Alamosa - the next all-rounder?
Arguably the most startling aspect of this year’s Melbourne Cup was the fact that there were no NZ-bred runners. Admittedly there would have been one if It's A Dundeel (aus) - Dundeel had not gone amiss, or had Precedence’s connections found that, amazingly, winning the Moonee Valle Cup was not enough to gain a start. However, as it was, the Cup contained 24 runners, none of whom was bred in New Zealand. Bearing in mind New Zealand’s proud tradition of providing a seemingly never-ending stream of stayers able to clean up in Australia’s major staying races, one was tempted to ask whether this represents the end of the world as we know it. Happily, however, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief merely two days later when the NZ-bred filly Kirramosa followed up her Wakeful Stakes victory by taking the VRC Oaks. Normal service was thus resumed – and, pleasingly, this filly is perhaps a sign of things to come, as she is a member of the first crop of a promising young NZ-based sire whose background makes him a proper Kiwi: Alamosa, writes John Berry.
It is a fact of modern-day life that, whereas a generation or two ago virtually all breeders in New Zealand planned their matings with a Melbourne Cup dream in the back of their minds, nowadays the majority of Kiwi horsemen are all too aware that the most likely way of turning a profit is to produce a sprinter/miler who might appeal to the Asian market. The good thing for Alamosa’s connections is that the horse should appeal to such breeders – but the lesson of the VRC Oaks is that he can sire high-quality stayers too. In this respect, he is set to fall into line as a worthy successor to his 20-year-old sire O'reilly, a terrific sprinter who has matured into a genuinely top-class sire, churning out a torrent of fast horses but also stamping himself as a reliable source of high-class stayers.
There is certainly no doubt about Alamosa’s qualification to breed fast and precocious juveniles. He was one himself, showing himself to be a very good early two-year-old in New Zealand in the spring of 2006. Alamosa’s trainer Peter Mackay had picked him up at the yearling sales from his breeder Gary Chittick for $60,000 earlier in the year, and the colt’s preparation at Matamata went very smoothly over the winter. It is remarkable how early the two-year-olds’ trials start in New Zealand, and 2006 was a classic example. On 31st July, Alamosa was officially a yearling. On 1st August, he was officially a two-year-old, and he celebrated his birthday by winning a 600m trial! Sixteen days later he won another trial, over 650m at Cambridge. Thus when he made his debut on 9th September (over 800m at Wanganui) he was an experienced, if very young, colt. He only finished second on debut, but the remainder of the spring showed him in a better light.
At the end of September, Alamosa won a good 800m two-year-olds’ race at Hastings, beating Amber Rose whom he’d beaten in his first trial. Five weeks later he won the Wellesley Stakes, a 1000m Listed race at the same track. He ended his preparation by finishing second to Nosmo King (whom he’d beaten in the Wellesley Stakes) in another Listed race, the Welcome Stakes at Riccarton. When he resumed late in the summer, he took a couple of runs to re-find his best form, but when he did he went very close to realising Mackay’s dream of taking both of New Zealand’s Group One two-year-old races: he won the Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes before finishing third to Nightlign in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni. Thus ended his two-year-old season, in which he had established himself to be, on balance, the best juvenile in the land.
Alamosa’s three-year-old season was even better. He started racing early in the spring, winning first up at Taupo over 1300m in September 2007, and then continued racing through the spring and autumn. All told, that preparation he raced nine times for six wins and two seconds, and was only once unplaced. He started off against his own age group, taking the Group Two Hawkes Bay Guineas, the Group Two Avondale Guineas and the Group Three Wellington Stakes, before graduating to open racing, winning the Group One Thorndon Mile at Trentham in handicap company and the Group One Otaki-Maori over 1600m at weight-for-age at Otaki, beating the multiple Group One winner Sir Slick. His second placings came in the Group Two Wellington Guineas (beaten a nose by Rios) and the Group One NZ 2,000 Guineas (beaten a head by The Pooka).
Having proved himself a champion in New Zealand at both two and three, Alamosa was sent to Australia as a four-year-old to prove his class on a bigger stage, joining Mick Price’s stable at Caulfield. This proved a very worthwhile move as he enjoyed an excellent spring in Melbourne. Contesting most of the best races, he won the Group One Toorak Handicap over 1600m at Caulfield as well as running very well in both the Liston (behind his stablemate Light Fantasticand Weekend Hussler) and Memsie (behind Weekend Hussler and Maldivian) Stakes. He didn’t win in the autumn, but he ran some more good races recording Group One minor placings over 1400m (second to Maldivian in the C. F. Orr Stakes at Caulfield, beaten a neck) and 1600m (third to Niconero and Light Fantastic in the Futurity Stakes at the same track). At the end of the season, he retired to stud, having in three busy seasons proved himself a top-class and tough competitor at distances up to 1600m. He had also been able to show good form over a bit farther, finishing midfield in good Group One weight-for-age races on his only two ventures beyond a mile (in the Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie as a three-year-old and in the Cox Plate at four).
