Maggie delivers perfect excuse for Howard’s Karaka indulgence
14 October 2011
Retired Wairoa farmer Howard Jones was in damage control mode when he arrived home from a Karaka mixed bloodstock sale in 2007 having spent more than $70,000 on four weanling fillies and a broodmare.
Forgiveness from his wife Kay was guaranteed forever on Saturday when one of those Karaka purchases, No Excuse Maggie, won the Listed Team Wealleans Matamata Cup. Ironically, at $2,500 the No Excuse Needed-Maggie O’Reilly filly offered by Waikato Stud was the cheapest of the quintet, but is the only one yet to provide a worthwhile return.
“I was feeling pretty flush after selling the farm and thought I’d have a bit of a spend-up,” Jones says of his Karaka shopping spree.
His wife counters that assertion with a less complimentary description of the phone call she received warning her of the float-load heading her way. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, that he’d spent so much of our money on all these horses,” she recalled.
“He’s cunning though, he made sure he let me know before he came home. That way he figured I would have calmed down a bit after a couple of days.”
Initial results provided little reassurance, however. The single broodmare in the package, $26,000 purchase Joan Barry, produced a colt foal to the Bahhare service she had been carrying and that was sold, but bad luck struck when she and a King’s Chapel colt died at her next foaling. On top of that there was virtually nil return to begin with from the weanlings.
The first that was tried, the $10,000 Ekraar-Cherry Tango filly named Court Speedin, managed two minor placings from a handful of starts, while a $26,000 One Cool Cat filly and a $5,000 Deputy Governor filly never made it to the races.
Salvation has come, however, in the form of No Excuse Maggie, who as well as being the cheapest was also a spur-of-the-moment purchase at Karaka. “I was upstairs looking down on the parade ring and this roany-coloured filly caught my eye,” says Howard. “When I checked my catalogue the pedigree looked alright so I rushed downstairs.
“Someone else had opened the bidding at $2,000 and when there didn’t seem to be much interest I threw one in and that’s as far as it got. I didn’t think they’d let her go for only $2,500 but they did and she was mine.”
Howard Jones had held an owner-trainer’s licence early last decade, and won a race on home turf with Don’t Get Court, but he was forced to look elsewhere for a trainer when the Wairoa track was closed to training.
“There were three of us training there and it was pretty annoying when they told us we couldn’t train there any more,” he says. “There wasn’t much we could do about it though, but as it’s worked out I’m now quite happy to let someone else do the job.”
In No Excuse Maggie’s case that is Hastings trainer John Bary, in the headlines with Jimmy Choux but pleased to have a team member such as the late developing five-year-old to complement his Cox Plate favourite.
When the decision was made to place her with Bary, a 13-person partnership was formed to race No Excuse Maggie. As well as her owners, the Full of Excuses Syndicate includes long-time friends Ivan Gordon and Amanda Cheetham, Wairoa Racing Club vice-president Beth Wallace, her husband Lloyd and her father Murray Renner.
No Excuse Maggie’s racing career began just on a year ago with a debut second at Hastings and a late October win at Otaki. Another five starts followed before her next win at Te Rapa in June, but the leggy mare has made big strides since.
Back at Te Rapa in late July she downed Ourforeignminister and John Gray in a Rating 90 1600 and buoyed by a third to another pair of smart northerners in Baldovino and Affairoftheheart on the first day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival, she was given her chance at black-type in the Gr. 3 Merial Ancare Mile at Awapuni.
A blanket-finish second splitting Ourforeignminister and Crocodile Canyon left no doubts that the three-win mare was well up to that company. In Saturday’s Listed 1600 at Matamata she duly obliged with a plucky win over another member of her sire’s second crop, Awapuni-trained Justanexcuse.
“It was a good feeling to get a result like that,” says Howard. “It’s good fun racing in a big group and have so many friends to celebrate with.”
With a black-type success included in her four from 13 record, No Excuse Maggie’s value has made a quantum leap from what she made as a member of Waikato Stud’s unreserved weanling draft back in 2007. Her pedigree page has a strong Waikato Stud flavour to it, with O’Reilly and Centaine the first two stallions on her bottom line and close relations that include major winners Glamour Puss, Vision And Power, Starman 11 and Tootsie.
But that doesn’t mean Howard Jones is thinking of cashing up on his investment. “We haven’t had any offers for her yet but even if we did the answer would be no,” he says. “It’s good to have a bit of luck for a change and at our stage of life we want to enjoy it.”
While in Matamata the Joneses took the opportunity on Sunday morning of a first ever visit to Waikato Stud to view, amongst others, No Excuse Needed. Garry Chittick, well satisfied himself from his O’Reilly mare Dating’s season return the day before in the Gr. 3 Windsor Park Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes, was their welcoming host.
“I’d never met Garry before so it was good to finally do so,” says Howard. “It was very enjoyable being shown around such a beautiful property and Garry was very informative. He said something about unders and overs, which I guess is understandable when you think how we bought that filly so cheaply, but he got a service booking out of us before we left.”
No prizes for guessing which member of the Waikato stallion roster was chosen. In a week or two therefore, another of those 2007 Karaka purchases, Court Speedin, will line up for her turn with No Excuse Needed.
Who knows? That mating might just be the first line in the next chapter of the Wairoa farmer’s redemption.
-This article was kindly provided by the Informant and was written by Dennis Ryan (14.10.11).