The victory of promising three-year-old filly Riva Capri in Saturday’s Listed The O’Learys Fillies Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui conjured up mixed emotions for well known bloodstock agent Bruce Perry.
Perry, who selects and manages the thoroughbred interests of Wellington-based owner/breeder Lib Petagna, was thrilled to see the Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen-trained filly carry Petagna’s colours to victory as the first stakes winner for the ill-fated Mapperley Stud stallion Atlante.
The win also brought with it the sting of losing Atlante to a freak accident after completing his second season in the breeding barn, with Petagna holding a significant stake in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner.
Riva Capri is the second foal of High Chaparral mare, Chaparella who Perry had purchased for $38,000 on Petagna’s behalf at the 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale.
“It was quite special to see her (Riva Capri) win on Saturday as she will always be in the record books as Atlante’s first stakes winner,” Perry said.
“Guy and Grant had told us all along they thought she had plenty of ability and she certainly showed that on Saturday.
“She missed a run when they called off the Taupo meeting, which I think showed a little over the last 50m.
“She’s plenty tough though and hopefully she can go on with it now.”
Perry was philosophical about the circumstances surrounding the demise of Atlante but admitted he did harbour a what might have been feeling after witnessing Riva Capri in action.
“It can be a tough old game at times and when we lost Atlante it was a blow as Lib was heavily invested in him and the mares’ we had bought to support his stud career,” he said.
“Riva Capri’s dam was one of those we bought specifically for that purpose so I know Lib is pretty chuffed to breed and own Atlante’s first stakes winner despite what has happened.
“You can’t help but think what heights he might have reached as a stallion but on the other hand he could have flopped as you just don’t know in the breeding game.”
With the death of Atlante, Petagna and Perry had to make some significant commercial decisions about the broodmare band that they had assembled to support the stallion, including the sale of Chaparella.
“A number of those mares became surplus to requirements once Atlante died so we did have to move many of them on,” Perry said.
“We sold Chaparella in foal to Per Incanto at the 2018 May Sale at Karaka along with her Atlante weanling colt.
“Our thinking was if the family was to become a commercial prospect in the sale ring then it would be through the deeds of Riva Capri, who Lib had retained.
“Sometimes you have to make a tough call but Lib is a commercial breeder and that goes with the territory.”
While most of the attention on Saturday was centred around Riva Capri, the run of the Petagna-owned Savabeel filly Sorrentina to flash into third in the race also brought a smile to Perry’s face.
Petagna has enjoyed staggering success with the progeny of Waikato Stud stallion Savabeel with Sorrentina becoming the ninth black-type Savabeel from the 12 he has owned.
“Lib and the whole industry have a lot to thank Savabeel for,” Perry said.
“Sorrentina is a filly we purchased for $180,000 from Waikato Stud’s 2018 Karaka draft and she has the makings of a classic filly by the look of her.
“To get black-type first up is fantastic and augurs well for the future.
“Stephen Marsh (trainer) has liked her all the way along and has done well with this type of filly for Lib in the past.
“She holds a nomination for the 1000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) at Riccarton so I think once the dust has settled from her debut run that will be where Stephen will be heading with her.
“If she can perform at the top level then there is no reason to think she won’t head to Sydney in the autumn.”
Marsh is no stranger to success for Petagna having prepared 2009 Gr.1 Australian Oaks (2400m) winner Sofia Rosa for Petagna while he also trained multiple Group One winner Lucia Valentina during her New Zealand career before she was transferred to the Australian stable of Kris Lees.
Petagna rounded out a successful weekend when he was voted Owner of the Year for the fourth successive year at the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Horse of the Year Awards at Ellerslie on Sunday evening.
Petagna had 14 winners or stakes-placed horses, from 26 runners, including Gr.1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeder’s Stakes (1600m) winner Nicoletta and Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Crown Prosecutor (who he holds a 50 percent interest in). - NZ Racing Desk