Classic success looms for Little Wych

5 min read
Breeder Fran Ovenstone is aiming for a second Group 1 winner from her marquee broodmare Benevolent (NZ) in Saturday's G1 TAB South Australian Derby.

For Little Wych's Fran Ovenstone, finding a home where the yearlings she breeds can reach their potential is just as important as the price she gets for them at the sales.

So when Classic Weiwei (Shamus Award), who is out of Little Wych's star broodmare Benevolent (NZ) (Generous {Ire}), sold at the 2017 Magic Millions Gold Coast sale, Ovenstone was delighted that it was leading trainer Tony McEvoy who won the bidding for him.

That the colt, who was half-brother to Group 1 winner Mourinho (Oratorio {Ire}) and stakes-winner Molto Bene (Royal Academy {USA}), fetched $230,000, a record for the farm, was a secondary consideration.

"I think (who it goes to) is very important, being a smaller breeder. It’s very hard sometimes because people ask you why you sold a horse, but you want to get them to people that will do the best by them. That's very important," Ovenstone told TDN AusNZ.

Classic Weiwei

"Some horses you sell well, some you don’t. Sometimes you get a bit disappointed but at the end of the day if you find a good home, and they are going to do the best by the horse, that's my aim."

Ovenstone always had faith in the colt she presented to that sale, knowing he had the looks to match a pedigree that had been bolstered considerably by the efforts of Mourinho and Molto Bene in the previous few years.

"Sometimes you get a bit disappointed but at the end of the day if you find a good home, and they are going to do the best by the horse, that's my aim." - Fran Ovenstone

"I really liked him. I thought he was a really nice horse. He was a favourite out of that year's crop. He was always an impressive horse. He had a little bit of presence moving around the paddock," she said.

"But I'm always a bit nervous at the sales. It was a great result. You get a lot of lookers at the sale, so sometimes it’s hard to gauge whether it’s real money or not."

Classic Weiwei has emerged as a 3-year-old stayer of considerable promise, winning three straight races this campaign, including the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas, becoming Shamus Award's first-ever stakes winner.

After a closing third in the G3 Chairman's S. last start, he heads into Saturday's G1 TAB South Australian Derby as one of the leading chances. The favourite is another of Shamus Award's first crop, Mr Quickie.

Shamus Award

Finding the right match

While a victory for Classic Weiwei on Saturday would be a great result for McEvoy and his owners Glenvallen Investments, it would also be a significant success for Ovenstone, who masterminded the match between Shamus Award and Benevolent.

"I was looking for a young stallion and he had the right credentials and it was a good match. It was also affordable for me at the time," she said.

A victory would mean a second Group 1 winner from Benevolent, who Ovenstone purchased out of the 2006 Magic Millions Broodmare Sale for $50,000.

"She was a very nice-looking horse and the breeding of her was very appealing." - Fran Ovenstone

"She was a very nice-looking horse and the breeding of her was very appealing," she said. "She's been great for us."

"I think it's very important to have that good broodmare be able to do that. Years ago I had another broodmare, Icecapade (Genghiz {USA}), who left Aint Seen Nothin' (Nothin' Leica Dane) and a couple other nice horses, so it’s nice to know it’s not a one off thing."

The family continues

Now 18, Benevolent missed when she visited So You Think (NZ) last year but will be served nice and early next season.

"She's very difficult to get in foal when she has a late foal. So usually she doesn't go in foal that year. I gave her one try but decided to hold off for this year," she said.

Last year's foal was a colt by Sebring, who Ovenstone plans to take to the yearling sales next year

"He's gorgeous and he has a lot of presence," she said.

Benevolent foaled a colt by Sebring last year

"I’ll wait and see how he grows to see whether I send him to Magic Millions or to Easter. He's not small, but being a late foal, you have that three-month disadvantage. I’d like to take him to Magics and I'm hoping so, otherwise he’ll go to Easter."

Little Wych sold four yearlings at this year's Magic Millions Yearling Sale, grossing $294,000 at an average of $73,600. Again, it wasn't the numbers which concerned Ovenstone but who ended up with her horses.

At the same sale twelve months earlier, she was happy to take Classic Weiwei's half-sister by Wandjina home after she passed in. Now trained by Nick Olive and named Rain Spirit, she has had two starts as a 2-year-old before being given a spell.

"She's a lovely filly. I think she has got some upside. We didn’t expect her to start her as a 2-year-old, but we gave her a couple of runs and hopefully that puts her in good shape going forward," she said.

As for Saturday, Ovenstone has no concerns about Classic Weiwei getting the 2500m, only the fact that he has to overcome barrier 17.

"Fingers crossed, he's a Group 1 winner by Saturday night." - Fran Ovenstone

"I'm hoping he will handle the rise in distance really well. He should, but he's drawn an awful barrier, which makes it harder for him. Fingers crossed, he's a Group 1 winner by Saturday night," she said.