Hooked On Black Type

Haunui Farm boss Mark Chitty laughed about the trials and tribulations of pin-hooking after Misstrum bulldozed home to catch favourite About Square in yesterday's $50,000 (Listed) Great Northern Foal Stakes at Ellerslie.

For had things gone to plan, they would certainly not have been the owners of the Stratum filly who boosted her value immeasurably by winning the time-honoured black type race.

Chitty, his wife Sara, and parents Ron and Carolyn were looking to make a tidy profit by "pin-hooking" the Stratum filly – buying her at the Gold Coast weanling sales, and selling her on for hopefully a tidy profit at the Karaka yearling sales.

They were initially delighted when the filly was knocked down to their agent Michael Wallace for A$135,000. Well made and with the breeding to match, she looked an ideal pin-hooking prospect.

But just when they should have been starting to put the polish on the filly, she mysteriously went lame.

It was not until they dispatched her to Matamata for nuclear scintigraphy that they discovered she had a hairline fracture of the humerus, a bone high up in her shoulder.

"I'd only ever seen one other like it," Mark Chitty, a vet, said. "She must have done it in her box."

For the break to heal, the filly's movements had to be restricted and she ended up being locked up in her box for three months.

The upshot was that when she went through the ring at Karaka, while sound, she did not look anywhere near as good as her fellow yearlings.

"Plenty of good judges decided not to take her on," Chitty said. "And when she didn't make what we wanted, we took her home."

Chitty was not entirely upset about keeping Misstrum – she was out of the black type-winning Barathea mare Malagra Miss, and her half sister had shown a lot of ability before breaking down.

It was with plenty of enthusiasm that he offered racing shares in the filly to stable clients Maureen Duncan and Cathy Franich, who signed on the dotted line as soon as they saw her.

Misstrum showed plenty of fight when broken in – "She was tough but loved to do work," Chitty recalled.

Trainer Roger James intended giving the filly only one 2-year-old start for education but when she ran an improver's fourth at Ellerslie, then another good third at Hastings, it was decided to keep her going for yesterday's race.

And the way Misstrum knuckled down and chased down About Square really impressed top rider Leith Innes.

"She really covers the ground," said Innes after she made up many lengths in the run home.

Ron Chitty was particularly pleased to win the Foal Stakes, first run at the turn of the century and won by horses of the calibre of champion Mainbrace.

His father Geoff won the same race with Hillwood.

The win continued a welcome change of luck for Haunui Farm-owned gallopers.

"It's a cyclical business this," Ron Chitty said. "For six to eight years there we were bombproof but we've had a pretty lean time for the last four of five years.

"Plenty have won a race but none have gone on. Now, all of a sudden, we have this filly and Full Of Spirit who both will go right through the grades."

Flying Spur filly Full Of Spirit, also trained by James, impressively won the Adrian Knox Stakes at Randwick last month before running fourth in the Oaks.

Mark Chitty said Misstrum would now go out for a rest.

"She won't come back for the early spring races, I think she's more of an autumn type."

- © Fairfax NZ News

Posted: Sun 27 May 2012