Westbury Stud stallion El Roca is developing a great association with the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m).
He recorded his first Group One win as a sire when Travelling Light took out the 2020 edition of the race and on Saturday he doubled his elite-level tally in the Trentham feature courtesy of Romancing The Moon.
The Mark Walker-trained filly has had a pleasing three-year-old term, having previously won the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) and placed in the Gr.3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m), Listed Dunedin Guineas (1500m) and Listed The O’Leary’s Fillies Stakes (1200m).
“He (El Roca) has had two Group One winners so far and they have both won the same race,” Westbury Stud General Manager Russell Warwick said.
“She has performed with merit in all of her starts this season. The way that she won on Saturday was great, she got well and truly headed at the 250-300m in a Group One race and then to come back and win by a length and a half is full of merit.”
Romancing The Moon was sold through Westbury Stud’s 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft, on behalf of breeders Hamish and Karyn McQuade, to Te Akau principal David Ellis for $50,000.
“Hamish and Karyn McQuade bred her they started the prep early in October and she came to us towards the end of November and did the last six to eight weeks with us,” Warwick said.
“She was prepared down at our Waikato farm. She was a neat, well-balanced filly and in hindsight she now looks an extremely good bargain for Te Akau.”
El Roca currently sits fourth on the New Zealand leading sires table and Warwick said he is cementing himself in the top tier of the country’s stallions.
“El Roca is going really well in Asia and has struck up a very good rapport with Hong Kong,” he said.
“He has had a Group Two winner (Lucky Patch) up there and he has got some nice horses running around in Australia.
“The homebase (New Zealand) has been very strong for him. He has been sitting in the top three or four throughout this season. He is really starting to establish himself as a proven sire.”
Warwick has also been delighted with the recent success of one of the farm’s other stallions, Redwood.
The son of High Chaparral has had a particularly pleasing last month, with Sharp ‘N’ Smart winning the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), Platinum Invador taking out the Gr.2 Auckland Cup (3200m), and Tuchel beaten by a short margin in the Hong Kong Derby (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
All three were offered by Westbury Stud at Karaka, with Sharp ‘N’ Smart selling to Graeme Rogerson for $55,000, Platinum Invador to Lisa Latta for $25,000, and Tuchel to Simple Bloodstock Services for $130,000.
“The last three or four weeks has been enormous for Redwood,” Warwick said.
“If you told me a month ago that Redwood was going to win the Derby with Sharp ‘N’ Smart, Auckland Cup with Platinum Invador, and be beaten a half-head in the Hong Kong Derby (with Tuchel) I would have said you were mad.”
The excitement is set to continue in the coming month, with standout three-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart set to cross the Tasman to compete in the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
“The exciting thing about Sharp ‘N’ Smart is that both physically and mentally he is going to get better and better,” Warwick said.
“He leaves on Sunday to head to the autumn carnival in Sydney and is the current favourite for the Australian Derby (Gr.1, 2400m). If he could add that to his resume that would be very exciting.”
Westbury Stud principal Gerry Harvey has retained a share in Sharp ‘N’ Smart and Warwick said his performances bring plenty of satisfaction to the farm’s connections.
“It is great for the farm and staff, and most importantly great for Gerry,” Warwick said.
“He has put a lot of money into New Zealand and to be getting the results the farm has had over the last month or two has been great.”