Day At The Track

Nancy Iola no 'Black Sheep' now

01:24 AM 18 Mar 2009 NZDT
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For many years Nancy Iola, a black filly by the little known sire Black Fury, was considered the 'black sheep' of the Rosehaven family. She was two years younger than her Scottish Command half-sister Black Watch and about the time that Nancy Iola arrived in this world, Black Watch was winning her debut for owner Gordon Robertson at Alexandra Park, taking out the Champagne Stakes in the hands of Peter Wolfenden over George Noble's Bonnie Frost and Roy McKenzie's Bedevilled, both Thurber Frost fillies and from Bonnie Widow and Samantha respectively.

Black Watch then thumped Bonnie Frost by 11 lengths in the Ladyship Stakes a week later and on New Year's Eve, won the NZ Juvenile Championship by five lengths over a field of colts headed by Sydney James, a smart son of Johnny Globe and Omylight.

This was the night that Cardinal Garrison won the Auckland Cup for Tommy Knowles and Wolfenden won the Rowe Cup with Single Cash over Mountain Pride and Stylish Major.

Later that season, Black Watch remained unbeaten in five juvenile races for Manurewa trainer Ken Morrison with two more wins at the Auckland TC's Autumn Meeting which included the Thames Juvenile Stakes.

Black Watch won six more times as a 3-year-old with her best win being the Cambridge Gold Cup, while she was third in Bonnie Frost's North Island Oaks and fourth in the Great Northern Derby won by First Batch.

At the start of that season, she had also been transferred to the stables of Alan 'Baldy' Yarndley, who also drove her on occasions.

Black Watch won the Adams Memorial Gold Cup at the end of a disappointing 4-year-old season, over a field which included Globe Bay, James, Robalan and True Averil, and while winless at five, she rebounded the following season with a couple of brilliant 'last to first' sprints to win at the Auckland summer meeting.

She had her last light season of racing as a 7-year-old, bowing out not long after chasing Arapaho and Young Quinn home in the 1973 Auckland Cup.

Black Watch then proceeded to straight away 'spit out' two colts which proved top class performers in Tay Bridge and Remarkable.

Tay Bridge was a son of Lordship who won nine races for Robertson and Yarndley's son 'Sandy' and who would have won many more but for going amiss at the end of his 4-year-old season.

He won eight races that season, and in his penultimate race, Tay Bridge split Lord Module and Delightful Lady in the Reg Lewis Memorial FFA in Auckland when NZ Cup winner and Horse of the Year Lord Module scored in 2.43.1 for 2200m mobile, then an astonishing national record by almost four seconds.

Remarkable won 11 races before he was sold by Robertson to America, where he took what was then a very fast record of 1.53.2 and won a further $265,000.

As for Black Watch, the rest as they say is history.

Meanwhile, Nancy Iola qualified but went unraced and there was even a big question mark over her parentage.

Rosehaven, a daughter of the Australian-bred Globe Derby horse Black Globe who won three races, and who was from the Dillon Hall mare Brown Hal and tracing to noted Southland foundation mare Regina, had left a few foals for Invercargill's Alec McKenzie including the fillies Justurina (by My Chief) and Cabana (Hal Tryax), but had been proving difficult to get in foal.

When McKenzie gifted her to Baldy Yarndley in 1963 and even paid for the transporter, Rosehaven had left four foals in the prior decade for three minor winners.

Rosehaven then proceeded to produce three straight foals for Yarndley in the Fallacy colt Spare Parts (8 NZ wins incl NZ Futurity Stakes & Cambridge Gold Cup), the My Chief winner Interrupt and Black Watch.

When she missed the following season to Ricochet, Te Awamutu's Murray Kay suggested she be bred to Black Fury, a son of "either Bill B. or Cloverdale" who had won five races and who "was running around the hills of Parawera".

Black Fury won his second start as a 3-year-old at Cambridge for Te Awamutu owner/trainer/driver Jack Davies paying 20 pounds, and won four races the next season including a double at Taranaki's Annual Meeting.

Black Fury was from Isabel Derby, a pacing winner by Nelson Derby from Rarebell Direct, who produced the dam of a great pacer in Single Direct to Bill B.

The latter was an imported bay horse by Single G. who would also sire the dual gaited Great Evander from a U. Scott mare, while Cloverdale was an imported black horse by Abbedale who sired mostly pacers.

