxed away from home now,” he said.

“She’s not very big, but she’s tough and doesn’t pull in her races and that’s the key to these staying races. She does get back and that’s probably the biggest issue. You need a lot of luck when you settle off the pace, but that’s how she races and we’re not going to change that. It’s all up to the horse now and the rider, so no pressure, Sam. "

“As a younger horse she was a bit quirky, but she’s very relaxed away from home now." Bill Thurlow

“I just hope the field breaks up a little bit from the 600 metre mark to the corner. If it doesn’t, we are probably going to have to go around them all again, which she’s done before.

“It’s a strong enough field,” he said. “There’s about six strong chances in there and most of them are at the top of the book.

“She has had quite a long season. Some of them might be still on the way up where she has been going around for a while, albeit we have spaced her races.”

Should Glory Days continue her outstanding run of form at the weekend, a trip further afield beckons.

“She holds a nomination for the G1 Sydney Cup,” Thurlow said. “If she came through Saturday and ran up to expectations and everything was right with her, we would certainly pursue that.”