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HARLECH ON PATH TO 2000 GUINEAS

A colt with the prestigious 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) in his sights, Harlech (3 c Darci Brahma – Obsession, by Bachelor Duke) took a step in the right direction when winning the $10,000 Waharoa Transport Maiden 3YO 1200 metres on 18 September at Matamata.

After racing well in two juvenile starts, including an eye-catching effort on debut in the Waikato Equine Vet Centre 2YO Stakes (Listed, 1100m) in May at Te Rapa, and subsequent third over 1200 metres on the same track, Harlech was a smart trial winner on 27 August at Te Teko, and kicked off his three-year-old campaign perfectly.

Travelling on the bridle in midfield, Harlech received a timely split rounding the home turn, reeled in the pacemaker under his own steam at the 200m and quickly found two lengths before being allowed to ease near home. “Yep, he’s got plenty of ability,” said commentator George Simon. “He was travelling peaches and cream coming towards the 500 metres... and another promising Darci Brahma colt, here – Cameron Lammas for Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard in those famous Fletcher tartan colours with the red cap.”

Let drift in betting, Harlech paid $4.30 & $1.60 on the NZ TAB, running the 1200 metres in 1:11.5 on Slow7 footing.

“I’ve liked him ever since I rode him in track work,” Lammas said. “As a two-year-old he showed he’s got a bit of talent and today he did it nicely. The plan was to give him a nice day out and get him ready for bigger races later on. But, he jumped good and put himself in a position, raced a little bit fresh, and once I got out he did it for fun. He’s still learning, still a bit green, but he’s improving every time and that’s one bonus.”

Although the talk horse this far out from the Guineas is $1.90 fixed odds favourite Catalyst, another Darci Brahma colt and also bred by The Oaks Stud, Harlech, too, looks to have an X factor about him and currently $18.00 & $5.50 for the $500,000 Al Basti Equiworld 47th NZ 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) on 9 November at Riccarton.

“It’s fantastic for the owners, and great to see those tartan’s there,” Gerard said. “We thought heaps of him last prep and put him straight into a stakes race for his first start. He’s matured, filled out, has a great nature for a colt, there’s no issues there and he’s a dream to do anything with. He’s very professional and nothing worries him.

“At this stage it’s very easy for him and sometimes they can change their nature these colts when you put the harder pressure on, but hopefully we won’t have to put too much pressure on him.

“He’d only had one trial and wanted to over-race and do everything too quick, but that can be expected fresh-up and on his home track where they can get a bit more excited.

“It takes some pressure off by getting a win and it guarantees you getting in there (2000 Guineas), really, and means we can stick to our plan and back our judgement.”

On the path towards Riccarton, Gerard said that Harlech would contest the 3YO 1400 metres on Matamata Cup Day, 12 October, and the James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) on Labour Day, Monday 28 October, at Te Rapa.

Harlech is owned by Hugh Fletcher and his wife, Dame Sian Elias, their son Ned and wife Natalie Fletcher, Roddy and Jenny Paddon, and Alan Schmedje.

Accepting the spoils on behalf of the owners, Hugh Fletcher said: “The Fletcher tartan was my parent’s colours (Sir James Fletcher and Vaughan, Lady Fletcher) and my father started owning racehorses when he was 18. But, he had to wait until he was in his late 70s and 80s until he got some really good horses and won Group races, but I’m counting on Pam to produce a Group winner while I’m still ten years shy of that.

“Paul (Moroney) chose this horse and we’re very pleased that he and Mike allowed us to have a slice of it. It’s been a long time between drinks, but we’ve very much enjoyed today.”

Reporting in from Riverton, part-owner Roddy Paddon said: “I watched it on TV and it was great. I wasn’t going to because I’ve been whitebaiting and I was going to go whitebaiting and just listen to it, but I stayed at home and watched it and then went whitebaiting.

“It was excellent. It was a good field and they’ve done a good job with the horse. His trial was really good and this time he settled better and he’s learning all the time, by the look of it. I’m enjoying this. I’ve been retired for three years and I love every minute of it. I’ve had ten wins now and they don’t come along that easily.”

Selected by Paul Moroney and purchased for $100,000 at the 2018 Karaka Book 1 Sale, Harlech is from the multiple stakes performed mare Obsession, winner of the Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) and twice Group One placed in the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) and Captain Cook Stakes (1600m).

Sire Darci Brahma (Danehill) hardly needs introduction. An outstanding colt that included the 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) and Telegraph Handicap (Gr. 1, 1200m) among five Group One wins, before becoming a multiple champion sire.

Both mother and father raced well as two-year-olds, in particular Darci Brahma who was a Group One winner of the T. J. Smith Stakes (1600m) in Brisbane, and the same mating has already left three foals to race that are all winners (Fixation, Obsessive, and Prince Darci).

“He’s a really well balanced and athletic colt, and the line breeding cross with Sir Tristram and Northern Dancer has produced some terrific winners,” said co-trainer Mike Moroney. “The mating has produced some useful horses and this colt could be the best of them.”

Harlech was strapped by Michael Thompson.
[18 Sep 19]

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