Racing: Boutique stable nabs spoils

By Mike Dillon

La Diosa was too strong for the northern fillies in the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on Saturday. Photo / Trish Dunell
La Diosa was too strong for the northern fillies in the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on Saturday. Photo / Trish Dunell

Group one win No 1 for Mandy and Matt Brown in Saturday's $300,000 Gavelhouse 1000 Guineas at Riccarton - the result of sticking to your principals.

The childless Browns are widely known for the remarkable individual care they provide their horses.

"Their horses are their children, it's really remarkable," said senior owner of La Diosa, Terry Archer yesterday. "It's so impressive. I've never really seen anything like it."

It's a long way from Whangarei, where Archer bred Le Diosa, to the Brown's North Canterbury stable, but the jungle drums work well in the thoroughbred world.

"I worked out very early that this was a very busy filly, the type that was not going to do that well in a big stable. We had to try and find her a relaxed atmosphere."

Enter Waikato's Gordon Calder, who now shares in the filly's ownership. "Gordon has had a fair bit to do with Matt and Mandy and he convinced us that would be the perfect stable for her.

He wasn't wrong."

Archer bred La Diosa (by So You Think) from his former fine racemare Star Affair, which he and trainer Frank Ritchie plucked from a Karaka sale for $55,000.

The vendors were the Dennis Brothers and the filly was from the family of The Kurd, which the boys have developed into what is regarded as one of the finest in the Stud Book. Star Affair won a Travis Stakes at Te Rapa.

Archer sold an O'Reilly filly out of Star Affair to Waikato Stud for $600,000, who raced in Australia as Thy and got to black type status.

La Diosa he decided to keep and the wisdom of that call was there for all to see on Saturday.

Sharing in the ownership with he and Calder are Whangarei lawyer Grant Currie, Auckland financial advisor Mike Gibson, his friend Brooke Sipos and Bruce Honeybone.

Perhaps understandably, Mandy Brown was emotional yesterday. Other trainers achieve group one winning status in less time than the Browns, but few with such a small team. "Matt and I rarely have more than eight to 10 horses in the stable and that's intentional. We have to turn horses away. I like that level because I really like to get to know each horse individually, because they are all different and they can have funny quirks.

"If I had any more horses I would never feel I was dong each one justice."

It's impossible to make money out of such a small team and Brown quickly admits that doesn't happen.

"We have to subsidise the stable and we are able to do that through our other business."

That business is the Rangiora New World supermarket, which Mandy and Matt half own with Matt's brother Robin. "We are lucky," says Mandy.

The closest the pair previously came to group one glory was when classy act The Jewel beat their filly Chestpeak in the 2002 1000 Guineas at Riccarton.

There is an irony there. The Jewel was the next foal after Star Affair to be bred by the Dennis Brothers from The Grin.

But this is a story fully of irony.

No one makes plans the day after a group one victory and nothing has been decided for La Diosa beyond now spelling. An autumn campaign will be put together with: ""A possibility of including Sydney", says Terry Archer.

There was no love lost between Kelly McCulloch and Rosie Myers at the end of a testing New Zealand Cup later on the card.

The sisters fought out a desperate finish in the marathon with the older sibling gaining the upper hand aboard Pump Up The Volume by half a head.

Trained by part-owner Ralph Manning, the genuine son of Savabeel came wide on the home turn and he finished doggedly to take the major prize from Myers' mount Perfect Start.

"He got a bit lost out there on his own and I thought Rosie may have nabbed me," McCulloch said.

"The key to these two mile races is to put them to sleep and he had no trouble. He's a great horse and a pleasure to ride."

Perfect Start also settled at the tail-end but, unlike her sister, Myers came between runners on the Wayne Hillis-trained outsider and that nearly proved a winning move.

Imperium ran on gallantly to take third money from Gentil Tonton and Nymph Monte was next home.

Group one glory

La Diosa gave Matt and Many Brown their first group one win on Saturday at Riccarton.

The couple restrict their stable to between eight-10 horses.

Pumped Up The Volume held out Perfectly Ready to win the New Zealand Cup.

- additional reporting, NZ Racing Desk.

- NZ Herald

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