That was the case for the Elsie’s Empire Syndicate who bred the 2017 Northern Derby winner Raukapuka Ruler.
While the studbook might not say they did, the tale around how they came to breed and race their current star is nothing short of special.
One of the breeders is Giles Patrick, manager of the Colt 45 Syndicate who race Raukapuka Ruler and he remembers the tale well.
“About 10 years ago there was seven of us from Geraldine who wanted to get into the racing game and one of the guys in our syndicate was involved with Colin De Fillipi. Colin looked for a horse for us to lease that might be suitable,” said Giles.
That horse was a Live Or Die gelding by the name of B Grudge whose mother was Soky’s Rose (1994 Soky’s Atom).
Soky’s Rose’s mother had left a half million dollar earner in City Rogue. Winner of the Kindergarten Stakes in New Zealand as a 2YO in 1999. He ran a number of placings at Group level including a third in the NZ Derby, eventually winning the Australian Derby in the same season. Before being sold to America he lined up in a New Zealand Cup and was good enough to pace a 1:49 mile at a time when our mile record was still only 1:53.5!
The breeding was there and the syndicate had a racehorse good enough to win an Invercargill Cup (2002-G3), line up in a New Zealand Cup (Changeover’s Cup) and win over $135,000 in stakes. Not a bad nag to sink your teeth into all things being equal.
“He went pretty good (understatement) and at the end of his racing career the Brosnans came to us and said we have a mare out here and would you guys be interested in leasing her?”
She was from the same dam as B Grudge and was a striking filly by Elsu. Her name? Miss Elsie.
“We leased her off the Brosnans son Alistair and Colin recommended that we write into the contract that we would get rights to breed the first foal off her once she stopped racing.”
That would prove to be a master-stroke for the syndicate which had changed slightly in it’s original make up, but still retained the ‘core four’ as you could call them in Patrick, Gavin & Dean Oliver & Mark Weaver.
“Colin said to us when she turned up on the property she was the best gaited horse he had ever seen and he’s been around for a while, we were still pinching ourselves after having rid the wave of B Grudge.”
The crescendo of the wave was however not in sight, so they made like Kelly Slater and the folks from South Canterbury continued to ride the wave of success.
Miss Elsie won her first start as a 2YO at Invercargill accounting for some serious opposition in a $30,000 Young Guns Heat. None other than a future three-time NZ Cup Champ in Terror To Love & Hannon Memorial winner Franco Ledger.
While she was to have a brilliant career, Miss Elsie was born into a crop in which always found one better.
She ran second to Collectable in the Delightful Lady Classic in 2010 before running second behind the champ Bettor Cover Lover at the Harness Jewels Two-Year-Old Diamond at Cambridge.
Throw Carabella into Miss Elsie’s three-year-old career and it’s a credit to De Fillipi and the mare’s ability that she could get within a head and a nose of the champion pair (Carabella & Bettor Cover Lover) in the Great Northern Oaks.
“She was never the same after that race, she got a virus and didn’t really come back from it.”
Miss Elsie pushed on until she was five and was able to outdo her older brother B Grudge in earning $143,633 in stakes.
The syndicate had enjoyed all the thrills of Group 1 Racing without nailing that elusive big one, however they still had the breeding rights to consider.
“There were seven of us in that syndicate but three of them didn’t want anything to do with it (breeding) so we paid them out and decided to go to Bettor’s Delight.”
The resulting colt was named ‘Raukapuka Ruler’ after some tossing about of ideas and the first opportunity to name a horse they raced. Bettor’s Elsie wasn’t doing it for them and in the end, the ‘core four’ found some inspiration closer to home with Raukapuka being a suburb in Geraldine.
“We waited and waited and he was going good at the trials when we were offered some good coin for him and we thought bugger it, we’ve waited this long to get this thing on the track, we’re not gunna sell it!”
The stars aligned once more last Friday night when the horse they call Harvey drew the ace, led off the gate and simply ran them ragged while the rest of his more favoured opposition struggled to sort themselves out.
“The best thing about last Friday night was that it was just totally unexpected, we went up there with no expectations whatsoever. We just went up to have a couple of beers and a good night out. The country boys getting to town you know.”
While the syndicate has no designs to breed again in the near future, they do have some decisions to make about whether they will in fact head back to the sales in search of that elusive champion.
Who knows, they might just have enough to buy the 2017 foal out of Miss Elsie in a few years.
After leaving a Christian Cullen colt which sold for $41,000 in 2016, Miss Elsie left a full brother to the Derby winner who was bought at what now must almost be a bargain price of $90,000.
One things for certain, the next one from the mare won’t come cheap.
Should Raukapuka Ruler keep on his winning ways, the coin shouldn’t be an issue for the Colt 45 Syndicate!