“I’ve got very mixed feelings but, in the end, it was too much money to turn down.” This is the way Southland harness racing owner Lester Smith described his feelings after the sale of quality colt Duke Of Cornwall was confirmed today.
The colt has been purchased by American owner Richard Poillucci who’s procured many New Zealand bred standardbreds over the years. They include Shartin N the 2019 USA Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year – she won forty-six of her sixty-eight starts and banked $2,667,563. Shartin N became the fastest mare in history when pacing a mile in 1:46.4 at The Meadowlands.
The Duke of Cornwall deal reported to be worth $500,000 was brokered by John Curtin from JC International who sent Auckland Veterinary Centre vet Tim Montgomery south last week to look the colt over.
“The vet told me he hasn’t had a horse that’s vetted so well. He had a huge windpipe, it’s like a tunnel down there, large lungs and a great heart recovery. I was going to get Brendon Bell (local vet) to look at him, but he couldn’t do it until Monday and the horse flies to Auckland on Tuesday night,” Curtin said.
Curtin says this is the largest sale of a racehorse he’s been involved with.
“I’ve been selling horses since 1989 and exported 1,000. Back in the day when I was buying them for Joe Muscara, I was buying six a week.”
Lester Smith said the pressure to sell the colt came after he won at the Young Quinn Raceway on the 15th of December.
“The phone’s been running red hot ever since he ran 1-52 at Wyndham, parked, untouched and did it easy. Matty (Williamson – driver) said he had more to give. I deliberated for a week or so and finally gave them the go ahead to vet the horse on Friday. John’s been the main player and blown the rest out of the water really.”
The colt will head to Australia initially where he’ll be trained by Luke McCarthy with the New South Wales Derby as one of his aims. He’s also nominated for the Breeders Crown. Curtin thinks Duke Of Cornwall may only have a handful of starts in Australia. A race at Melton on Hunter Cup night at the end of the month is earmarked.
The sale also rewards Winton trainer Lauren Pearson and partner Brent Barclay who developed the colt.
“They’re happy that he’s sold. There would have been a lot of travelling up and down the country which doesn’t really excite them much.”
Duke Of Cornwall is by Sweet Lou out the Christian Cullen mare Galleons Cheer. Galleons Honour won her first start as a three-year-old at Alexandra Park in September 2009 beating Secret Potion by a nose with Twist n Shout third. She was owned by the late Kerry Hoggard and trained by Gareth Dixon.
“After her first win she was never quite the same,” Smith said.
After she finished racing in the north Galleons Honour was purchased by Smith, and Pearson trained her at Winton for a while.
“I bought her at a dispersal sale that Kerry Hoggard was having. Peter Lagan bid on her for me and we got her for $25,000. Kerry had paid $80,000 for the mare when he bought her. “
As a broodmare she left the winners of forty-four races who have won $358,973. Dazed And Confused (9 wins $32,784 – 1-56.6), Venice Beach (11 wins $92,748 – 1-52.1), Duke Of Wellington (8 wins $109,360 – 1-53.6), Rise Above This (8 wins $59,502 – 1-52.2), Broadbeach (4 wins $34,434 – 1-57.8) and Duke Of Cornwall (4 wins $30,145 – 1-52.6).
“She’s been a great mare, yielding not much change from $800,000 (including stakes and sale prices),” Smith said.
Duke Of Cornwall had his first start in last season’s Group Three New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes finishing fourth to Akuta. He won his first race at Invercargill in October when driven by Matty Williamson.
Smith has sold a lot of horses to Australia over the years, including Atitagain which won a Group One Australian Pacing Championship, finished third in the Group One South Australian Pacing Cup, third in the Group One Victoria Cup and second in the 2001 Interdominion Final at Albion Park. He won twenty-eight races and $787,945 and was named Grand Circuit Champion for Australasian. His New Zealand wins also included the 1996 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes.
“He was the highest priced horse I’ve sold up until now,” Smith said.
Smith also owned First Glimpse which won the 1991 Oceania El Dorado Final at Moonee Valley.
Galleons Honour has an Art Major filly at foot and is in foal to Bettors Wish.
“I’ll try and race the Art Major filly. I took a bit of a risk with Galleons Honour. If she’d died foaling and the foal died there’d be no more breeding from that line. Luckily I’ve got a filly and with the mare I’ve now got two breeding options.”
Smith currently has a full brother to Duke Of Cornwall named Duke Of Scotland with Pearson and Barclay.
And he bought an Art Major colt out of fourteen win mare Spanish Armada from Fleur and Todd Anderson.
“I bought him after the sales. He’s done a couple of months work, whether he makes a two-year-old or not is doubtful.”
With Ragazzo Mach, You’re So Fine, Watch Be Now, and Duke Of Cornwall all having been sold in the last twelve months and for incredibly good money, there’s been a drain on Southland’s top end bloodstock. However we trust that as always, the next one will be just around the corner.