When it comes to horse racing breeder Garry Chittick will tell you it's difficult going past pedigree.
Chittick made the assertion after jockey Matthew Cameron rode his product, Madison County, to victory in the $100,000 group two Sacred Falls Hawke's Bay Guineas in Hastings this afternoon.
The 3-year-old bay gelding, by Pins (Australia) out of Red Delicious (NZ), showed his class with a crisp finish over 1400m in race 5 of the final leg of the Bostock New Zealand Spring Racing Carnival trilogy, the Livamol Classic, here.
A beaming Chittick revealed, in the winner's circle, the China Horse Club had paid $36,000 from Waikato Stud's Select Sale draft at the 2017 National Yearling Sale at Karaka.
He alluded to Pins as an "exceptional stallion" with 77 stakes winners because not many sires got more than 70 in their career.
"That was probably fifth on the all-time New Zealand stakes-winning sires' list but, unfortunately, he's passed away," said the 74-year-old Waikato Stud Ltd owner, delighted to also have sponsored the race before the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman co-trained Madison County won it today.
"It's very exciting that Sacred Falls won this race and we bred and sold him. He missed the jumps, Sacred Falls, and then he won the race brilliantly so it was then that we decided to buy back into him," he said, hoping to have Sacred Falls back here next year, after Leith Innes rode him to victory in 2012.
Waikato Stud Ltd houses six stallions and has 200 mares at its disposal to ensure the bloodlines are flowing. Almost two hours later, Chittick proudly pointed out Livamol Classic winner Savvy Coup (Chris Johnson) also was from its production lines.
"Look, it's a big business and this year we're going to be selling 108 yearlings at the sale — if we get all of them there because you never do and it's difficult," said the breeder who had spurned the advances of one of the biggest Australian studs to sell Pins bought for $1.1 million.
Chittick said no one could argue with Baker's ability to condition the horse.
"The horse is a very typical Pins who are very good doers and easy to train so I'm not taking anything away from Murray," he said, wanting to see the replay on TV again after Cameron had a whoopsy daisy moment with Madison County who came home just shy of a length past Sam Spratt on Melt and Jason Waddell, riding King Louis, a shade more than two lengths behind the winner in third place.
However, Chittick felt it was a very good field and Cameron had a good ride.
It also was a "take-that" moment because Melt had stolen the thunder in the group three, 1200m Northland Breeders' Stakes at Ruakaka last month.
Asked if it was a case of "luck" that Forsman had alluded to in the Hawke's Bay Today preview, Baker said they had a horse, Rhinestone Cowboy, scratched in the previous race 4, Stella Artois 1400, so "that's racing and we win this one".
"It's a very promising horse that. He's got a good finish," said the senior partner of the Cambridge co-trainers with 35-year-old Forsman away in Melbourne to oversee six horses there.
Madison County is bracketed for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai 46th New Zealand 2000 Guineas in Riccarton on November 10 although Baker was in two minds, not ruling out an earlier trip to the group two, 1400m James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes on October 22 although the Te Rapa track is undergoing a facelift.
"He's a small horse and he's got a jockey's win to cope with yet but he's all right," said Baker of the sprinter who flies the international colours of the China Horse club.
Cameron has now ridden Madison County to a first, first, second, first since taking over the reins in Hastings on April 14 of the then 2-year-old.
"He had an awkward draw to contend with and I was three-wide but I had Melt in front of me so I knew I was following the second-best horse in the race," the 32-year-old Auckland jockey told NZ Racing Desk.
"I dropped my stick half way down but caught it again so he didn't have too much pressure on him. He still got the job done. At home he's got his quirks and he's not the flashest to ride at the track but he can turn it on when he needs to," Cameron said.
Chittick said racing in Hastings always came with the promise of fun on the heels of a lot of success for his stud. He cast his mind back to the $1 million Kelt Capital Stakes era with a "little filly" called Legs.
It was Legs' (Pins x River Century by Centaine) second success at the elite level in 2006, coming after her victory in the New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham in March that year. She was under the tutelage of Kevin Gray, of Waverley.
"She wasn't big either to win but Hawke's Bay has always been my hunting ground," he said.
Chittick said he had four cousins in the Bay, although one had died, so he enjoyed coming here and intended to have a big weekend.
The Chitticks hail from Lower Hutt but one branch of the family gravitated to the Bay to become sheep farmers while another drifted up to Waikato to assume the mantle of cattle farmers and horse breeders.
"Both our fathers were market gardeners and both of them were racing people so, from a very young age, we were encouraged to be around racing," he said.
Hastings trainer John Bary sported a smile of satisfaction after Waddell steered the equiano gelding to a placing at the birdcage, revealing he would have taken the position if asked before the race.
"Definitely, absolutely thrilled," Bary said, feeling King Louis belonged in that company despite his lack of experience.
A happy Waddell had reaffirmed Richard and Liz Wood bred-and-owned horse had the makings of a professional.
Bary said it was a game of patience so they would see how King Louis pulled up before deciding if he would line up against Madison County in Riccarton again next month.
"It's always great to run a good race in your home track," he said.