YEAR: 2010

Keith & Bevan Grice

Keith and Bevan Grice have been breeding from the family of Captain Peacock for 51 years.

Captain Peacock (Live Or Die-Enchanting) won the NZ Derby in April and is engaged in the 3-Year-Old Emerald at Cambridge on Saturday. The Grices also bred Ima Gold Digger (Sundon-Janetta's Pride), a leading contender for the 4-Year-Old trotters section.

Phil Kennard, a Christchurch part-owner of Captain Peacock, is also in the ownership of Major Mark, a contender for the 2-Year-Old Emerald. Kennard is in the GAPMAD Syndicat who race Captain Peacock in partnership with the brothers Grant Ball, of Christchurch and Darren Ball, of Sydney, and Warren Wyllie and Richard Boon, of Christchurch, from the Ladbrooks stable of Dean Taylor. Mark Jones is the driver of Captain Peacock. Others in the GAPMAD Syndicate are Michael and Gerard Dawson, of Oamaru, Alister Strachan, of Oamaru, Angela Mowbray of Methven and Des Aitcheson, of Oamaru.

Captain Peacock is the first foal of Enchanting who won her first start when trained by Taylor and driven by Jones. That was a race for 3-Year-Olds at Motukarara in December 2003. Grant Ball was in the ownership of Enchanting (Sands A Flyin-Go Anna), who was put to stud after being unplaced in a further five starts. "She was badly conformed," recalled Taylor.

He had become involved with the family when he trained her dam, Go Anna, to win four races in the mid-1990s. Go Anna died in 2003 after leaving four foals. She left another filly, Lancashire Witch (by Tinted Cloud), the winner of three races. Go Anna was by Dancing Master from Kerry Khan, by Noodlum from Lady Barbara, by Lordship from Barbara Del, by Armbro Del from Coo Doo, by Morano from Lady Dimp, a Nelson Derby mare the Grice brothers began breeding from in 1959.

They bought her from their cousin, Len Grice. Their uncle, Jack Grice, owned and trained the 1952 NZ Derby winner, Rupee. Another uncle, Ben, owned and trained Haughty, winner of the NZ Cup in 1942 and 43. Lordship won the NZ Derby in 1961 and Noodlum won the race in 1974.

Coo Doo won the 1971 Welcome Stakes, and other big winners from this equine family include Palestine and Derby, who won nine races in succession in the early 1980s. "Winning the Derby is our finest hour," Keith (84) said. Bevan is 79. "We have always felt that with good stallions and good trainers this family would reach the top. We cannot speak too highly of Dean Taylor," he said. "Breeding horses is our hobby, and we have been at it ince we left school."

Credit: Taylor Strong writing in HRWeekly 2June2010


YEAR: 2005

Life Of Luxury holds out Saxon Lass
Life Of Luxury knocked the favourites off after starting from a second-line draw in the $130,000 Pyne Gould Guinness NZ Yearling Sales Fillies Pace at Addington last Friday night.

She was aided by an astute piece of calculated driving by Mark Jones, which allowed her to win with the authority in which she did. Attsa Nice, the early leader, tracked the winner for the last lap, and had her chance to close the gap in the straight but this didn't happen. She was unable to get past Saxon Lass, a Make A Deal filly who had no luck and missed cover yet lasted pluckily for a clear second. Star of The Ball was put out of commission when she galloped in tight quarters when on the move from the back near the 500 metres.

Life Of Luxury was a cheapie at the Premier Sale two years ago, selected by Malcolm Gillies for just $9000. Gillies has had a long association with the Grice brothers, Bevan and Keith, and he was interested as soon as he saw she traced back to Coo Doo, and such big winners as Barbara Del, Anzus, Stereo Light, Palestine, Columnist and Finest Hour. "She had a Logan Derby nose. There was 'Grice' written all over her," he said. His interest was complete when he saw she was by Live Or Die, sire of Tidal Franco, a big winner he bought at the sales the previous year. "Then we went back last year and bought her brother, Grice, for $26,000, and he has qualified."

Joining Gillies in the ownership are his wife Diana, Andrew Grant, Colleen Breen, Mary Corboy, of Hamilton, Ian Watson and his mother, Margaret. "The common thread was all of us being involved with Dean's stable," he said. Life Of Luxury is trained at Ladbrooks by Dean Taylor, whose other stable star at present is Waipawa Lad, also by Live Or Die. "I have to say the sire has been good to us," he said. Lavish Franco is a Soky's Atom mare from Lady Barbara, by Lordship. She was bred by Spreydon Lodge, and is owned by Roydon Lodge Stud Ltd, the breeders of Life Of Luxury.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 23Feb05


YEAR: 1991

Bevan & Keith Grice with Coo Doo

Advancing years have cut down the wine, women and song for Bevan and Keith Grice but they are still very much involved with the breeding of top racehorses.

"It used to be wine, women, song and races - now it's only races," joked Bevan, who at 60 is four years younger than Keith. They were prominent at the recent Methven autumn meeting when two Grice bred horses, Alice In Wonderland and Escoffier, took the TAB double with highly impressive victories.

The brothers have 2000 acres for sheep, crops, deer and horses between them at Seafield, 20km northeast of Ashburton, a property steeped in harness racing tradition. The family influence goes back to the early settlers of the late 1800's. Their grandfather George Grice began the family involvement, making a name for himself as a saddle trot rider, once winning five races from eight at a Timaru meeting. The three sons of George to keep the name going were Jack, Ben and Robert - father of Bevan and Keith.

