It may only be February, but Brent and Cherry Taylor of Trelawney Stud in New Zealand have already had a year to remember.
The farm recorded great returns at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale, selling 11 yearlings in the Book 1 session for an aggregate of NZ$3.5 million (US$2.45m), cementing their spot as the leading vendor by average at the sale.
The Cambridge couple’s success has continued onto the track where 3-year-old fillies Two Illicit and Loire posted black-type results at Te Rapa on Saturday. Loire placed in the G2 Fillies Classic (2000m), while Two Illicit was dominant winning the G2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) by 7½ lengths over Travelling Light.
“It was frightening what sort of margin Two Illicit put on a very good filly [Travelling Light],” Brent Taylor said. “The pattern of racing may have suited, but she certainly found the line a lot better than we could have dreamed.”
While a decision has yet to be made, a tilt at the G1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on February 29 looks likely for Two Illicit, while Loire, a daughter of Redoute’s Choice, is heading on a path towards the G1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 14.
“We don’t hold a nomination for the Derby,” Taylor said. “It has been an ongoing plan, so we will just see how she gets through this week and we will talk with Roger [James, co-trainer].
“It seems an obvious task for her given the other filly [Loire] wants to go down the Oaks route, so we will just keep them apart if we can and have a crack at two races.”
Two Illicit’s breeding future has been secured at Trelawney Stud through her deeds on the track this season, which have revitalised her family’s commercial viability. “Gemini [dam] was purchased as a racing-breeding prospect [as a yearling in 2011], as we have done over the last few years,” Taylor said.
“She didn’t quite live up to our expectations on the race track. She had a few issues that prevented her from showing her true ability. We bred a couple of foals and they weren’t as commercial as what we would have liked, so we passed her on.”
While Gemini was culled from Trelawney’s broodmare band, Taylor took a liking to her Jimmy Choux filly [Two Illicit]. “She had this outstanding Jimmy Choux filly that wasn’t going to be commercially viable to put through the yearling sales, given the climate of the second-session fillies,” he said.
“She was an outstanding type, so we decided to keep her and put her into the racing band and treat her as a gelding until proven different.”
Change of era
She has certainly proven otherwise in her 3-year-old term, winning four of her six starts, including three at stakes level, and placing in her two other contests. “She is certainly going to create a family around her now,” Taylor said.
This year also marked the change of an era for Trelawney, with the Cambridge farm offering only yearlings under its own account at Karaka this year and Taylor is pleased with the way the new venture has begun.
“Cherry and I have been thinking about this for a while [operating privately] and about three years ago we decided to put a plan in place to end up in that position this year,” Taylor said. “So we invested in some broodmares and spent a bit more money on some race fillies that we breed from now, just to bolster our numbers.
“It’s all about quality, so we have sold a few out of the bottom end, including the dam of Two Illicit. We have our clients who we have been looking after for many years. We gave them 18 months’ notice that we were going to go down our own track, which was hard because many of those people have developed into lifelong friends.
“It was difficult, but our friendship still remains with them and they have moved on and have other capable people looking after their bloodstock interests.”
Taylor said the start of the new business model couldn’t have gone any better and he was delighted with the results at Karaka this year. “It is great to sell horses for good money, but it’s even better knowing where they are going,” he said.
“They have gone to great judges and to very good stables and will get every opportunity to prove their value on the racetrack for ourselves and the new owners.”
With Karaka over for another year, Taylor is now concentrating his attention on his racing team and he is particularly looking forward to watching Loire and Two Illicit tackle their respective targets in the coming month.
“It’s nice to have a ticket in the lottery, so we will see how we get on,” he said.