John and Crystle’s Kentucky venture delivers

Nothing makes Irishman John Kenneally happier than to see one of the weanlings he has bred and sold go on and make it as a successful racehorse.

Kenneally and his wife Crystle own and operate Erinvale Thoroughbreds, located just out of Geelong, where for the past five years a big part of their business has been specialising in the breeding of quality weanlings for the commercial market.

A weanling they sold for $75,000 to bloodstock agent Peter Ford, who in turn sold it as a yearling to Triple Crown Bloodstock for a modest $90,000, now races as Reelem In Ruby and has never been out of the top three in her 10 starts.

Trained by Peter and Paul Snowden at Randwick, the four year-old daughter of Pierro won the Group 2 Hot Danish (1400m) at her most recent start at Rosehill earlier this month and it followed a narrow second at her previous race in the Group 3 Nivison (1200m) at Randwick.

So far she has returned her big group of owners $547,620.

And Reelem In Ruby’s dam – Bobine – has plenty of exceptional American blood in her.

The Keannelly’s have twice travelled to Kentucky on a mission to bring broodmares back to their Victorian base.

“We bought the mare, Bobine, in Kentucky,” Kenneally said.

“’Crystle actually picked her out at the November breeding sale over there.”

“She was a Giant’s Causeway mare, and he was a fantastic sire. She is a half-sister to a champion mare, Possibly Perfect, who won seven Grade Ones over there. It’s pretty hard to win seven Group 1’s in America because they don’t put them on like they do in other parts of the world.”

Bought for $20,000 and with what Kenneally described as a “big page’’, he rated her a value buy.

“It was also about $25,000 to bring her home,’’ he said.

“We bought a bunch of them. We were there at a good time as the broodmare market was a bit quiet in America for two years, 2010 and 2011.”

“Crystle and I went over and bought six the first year and then we went back the next year and bought two in 2011 and she (Reelem In Ruby) was one of those two.”

Kenneally said the first group of American mares had produced some good foals that they had made money from.

And he has been keeping a close watch on Reelem in Ruby, especially as Bobine is in foal to So You Think.

“I have been watching her closely and we keep an eye on most of the horses we sell, especially when we own the mare, so you know what’s going on but she always looked pretty talented,” Kenneally said.

“She took a big step up Saturday week ago, that’s for sure.

“She beat some good mares and she did it so easily. She is a good mare and she might win a Group 1.”

Reelem In Ruby winning Hot Danish Stakes. (Racing and Sport)

Bobine has produced another Pierro, an unraced  two year-old colt, but her breeding record shows she has missed five times and is in foal for the first time in two years.

Kenneally admits while it’s frustrating not to get a mare in foal, he also says horses are not machines and don’t get into foal every year.

John and Crystle have been operating Erinvale Thoroughbred for 23 years.

“In the last four or five years we have tended to concentrate on the weanling markets, especially with our own horses,” he said.

Kenneally said it varies from year-to-year but this year they will breed from 15 of their own mares.

“We buy pregnant mares ever year, specifically for the weanling market and get them back into foal and trade some of them,” he said

“But we are really trying to get nice pregnancies for the weanling sale market.’’

Erinvale Thoroughbreds also specialise in foaling down mares which is part of the operation handed by Crystle.  She did 45 mares this season.

Kenneally explained that they accept mares from all over Australia from people who want to breed from Victorian stallions.

“We foal them down and look after them and get them into foal,” Kenneally said.

“We handle the foals from when they are born so they are nice and quiet when they go back to the people who own them.”

Another of Erinvale’s mares, Costanera (Encosta De Lago) produced Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes ( 1100m) winner, Rio Del Mar, at Ascot earlier this year for Perth trainer Simon Miller.

By Magnus, she was also sold as a weanling by Erinvale.

“So we are selling good quality weanlings that are going on and winning stakes races,” Kenneally said.

“We aren’t taking the poorer quality weanlings to the sale, but we are taking the best ones.”

The Keannelly’s operate Erinvale Thoroughbreds out of the well-known Carawatha property of 200 acres where the late Meggs Elkington trained out of for 20 years.