The China Horse Club’s impact on the New Zealand scene is set to be felt even stronger in top company after another exciting three-year-old emerged over the weekend.
Following closely on the heels of the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Madison County, the same China Horse Club colours were carried to an impressive maiden win at Te Rapa on Sunday by the richly-bred Queen Of Diamonds.
A stablemate of Madison County in the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman barn, Queen Of Diamonds has always been held in high regard by her trainers and it was a welcome relief to the China Horse Club’s New Zealand racing manager and adviser, Michael Wallace, to see her deliver in such fashion.
“We were deciding whether to run her or not with the wet track,” Wallace said.
“It was nice to get the win out of the way and great to see her win like that.
“She showed she’s stakes quality and she’ll get the rating points to get in the better races now.”
A direct descendant of the champion broodmare Eight Carat, Queen Of Diamonds was runner-up in the first of her three starts and under the guidance of Matt Cameron she dived through near the inner on the home turn on Sunday and cleared out to win by four and three-quarter lengths, having an easy time over the final stages.
A daughter of Savabeel from a winning daughter of the dual Group 1 winner Tristalove, Queen Of Diamonds was bought by Wallace on China Horse Club’s behalf for $640,000 at the National Yearling Sales at Karaka.
A nominee for the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham on January 12, Queen Of Diamonds is now likely to head along the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year path.
“The Eulogy Stakes (1600m on December 15) is likely to be her next target,” Wallace said.
“We’ll see how she goes there, then we’ll pick a path.
“She’s got a bit of brilliance the way she finished it off on Sunday, but she should get a good mile and maybe 10 furlongs (2000m).”
Wallace was also pleased with the performance of one-race winner Van Irving (another of the China Horse Club’s team) to run home strongly for second over 1200m at Te Rapa on Sunday in just her third start for Stephen Marsh.
“She’s got a bit of quality and she could go for races like the Eight Carat at Ellerslie and the New Zealand Oaks later on,” he said.
Marsh is also preparing a Tavistock two-year-old for the China Horse Club, while the Tony Pike- trained Group 1 performer Caricature and Aim Smart, trained by Lauren Brennan, also sport the China Horse Club colours.
“Caricature is being freshened-up and will be dropped back in distance and unfortunately Aim Smart has had a bit of a setback,” Wallace said.
However, all is well with China Horse Club’s Group 1 star Madison County.
“He’s having a bit of a break at Lyndhurst Farm and will be back to have a look at the Levin Classic,” Wallace said.
“He’ll then go for the Karaka three-year-old race. That’s the plans in the short term and we’ll then figure out whether he goes to Sydney in the autumn.”
Madison County, who also won the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m), is the early favourite for the Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 2.
“We’ll just have to see if he’s going to stay,” Wallace said.
Wallace is always on the lookout at sales for new recruits for China Horse Club and, though he didn’t purchase any on its behalf at last week’s Ready to Run sale at Karaka, his Waterford Bloodstock operation figured on the buyers’ bench.
“Cameron Ring, who now works for us, bought six for Singapore clients,” he said.