VALDA'S GROUP ONE JOY
Congratulations goes to long time breeder and TBV member Valda Klaric who last week watched Littorio who she bred and sold as yearling take out the G1 VRC Turnbull Stakes.
“It was exciting – thrilling!” she enthused, proud to have bred her first Gr.1 winner.
Remembering Littorio as “a big, strong foal born at Hollylodge Thoroughbreds in Avenel,” Valda was at first disappointed when the bay failed to make his reserve at the sale but happy when Nigel Blackiston displayed interest. It was not all smooth sailing however, the young horse failing his scope – the trainer agreeing to have him re-scoped after a two week course of antibiotics. All was well with his next scope and after just 14 starts Littorio is nearly a millionaire!
From a small group of mares Valda has enjoyed considerable success from her Westbrook Park, Avenel base. Also the breeder of the Gr.2 winner Mr Martini, she has been breeding thoroughbreds since 1990 – her interest ignited by the late Alec Dodson. Valda spent some 25 years as private secretary to that successful breeder and owner of such great horses as Canny Lad and Canny Lass.
Valda purchased Littorio’s dam Our Centasea, a full sister to the dual Gr.1 winning miler Seascay, in foal to Rory’s Jester in 1999. She raced her son Morientes who was a debut Sandown second to subsequent big race winner Pillaging at debut, only to go amiss. She subsequently bred three winners from the mare – Shifty Lad, Cocenta and Westbrook Lad between them winning 13 races. Our Centasea was sold to New Zealand three years ago, again changing hands last year for just $4500!
Whenever an inexpensive horse takes all before them on the track there always seems to be an interesting story around how his owner’s came to own such an exciting galloper. The story behind Littorio and his ecstatic group of owners adds further to this theory.
When Nigel and Susanna Blackiston were pounding the pavements at Oaklands Junction in 2006 they came across the Basinghall Farm draft, which always attracts a large group of yearling inspections due to its reputation as one of Australia’s premier yearling preparers. After inspecting a number of their yearlings Tas Rielley from Basinghall suggested they take a look at one more before moving on, a lovely colt by Bellotto who hadn’t attracted much attention from prospective buyers.
The Blackiston’s were very taken by the look of the colt but were concerned about his marketability to potential owners as his sire Bellotto wasn’t exactly a commercial prospect despite his terrific record at stud over an extended period of time. One of their long time friends and owner Mark Barrett who loves to study pedigrees suggested that there was enough quality in the family to be able to sell shares in him so the decision was made to have a go at him at the right price.
As the horse was going through the ring late in the Premier 2 catalogue buyers weren’t falling over themselves to buy the colt and he passed in for $12,000 before the Blackiston’s approached the owners and secured him for $15,000.
Mark Barrett was an easy sell given his thoughts on the pedigree and from there Mark suggested to some friends whilst enjoying a lunch together that they might like to grab a leg of cheap nag, which for John Efthim and Murray McInnis was the first time they had ventured into horse ownership.
Following a stable visit by existing clients Justin King and Lenny Weis, they too were taken by the strapping colt and Susanna kindly offered them 5% of her share, a decision that will ensure they buy her drinks for the rest of eternity!
So with the ownership settled, 10 in all, it was time to go to the races and whilst optimistic of his chances Nigel wasn’t convinced he could beat a very handy maiden field full of expensive horses, including the promising type Jabal Tarik. Littorio exceeded expectations however and won well prompting his trainer to tip him out and prepare him for a tilt at the VRC Derby, where he eventually ran a gallant second.
Following some luckless runs at the highest level Littorio and his owners landed the big race he so rightly deserved, the G1 VRC Turnbull Stakes and now will aim for the first Tuesday in November where he and his excited owners will attempt to live the dream of a Melbourne Cup.