It’s not often you find the owner of a Group Three winner at Royal Randwick happily ensconced on his tractor cutting grass less than twenty-four hours after such a notable victory.
That however is the scenario for Southlander Tony Dennis, who along with brothers Ray, Kevin (Joe) and Martin, bred and are members of the syndicate who race Gr.3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) winner, The Chosen One.
“I’m just on the tractor getting some baleage cut while the weather holds,” Tony said on Sunday morning.
“You don’t often get a few days in a row of good weather at this time of the year, so you have to make the most of it when you do.”
The on-farm commitments meant Dennis didn’t travel to Sydney with his brothers and other syndicate members to witness the victory in person, although he seriously considered it given the team were bullish about The Chosen One’s chances in the race.
“Most of them went over on Thursday but I wanted to get the baleage done,” he said.
“I had intended to go and was looking at flights on Friday but in the end, I stayed back home.
“I went to the local meeting at Riverton instead and saw the race on television there.
“We were pretty confident he could win given the way he went in the Australian Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) when he ran fourth. We thought he backs up pretty well in his races so as long as he got some luck, he would be hard to beat.
“He was very impressive as he sprinted from the 600m and won pretty comfortably in the end.”
Dennis confirmed that plans for The Chosen One would see him return home for a break before being set for the Melbourne spring carnival later this year.
“He’s a pretty exciting prospect as we think he will only get better as he matures so it’s a good time for him to have a break now,” he said.
“I believe the plan is to get him to Melbourne next spring so he might not be seen here if the tracks are no good as Murray and Andrew will take him straight over there.
“He looks like a 2000-2400m type so there are plenty of opportunities there for him.”
Still a colt, the son of champion sire Savabeel has enhanced any future stallion prospects with Saturday’s victory and joins a long list of top performers the Dennis brothers have raced or bred.
Recognised in 2015 with the Outstanding contribution to New Zealand thoroughbred racing award, their list of top-quality gallopers produced includes Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) winner, The Phantom Chance, along with The Twinkle, The Phantom, The Diamond One and The Chosen One’s grand-dam, The Jewel.
Dennis admits that the current state of the local industry has seen them reduce their breeding and racing numbers as the costs involved in breeding and racing haven’t been matched by the resulting benefits in recent years.
“We’ve dropped our numbers a fair bit of late as it’s a pretty expensive game to be in when the returns don’t stack up,” he said.
“We have four mares on the farm with another four up north so it’s not as if we have quit or anything but we’re selling a few more these days and not racing as many as we used to.
“You have to be able to sell to make ends meet and at the moment, the racing returns just don’t stack up.”
With that in mind, Dennis is looking forward to the annual NZB South Island Yearling Sale that will take place in Christchurch on April 29, where the brothers will be represented by Lot 41, a colt by Ghibellines out of their Classic Fame mare, The Cloud, offered through the White Robe Lodge draft.
The grey colt is closely related to multiple Australian stakes winner, Sold For Song and hardy sprinter El Chico who won 24 races in a career that saw him successful seven times at black-type level along with finishing third in the Gr.1 Telegraph Handicap (1200m). – NZ Racing Desk