IN Racing
Justice served as Wright gets his Guineas
85-year-old Barry Wright was on-hand to cheer home his Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas hero Pier at Riccarton last weekend.
NZ Racing Desk | November 09, 2022
Photo: Race Images South

85-year-old Barry Wright was on-hand to cheer home his Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) hero Pier at Riccarton last weekend, with the elite-level victory a first in more than 45 years as an owner.

The gritty victory by the Darryn and Briar Weatherley-trained Proisir gelding rewarded Wright’s persistence.

In addition to owning 50 percent of the leading three-year-old he also bred him with Darryn and Louise Weatherley, with Wright’s involvement in the family of the Guineas winner stemming back to his granddam Naturo.

16 year’s earlier Wright had ventured to Riccarton to watch the John Sargent-trained Naturo contest the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m), where the daughter of Postponed started a warm favourite.

But it wasn’t to be, with the high-class filly suffering an injury at the top of the straight, eventually finishing fifth to Dorabella and placegetters Princess Coup and Velvet and Satin.

Naturo would never race again but has proved the link between the Weatherley family and Wright, and Guineas justice has been served. 

“She was hot favourite in the 1000 Guineas in 2006,” Wright recalled.

“Opie Bosson was suspended at Hastings after he won the Highview Stud Stakes (Gr.3, 1200m) on Naturo.

“Noel Harris took over, and she broke down at the turn and finished the race on three legs in fifth place.

“We were all staying at the Racecourse Hotel across the road and we had a big table of about 30 to 40 people for dinner that night.

“Noel Harris made three speeches.

“The first time he got up he said, ‘if she hadn't broken down, she would have won by two lengths.

“Then the more gin he had, the second time he got up she would have won by four lengths and the last time he got up she would have bolted in by six lengths.”

Wright enjoyed good success as an owner with John Sargent and also raced Naturo’s Group Two-performed half-brother Il Divo, who was sold to Hong Kong.

“Naturo went to John Sargent to be trained and that’s where I met Darryn and we have been friends ever since. I’ve watched the kids grow up and we have had some great fun over the years,” Wright said.

Weatherley echoed those sentiments and values Wright’s friendship.

“I met Wrighty when he bought Naturo at the sales and raced him with Andrew McLachlan and a few others,” Weatherley said.

“I broke her in for Sarge and she went on to race out of his stable. When she retired, she went to stud and eventually was on-sold, but Barry bought her daughter La Vitesse from the syndicate to race.

“We had become firm family friends by then, he always came and stayed for a weekend about once a month, and really he is part of the family.

“Anyway, La Vitesse went into work with Sarge and I was still doing all his pre-training and working his overflow of horses. So when John relocated to Sydney to train, I decided to take my licence out and train and took over training her. Her first start for me was in the Lowland Stakes

“When she finished racing, we decided to send her to stud. She is the only broodmare that either of us own and she has proved to be a good one.”

A dual winner La Vitesse is the dam of four foals, two each by Proisir and Contributer.

Wright said Sargent played a key role in the decision to breed to Rich Hill Stud stallion Proisir, who now has the makings of an outstanding sire.

“He rang me one afternoon a number of years ago and I was in my lounge in Auckland,” Wright said.

“‘Sarge here’. I thought what's he want? The previous time he rang me he wanted tomatoes and pies sent over from New Zealand.

“He said I think you and Darryn better go out and have a look at this horse Proisir, a stallion Gai Waterhouse has sent over to New Zealand to Rich Hill Stud.

“Darryn and I went out within a week and had a look and Darryn liked the look of Proisir, so that’s how we bred to him.”

Pier is the third foal and third winner from the Darci Brahma mare La Vitesse.

Her first foal by Proisir, named La Velocita won three races but unfortunately broke a pastern in a track gallop and couldn’t be saved.

Her second foal, Maria Farina, by Contributer, has also won three races, and will contest a Rating 75 event over 1200m on Saturday at Riccarton, with stakes goals into the future.

Wright and the Weatherleys have a Contributer filly foal out of La Vitesse that they bred in conjunction with James Chapman of Jamieson Park.

Chapman, who purchased Naturo as a broodmare at the 2011 New Zealand Bloodstock Broodmare Sale, is a fan of the family. He proved a white knight who has enabled the Weatherleys to continue breeding from La Vitesse, with the trio joining forces again this season to breed to increasingly popular Proisir, whose star continues to shine thanks to the deeds of horses like Pier.

Barry Wright New Zealand 2000 Guineas Pier Darryn and Briar Weatherley Proisir Naturo John Sargent Postponed Dorabella Princess Coup Velvet Satin Opie Bosson Highview Stud Stakes Noel Harris Racecourse Hotel Il Divo Andrew McLachlan La Vitesse Lowland Stakes Contributer Rich Hill Stud Gai Waterhouse Darci Brahma La Velocita Maria Farina James Chapman Jamieson Park New Zealand Bloodstock Broodmare Sale