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18th of July 2018

Sport



Dairy farmer seeks Australian spoils

The former Stephen Marsh-trained duo Pierrocity and I Am Queen have joined Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young’s Cranbourne stable in the hope of gaining black type.

Their owner, Karapiro dairy farmer Roger Blunt, said it was a tough decision to send his fillies to Australia, but his hand was forced due to the current track conditions and lucrative prizemoney on offer in Victoria.

"From the outset we said if we had horses that were good enough to go to Australia, that was where we were intending to go with them," he said.

"Stephen had done a great job in prepping them, we had reasonably high hopes for one of them recently and the weather has been totally against them.

"That prompted me to think they are not going to race on decent tracks now until the spring, I Am Queen is ready to go, maybe now is the right time to do it.

"The decision to send them both to Australia was a really big call. Hopefully they are good enough to make it there. If they are not, then we can easily bring them home."

Both fillies were bought by Blunt with a breeding career in mind, and both have showed enough promise in their three-year-old seasons to date.

"Stephen very much likes I Am Queen and Pierrocity came sixth in the Guineas, so she has got plenty of ability. She is better over longer distances," he said.

"In the short time that they have been over there, Trent and Natalie have taken a bit of a shine to I Am Queen and she’s pretty close to going to the races, so we’ll start finding out how good they really are."

I Am Queen holds a nomination for Saturday’s Listed A.R. Creswick Series Final (1200m) at Flemington where the likely opposition includes highly-rated sprinter Nature Strip.

Blunt farms two properties in Karapiro and is planning on devoting some of that land to his horse business, where he hopes both fillies will become his foundation mares once they finish their racing careers.

"If they’re good enough, black-type is where we are trying to head," Blunt said.

"Our goal is to build up their pedigree and end up with a broodmare band of maybe half a dozen and we’ll have them at home here.

"We’re out at Karapiro where we have two farms. One is a 170-hectare dairy farm and the other is 150ha, which is directly opposite which I run on my own and is basically a support block.

"The plan is to fence off 30 to 40 acres here and set ourselves up with stables. That is the long-term goal and always has been."

Although familiar with other livestock, Blunt didn’t have anything to do with horses until nearly a decade ago when he was farming in Te Kauwhata and said he has relied heavily on the advice of others within the industry.

"I’ve been in the livestock industry a long time, the thoroughbreds and livestock are a completely different ball game altogether," he said.

"It is other people’s expertise really as to how we have ended up with the fillies.

"I bought I Am Queen from the Gold Coast where she was the first Animal Kingdom yearling filly to be offered in the world. She has shown quite a bit of promise at the moment, so we have got a lot of hope for her.

"Pierrocity (a daughter of four-time Group One winner Dane Ripper) was bought for me, even though I was at the sale, by Bruce Perry who obviously has a good eye for a good horse.

"We were fortunate to get her for what we paid for her (A$120,000). She had a superficial injury and Bruce knew that, which was to our advantage."

Although Blunt enjoys horse racing, he said he has set it up as a business and expects it to pay its way.

"We treat it as a business, it’s not a hobby or just something we do for Saturday fun. We now have it as a stand-alone (business), we are not robbing the dairy farm to support the horses.

"We have been fortunate to buy some well-bred stock and have got some good money out the other end for doing so, which has helped fund the other horses to keep going.

"We sold Ruthless Lady, a stakes placed horse, that went to an Australian buyer and we sold one recently as a broodmare for top dollar.

"They both made up towards $300,000, so they sold well. But we have invested all the way through at the top-end as far as we could afford to go. Most of the fillies have cost us between $150,000 to $200,000 to start with."

Blunt will look forward to watching how his two promising fillies perform in Australia, while keeping a watchful eye on the development of a couple of home-bred colts he has in pre-training.

"I’ve got a couple being pre-trained by Trevor Da Cruz, but the racing end of the business for us has been with Stephen and will remain so."

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