Day At The Track

PEDIGREE OF THE WEEK - FLASHING RED

12:15 AM 14 Mar 2007 NZDT
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Flashing Red
Flashing Red
Sharlene Mitchell Photo

Flashing Red has been a great warhorse over the years, but at the ripe old age of nine, his rare achievement of claiming the New Zealand-Auckland Cup double has elevated him into the elite status of being the equal of any stayer seen in this part of the world. (March 14, 2007)

He can certainly lay claim to being the equal of Luxury Liner in that respect in New Zealand in modern times anyway, another great who while also susceptible over mobile sprints, was practically invincible in true staying contests when in peak form.

Appropriately tagged 'Big Red' in the media, not for his physical dimensions but for his herculean performances and 'never say die' attitude, Flashing Red must now be the frontrunner for the NZ Horse of the Year title.

He would be the first Australian-bred and owned horse to be accorded that honour outright, after 1983 New Zealand Cup winner Steel Jaw finished tied in the voting with trotter Sir Castleton that season.

Also second and third in this season's Victoria and Hunter Cups respectively, Flashing Red will tomorrow be winging his way to Perth in search of further success in the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups and Australian Pacing Championship, where if he happened to go unbeaten there, he will claim a $500,000 bonus for his connections.

And with the honours being fairly well shared on the Grand Circuit this season, outside of something special from Lombo Pocket Watch, Flashing Red could quite conceivably be a Horse of the Year in both countries, which would indeed be 'out of this world'.

Whatever happens there, Flashing Red's form in New Zealand this term will have rival stables thanking their lucky stars that co-owner and trainer Stuart Hunter didn't send the entire to the Butt stable about three seasons ago.

As an aside, Flashing Red has further served to underline the stupidity of New Zealand applying conversion rates to stakewinnings.

Officially in New Zealand, he has now won over $1.6m, but when he stepped off a plane in Melbourne yesterday, officially his earnings are just over $1.5m.

However, all that doesn't detract from just what a marvellous horse Flashing Red has been since being purchased a little under four years ago from Tasmania for $20,000.

Quite simply, in terms of a career and also while on the track, Flashing Red does not know when to give up.

He is a 'donkey' in terms of breeding, but a 'camel' for consistency, class and longevity.

He has won races in every harness racing state of Australia and now New Zealand, and has been placed in no less than 16 Grand Circuit races in Australia.

Prior to his New Zealand efforts this season, he had just a win in last year's Ballarat Cup along with a few other lesser features, to show for all of his 'frequent flyer points'.

Flashing Red has hardly missed a beat since he began racing as a 2-year-old in January, 2000, outside of the annual two month spell that Hunter has given him after the past three Inter-Dominions.

He won two heats in Tasmania and $60,000 for fourth after another gutsy display in the final last year, was the previous season was placed in two heats in Auckland but didn't really perform up to his usual standards at his first attempt the "wrong way around" for trainer Hunter and driver Ian McMahon, and narrowly missed the cut for the Perth final after an opening night second and then two unlucky fifths.

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Flashing Red is yet another of one of those top Australian pacers who really has defied his pedigree.

Prior to Loddon Valley Stud's John Campbell breeding Flashing Red, Victoria's Martin Hartnett had bred four foals from his dam Courvy Kazi and five foals from his grandam Kazibob, with the only winner from either being Special Kaye, a filly by Jeb Hanover from Kazibob who won three races trotting and $4854 from 90 attempts, or $56 a start.

Campbell does note however that a Muckalee Strike daughter of Kazibob in Just Kaye is the dam of hardy trotter Illawong Ian (17 wins, $180,515).

Flashing Red does emanate from a trotting family of sorts once one gets past his sire Echelon and maternal sire Courvoisier, a son of Meadow Skipper and Tarport Lib.

Kazibob was by Golden Medoro (by Medoro) from Sweet Pet, by Master Scott (U Scott) from Just Margaret, by Miraculous (Wrack-Estella Amos) from Olive Branch, by Grand Derby (Grand Voyage) from Olive Voyage, by First Voyage from Fairy Dame, by Osterley (Childe Harold).

First Voyage was the sire of Grand Voyage, giving Olive Branch a 3x2 cross to First Voyage, while she also had a 4x3 cross to Osterley, a trotter of considerable note in his time.

