Blenheim is more accustomed to producing world-class wines than thoroughbreds, but last Saturday local resident Stephanie Hole celebrated her biggest moment as a breeder when Manzoice won the Gr.1 VRC Derby (2500m) at Flemington.
“It’s amazing to have bred a Victoria Derby winner,” she said.
“I didn’t think he was going to be able to get out being kicked around so much and boxed in, but when he got out and was starting to wind up, I thought he could do it.
“But you never know when you have got James McDonald (jockey) out in front (on runner-up Sharp ‘N’ Smart).”
After a lifetime involved in breeding, showing and judging sport horses, Hole decided to try her hand at breeding thoroughbreds just over a decade ago, and she is pleased that she did.
“I have stood up to four stallions at a time. I did breed purebred quarter horses but with it being racing bloodlines, they were all in the 16 hand-plus range,” she said.
“I also crossed them with thoroughbred mares and sent sport horses, from a lot of disciplines to a lot of countries around the world.
“It got too hard to do it all myself and I thought ‘I can’t get out of horses, and if I am going to pay an agistment farm, it has got to be commercial’.”
With that in-mind, Hole ventured across the Tasman with bloodstock agent Bruce Perry and secured her foundation thoroughbred mare, Femme Britannia, the second dam of Manzoice.
“I bought Femme Britannia in Australia,” Hole said.
“I went to the sales there with Bruce Perry. I have a history in sport horses and did a lot of judging. I was using Bruce for the pedigree but if the conformation isn’t there I am not interested.
“Femme wasn’t on either of our lists but when I saw her, I just had to have her.
“After much pestering of Bruce, I got him to put his hand up. I think he was waiting for someone else to outbid him, but I kept on pestering him.
“She just struck me and being in-foal to Fastnet Rock it was hard to argue against. I think it couldn’t go wrong until she slipped the Fastnet Rock at ten and a half months.”
While her first foray into thoroughbred breeding didn’t go to plan, she has had seven healthy foals out of the mare to date, including Choice, the Group Three-winning dam of Manzoice.
“I put Choice through the sales at NZB, but she didn’t meet her reserve,” Hole said.
“I raced her on my own and I was excited to get a second in the Soliloquy (Listed, 1400m) and she won the Eulogy (Gr.3, 1600m), which I thought was the epitome at that stage from a backyard breeder.
“I have accumulated a few more hoses now and they are all at Wentwood Grange. I am looked after there like I am part of their family.”
New Zealand has long held a strong reputation in producing world-class stayers and Hole wanted to continue that tradition with her breeding endeavours.
European Champion Three-Year-Old of his year Almanzor quickly caught her attention when he was announced by Cambridge Stud, and she booked into the son of Wooten Bassett in his debut season at stud.
“I want to breed stayers and I have always loved the European style of horse,” Hole said.
“I booked him (Almanzor) before I saw the horse, but I loved him as soon as I saw him.
“The colt (Manzoice) exceeded all expectations. He had that real look at me factor. He knew he was special.”
Manzoice was raised at Wentwood Grange, just south of Cambridge, after returning from Australia where Choice was served by Shooting To Win, with the resulting filly set to go through New Zealand Bloodstock’s Ready To Run Sale on November 16.
“I brought them straight back to Wentwood (after Choice was served),” Hole said.
“They have done everything, including the yearling prep, at Wentwood. Manzoice just went to Bhima as a consignor (where he sold for A$340,000 on the Gold Coast).
“I am lucky to have an absolutely stunning filly go through the Ready To Run Sale.
“I am getting a lot of pressure to withdraw her, but she will go through the sale. We will see how that goes on the 16th.”
Adding to the excitement of events on Saturday was the foaling of a full-sister to Manzoice at Wentwood Grange.
“A full-sister was born about an hour before the race. I think she is going to be in the mould,” Hole said.
Choice will be served this spring by Westbury Stud stallion Tarzino.