Alamosa, a Group One winner at ages two, three and four, took a great racing record with him to Wellfield Lodge Stud, and he also brought a most appealing pedigree. Most obviously, he is a son of a terrific stallion, O’Reilly. One of the best sprinters ever trained in New Zealand, O’Reilly has developed into a great all-rounder as a sire, getting plenty of fast horses, but also top middle-distance and staying horses such as Guyno, Shamrocker and Silent Achiever (all winners of Derbys in various parts of Australia or New Zealand) and a Caulfield Cup winner (Master O'reilly). In addition, he is already broodmare sire of good horses across the distance spectrum, including 2009 AJC Oaks winner Daffodil and Alamosa’s NZ 2,000 Guineas conqueror The Pooka. O’Reilly’s versatility is understandable. His sire Last Tycoon (Australia’s champion sire of 1993/’94) was similarly versatile, as was perfectly illustrated by his remarkable son Mahogany, winner not only of both the VRC and AJC Derbys, but also of two runnings of Australia’s premier 1000m race, the Lightning Stakes. Furthermore, the bottom half of O’Reilly’s pedigree is similarly intriguing: his dam Courtza won both the Blue Diamond and the Golden Slipper in 1989, but her full-brother Our Pompeii won two Adelaide Cups over 3200m (1993 and ’94).
Not only is Alamosa the son of a terrific stallion, but he comes from a wonderful family, that descending from his fifth dam Chicquita (in whose honour, presumably, this year’s Irish Oaks winner was named). Trained by Tony Lopes at Flemington, Chicquita was the dominant filly of the spring of 1949, when she completed the VRC Edward Manifold Stakes, VATC Thousand Guineas, VRC Wakeful Stakes, VRC Oaks four-timer. She developed into a terrific racemare, winning many feature races and finishing second in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, prompting Lopes’ stables at Flemington to renamed in her honour – as we used to be reminded by the racecaller every time the Melbourne Cup field passed the property (which for a long time had ‘Chicquita Lodge’ painted on the wall). At stud she did arguably even better. Her best son was the 1964 Golden Slipper winner Eskimo Prince, a first-crop son of the inaugural Golden Slipper winner Todman. Her other good winners included King Nero and the 1962 Melbourne Cup runner-up Comicquita (a son of Chicquita’s Melbourne Cup conqueror Comic Court, whom she beat four times during her career). Her mating in 1958 with Todman’s sire, the great Star Kingdom was a dream alliance. Its product, Alamosa’s fourth dam Starquita, was not one of Chicquita’s best winners (although she did win twice over five furlongs) but understandably went on to become an excellent broodmare. One of her matings was with the great NZ-based staying stallion Oncidium, thus breeding Alamosa’s third dam Ciquita, and Alamosa is thus a fourth-generation Kiwi.
Chicquita’s family continues to produce high-class horses to this day. Understandably, it’s a family which produces good horses across the distance spectrum, but most notably high-class stayers. Starquita’s children included 1974 NZ Derby winner Mansingh and 1968 VRC Wakeful Stakes winner With Respect. More recently, the family has thrown up such notable winners as 2010 Sydney Cup winner No Wine No Song (whose third dam Goddess Of Dawn was a full-sister to Ciquita) and various Derby/Oaks winners including Cheviot, Vacuum, Geegees Blackflash, Tristram Rose and Lights Of Heaven. The last-named comes from Alamosa’s immediate family, being a great-grand-daughter of his grand-dam Logical Miss. The best product of Logical Miss was the Group Two-winning sprinter/miler Perfect World, to whom Alamosa’s dam Lodore Mystic, a winner over 1600m, is a full-sister, both being by the outstanding sire and broodmare sire Centaine.
Given his background, it is no surprise that Alamosa has come up in his first crop with good two-year-olds such as the precocious Quintette and the progressive Salamanca, as well as a VRC Oaks winner. While the trend worldwide is to concentrate on short-distance horses, the great sires over the years have been those who have acted as an influence for class right across the distance spectrum, such as Hyperion, Star Kingdom, Northern Dancer, Danehill,Sir Tristram, Zabeel and Galileo. It is fair to say that O’Reilly comes into this category – and, while it’s still early days, his son Alamosa might end up in a similar boat.
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Bay or brown 1983
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Song of Victory