Last season’s Gr.1 VRC Australian Guineas (1600m)
winner Grunt (O’Reilly x Ruqqaya) has returned to racing as a bigger, stronger
horse this spring, relishing a return to Flemington last Saturday to record a
comprehensive, two length win in the Gr.1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), defeating
Caulfield Cup (2400m) favourite Kings Will Dream with Jon Snow another
half-length back in third place.
Race time was 1:34.91 with the last 600
metres covered in 35.30.
With two Group One wins and three other
successes from just eight starts Grunt looks to have ensured himself a place on
the stallion roster of a leading stud next season, most probably in New Zealand
given his pedigree.
Grunt’s program for the rest of the spring
is to be decided but he may challenge Winx in the Cox Plate (2040m) on October
27, while the Emirates Stakes (registered as LKS Mackinnon) (2000m) at
Flemington on November 10 may be a later target.
Bred at New Zealand’s famous Trelawney
Stud, Grunt was bought by trainer Mick Price and Cameron Cooke Bloodstock for $220,000
at the 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale in 2016 and on
pedigree represents New Zealand bloodstock royalty on both sides.
O’Reilly, was New Zealand’s Horse of the
Year in 1996/97 and a three time Group One winner before retiring to Waikato
Stud where he established himself as a truly outstanding sire and broodmare
sire, heading the New Zealand list four times between 2007/08 and 2013/14.
While O’Reilly, out of champion filly
Courtza, was himself a sprinter/miler he proved a versatile sire of major
winners over a range of distances up to 2400 metres and his long list of stakes
winners includes 12 other Group One winners in addition to Grunt in Alamosa
(sire), Final Destination, Guyno, Maco’Reilly, Master O’Reilly, O’Marilyn,
Sacred Falls (sire), Shamexpress (sire), Shamrocker, Silent Achiever, Swick and
Grunt’s dam Ruqqaya showed useful form
racing in New Zealand and her two foals before Grunt are King’s Man winner of
three races in Hong Kong, and the stakes placed filly Addison (Jimmy Choux), a
Her subsequent foals, both unnamed, are a
2015 filly by O’Reilly and a 2016 filly by Savabeel (Zabeel).
Ruqqaya, out of Sayyida (Zabeel), is a
half-sister to promising Waikato Stud sire Ocean Park (Thorn Park), a five time
Group One winner who was New Zealand’s Horse of the Year in 2012/13 and whose
most memorable victory came in the 2012 Cox Plate in which he defeated crack
three-year-olds All Too Hard and Pierro.
Overall, Grunt has a fascinating, well
balanced pedigree which suggests he could become a prepotent sire, its key
feature being a 3f x 5f duplication of former smart performer and outstanding
producer Hunza (Pakistan II), second dam of O’Reilly and fifth dam of Grunt.
Grunt’s third dam Eastern Princess (Pompeii Court) ranks as a three-parts
sister to O’Reilly’s mother Courtza meaning that their sire Pompeii Court (Tell)
is duplicated 3f x 4f in Grunt’s background.
This is a phenomenal family branching out
from Hunza, one of the best two-year-old fillies of her generation in Melbourne
and winner of the 1973 VRC Bloodhorse Breeders’ Plate (1400m). Hunza’s stud
achievements far outstripped her deeds on the track as she became dam of five
stakes winners ranging from the brilliant Courtza, winner of the Gr.1 Blue
Diamond Stakes (1200m) and Gr.1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) to that filly’s
brother, Our Pompeii, whose staying performances were at the other end of the
distance spectrum, twice winning the Gr.1 SAJC Adelaide Cup (3200m) and also
winning the Gr.1 South Australian Derby (2500m).
Grunt carries four crosses of Northern
Dancer via sons Try My Best, Storm Bird and Nureyev and daughter Cold Reply, a
powerful genetic mix with its relatively rare female strain of the breed
shaper. Three crosses of hardy, champion racehorse and sire Round Table in
Grunt’s background, one coming through Sir Tristram, also strengthen Grunt’s
pedigree as does the fact of Pompeii Court’s sire Tell being linebred to Round
Table’s mother Knight’s Daughter. -ANZ Bloodstock News.