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Crown Of Thorns ends the racing season with a win!

Surprisingly late developer Crown of Thorns once again made history for his sire Thorn Park when completing a brace of wins at Te Rapa on Saturday (July 30).

Seven weeks shy of four years ago, Crown Of Thorns – at that stage un-named – became Thorn Park’s first trial winner when scoring impressively on trial debut as a spring two-year-old over 700m at Te Awamutu in September, 2007.

And on Saturday, Crown of Thorn’s $12,500 first prize was enough to push Thorn Park’s progeny earnings over the $3 million mark domestically, becoming the first stallion ever to break through the triple millionaire barrier for a single season in New Zealand.

While Thorn Park’s career at stud has blossomed to a point where he won his first sires’ premiership in the just completed 2010-2011 season, Crown of Thorns has been largely disappointing with just two previous wins from 28 earlier starts before following his victory at Ruakaka on June 22 with another strong winning effort at the weekend.

“That trial’s win had us hopeful he might be right out of the top drawer,” recalls Ballymore New Zealand’s racing manager Paul Moroney, who bought Crown of Thorns as a yearling at Karaka and shares his ownership with Garry Christini, Robert Redwood, John Smith and Dave Trubshoe as the Ballymore Stallion Makers’ Syndicate No. 1 Syndicate.
“He did the impossible that day, ran out badly from his outside barrier and was tailed off after 100m,” Paul remembers. “Somehow he got mobile and caught the back of the field entering the short 250m home straight and then sprouted wings to get up and score. He must have made-up 20 lengths over the last 400m.”

Ironically, stablemate Altered Image, unbeaten from three starts at 2 later in the season and a Group 1 and 2 winner since, contested the same trial and was left struggling in Crown of Thorns’ wake. After a below par third at his next trial, Crown of Thorns had a break before making his debut in the listed Ford Slipper Stakes for two-year-old colts and gelding on his home track at Matamata the following February, finishing sixth of nine.

A month later, he ran better for fifth of eight at Te Rapa and went to the paddock with hopes that he could be a Guineas horse at three or at least measure up to the juvenile form of his promising syndicate mates Captain Fantastic (G2 winner, G1 placed) and I Robot (2 wins. stakes placed).
However, despite 11 attempts, Crown of Thorns remained winless at the end of his three-year-old season as well, managing a second and two thirds only. He added another second first-up at four and finally broke his maiden at his 16th attempt at Te Rapa in October, 2009.

Spelled again following another three starts in which he added a further second, Crown of Thorns won fresh-up at Ellerslie in June last year but went winless again until Ruakaka last month, managing a solitary second placing from eight starts between times.

However, the style of his last two victories suggests that his patient connections may yet be rewarded. “He’s had a few niggling problems along the way,” Paul explains. “He was heavy-shouldered as a colt so tended to jar on firmer ground and but weak behind and used to carve into his hind fetlocks and pasterns quite badly.”

Belatedly gelded mid-season, Crown of Thorns has finally come of age. His record looks much more respectable now with four wins, equivalent seconds, two thirds and all up 21 cheques from 30 starts.
The stable believes Crown Of Thorns could progress through the grades this term and fulfil his earlier promise with stakes performances by the autumn.

Saturday’s win provided a fillip for stable apprentice Harry Kasim who handled Crown Of Thorns skilfully from a wide draw. Harry, who finished the season with 24 wins for a Top 10 position on the apprentice premiership, was side-lined through injury for six weeks after damaging a shoulder in a trials fall and the win came at just his second day back riding.
[01 Aug 11]


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