Whether Black Fury was by Bill B. or Cloverdale remained a mystery, and Nancy Iola wasn't about to inspire any investigations anyway.

"Black Watch was a solidly-built filly - the type that was always a chance to make a 2-year-old," recalls Sandy Yarndley.

"Nancy Iola was a bigger, leggier type that was always going to take time, and she didn't have anywhere near the same amount of ability or speed anyway," he added.

Black Fury produced about 40 foals over many years and a few winners, including useful sorts in the pacer Black On and trotter in Mutu.

Good mare Gymea Gold was his best broodmare credit, but Nancy Iola's first three foals were three quite handy colt performers in Weigh In, Weigh Out and Yarver.

Then she proceeded to produce six fillies from her next seven named foals before Yarndley "cut her head off" so to speak in the end.

The only one of those subsequent seven foals who managed to qualify was a chestnut daughter of Noodlum called Burgundy Lass, and while her second foal was a colt called Il Vicolo, her other 11 foals for Yarndley were fillies and only Vicario (1 NZ win) and Sandelera (4 Aus wins) proved minor winners.

A few years ago, after Yarndley sold Burgundy Lass to Christchurch's Mike Stratford as a 22-year-old, she proceeded to produce a colt by Elsu, which as Euryalus was entered and withdrawn from last year's Premier Sale.

Stratford now has a black yearling filly by Elsu from Burgundy Lass along with a weanling colt brother, while he has also leased Caernarfon (4m Holmes Hanover-Burgundy Lass) and she had a colt by Christian Cullen for him this season.

Yarndley has been selling daughters of Burgundy Lass at the yearling sales and also quitting them as best he could over the years.

One of them was Sparkling Burgundy, who as an 11-year-old had not left a winner from her first six foals when offered at the 2004 Mixed Sale in Auckland.

She was bought for $23,000 by Sue Martin because she had a big, strapping Christian Cullen colt at her side.

That colt was Gotta Go Cullen and Sparkling Burgundy is now in foal to Christian Cullen again.

Yarndley did keep the Soky's Atom mare Vicario for breeding from this side of the family, and after her first foal proved the top filly and G1 NZ Standardbred Breeders Stakes winner Coburg, she has not been going anywhere.

Now her sixth foal and second colt is Stunin Cullen, last season $214,500 Yearling Sales 2yo Open race winner and now this season's NZ Sires Stakes 3yo Open winner in an all-age national record 1.54.1 mile rate, and more recently an emphatic winner of the $600,000 Great Northern Derby and now very much a stud prospect.

He now has almost $800,000 banked with nine wins from his 13 races to date.

All this has served to further underline just how much Nancy Iola's side of the family has 'kept coming back' in more recent times, and that she can no longer be considered a 'black sheep' in the family.

Stunin Cullen is now the fifth Group One winner from Nancy Iola's branch, joining multiple Group race performers Il Vicolo (two NZ Cups etc), Gotta Go Cullen (NZSS 2yo Final, Auckland Cup etc), Coburg and Fake Spirit (GN Oaks, NSW Oaks) along with big winner Nketia and the top fillies Ciccio Star and Idancedallnight.

Tata Matapo (by Tudor Hanover) was the third filly bred by Yarndley's father from Rosehaven and her last foal when she was 25.

Tata Matapo's first two fillies were smart racemares in Foxy Lady and Berndon Star and her second colt was the brilliant Australian youngster Smooth Falcon (Victoria Derby), a sire of 140-odd winners including a good trotting mare in Kims Fantasy.

Also from this side of the family is Hot Shoe Shuffle (13 wins, NZYS 3yof Pace, 2nd NZ Derby) and the ultra talented but unsound Roddick.

Those earlier fillies bred from Rosehaven in Southland in Cabana and Justurina led to Auckland Cup winner Comedy Lad and Inter-Dominion winner Night Allowance, along with good Victorian trotter Flying Hardwick more recently.

What all this means of course is that each one of Rosehaven's five daughters have led to Group One winners.

Black Watch has been plain sailing obviously and largely the back bone of the Australasian Classic over the past two decades, with Harness Diamond and Great Northern Oaks winner Lauraella just the latest headline act from her production line, but outside of Il Vicolo, Nancy Iola was quite the opposite until more recent times.

