Home and away Group 1 hopes

4 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

Christopher Grace has Group 1 hopes on both sides of the Tasman this weekend with Shillelagh (NZ) (Savabeel) in action at Randwick and Luvaluva (NZ) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) returning home in her quest for a first top-flight title at Te Aroha.

However, recent surgery will see the prominent New Zealand breeder following his fortunes from the comfort of his couch.

Owner Christopher Grace

“I’ll be watching from home. I had a hip replacement a week ago so I’m a bit short in behind,” Grace said.

The Chris Waller-trained Shillelagh, who was bred by Grace and races in his colours, will bid to add to her record at the highest level in the G1 The Star Doncaster Mile with connections hoping for an improvement in the underfoot conditions.

“I’ll be watching from home. I had a hip replacement a week ago so I’m a bit short in behind.” – Christopher Grace.

“She’ll run if the track is now worse than a soft 6,” he said. “She shouldn’t have run last start and Chris apologised for that. She wasn’t happy in that heavy ground.”

Winner of the G1 Kennedy Mile and the G1 Empire Rose S. on good footing, Shillelagh was unplaced at her most recent appearance in the G1 Ranvet S.

Shillelagh is a sister to the G2 Brisbane Cup winner Tullamore (NZ), who was purchased by clients of Gai Waterhouse’s stable after posting his maiden success in New Zealand.

Another full sibling Grazia (NZ) was a NZ$100,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale graduate and has won four races, including the Listed Spring Classic for Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards.

Broodmare success

They are out of the Flying Spur mare Trocair, a $285,000 Inglis Sydney Eater Yearling Sale purchase who won one modest race, but she has redeemed herself at stud. She comes from a well-performed North American black type family.

Grace also sold a sister to Shillelagh for NZ$340,000 at Karaka in 2015 and as French Success (NZ) she has made one unplaced appearance for Lindsay Park. He is also continuing to breed from fellow winning siblings Galway (NZ) and Irish Dream (NZ).

Shillelagh races in the colours of Christopher Grace

“I’ve got a Per Incanto filly out of Irish Dream with Murray Baker. She’s just come home after going shin sore,” he said.

Luvaluva was bought out of Grace’s Surrey Farm New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale draft in 2016 by expatriate Kiwi trainer John Sargent for NZ$55,000, a smart piece of business for the now Randwick-based horseman.

“On her Australian form she should be competitive.” - Christopher Grace.

She has won four races, including the G2 Wakeful S. and more than $580,000 and on Saturday will attempt to add the G1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ S. to her resume.

Luvaluva as a yearling

A last-start runner-up finish in the G3 Aspiration Quality convinced Sargent to send her across the Tasman in search of a maiden Group 1 victory. She will be ridden by Leith Innes.

“On her Australian form she should be competitive,” Grace said.

It’s not the first time an Australian-trained mare has taken aim at the Breeders’ S., with Lee Freedman sending the Sean Buckley-owned Dane Julia (SAF) (Caesour {SAF}) over in 2009 to claim top honours in the hands of Michael Walker.

Luvaluva is a daughter of the unraced Wansesingyee (Galileo {Ire}), who is out of a three-quarter sister to the dual stakes winner Secret Flyer (Secret Savings {USA}).

Following a couple of early breeding disappointments the dam was sold, but Grace does have Luvaluva’s 3-year-old half-brother Sindicato (NZ).

“He’s by Per Incanto and is with Roydon Bergerson. He hasn’t raced yet,” he said.