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Super week for Blandford Lodge

April 6, 2014

A decision to get into the thoroughbred breeding game over thirty years ago continues to pay dividends for Blandford Lodge’s Graham and Helen-Gaye Bax who scored a second Australian Group One triumph within a week with progeny bred at their Matamata nursery.

The couple were at Rosehill on Saturday to witness Savabeel filly Lucia Valentina take out the  Gr. 1 Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill which followed hard on the heels of the win of Criterion who scored in the Gr. 1 Rosehill Guineas at the same venue seven days earlier for owner Sir Owen Glenn.

Glenn, who is a partner in Blandford Lodge with the Bax’s, co-bred the Sebring colt with them from the Bite the Bullet mare Mica’s Pride who was secured by Graham for the wealthy businessman.

The Bax’s breeding adventure began in the early 1980’s when Graham decided to further his passion for the thoroughbred racing game with the purchase of a broodmare from Denby Lodge proprietor, Ron Denby.

““We were farming at Thames at the time and the family had always been involved in racing but I decided I would like to go further with the breeding side of things so we went out on a limb and bought the mare Polly Soleil from Ron for $80,000 which was a pretty decent sum at the time,” remembered Bax.

 “The first foal we bred from her was a Red Tempo filly named Soleil Rouge who became a Group Two winner and the next was an Otehi Bay colt, Black Sun, who won seven times including the Group Three Marton Metric mile.

“Polly Soleil end up having seven foals for us including five fillies that we kept for breeding purposes and they became the foundation of our broodmare band.”

Lucia Valentina is the second foal of Montjeu mare Staryn Glenn, a granddaughter of Polly Soleil who’s first foal is the Gr. 3 winner Malandrino who is now racing in Hong Kong under the name Best Show.

“We sold Malandrino at the 2010 Karaka premier session to Bruce Perry who was acting on behalf of Lib Petagna,” explained Bax

“Two years later Bruce bought Lucia Valentina and last year they bought the mare’s Mastercraftsman colt as it is a family that has really produced the goods for them.

“While we are excited for ourselves we are thrilled for both Bruce and Lib as they have been tremendous supporters of the stud and it is great to see them getting these results.

“Actually Bruce has been trying hard to buy Staryn Glenn’s fourth foal who is a filly by Darci Brahma but we will be keeping her to race and breed from ourselves.”

In the late 1990’s the Bax’s sold their Thames farm and, in conjunction with daughter Kylie, purchased Blandford Lodge as the size of their breeding enterprise increased.

Developed in the 1940’s, Blandford Lodge had a proud history of breeding success however it had become a victim of the 1987 sharemarket crash and was dispersed in 1992 where it was acquired by neighbours including dairy farmer Barry Vowels who on-sold the property to the Bax family.

In 2009 Kylie sold her half share in Blandford Lodge to family friend Sir Owen Glenn who has continued the rejuvenation of the Stud along with the Bax’s.

That rejuvenation has been franked by results on the track from Blandford Lodge progeny that include champion Singapore galloper Better Than Ever, Wellington Cup winner Six O’Clock News and multiple stakes winner Silky Red Boxer.

Sales ring success has also followed including a highlight at the recent New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling sale series in January where a colt by Rip Van Winkle from Pins mare Dulcine’e, a granddaughter of Polly Soleil, sold for $375,000 to Sydney trainer Bryce Heys.

Bax, who has stayed in Sydney to prepare two yearlings for the upcoming Easter sale has his fingers crossed that the stud’s good luck can continue over the next few weeks.

“ It’s hard to believe that we have an association with the favourite for both the Oaks and the Derby so we are hoping the run of good luck can continue for both ourselves and, most importantly, for Owen, Bruce and Lib,” he said.

“Our focus at present is on getting the best result we can for the two we have to sell but it will be a very sweet moment if either Lucia Valentina or Criterion could pull off another win.”

Story from NZTM