Robert earned a degree of fame in the local paper at the age of 12 when he was tagged "the gamest punter ever" after selling his pigeons and putting all the money on a horse which paid 12 sovereigns. He started breeding standardbreds as a sideline to sheep and among his mares was the third dam of dual NZ Cup winner Haughty. He then sold his horses to Ben and Jack during the depression but encouraged his sons to get started in horses when they left school. They learned a lot fron Uncle Jack, a renowned trainer, often visiting him on a Friday afternoon with some cold beers and chatting to him for hours on end about horses.

Their first mare came from cousin Len Grice - a 15-year-old former race winner called Agent, a daughter of Great Northern Derby and 1925 Auckland Cup winner Nelson Derby (by Nelson Bingen). Agent was from the now famous foundation mare Mavis Wood (2:17.2, 2 wins). By Rodgewood, she was the dam of eight winners. From Agent the Grices bred their first winner in Sayonara who won her only race by saying goodbye to the field at Rangiora when driven by Doody Townley. Agent's only other foal was the capable Desmond's Pride mare Shiann, who won five when leased to Stan Kirby of Southland. Shiann established a small but successful winning branch to Mavis Wood's extensive family of over 72 winner-producing mares by featuring among others as the grandam of the 1971 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup winner Dingle Bay (8 wins).

After initial success the winners dropped off and the brothers culled their horses. Nine were sent on their way with Shiann remaining. She proved a shy breeder, producing only three foals, so they secured another of Mavis Wood's descendants in the unraced Marquisite (by Marco Polo). Success was immediate and she left four winners, the best being Garrison Hanover pacer Khandallah (6 wins).

They then obtained Lady Dimp from Jack Reid. She was a full sister to both Agent and Laurene Wood, thus becoming the third line to Mavis Wood's family that they bred from. It proved an inspired choice. She left Bronze Falcon (4 wins) and the outstanding broodmares Coo Doo and Arrest. Both were injured as youngsters and never raced with Coo Doo walking sideways for two months, advice being to put her down. Luckily the brothers didn't take that advice for the black mare had a career which really put them on the map.

From 1967 Coo Doo (by Morano), left 18 consecutive foals, believed to be a world record. They stopped breeding from her in 1986 and the rising 31 year-old is still enjoying her well earned retirement. "She'll probably outlive us both," said Keith. "We went out to put a winter cover on her the other day and couldn't get near her." He said her offspring and those tracing to her had won 170 races.

From those initial 18 foals came a number of leading racehorses and top producing daughters including Barbara Del (9 wins), the dam of Ruthless (9 wins), MacDoon (3 wins), Lady Rana (3 wins), and Rarest (1 win to date). Coo Doo also left the tough and durable Palestine (18 wins), Stereo Light (6 wins), Doctor Finlay (2 wins), Pamelene (2 wins), Columnist (7 wins), Neptune (3 wins), Kiss And Coo (4 wins),and Finest Hour (5 wins, 1:55US). Her unraced Armbro Del daughter Anna Pavlova is the dam of Derby (11 wins), Bahrein (5 wins, 1:53.3US) and Cuddle Me Doo (5 wins).

Arrest (Court Martial-Lady Dimp) had also made a notable impact. Armbro Hurricane pacer Cyclone Lad (9 wins) has been their best winner and was rated by his breeders as being up with the fastest they have bred. Her daughter Star Del (by Armbro Del) has made headlines in recent weeks. He first foal to the races was brilliant Mark Lobell filly Karena, who won seven. She is the dam of Alice In Wonderland (6 wins), Peeping Tom (3 wins) and Wandering Eyes (3 wins). Star Del also left open class trotter Cracker (10 wins) and Jenny Benny (5 wins).

The partnership has an ever expanding number of well bred mares being carefully nurtured in readiness for foaling and mating. Twenty mares are on the property this season, 12 being in foal to Soky's Atom including Star Del while Anna Pavlova has a filly foal by Soky's Atom but missed to Butler B G. They have high hopes for a number of their younger mares, notably Zola, a half sister to Escoffier, Cuddle Me Doo, Kiss And Coo, Jenny Benny (named after the wife of studmaster Neville Benny) and Folie Bergere.

The brothers have nothing but praise for all the Canterbury studs they have dealt with over the last 45 years. Both Bevan and Keith are very particular about maintaining good horse-clean paddocks and carefully avoid overstocking. "Good natural feed is essential for broodmares and foals. We usually run only two or three mares to 25 acres, feeding out good lucerne hay in winter along with regular drenching," said Bevan. All paddocks for the horses are linked with wide access lanes and excellent shelter belts help provide top conditions. Weaning of foals is carried out in May when they are taught to lead and tie up while later in the year Prebbleton horseman Dean Taylor in entrusted with their breaking in and gaiting before leasing out to selected owners and trainers.

Both are impressed with the standard of stallions on offer in this country. "National Bloodstock and Dave Philips in particular, deserve a pat on the back for importing stallions like Apollo's Way, New York Motoring, F Troop, Rashad, Butler B G and Soky's Atom - who we think has more going for him than any other stallion imported to NZ," said Bevan. "His emphasis when selecting sires on their soundness, conformation, speed and breeding is very important to us. To prove the point we bought shares in F Troop and Soky's Atom. I can see NZ eventually matching the Americans in time."

The brothers would love to breed the winner of such events as the DB Fillies Final (they have won two heats with Cuddle Me Doo and Karena) and an Inter-Dominion Final. They also dabble in thoroughbred breeding including the Dunedin Gold Cup runner-up last week Free Of Error and Village Guy (5 wins).

But it is the breeding and racing of standardbreds that keeps them bubbling. Their day at Methven summed up their dedication to harness racing, with Escoffier and Alice In Wonderland adding further proof that they have made an enormous impact on breeding in this country.

Given the time they have put in over the past 45 years, few would begrudge that success.

Credit: Gary Birkett writing in HRWeekly 1May91

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