Day At The Track

Midfrew - from the out house to the penthouse

11:34 AM 23 May 2014 NZST
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Libertybelle Midfrew Libertybelle Midfrew
Libertybelle Midfrew - winning the West Australian Oaks
Libertybelle Midfrew

You have to go back to the 1980s to find when the "Midfrew" tag first surfaced in the harness racing scene in New Zealand. The result of a breeding partnership between the late Bevan Smith and his wife it had some success but nothing really outstanding. With the mares passing to his daughter Rebecca on his death, she along with her husband, John Mooney have refined and improved the breed that Bevan left them to the point where it is one of New Zealand's hottest commercial families.

But it has been anything but plain sailing for the Mooneys to get where they are today.

Never one to do anything by half, the Mooney’s threw themselves into the harness racing breeding business with a passion but quickly came to realise what an unforgiving industry it can be. Having put a few through the sales with little success, they decided to invest in a couple of "blue blood" mares from the Sakuntala and Regent Guest families with a view to having more success at the sales.

While this change was being implemented, one of the horses they had bred from the foundation mare Lu Baker that Bevan had left them was starting to show real promise on the track. Named Lucinda Midfrew, she was a typical Live or Die, possessing both speed and real grit in her races. By the time she was retired to stud she had won eight races and been placed nine times for $52,599 in stakes. Her best win was undoubtedly at Cambridge over 1700 meters where she came from last early to win in style in a 1;56.9 mile rate.

At this point the Mooneys decided to concentrate their efforts on the breed that Bevan had left them and the "blue bloods" they had acquired were quickly passed on.

Determined to give Lucinda Midfrew every opportunity to prove her worth at stud, they chose Mach Three as her first consort. The resultant foal was the Mach Three filly, Lucasta Midfrew who won twice in a brief career before she was leased by the late Dave Carville to go to his stallion, Ohoka Arizona who was standing his first season at stud. The resultant colt foal was named Eyre Crusher who as a late two year old last season was a very impressive winner at just his second life time start. He was subsequently sold for $100,000 to clients of leading Western Australian trainer, Gary Hall. Lining up for Hall this season as a three year old, he has had three wins and six placings from nine starts including an unlucky second in the West Australian Derby for $75,512 in stakes to date. The next foal from Lucasta Midfrew is a colt by Gotta Go Cullen whom the Mooneys will be offering at next year’s sales and she is back in foal to Christian Cullen.  

The second foal from Lucinda Midfrew was the smart Christian Cullen filly in Lulabelle Midfrew who won five races and over $46,000 in stakes. Her first foal at stud was the American Ideal filly, Louisiana Belle who was passed in at this years yearling sale for $26,000. A real looker, she really impressed Neil Hamilton who broke her in and trainer Nigel McGrath was also impressed. The second foal, a colt by Rock N Roll Heaven is also bound for next years sale while the mare is safely back in foal to Bettors Delight.

The third foal from Lucinda Midfrew was the Art Major colt in Castellano who unfortunately died while being prepared for the 2008 Ready To Run sale.
The fourth foal from Lucinda Midfrew was the Bettors Delight filly in Lulli Midfrew who has won six races and over $35,000 to date with a winning time of 1:56.8 to her credit.
The fifth foal from Lucinda Midfrew is this years sensational three year olf filly in Libertybelle Midfrew. This daughter of Christian Cullen was a smart two year old winning the $104,500 Caduceus Club Classic from Te Amo Bromac and Venus Serena and she has continued to shine as a three year old. Her run at Ashburton  in the mile against Venus Serena where after being wide early and parked for the remainder of the race yet still stuck on for a close third in 1:52.5 stamped her as a filly of real class. Sold for a hefty six figure sum after that race to clients of West Australian trainer, Mike Reed, she has had five starts for five wins in Western Australia including a stunning win in the West Australian Oaks for stakes of $130,215.
The only regret that the Mooneys have is that Libertybelle Midfrew is not eligible for the Breeders Crown. For some reason even they can't explain, the dam was not nominated that year. It is the only time ever that a mare they have bred has not been nominated for the Breeders Crown. However Sydneysiders may still get to see Libertybelle Midfrew as the long term goal is next seasons Ladyship Stakes.
The sixth foal is another daughter of Christian Cullen  in Lolapaloosa Midfrew who qualified at two recently for Nigel McGrath. Spelled after qualifying, she is expected to quickly make her mark next year at three. 
The seventh foal from Lucinda Midfrew is the Rock N Roll Heaven colt in Lipstickonyourcollar who was sold at this years yearling sales to the Strides of Sydney for $95,000. Placed with Tony Herlihy, he has pleased his connections with his progress to date.
The eight foal from Lucinda Midfrew is a colt by Rock N Roll Hanover who is bound for next years sales while Lucinda Midfrew is safely back in foal to Christian Cullen.
It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Mooneys over the years but they must draw a lot of satisfaction from the results they have achieved in the last few years and they can look to the future with enormous confidence with a breed that  just seems to get better by the day.
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