The patient approach adopted with talented three-year-old Travelling Light (NZ) (El Roca) looks set to pay off in spades for the team involved in the El Roca filly as she gets set to tackle elite company after taking her career record to a perfect two from two at Matamata on Saturday.
Travelling Light will be set for the Gr.1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton next month, with her six-length victory forcing TAB bookmakers to slash her odds for the Riccarton fillies feature.
The Ben Foote-trained filly is now a $9 Guineas prospect behind current favourites Aretha and Bavella who are both at $8.
That price is of no concern for co-owner and breeder Coll MacRury who good-naturedly admits he placed a small wager on the filly shortly after the markets opened.
“I think she opened at $151 but my ticket has her at $101 so someone beat me to it,” he said.
“We have always had an opinion of her so it seemed silly not to back our judgement that she might be able to make the race and maybe win it.”
The fact that he could well have a favoured contender for one of New Zealand’s blue riband events isn’t lost on the self-confessed breeding and racing nut who harbours a passion for thoroughbreds that was formed in his childhood years growing up in Northland.
Travelling Light and trainer Ben Foote Photo: Trish Dunell
“I guess it all started when I was a kid in Northland as both sides of our family loved the horses,” MacRury said.
“I had a couple of uncles that raced a few and my dad loved his racing as well.
“At that stage we couldn’t afford to race any ourselves but that changed later on once I got into my working career.”
MacRury, who currently operates as the chief executive for the Australian-owned meat processing and packaging operation Wammco International, got his start in the meat industry as a teenager at the AFFCO New Zealand plant at Horotiu.
“My first job was as a teenager in the fellmongery at AFFCO Horotiu,” he said.
“While I was there, I was also studying and completed a degree in Meat Technology while later on I also got my MBA from Waikato University.
“I’ve worked in various meat industry related roles over the years although I took a break for a while and worked for Marks and Spencers during a European stint.
“I’ve been with Wammco for the last eleven years as their CEO. They have two major plants, one in Perth and the other in Goulburn, so I spend the best part of each month in Australia although I live here in Tauranga.
“Through all that time I’ve never lost my interest in racing and finally took the plunge into ownership when Dad and I took a share in a Te Akau syndicate that raced a Kingdom Bay filly called Bay D’Ore.”
Trained by Stephen Autridge, who was the head trainer for Te Akau Racing at the time, Bay D’Ore won two races before being retired with a knee issue.
MacRury kept tabs on where the mare was and when she was sold at the New Zealand Bloodstock 2000 Spring Sale to breeder Joan Scott, he contacted the mare’s new owner.
“We really loved Bay D’Ore and when Joan bought her, we made contact with her,” he said.
“Joan sent her to Colombia, who was a stallion that I had done a lot of research on and we managed to privately purchase the resulting filly which we named Electra Dee.
“Dad and I raced her and she won three for us before we retired her.
“We went back to Joan after Bay D’Ore had another Colombia filly which we bought and named Cissy Bowen.”
A winner of five races, Cissy Bowen has proved invaluable to MacRury as not only has she produced the stakes placed galloper The Great Southern and now the promising Travelling Light, she also provided an introduction to former top jumps rider and now successful boutique trainer, Ben Foote who has become a firm family friend.
“We were looking around for a trainer at the time and people had said to me that Ben was absolutely top class with the horses and was worth contacting,” MacRury said.
“That judgement was spot on as Ben is fantastic and probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.
“Cissy Bowen was a really tricky mare and he definitely got the best out of her. While she didn’t manage to get black type, we knew that we had something to work with when we retired her to the broodmare paddock.
“I had done a lot of research on potential stallions and we ended up going to Jimmy Choux with her first foal being The Great Southern who ran third in the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2, 1600m) for us before we sold him to Singapore interests.
“She then had another cracking Jimmy Choux colt that we lost after he went through a fence on Guy Fawkes night, which was a real tragedy.
“I also really liked the bloodlines around El Roca, so when he became available, we sent Cissy Bowen to him and the result was Travelling Light.
“Since then Cissy Bowen has had a lovely Proisir filly, a smashing Charm Spirit colt and she is now safely in foal to Sacred Falls.”
With Foote at the helm of Travelling Light’s racing career, MacRury is content to sit back and see where the ride will take him before she is added to the family breeding operation.
“We really think this filly could become a top line galloper,” he said.
“She has a fantastic strength about her but is also very light on her feet.
“She had two jump-outs on very hard tracks as a two-year-old and coped with them well but proved her versatility with her win on that wet track on the weekend.
“On the surface, her pedigree suggests she will be best at the shorter distances but the way she relaxes in her races I think she could well get over ground later on.
“Whatever happens we are going to sit back and enjoy the ride as it’s going to be a pretty exciting experience and one I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid.”