Zoe Mae ridden by Alexandra Bryan wins the The Midfield Group Maiden Plate at Warrnambool Racecourse on August 19, 2021 in Warrnambool, Australia. (Alice Miles/Racing Photos)

Ray Besanko’s homebred Zoe Mae has rarely been far from the winner and the mare finally put in a winning performance at Warrnambool last week to give Bombora Downs stallion Dandino another winner.

The Cranbourne trainer and his daughter Kasey bred Zoe Mae from a mare the family raced Bluetrice (Lake Coniston x Beltrice).

Bluetrice has produced four foals for the Besanko family and the fifth by Palentino is due soon.

Besanko is unlikely to forget the most recent foal out of the mare, a filly by Puissance De Lune (IRE) which knocked him over at a feed time, putting the veteran trainer in hospital for a couple of days late last week with a hip injury.

Ryboy (Astronomer Royal) was the first foal out of Bluetrice and so far has won has won three races and had eight minor places for Besanko.

After Zoe Mae, the mare had a three year absence from the breeding barn and then produced Oakleigh (Nicconi) which has had one start.

“Zoe Mae has only been out of the money twice,” Besanko said.

“She shows me a lot of ability and goes good.”

As well as training Bluetrice, Besanko also trained her dam, Beltrice (Keltrice x Midnight Success) which won a maiden a Stoney Creek and had four minor placings from 27 starts.

Many trainers like Besanko have started breeding their own horses because of the economics of buying yearlings at the bigger sales.

“I never bred until the last few years,” he said.

“We bred Rock Prophet (Moshe x Stiletto Rock), his brother which is Rockcliff (Canford Cliffs) and we have a half-brother to them which is by Toronado.

“And we have a half-sister by Puissance De Lune.”

Rock Prophet gave Besanko his first Flemington winner for 18 years when the five-year-old gelding won at Flemington in May. Training since 1973, the victory in the Breeders’ Handicap was Besanko’s first at Flemington since Red Inca in January 2013.

After the victory Besanko paid tribute to his daughter Kasey and said he’d probably be finished up with horses if it wasn’t for her as she will eventually take over the business and is the “backbone of the place.”

Besanko sends Kasey to the sales with the intent of buying something she likes to a $150,000 limit.

Unfortunately, a lot of horses she likes were going for $300,000 to $400,000.

“So we had some really nice mares and I said why don’t we go down this track of breeding them,” Besanko said.

“And that’s what we’ve done over the past few years and we’ve five really nice yearlings at home this year and have four mares in foal.

“Actually I got offered a lot of money for the Toronado out of Stiletto Rock which is a half-brother to Rock Prophet. But I said no.”

Besanko reveals he has always said he won’t die the richest man, but he is racing and breeding horses because he likes it and is also doing it for his daughter.

“I’ve always said I’ll be happy if I’ve got enough money to get by,” he said.

“We were offered a quarter of a million for the Toronado colt.

“It would be handy and he mightn’t even win a maiden plate, but if he turns out good, it is good for her (Kasey) so that’s why I’ve done it.”

Shares are sold in the horses that Besanko breeds at the stable’s open day so the service fees and associated costs are recovered.

Besanko said fellow Cranbourne trainer Doug Harrison was also a big rap for multiple Group winning Dandino (Dansili x Generous Diana) and had sent mares to the stallion.

Bombora Downs’ Christoph Bruechert said he had spoken to Besanko and expects him to send Zoe Mae’s dame back to Dandino this season.

“He has got a bit of an opinion of that horse and has had for quite a while,” he said.

“He has taken his time with it and it ran second at his previous start over 1000m and then won at 1200m

“He has got a bit of speed and he’ll get further which is a good combination.”

Bruechert said that he was hearing some positive things about Dandino’s progeny and describes the stallion as doing at least a solid job.

“He didn’t get a lot of mares and had 42 in his first year and I’m not sure what he’ll get to the track from his first crop but he all he needs is one serious horse.” Bruechert said.

“He has got some horses that have the potential to be serious horses, but he needs one of those to really step out and people will take notice and we’ll pick up another 30 bookings.”

Bruechert said Dandino was beautifully bred and it’s more of a female family.

A good aspect of Dandino is that Bruechert said the stallion can get winners at all distances which he says the Danehill line tends to achieve.

“He himself ran as a two-year-old and was placed at his second start and then got better as he got older,” he said.

“They are sensible young horses and he is a pretty laid back sort of a stallion as he was as a racehorse.

“His babies educate really easy, don’t get flustered and at this stage all the trainers who I have spoken to really love the horses and that makes the job a bit easier.”

Bruechert said a couple of his other stallions, including War Horse, had some tremendous things spoken about their ability.

Although Dandino’s two Group wins in England were at 2400m and his Group 3 victory in the VRC Queen’s Cup was at 2600m, Bruechert said the stallion wasn’t built like a stayer.

“He is quite short in the back and is extremely powerfully and is a solid boned type of animal which is where he got his ability to quicken from,” Bruechert said.

“He didn’t have to wind up like a lot of stayers do but if a gap opened he could take it and certainly that horse the other day showed some speed and a couple of others have done the same thing.

“I think they’ll have a lot fun with him.”

And Bruechert said he realises Dandino he is a bit stouter than what people chase in the Australian breeding scene, but the stallion was a world class horse that had 19 of his 21 placings at Group or listed level.

He also said Doug Harrison was probably instrumental in him getting the horse.

Craig Williams, who is Doug Harrison’s nephew, rode Dandino to second in the 2015 Caulfield Cup.

“Craig told him he had not been on a stayer that could sprint like Dandino could, so Doug was really keen for me to get him and he has put mares to him every year,” Bruechert said.

“And we’ll just see how he goes with his ones.”

Bruechert said there were enough of Dandino’s progeny in decent stables to give the horse a shot, but stallions need numbers which he admits is against his sire

But he says Dandino was doing an excellent job with what he has produced.