Thus, some pretty staunch bloodlines can be observed in Flashing Red's maternal lines, but it was hardly surprising when Hartnett got the stitch with the family and left Courvy Kazi at Campbell's disposal.

The family was of so little consequence until Flashing Red came along, that it didn't even make Ian Daff's comprehensive listing of Australasian families in his 'Black Books' in recent decades.

Just Margaret left a couple of winners from several foals, including a useful trotter in Just Money, while Sweet Pet left seven foals for two minor trotting winners, including Kazibob.

One can note double ups to notable mares in Margaret Spangler (dam of sires in King's Counsel and Blackstone) and Spinster (dam of notable broodmares Lady Scotland and The Old Maid) in the maternal lines of Echelon and Courvy Kazi in the fifth generation, along with a more obscure double to Alma Lee (dam of Medoro and grandam of Worthy Boy), but it would be a stretch to suggest that these 'magic bullets' produced to Flashing Red.

He simply is what he is, although the combination of pacing and trotting bloodlines does lead to a good degree of outcrosses, and they have produced many surprises before.

Campbell had Echelon at stud and Flashing Red was the first and last foal he bred from Courvy Kazi.

Echelon (US1.50.6, 32 wins, $558,568) was a son of Troublemaker and typical of his progeny, being a tough, hard hitting aged FFA pacer.

Campbell recalls that he was attracted to Echelon in part due to him having "survived" three consecutive seasons of racing at The Meadowlands, which is no mean feat at all.

He sired 107 winners after producing 421 foals over six seasons at stud before dying during an operation to correct a loop in the bowel.

While Flashing Red is mostly just a 'chip off the block' of Echelon, he did sire a number of classic youngsters and the likes of Sokys Dream ($166,491), Mosquito Gold, Clouded Vision, Turbo Tyson, Lone Mirage, Joesashyguy, Satans Destiny and Loch Miss all won over $100,000 and a lot of races.

Flashing Red came from his third crop and it would be safe to assume that he was not a dear colt when Campbell sold him privately as a yearling to Eric Blomquist, an owner-trainer in Tasmania who has bought a number of horses from Loddon Valley over the years "sight unseen".

Flashing Red was a 2-year-old winner for Blomquist and won 16 races from 60 starts for him and about six figures when he sold him at the end of his 5-year-old campaign.

His best win came in the $25,000 Devonport Cup.

Barrie Rattray bought Flashing Red and on sold him within a couple of weeks to Hunter along with Brisbane's Norm Jenkins on the basis that "if he was good enough to be competitive in Tasmania, he would be competitive in Queensland".

He won his first start at Albion Park five weeks after his last start in Tasmania, and will in all likelihood win over $2m for Hunter and Jenkins by the time he is retired, a figure which would see him repay his purchase price 100 times over.

Apart from the aforementioned Victoria, Hunter, New Zealand and Auckland Cup form this season, he has been second in the Queensland Pacing Championship (to Double Identity), Fremantle Cup (Falcon Strike), South Australia Cup (Young Rufus), Tooheys Mile (Hexus); third in the GC Bulletin Cup (Smooth Satin, Double Identity), Victoria Cup (Double Identity, Hexus), Australian Pacing Championship (at Gloucester Park to Falcon Strike, Jofess), Queensland Pacing Championship (Cobbity Classic, The Twister), Tasmanian Pacing Championship (The Warp Drive, Hexus) and Fremantle Cup (Money Magnet, Da Galdearno).

His biggest Australian wins outside of those Inter-Dom heats and the $105,000 Ballarat Cup in January of last year, where he ground Sokyola into submission and staved off Mister D G, have been the $50,000 Cordina Sprint at Harold Park and $75,000 Winter Cup at Albion Park, in the latter pacing the 2680m in 1.57.4 mile rate.

Flashing Red's lack of gate speed, but staying prowess has invariably seen him camping in the death or even three wide outside the leaders in Australia, which results in him covering a lot more extra ground than racing on the bigger New Zealand tracks.

Put simply, he is brilliantly suited to staying races in New Zealand, but at a distinct disadvantage on Australia's smaller tracks where most Grand Circuit and feature races are from from mobiles.

So while he may have just been 'one of the pack' in his homeland, he has certainly won admiration and the 'hearts and minds' of New Zealand fans.

By Frank Marrion

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