It was a confident plan with that confidence shared by the punters and, on a day when a couple of well favoured runners were rolled, glory belonged to La Diosa.
The South Island-trained filly gave her dual Cox Plate winning sire So You Think his first Group One winner when she fulfilled expectations in Saturday’s gavelhouse.com 1000 Guineas at Riccarton.
Those expectations were formed many months earlier according to Gordon Calder, one of those who shared in the ownership of the filly. They were set down at a roundtable discussion designed to establish just who would be entrusted with the filly’s preparation with this very target in mind.
“She was always a gorgeous filly and the dream was always the 1000 Guineas,” said Calder.
Matt and Mandy Brown and their Ngapuke property, with its private training track and “superb attention to detail” came highly recommended at the discussion with the group agreeing that in this case a South Island base would be an advantage.
“It’s great when a plan comes off, because we all know it isn’t always the case in racing!” Calder joked on Sunday.
The man behind the plan was the filly’s breeder, Whangarei-based Terry Archer, and it was a plan where the seed was planted many years earlier.
“I’d raced mainly colts and geldings,” he explained. “I had a group one winner with Z’Oro who won the 1994 Thorndon Mile, but I realised there was no residual value at the end of their careers.”
“I thought, someone must be making some money out of this – let’s try and buy well-bred fillies.”
First up came Showella, where the appeal for Archer was the fact the daughter of Lord Ballina and Show Queen was a granddaughter of the mighty Show Gate.
Showella went on to record six wins including Group One successes in the ARC New Zealand Stakes and the South Australian Derby. A foal share arrangement with Coolmore Stud saw Showella’s first foal by Danehill purchased by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, racing as Safwa she went on to earn black type and notch up five wins.
“He must’ve liked what he saw because he came back and bought a colt out of Showella a few years later,” Archer said.
The La Diosa story really began with Archer’s $55,000 purchase at the 2000 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier sale of a daughter of Star Way and stakes winning Grosvenor mare, The Grin.
“Wayne Peters and I bought Star Affair off the Dennis brothers,” he said. “She was passed in and I think Frank (Ritchie) ended up signing for her,” he recalls.
When quizzed about his apparent affection for South Island female families, Archer is happy to put his hand up as a big fan.
“Absolutely, there are some beautiful families in the South Island,” he said.
Star Affair added to her family’s record with four wins at 1600m, among them the Gr.2 Travis Stakes before retiring to stud.
After what Archer describes as a run of colts – one Rock of Gibraltar (Group Three winner and Gr. 1 Sydney Cup placegetter Solid Billing) and three Galileos (among them South African Group One placegetter and winner of 5 races Galileo’s Galaxy) – Star Affair had an O’Reilly filly which was purchased by Waikato Stud for $600,000 at the 2010 NZB Premier sale.
“Star Affair got to about 14 and I realised I needed a filly from her to carry on breeding from,” he said.
When Star Affair produced a filly by High Chaparral (La Dama), followed by another by So You Think, Archer decided he needed to get a group together to ensure that happened.
That syndicate – Calder Bloodstock Ltd, G L Currie, Bruce Honeybone & Deborah Martin, M L Gibson, P B C Sipos & T W Archer Trust – as listed in Saturday’s racebook are retaining those two fillies – La Dama and La Diosa – and a subsequent yearling filly by O’Reilly which will head off to the breakers next March.
While La Diosa is currently leading the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series the owners of other three year old fillies may be pleased to hear that is not her ultimate target. She will go for a spell now and probably have one race in New Zealand before heading to Australia in the autumn.
“You can’t ignore the prize money on offer in Australia,” he said. “Also, Australian black type means so much more when you are selling. The Australians are our biggest market so winning races over there really counts.”
Archer is hopeful La Diosa’s major target will be the ATC Oaks. “We have reason to believe she will go the distance, she has a half-sibling who was placed over 3200m, but you never know. She will tell us.” – NZ Racing Desk