19 July 2017 | Michael Howard
Super mare Maori Miss.
It didn’t cost a lot, but Ric Healy’s purchase from a yearling sale in 1958 would rewrite Australia’s trotting ranks and set the foundations for a dynasty that continues today.
His purchase, Yendarra Hall, would two years later foal Maori Miss, a prolific mare whose reach stretches far beyond being dam to the great Maori’s Idol.
A case in point is Saturday night’s Sumthingaboutmaori Trotters Free For All, a $20,000 Group 3 named in honour of Maori Miss’s great-granddaughter that will be contested by offshoots Maorisfavouritesun, Maori Time, Vincennes and Illawong Armstrong.
It’s an imprint in the Victorian ranks so significant it’s impossible to imagine square gaiting without the Maori Miss lines, but without the keen eye of a sporting great it might never have happened.
By Grand Monarch, Maori Miss was the second foal of Yendarra Hall (Loreto/Adelaide Hall) and owner Healy put her in trainer-driver George Gath’s hands. It was a wise decision.
“George said she was a nice pacer but she might be an extra good trotter,” said Ric’s son, Bryan.
It proved a smooth transition. In 1963, Maori Miss won a two-year-old pacing race at the showgrounds and then two weeks made her trotting debut and won at Geelong.
“She was a champion mare,” Bryan Healy said. “She won two heats of the Inter Dominion in 1966 in Sydney but didn’t perform in the final when it poured rain. She probably won 30 races all up.”
But her most significant contribution would come in the breeding barn.
Australian Broodmare of the Year in 1977, ’78 and ’79, her foals included Maori Monarch, a Victorian Trotting Derby and Australian Trotters Championship winner, Maori Wonder, winner of a heat and final of the Breeders Plate at the showgrounds, and trotting immortal Maori’s Idol, who the late Ric Healy trainer and son Bryan drove.
“He was unbelievable really,” Bryan said of Maori’s Idol. “He won his first nine, then got trapped on the fence and finished second, and then the next race he had sore feet and ran second again. After that he won his next 24 races and realistically could have won them all.
“It was pretty special. He was out of such a good mare and the rest of the family is pretty good, but he was a real champion.”
Maori’s Idol was Maori Miss’s fifth foal, her 12th was Maori Trump, who wouldn’t see the race track but was a prolific mare.
They included Maori Princess, winner of 11 of her 16 starts and the dam of Sumthingaboutmaori, whose $461,499 in stakes wins included the 2004 Inter Dominion Trotting race. Her first foal would later produce Saturday night’s fancy Maorisfavouritesun.
Maori Trump also mothered Noopy Kiosk, winner of $320,999, Tennotrump, winner of $179,972 and a prolific stallion for the Pangrazio family, and Maori Acacia, the grand dam of Maori Time, who’s amassed $322,651 in wins and counting.
And the above is just scratching the surface.
For Bryan Healy, it’s a legacy of which he’s rightly proud and it’s one that lives on not only through Maori Miss’s family tree but his own.
He gifted Wannabeamaori, a daughter of Sumthingaboutmaori, to his daughter Laura and son-in-law Caleb Lewis, a trots owner and trainer.
“I never ever had a trotter until I met Laura,” Lewis said. “Bryan tried to push me into the trotters.
“The first couple of times I went to Bryan’s farm he just sat there telling me stories and I looked through the memorabilia he has. It was a massive eye-opener for me. I think Laura didn’t want to take me back there.
“Looking at things like the shoes Maori’s Idol wore, the rugs and the paper cut-outs that Bryan’s mum kept – and she kept everything – was really something for a young bloke who’s just started training.
“A breed that big, every second bloke has got something out of (Maori Miss).”
And Lewis is writing his own chapter, with Wannabeamaori having produced three foals by age seven.
“(Wannabeamaori) never made it to the track, but showed a bit of ability and we were always going to breed from her,” Lewis said. “When I first bred from her she was only a young mare and it took a while to get her cycling.
“She wasn’t booked to Armbro Variable, but a mate, Darren Jacobson (of Rosehill Farm), was standing him and we thought we would try fresh semen to get her in foal and since then she has been good as gold.”
The Armbro Variable foal would become filly Four Walls, now a three-year-old whose 12 starts have produced two wins and seven placings, including victories in the VHRSC Holmfield and a Vicbred heat and second in the trotters Oaks.
“She’s had a super season,” Lewis said. “I always thought she would go all right, but I didn’t think she would do what she’s done in her first racing prep.
“We will see if she is freshened up enough to come back for Breeders Crown, but if she doesn’t we are happy to give her a good break before her four-year-old term.”
In the meantime, the genes go on. Wannabeamaori’s second successful foal, by Orlando Vici, was sold at the Australasian Premier Trotting Sale for $25,000, well above the sale’s average of $15,167.
It’s a source of much satisfaction for Bryan Healy: “I’m really excited for them”.