Royal Ascot victory makes history for NZ-breds
Wed, 20 Jun 2012 3:10p.m.
A horse sold for a mere $9000 at a weanling sale has created history for the New Zealand breeding industry at one of the world's most prestigious race meetings.
Little Bridge, bred by Des Hawkins' Llanhennock Trust at Wentwood Grange in Waikato, became the first New Zealand-bred horse to win at the Royal Ascot meeting when he outgunned a class field to win the £350,000 group one King's Stand Stakes.
Little Bridge, trained in Hong Kong by Danny Shum, raced close to the pace in the hands of Australian jockey Zac Purton and sprinted away in the final 300m to beat English horse Bated Breath by three-quarters of a length.
The King's Stand Stakes has been good to Australian horses in recent years, with Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and Scenic Blast all having won since 2003, but it was a first for a New Zealand-bred.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing chief executive Andrew Birch says he couldn't think of any other New Zealand-breds that had won at the famed Royal Ascot meeting, which runs for five days every June.
"We know of a couple of placings by Starcraft and So You Think but this is the first winner we know of," Birch told NZ Newswire.
Des Hawkins and other members of the family were at Royal Ascot for the race.
"Mum, Dad and the boys are having the time of their lives at Royal Ascot today. Dad just called and they're on cloud nine," Wentwood Grange farm manager Sam Hawkins said.
Little Bridge was sold for $9000 at the National Weanling Sale at Karaka to Hastings owner-trainer Margaret Hakema, and the horse was bought by clients of Shum after winning a trial in Whanganui.
So You Think, now trained in Ireland, will attempt to make it two wins for New Zealand-bred horses when he contests the Prince of Wales' Stakes (2000m) on Wednesday.
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