The first foal that Sandy Yarndley bred from her was the Mark Lobell filly Lady Lenric, who over a 10-year breeding career during the 80s produced four foals in fillies by Mercedes, Saigon, Happy Cat and Tuff Choice.

Not surprisingly, none of them managed to pay a dividend, but such experience would provide for valuable lessons in the long run for Yarndley.

"We bred her to the likes of Lordship, Smooth Fella and Vance Hanover without getting a foal, but in those days, often those new, unproven sires were all we could afford and we were getting offered free services all the time," said Yarndley.

"But even free foals cost the same to feed and train and have to be wanted by someone (at the sales) and you learn from those sort of mistakes," he added.

By subsequently breeding the likes of Black Watch and her first daughter Aberfeldy to the best proven sires pretty much every season, Yarndley built an 'empire'.

Yarndley also learned in those formative years, upon inheriting the family, that "the best runners in the paddock or the leaders of the pack didn't mean much towards what would be the best pacers or performers".

He can recall having three good looking yearling fillies one year ('83) - Fast Lady (a Mercedes who was the first foal from Lady Lenric), Taylor (a black Lordship from Nancy Iola) and Jayvee (a Smooth Fella who was the first foal from Aberfeldy).

"Whenever you let them go in the paddock, Fast Lady was always way out in front and Jayvee was always a long last, with Taylor somewhere in between.

Fast Lady was sold at the sales and raced 12 times for a best placing of a fifth, and produced one filly foal which went nowhere, while Taylor didn't even qualify and from a dozen foals, produced a couple of minor overseas winners.

Jayvee was bought by one of Yarndley's syndicates and won five races before producing a string of good performers, which included G1 winner Sovereign Hill (Aus Pacing Championship, 3rd NZ Cup) and Black Reef (20 wins at Harold Park & US1.51.8f).

Yarndley's second foal from Nancy Iola was Lenricane, a chestnut by Armbro Hurricane, and she didn't go any better.

She was bred to a good assortment of sires, but just managed a trotter in Len du Jour who won a race from 36 starts, and Yarndley just gave her away in the end.

An Out To Win colt followed but he never raced and then came Taylor, before Nancy Iola produced Burgundy Lass and the black Lordship filly Spirit Of Venus.

Nancy Iola left one more foal in the Smooth Fella filly Redeeming, but Yarndley can't remember what happened to her at all.

Spirit Of Venus was retained for breeding and she produced handy mare Whata Spirit (dam of Fake Spirit) along with Nketia and Ciccio Star before she was passed on to Michelle Carson a few years ago, producing a colt and filly by Elsu for her.

After producing a colt like Il Vicolo in the early 90s, Burgundy Lass proceeded to prove incredibly frustrating by producing 10 consecutive fillies over the next 13 seasons.

Of those, only Vicario is left now, with Verde having been sold at the Mixed Sale in May last year with a Christian Cullen filly at foot to Mike Berger for $30,000.

Since Stunin Cullen, initially bought for $65,000 at Karaka by Nigel McGrath for Anne Seaton, Vicario has produced a yearling sister in Temepara Cullen, who like Lauraella, is going to be raced by Yarndley along with Max and Judy Hunter.

Vicario had a colt this season by Artsplace and went back to Christian Cullen, while the syndicate owned Coburg had a Christian Cullen filly and is back in foal to him.

Coburg's first foal in Suri, a 3-year-old filly by Christian Cullen who was an embryo transfer and a "lovely type", was injured when about to qualify last season and she has been bred to Bettor's Delight.

A subsequent colt by Artiscape "had a bad set of legs" and has been given away.

As for Stunin Cullen, a December foal who won a Sires Stakes heat on debut at Addington in April last year downing Sir Clive, and the Sales race a fortnight later, he joins the likes of Mainland Banner, Born Again Christian, Spicey and Sir Clive as class performers bred on a Christian Cullen-Soky's Atom cross.

It is a cross which has an exceptional strike rate of 'foals to runners' and one which has also produced several standout types and high priced lots at the yearling sales in recent years.

Christian Cullen is an outcross and crosses pretty well with most mares of course, but we can also note a particularly outcross pedigree for Vicario, regardless of just who Black Fury was by.

Frank MARRION

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