HAVING A YARN WITH... Trackwork Rider, Owner and Breeder of
IT'S A DUNDEEL!
Racingnuts is privledged to bring followers a 3 part exclusive insight into arguably the best horse anywhere in the world at the moment. Short of speaking to the horse himself, it doesn't get any closer to IT'S A DUNDEEL than Emily Murphy, Tracy Andersen and Murray Andersen. As the breeder of IT'S A DUNDEEL, Murray Andersen is the man to thank for his breeding expertise that bought together HIGH CHAPARRAL and STAREEL to create this 4 time Group 1 and Triple Crown winning superstar we now get the pleasure of watching. Murray's daughter, Tracy is a racehorse enthusiast and also one of the lucky owners of IT'S A DUNDEEL and Emily Murphy rides all of his trackwork, travels with him and straps him on race day! This is a fantastic interview and Racingnuts.com.au would like to thank Emily, Tracy and Murray for taking the time to do this interview and give IT'S A DUNDEEL fans everywhere a great insight into this magical horse.
Murray Andersen (IT'S A DUNDEEL Breeder/Owner)
RN: How long have you been involved in racing?
For over 40 years. The first horse I ever raced in partnership with my brother Alan (on lease) was a badly bred gelding named Curly Top (Bottle Top ex Proud Lass). We owned a bottle exchange/scrap metal business at the time and the local soft drink company was named Curly Top. We knew absolutely nothing about horses and after two unplaced starts (favourite both times) we relinquished our lease. We then bought a filly we named Phildor, who won her second start and greatly increased my interest in racing.
How did you originally get involved in the racing/breeding industry?
I am a keen contract bridge player and my playing partner was a good friend called Mike Peacock. He had a life time interest in thoroughbreds and his interest rubbed off on me. Over the years Mike and I bred and owner/trained many good horses. Among them was a top stayer named Exocet. An early favourite for the Melbourne Cup he unluckily has a setback and was unable to start. He returned to New Zealand and a month later won the New Zealand Cup (then a G1) by five and a half lengths.
The first good horse you raced was Grand Zam? How did her career go?
A good friend, Mike Peacock (who was my bridge partner) and I bought her after she was passed in at the Trentham yearling sales. She was a small Zamazaam filly and we named her after the bridge term Grand Slam. I was newly married and broke and couldn’t afford to buy a horse. Mike said I was always lucky and offered to pay for her on the understanding that if she turned out OK I could pay him back out of her winnings. She turned out a top mare and among her eight wins she won the Parliamentary Hcp/Winter Oats double at Trentham. The first foal we bred from her was Exocet, so you can see how I was hooked. We sold her for $100,000 shortly into her breeding career… a fabulous price at the time.
How was it that you first got involved with Murray Bakers stables?
I don’t recall how I got involved with Murray but it was over thirty years ago. In fact I am Murray’s longest standing owner. I am only a small time breeder/owner and during that time have almost exclusively had my horses with Murray. The reason I have been able to stay in the game is because of the relationship we have had. His judgment has been superb and we have been able to identify early which horses to give away, sell off at a profit or retain. The first top horse he trained for me was Staring (twenty-five years ago) and I thought she would never be bettered… but along came Dundeel.
Staring - Dundeel’s grand dam, 3YO Champion Filly. What was it like to breed and own a NZ Oaks and multiple group 1 winner?
To race a champion horse is something I can’t really explain and to actually breed that horse makes it even more special. I have been a very competitive sportsman all my life and won many national titles in a number of sports but winning a top horse race far exceeds the excitement of winning yourself. Staring was a true champion who never received the accolades she deserved. Covert the points for the races she won in the ‘filly of the year’ series to the points as they are currently allocated and I believe she would be the highest ever points winner… and that’s without contesting a number of the highest point scoring races. She is a direct descendant of our greatest foundation mare Eulogy who has been inducted into the NZ Hall of Fame. Eulogy left a filly named Eulalie who won the STC Gimcrack Stakes at her first start. Interestingly my mother’s name was Eulalie, the only other time I have heard that name… obviously a good omen.
Can you name the best 3 horses you’ve bred and owned?
Obviously the best is Dundeel, a horse that doesn’t even come along once in most racing owners’ lifetime. Hopefully he can continue to race well as a four year old and then go onto a successful stud career. I may never have to race another horse as following his progeny will be like racing every one of them myself. His grand-dam Staring was a champion in her own right and has left me a legacy for my family to enjoy for generations to come. Exocet would have to come next. He was a stayer of real class and with any luck could have won me a Melbourne Cup, as his NZ Cup success showed. Breeding from only one or two mares a year I have been exceptionally lucky and cannot recall how many stakes winners I have bred. I have probably bought less than five horses at the sales that I have raced (preferring to breed them myself) but have been lucky in those selections as well. The last horse I purchased was a filly named Black Mamba (Black Minnaloushe ex Sneetch). I sold her to the USA after her 5th in the NZ Oaks and she went on to become a top G1 performer).
What were your first thoughts when you saw Dundeel as a foal?
Loved him. He was very small but correct in every way. He was in a paddock with five other colts and the guys I was with raved about every other colt except him. They made polite noises but it was obvious they never rated him. I recall coming home and saying to my wife “I must have lost it, I must have missed something”. I guess I was at an advantage as I have raced the family for four generations and know they are slow to mature. I have never been a fan of big horses and virtually all of my best horses have been on the small side. Now that he has matured, Dundeel’s certainly big enough (15.3) the same size as his grandsire Sadler’s Wells, and bigger than his great grandsire Northern dancer (15.1½).
How were you feeling after Dundeel beat Gai's superstar Proisir and won the Spring Champion Stakes? You had just bred another group 1 winner.
I think that winning the Spring Championship Stakes was the biggest thrill of all his wins. By the time he raced in the two Guineas and the Derby we knew he had class and while those wins were fantastic that first G1 was truly unbelievable. Proisir is a class horse and other than the two great performances from Dundeel would be a multiple G1 winner. Naturally you always have hope, but Proisir was backed as unbeatable and to run him down was so exciting.
You have bred a Triple Crown winner. What’s next for you? Golden Slipper? Melbourne Cup? L'Arc?
Like most in the racing industry I would most like to win a Melbourne Cup. I believe both Grand Zam and Exocet were real chances but because of circumstances neither got to the start line. It’s ironic; now that I have a genuine chance again, I will probably not have a starter. I am in serious negotiations with a number of studs for his future breeding career and they are unanimous that a Melbourne Cup win will be a negative, rather than a positive, on his CV (breeders rating him as a dour stayer). While the winning stake is around $4million he would lose more than that from his potential sale and breeding career. Hopefully I will race one of his sons to win the big one. I have never had the desire to win a Golden Slipper… happy to leave that to the Aussies while the kiwi’s win their classics and cups. If he carries his form into the spring, “Royal Ascot” and “the Arc” are real possibilities and a program we would like to pursue prior to him going to stud.
Any future plans for Dundeel? Would you like him to stand at stud in New Zealand?
The interest in him for stud has been tremendous. We have had interest from the UK, Australia and New Zealand. His form as he leads into the Cox Plate will probably determine where is likely to stand. Naturally I would love to have him stand in New Zealand but if he was to win the Cox, then go on and perform in Europe (one can dream), then he would likely prove too expensive for New Zealand Studs. We have been living a dream this last twelve months and hopefully it may continue for many years to come.Part 2: Tracy Andersen - Part Owner
Part 3: Emily Murphy - Trackwork Rider/Strapper