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BELLE OF MONTANA:3 Br f Bettor’s Delight - Lady Cullen

OWNER: Montana Park Pty Ltd

BREEDER: Rod Croon

TIME: 2:25.1 Mile Rate: 1-57.9 Last 800m: 58.0 Last 400m: 27.4

The Three-Year-Old Diamond was hyped as a match-race between two serious pacing fillies, and the crowd in attendance was treated to the match race they were told all week in the build-up.

Belle of Montana and Princess Tiffany had raced on four previous occasions with the New Zealand Oaks victory a fortnight earlier being the only time Tiffany had got the better of the Barry Purdon trained filly.

Earlier in the season, Tiffany had not quite been at her best and may have had excuses.

With the ace draw and back to a shorter distance, Belle Of Montana had a few things in her favour, but many felt the slushy track might detract from her lethal sprint and play into the staying prowess of the Mark Purdon trained filly.

As it turned out, Belle as she is known was able to keep the lead, hand up to the Oaks winner and run past her up the lane, albeit by a freckle, with a withering burst of speed over the last 100m.

The daughter of Bettor’s Delight is regally bred on the Bettor’s/Cullen cross from a daughter of Andress Blue Chip in Lady Cullen.

Andress Blue Chip knows a thing or two about producing champion fillies with Belle Of Montana being from a half-sister to the champion Carabella, who claimed a three-year-old Diamond for herself when she swept all before her in the 2011 season.

Belle of Montana’s breeder Rod Croon acquired Lady Cullen from Robert Famularo having been acutely aware of her pedigree and the speed she had shown in her limited career on the race track.

“I did a deal with Robert Famularo who had the breed and being a half-sister to Carabella I thought she would make a nice prospect.

“I knew she had a lot of speed because I remember Steven Reid saying she was quick,” said Croon.

Her former owner Robert Famularo echoed those sentiments remembering unsolicited quotes from trainers who as he details, had no rhyme nor reason to pump up his tyres or that of the mare.

“She went in the suspensory originally and we think she did it on the float to the races at Auckland,” said Famularo.

“It was a real shame as Steven Reid told me she was the fastest horse he ever sat behind, and at that time he was training the likes of Monkey King and Bailey’s Dream which tells you something.

“We brought her back slowly and she was just about ready to make a return to racing. Brendan Hill had her at his stage and he made the comment he thought she had the ability to win her first seven races in a row.

Carabella was the first live foal after Lady Cullen so Brendan Hill would have been expecting a bit of ability, but got all that and more from the daughter of Bettor’s Delight.

Andress Blue Chip, unraced, is the mother of both and is an imported American mare by Artsplace.

Andress Blue Chip’s half-sister Athena Blue Chip was by Goalie Jeff (Cam Fella) and she was good enough to win three stakes races at both two and three and earn $457,118 in stakes as well as setting a lifetime mark of 1:50.3.
Andress Blue Chip has an Artsplace daughter of her own in New Zealand under the ownership of Bruce Carter and Ross Johnson in Saddle Ridge. She has been a fine producer in her own right as the mother of The Bucket List, Extreme Machine & the smart mare Somethingaboutmary.

Lady Cullen had not been injecting any of that lethal speed into her foals with her first three live foals including a full brother and sister only able to win 4 races among them.

Since Belle of Montana, she has had only the Somebeachsomewhere filly who qualified as a two year old this season for Mark Jones and is in the ownership of Famularo amongst others.

“Lady Cullen died a few days after foaling down south which was unfortunate, it must have been a rupture somewhere,” said Famularo. She is survived however by her multiple Group One winning daughter and soon to be anointed three-year-old Filly of the Year, who Croon remembers well having still been hands on with his involvement in preparing yearlings for the sales at his previous property.

“She was quite a striking looker, she was black yearling but was quite a timid horse.

She was never the boss in the paddock but she had a presence about her. I sold her at the sales for $40,000,” said Croon.

Croon is no longer involved in the breeding industry he gave three decades of service too, citing the sale of his farm as the main reason as he no longer had the ability to be hands on with the stock he enjoyed so much.

“I’m totally out of it at the moment, I needed to have a breather after 30 years breeding horses but I will be back at the yearling sales in a couple of years I imagine to have another go.

“I certainly still get a thrill in seeing horses I bred win big races as they are few and far between. That was my first breeding winner of a Jewels.

“Belle Of Montana actually beat the last horse I still had an ownership interest in called Big On Personality. We have sold her since but when Belle beat her, I realized how good she was.

Croon has had a distinguished career as Chairman and log term committee member of the ATC and more recently HRNZ’s appointee to the soon to be refocused NZ Racing Board, under its new name of Racing Industry Transition Agency. Rod’s term on the board will come to an end with the Minister taking the power to make all future appointments.

“It’s been good to be on the Board but there have been some frustrating times as well. Politics had gotten in the way a bit towards the end with race fields legislation getting delayed which was annoying, but it is what it is I suppose.

“We’ve just signed on a new CEO at the Auckland Trotting Club. Our current President is retiring from the ATC in October which will probably see me step into that role for two years and then that will likely be the end of my involvement from an administration level also”, said Croon.


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