Cunningham counting down to Karaka

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  • February 17, 2023
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Curraghmore principal Gordon Cunningham is heading into Karaka 2023 in a buoyant mood after the success of his farm’s graduates last year.

The farm had four individual Group One winners and seven individual stakes winners, showcasing the quality of athlete raised at the Waikato thoroughbred nursery.

“All those horses give you every encouragement that there are more good horses to excel from the same paddocks as they grew up in,” Cunningham said.

Curraghmore will offer a 27-strong Book 1 draft, with the sale kicking off at 11am on Sunday, and Cunningham is upbeat about the quality of yearlings they have on offer.

“I have got plenty of confidence in the horses that we are offering that there are several big chances to be class racehorses,” he said.

Fourteen fillies will go through the sale ring under Curraghmore’s banner and Cunningham is particularly excited about lot 608, the Justify filly out of Group Three winner Tulip, who was sold through Curraghmore’s 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale for $400,000.

“I feel very privileged to be offering this filly,” Cunningham said.

“She is by Justify, who has made an exceptional start in the northern hemisphere.

“We offered Tulip as a yearling and she put Pierro on the map. She was a really high-class filly.

“This filly has got the most beautiful head, a lovely shoulder on her. She is big like her breed, like you expect from the Justifys, but equally, she is very balanced with it.

“I said to Tom Magnier when he asked me if I would like to sell her – ‘she can lead our draft out’, and she is certainly fitting the bill.”

Cunningham also has a lot of time for lot 521, the Dundeel filly out of Silver Tiara, the dam of stakes winner Silvera, and a half-sister to five-time Group One winner Shoot Out.

“When I saw this filly as a weanling I thought ‘I am going to have you in my draft’. She gives me a thrill every day to see her development,” Cunningham said.

“She is beautiful quality and has beautiful movement, she is very special.

“I can see 1000 Guineas and Oaks stamped all over her.”

Cunnigham is also excited about the prospects of his colts, including lot 544, the Almanzor colt out of Spirit of Galway, a half-sister to stakes winners Kirwan’s Lane and Johny Johny.

“He is his damline in physique but equally he has got the movement of what you see in the Almanzors,” Cunningham said.

“I think he is a beautiful prospect for us. He has got beautiful blood, with the dam being out of a full-sister to Shillelagh. It is a good family and I think he has got the potential to put himself on the winner’s board in years to come.”

Cunningham has been pleased to see international buyers back at Karaka after a COVID-19 enforced absence.

“It’s nice that we have had a good start to the week and seen a lot of people that we haven’t seen in a couple of years, there have also been quite a number of new faces, which is great,” he said.

“There are a lot of people here that should ensure that good credentialled horses are highly sought after.”

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