To start with, there is Danny Boyle, the bustling PR operator for Nevele R Stud who bred the colt in partnership with his brother-in-law Ron Stewart and Tim Mills, Chief Executive of the Canterbury Jockey Club. Next comes Badlands Hanover, the sire they matched with their Nero's B B mare Te Phyno, to leave Badlands Bute.
He is seen at the 2003 Inter-Dominion Yearling Sale by John Street and Graeme Blackburn, principals of Lincoln Farms Ltd, who paid the trio $33,000. They then graciously leave him in the care of Ray Green and Robert Mitchell after Ray Norton retired, when they could have easily taken the hand of caution by sending the promising youngster to a stable of greater renown. And it was wrapped up by a steady drive from Tony Herlihy, who knew the key to Badlands Bute winning depended upon the use of his lethal sprint inside the last 200 metres.
Badlands Bute is one of Badlands Hanover's first crop and was, in fact, his first siring success in New Zealand, winning at two in February last year. He was a Norton horse at first, and it was no secret he was one of the best amongst the yearlings handled at the time. The retirement of Norton turned the spotlight on Mitchell and Green, two of the 'boys' who suddenly had the job of making decisions, not taking them. With the exception in particular of Attorney General, Street and Blackburn said the rest of the team was theirs and the operation was over to them. Were they lucky to keep Badlands Bute? "We kept him hidden, but we all knew how good he was. We really wanted to keep this particular horse. We said they would do us a favour if he stayed, and they honoured that," said Green.
Both were well experienced horsemen. Mitchell had been a Norton 'lad' since 1978, and Green was working with horses when he was 17 and recalled being with Peter Wolfenden at the time he had Cardigan Bay. "I was his best boy," Green says.
In any event, they welcomed the chance to manage Lincoln Farm's classy team when the opportunity came, and with two derbies won already - Badlands Bute having also taken the Great Northern - they can feel well satisfied at being put to the test, and passing it. They have a team of 30, the oldest being four, and 10 of them yearlings. Nine of them came from the PGG sales, including three by Badlands Hanover, two by Presidential Ball and two by Artiscape. "Our operation is heavily subsidised. We have six on the staff - Shane Smith, John and Bruce Bedwell, Terry Fletcher, Ned Jelicich and Paul Curran, who will be heading back to Canada soon. It's a luxury, the way we do it. I know Ray would be very proud of both of us," Green said.
Badlands Bute, whose next start will be in the New South Wales Derby - where runner-up Baileys Dream is also heading - gave the partners mild concern when Herlihy began the last lap three-deep, following Baileys Dream and Ewie Duncan. "I was a bit worried that we'd cooked our goose at that point. But then he's deadly with a late sprint. That's his forte," he said.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in the NZHR Weekly
"He had that viral infection of the lungs last season, and sometimes they don't come back from those things. And I was starting to wonder whether he would come back from it at all. We were even starting to consider whether his future lied only in racing in America. But he turned the corner with his previous run, and the past week he has been as good as ever," he added.
Higgs took any number of positives from the result. White Arrow now has form for tomorrow's NZ Free-For-All and Higgs can now look beyond this week to the Grand Circuit again, but the satisfaction comes from getting White Arrow back to his best at home, having only had the one workout or trial this time in in September. "When a horse is not right in the lungs, it can take a long time to come right and trials only place undue stress on them. So it was best to bring him along in a controlled enviroment (at home) and get him properly fit with racing, without knocking him around too much."
White Arrow was not ready for a likely searching assignment in the Kaikoura Cup and Higgs had already given the NZ Cup away, not making the last payment, before he raced at Addington on November 3 where he got home almost as well as Flashing Red and Howard Bromac after being last at the half (55.5, 27.5) and finishing a little over three lengths from the winner.
"We reached a point where we could have busted his gut trying to get a Cup start, but it could have undone all the good work we have put in all year. We felt it was best to back off a bit and consider the best long term interests of the horse. It has only been the last week or two that he has been truly cleared to race by the vet. This is a genuine Grand Circuit horse, he is not going to be just a battler at that level."
The latter comment was hard to disagree with after White Arrow overcame the outside of the second line in the mobile 1950m to score in a 1:56.6 mile rate over Likmesiah and Badlands Bute, who were both on the ballot for the Cup. With Higgs free-wheeling in front with speedster Man With The Money, Todd Woodward was on the move from five-back on the outer a lap out; White Arrow took up the running passing the half and went on to fight off Badlands Bute on the outer and Likmesiah's late charge along the inner. "It was in nobody's best interests to try to keep White Arrow wide when he came around, and having burned early, it was only a matter of time before Man With The Money was going to run out of gas anyway."
For both Woodward and Higgs, who races White Arrow with his sister Elaine and Dunedin's Russell Nieper, it was their first wins on Cup Day. Nieper also races Highview Badlands and promising sorts in Radar Installed and trotter Sunshine Boy, all trained by Jim Curtin. "It's just great to have him back. He is the stable star and as long as he is going well, the rest can all be running last and you'd still feel like you're going okay."
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 16Nov06
TE PHYNO - Mystery Mare