Red letter day for Lupton at Pukekohe

Yearn
Yearn dashes clear to win the Group 2 Dunstan Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe Photo credit: Trish Dunell

The after effect of some vigorous celebrations the night before had Matamata resident Mark Lupton feeling a little weary on Sunday morning but still in a state of elation after Yearn, the bonny mare he owns with wife Cath, took out the Group 2 Dunstan Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe on Saturday.

It was the first black type victory for the Savabeel six-year-old that the pair were essentially gifted by her breeders Clyde and Pat Buckingham under their Emblem Ltd. banner.

Lupton was quick to pay tribute to the pair for introducing him to the Savabeel filly when the Buckingham’s were looking at streamlining some of their bloodstock interests around five years ago. “Clyde had said to me to have a look at some of the young ones they had on the farm as he wanted to reduce some of the numbers they had,” Lupton said.

“I said to him I thought the Savabeel filly looked a good type and he said to me I could have her. “I said to him that she’s a Savabeel and you can’t just be giving her away like that. He was adamant I should take her and if we happened to sell her for decent money then he would take $30,000 for her.

“I broke her in and she was such a tough thing that I thought I might keep her to race for ourselves but I wanted to do the right thing by Clyde so I organised to lease her from him with 10 percent of any winnings to him and a $30,000 right of purchase. “Things have worked out pretty well all around and we exercised that right of purchase earlier this year so I think we have all had a win out of this one.”

Lupton was also especially pleased for trainer Karen Fursdon who captured her first major stakes victory since Upsetthym won the 2004 Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) and who has played a major role in developing the mare since she took over as her caretaker trainer from Lupton back in 2017. “I was just thrilled for Karen as we are great friends with her and husband Kevin,” he said. “They don’t have a big or celebrated team but they are wonderful horse people so to be able to share in a victory like this is very special.

“Karen has done a wonderful job with Yearn, as I knew she would when I left her in her care for a month when Cath and I went on a trip to Texas back in 2017. “That trip had been planned for months but I was thinking of backing out as Yearn had bolted in at a trial and I was convinced she would do the same at her next start. “Cath told me in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t staying home for a horse race so I had to find someone to look after her.

“I gave her to Karen and told her I would take her back when I got home but she won two while we were away and another straight after so there didn’t seem to be any point in taking her off Karen. That’s another good decision I made and it has panned out so well for us all.”

Yearn’s victory has also come at a good time for the Lupton’s who are facing an uncertain future following the death earlier this year of good friend and employer Scott Richardson, who owned the Matamata-based breeding and training operation, Flemington Farm where Lupton has been the manager for the past twelve years. “It has been a bit of a tough time with Scott passing away in August although I think the situation with the farm and the like will be sorted out fairly shortly,” Lupton said.

“Scott was just wonderful to work for and we clicked from the moment we met. “Originally he asked me to look after the farm for three months and I ended up staying for 12 years. “In that time, I think we produced close to 100 winners for Scott as an owner, while we sold a number of nice horses along the way.

“With Scott’s death the farm has passed on to his sister Julia. We sat down and had a long chat about it all and the farm will be put up for sale, which I think will happen in the next couple of months. “Cath and I are looking at our options but we’re not too worried as we have our own property and I’m pretty close to retirement age myself. “I’m not the type to just sit around so I’ll be looking at what I do next but I would like to travel a little more and might keep my eye in training a couple for Cath and I.”

Lupton’s Flemington Farm connection was also evident in the win of smart two-year-old Unition on Saturday who took out the Listed Fasttrack Insurance 5K Bonus 2YO Stakes (1100m) with the Fastnet Rock colt a son of Richardson’s former Group 1 winning mare Diademe. “While we got a real kick out of Yearn winning, the thrill of watching a son of Diademe win was nearly as good,” Lupton said. “Scott bought Diademe at the yearling sales from Waikato Stud and I broke her in and pre-trained her before we sent her to Murray Baker to train.

“I told Garry Chittick before she had her first start that she would win a Group 1 and he pretty much laughed at me. When she got that Group 1 win, Garry was one of the first to come and shake my hand which was a neat feeling. “She was as tough as old boots, probably the toughest horse I ever put a saddle on and when she broke down with a hoof injury, she showed all that toughness over the ten months she was off the track.

“We nearly lost her a couple of times but she came back, got her Group 1 and the rest is history. “I think that Unition could go on and be a top horse so that is going to be something to watch and take plenty of pleasure out of.”