With stakes wins on both sides of the Tasman, imported European mare Igraine has earned herself a special place in Brent and Cherry Taylor’s broodmare band and hearts.
The Trelawney principals are in the midst of a winter escape to Spain, but watched with delight as the Robert Priscott-trained Igraine scored a dominant victory in Saturday’s Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m) in Queensland. “It was a huge thrill to see her do that,” Brent Taylor said. “She’s a mare we’ve always had faith in. We bought her for her broodmare credentials as much as anything else, but she tries so hard on the track, and you do get quite emotionally attached to the ones that give their all like she does.”
Igraine was a £65,000 purchase at the 2017 Tattersalls Broodmare Sale in Newmarket, bought by Paul Moroney on the Taylors’ behalf. She made an auspicious New Zealand debut almost exactly a year ago, winning at Te Rapa on July 7. Since then she has won the Caloundra Cup and the Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m), along with placings in the in the Waikato Cup (2400m), Chairman’s Handicap (2000m) and Premier’s Cup (2200m), all at Group 3 level, in addition to the Listed Hawke’s Bay Cup (2200m).
“She’s added so much to her value,” Taylor said. “She was always a very viable proposition, both in terms of racing and breeding. She’s by Galileo and out of a Group 1-winning mare (Iota) who’s produced a Group 1 winner (Ito). “So she always had a special position in our broodmare band set aside for her, but her performances have really exceeded our expectations and have certainly made her a very valuable mare. “She’s not the first horse we’ve imported out of Europe, we’ve been doing it for a few years now, but she’s definitely the most successful on the racetrack. “A few years ago there was Stella Livia, who was also trained by Robert. She won a couple of races, then produced the top-class Australian sprinter Spieth.”
A breeding career now also beckons for Igraine, with the possibility of one final start in the Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) on July 11 before the curtain comes down on her racing career. “We’ll see how she’s come through this race and make a decision,” Taylor said. “Since Paul bought her in December 2017 and she came to New Zealand and went through quarantine, she’s been with Robert the whole time. We wanted to maintain the European style of training that she was used to. So she hasn’t had any time out of the stable. “But as long as Robert is still happy with her, the Grafton Cup looks like a nice option for one last run before she heads down to the Hunter Valley.”
The likeliest candidate for Igraine’s first mating is Fastnet Rock. The champion stallion’s proven cross with Galileo mares has produced 17 stakes winners, at 25 percent stakes winners to runners, including Magicool, Zhukova, Qualify, Intricately, Unforgotten, Age of Fire and Rivet at the elite level. “He’d be the obvious choice for her,” Taylor said. “It’s a cross that works particularly well. “When we breed mares in Australia, we try to focus on proven stallions. He’s certainly that and we’ve had good success with him in the past.”
Meanwhile, the Taylors are hoping lightning could strike twice with another import, Leytana, who won a trial at Te Rapa last week. “She’s hopefully going to run this weekend,” Taylor said. “It’s the same Te Rapa meeting as the one where Igraine made her New Zealand debut last year. I don’t know if she’s another Igraine, but not many are. “She’s by Intello, a son of Galileo, and she’s pleased us with her progress so far. It’ll be good to see how she goes.”
Despite their outstanding success with Igraine, the Taylors have no immediate plans to recruit more mares from Europe. “We’ve bought quite a lot of fillies in New Zealand and in Australia in the last few years, so our numbers are up around 25,” Taylor said. “There’s not a lot of room for anything new out of Europe at the moment. “We’ve got a few well-performed mares retiring to stud this spring – Indecision, who’s been racing in Queensland recently as well, along with Vinevale and Astor.”