It was a momentous occasion today for Classic Equine NZ, the owners of Raffaello Ambrosio, as his first raceday starter took to the track at Motukarara and despite the poor track conditions, won well.
Gee Up Neddy, a 3 year old gelding owned and bred by Canterbury trotting stalwarts Keith and Bevan Grice byout of the good mare Marie (by ) and trained by Peter and Leone Jones, started favourite in a C0 field.
Driven by Colin de Fillipi, Gee Up Neddy handled the testing conditions, sitting parked for most of the journey, running home well in the straight to score a convincing one length win.
Raffaello Ambrosio is standing his fifth full season at Eyreton Lodge in North Canterbury. A top class racehorse in the USA, Raffaello Ambrosio won $US810,614 in his 49 start career which saw him win a Titan Cup and place in many of the top USA feature races, including a fourth in the Hambletonian.
He also deemed good enough to be invited to the Italian classic, the Gran Premio della Lotteria - where he made the final against the mighty- and the Forus Open in Norway.
"He had the privilege to race with distinction in a golden era that pitted him against horses like, Moni Maker, Fan Idole, , Fern, Magician, and CR Renegade," said John Munro, director of Classic Equine.
Classic Equine NZ identified his potential for the NZ market based on his maternal breeding, being maternally bred on an/BF Coaltown cross, a cross the same as .
"BF Coaltown, being a sire of the 70's, probably did not garner much interest from the American market, but the incredible nick that the maternal side of BF Coaltown with New Zealand mares with the likes of, and as it subsequently proved , was the magnet to pursue Raffaello Ambrosio."
As well as being from the very strong family of Minnehaha, Raffaello Ambrosio is the second highest earning son of(after ) who from only 89 foals, produced 71 starters for 50 winners and stakes of over $US7.7 million, with 19 earning over $US100,000.
He is a very close relation toon both his sire and dam's side, and racing in similar length careers actually earned more money on the track (including a prestigious Titan Cup win) than the now Swedish-based sire who was taken New Zealand and Australia by storm.
While not being of great interest to the breeders in the USA, Raffaello Ambrosio produced 22 foals for 11 starters and 9 winners, with 1 earning over $US200,000 and 3 over $US100,000 and stake wins in excess of $US650,000. As a broodmare sire he produced the 2 time Kentucky Sires Stakes Winner, Victors Future, to bring his overall earnings to over $US 1 million - a very good effort for such a small number of progeny.
Imported into New Zealand late in the 2009 breeding season, Raffaello Ambrosio served 6 mares, getting 4 in foal.
His Achilles heel, however, proved to be transported semen, and despite being sent for a season to a recognized breeding establishment and being deemed suitable for a frozen semen programme, his performance on transported semen did not improve enough to warrant its continuation.
Raffaello Ambrosio now serves on farm only from Eyreton Lodge. He has received good support from a number of prominent broodmare owners and is being bred to a selection of mares from the top trotting families in NZ.
While it is disappointing to the owners that he can not serve a larger number of mares, they are prepared to accept quality over quantity and are confident that not only will he produce good horses now, but that he will prove himself in the future as a valuable broodmare sire.
Along with Gee Up Neddy, several of his foals from the 2010 crop are set to make their appearances at the trials in the New Year - Mediodito (qualified), Belle Gambe (a half Miss Boomschukaluka, T 1.58.9. $94,851), Montelupo (a half to Foray, 4 wins), and Here We Are, along with Raffs Folly, a late Feb 2009 foal.