While Kennebec (More Than Ready {USA}) wasn’t the most expensive at $300,000 of the trio of mares secured at the Gold Coast by Michael Christian’s Longwood with Sheamus Mills Bloodstock (FBAA), she was one with special connections.

Kennebec is a daughter of the G2 Gilgai S. winner and multiple Group 1 placegetter Hallowell Belle (Starcraft {NZ}), whose half-sister Bella Orfana (Star Witness) is the dam of Saturday’s G3 How Now S. winner Bella Nipotina (Pride Of Dubai).

Christian and his wife Siobhan, with his brother Brad, bought Longwood in 2018 and bred Bella Nipotina, who was sold at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale for $80,000 to Lindsay Park Racing, Andrew Williams Bloodstock and Mt Hallowell Stud.

Bella Nipotina pictured as a yearling

“It’s been an amazing ride with Bella Nipotina. She was originally purchased by Lindsay Park and we retained an interest in her as a yearling. In mid-September after the Sale, David Hayes rang me and said I think she goes pretty well,” Christian said.

“It’s been an amazing ride with Bella Nipotina. She was originally purchased by Lindsay Park and we retained an interest in her as a yearling.” – Michael Christian

“She trialled well and David decided to run her in the Listed Debutant S. She travelled very well but was caught in behind the leader and was desperately unlucky.

“She went for an inside run and got blocked and had to come around off heels and finished off the race strongly without threatening to finish fourth. To think that was two years ago and she’s had her best career win now is testament to her constitution, toughness and durability.”

Bella Nipotina winning the G3 How Now S.

Change of ownership

Prior to her current preparation, an approach was made from Ciaron Maher’s stable to purchase Bella Nipotina.

“There was a significant offer for her, which was very fair, but the last thing we wanted to do was sell as we had visions of eventually breeding from her given we’ve bred up the family,” Christian said.

“In the end, we managed to do a deal on a 50/50 arrangement with the new owners to race and eventually breed from Bella Nipotina.

“In the end, we managed to do a deal on a 50/50 arrangement with the new owners to race and eventually breed from Bella Nipotina.” – Michael Christian

“As part of that, the caveat was she would be trained by Ciaron Maher so it was a hard call to make to Ben Hayes, but to his credit he understood the situation.”

Longwood still has Bella Nipotina’s dam Bella Orfana, who produced a Trapeze Artist colt in 2020.

“Unfortunately, the mare had a cancerous ovary so we had to take that out earlier this year. It’s not the end of the world, but we haven’t got her firing on the other ovary yet,” Christian said. “We’ve got to wait for her to start cycling so hopefully we can get her covered.

“We’ll wait and see what happens and no decision has been made on a stallion.”

Bella Nipotina’s grandam Belle Inez (Beautiful Crown {USA}) was purchased by Christian and Peter Morgan for $190,000 at the Gold Coast in 2004 and while she didn’t win, she proved a valuable broodmare before her untimely death.

She not only produced Bella Orfana and Hallowell Belle, but also the G3 WATC Champions Fillies’ S. winner Fuddle Dee Duddle (Red Ransom {USA}).

“She was sold to Perth interests, and Widden Stud then bought her post her racing in Perth and Antony Thompson, knowing I bred her, asked if I’d like to go in partnership, which I duly jumped at,” Christian said.

Michael Christen takes a snap of the Zoustar x Fuddle Dee Duddle colt purchased from Widden Stud by the Victorian Alliance, Suman Hedge Bloodstock (FBAA) and David Redvers Bloodstock at the Magic Millions Yearling Sale for $1 million | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

“We subsequently sold her in the Chairman’s Sale last year and ironically a good client of ours bought her. She’s had a Trapeze Artist yearling colt and a lovely Zoustar filly at foot.

“Bella Inez produced two stakes winners from her first two foals and could have been anything, but unfortunately at age 10 she had a colic attack in the Hunter Valley and died.”

Breeding plans

Longwood will be breeding from 18 mares of their own this season, including the three purchases from the Gold Coast earlier this year.

Volpe Veloce, purchased for $1.9 million at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale

“We bought Volpe Veloce for $1.9 million in foal to I Am Invincible for a good client and she’s booked to go back and we also purchased Rimraam for $1.5 million. She has a lovely Dundeel colt at foot and she’s also going to I Am Invincible,” Christian said.

“We also bought Kennebec as her dam Hallowell Belle was effectively the first horse I bred. Gai Waterhouse bought her and although I would have loved to retain a share, it unfortunately wasn’t possible.

“So when Kennebec came up for sale, that was a non-negotiable and I was happy to pay whatever it took to secure her. She’s a beautiful mare and probably worth more to us than others, given our affinity with the family.

“She’s in foal to Brazen Beau and she is booked to go back to him.”

Kennebec, purchased for $300,000 by Sheamus Mills Bloodstock (FBAA), Longwood Thoroughbred Farm and Peter Morgan at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale

Longwood also has Bella Inez’s half-sister Bella Sorellastra (Lope De Vega {Ire}), who was runner-up in the G2 Edward Manifold S. and their half-brother In Top Swing (Beautiful Crown {USA}) won the G1 Caulfield Guineas.

“Bella Sorellastra had a Merchant Navy colt, which we have retained to race and a lovely Deep Field yearling colt. The mare is in foal to Pride Of Dubai to make it a three-quarter to Bella Nipotina,” Christian said.

“Bella Sorellastra is on a late cover and won’t foal until the end of October. So much will happen in terms of stallions between now and then so we’ll take our chances and make a call later on a stallion.”