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STALLION A MAJOR CONTRIBUTER TO O'SHEA AND CHAMPION'S PLANS

There are few people better placed to assess the progeny of Mapperley Stud stallion Contributer (Ire) than O'Shea, who guided the former Godolphin galloper to dual Group 1 success in Australia in the Chipping Norton S. and the Ranvet S.


So when the stallion's first-crop representatives were offered at the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka, O’Shea did not hesitate to recommend his close allies at Champion Thoroughbreds take a chance on the as yet unproven stallion.


O'Shea was most taken by a colt from Wellfield Lodge and Champion Thoroughbreds' Jason Abrahams signed the ticket at NZ$65,000. Now named Lion’s Roar (NZ), the gelding tackles Saturday's Group 1 race at just his fifth start, having won three of his first four.


“He had a nice pedigree and he was the one that I saw that looked most like his father so that’s why he was the one we wanted to buy,” O’Shea said.


“He’s a spitting image to his father, but it’s very early days to suggest he’s got all the racing traits of Contributer. We’ll wait and see on that, but he’s won three from four and should be unbeaten so he’s going all right so far.”


Abrahams said the resemblance between father and son was there for all to see, but O'Shea's insight into aspects such as manner and temperament proved crucial.


"There were two Contributer colts that we picked out and one of them made NZ$240,000, which was a bit much for us, but this guy was physically and on pedigree, close to as good, and cost us just NZ$65,000," he said.


"He's definitely his father's son. There is no doubt about it. He's got a good pedigree and so he's really just growing into what his pedigree and looks have always suggested.


"He was always an impressive type and we didn’t pay that much for him. He had a bit of spirit about him, but was strong enough and a neat horse and when you look at him now, he's just a bigger version of what he was back then."


Lion’s Roar is out of Minnaleo (NZ) (Black Minnaloushe {USA}), who was successful four times up to 1800 metres and a half-sister to the G3 Tibbie S. winner and G1 Queensland Oaks placegetter Vaquera (High Chaparral {Ire}). His granddam, The Mighty Lions (NZ) (Grosvenor {NZ}), won the G1 Avondale Gold Cup.


The winner of his only 2-year-old start, Lion’s Roar was runner-up in his first outing this season behind the highly rated Mo’unga (NZ) (Savabeel) before he won at Kembla Grange. He then missed a planned start in the G3 Gloaming S., before bouncing back with a victory over 1870 metres against older opposition at Newcastle last weekend.


"He's just a tough horse that keeps on jumping every hurdle we put in front of him. We wanted to have him in the Gloaming the other week, but his bloods weren't quite right," Abrahams said.


"He got the job done under circumstances that weren't ideal, but he keeps doing everything we have asked of him. He only lost 1kg from the race at Newcastle, which was run on a warm day, so you would have to think that he is right at his peak now."


Win, lose or draw on Saturday, Lion’s Roar will be headed for an immediate break .


“He’ll be in the paddock on Monday and he’s done a great job. He’s a horse that will train on beautifully over the next couple of years and we’re very happy to have him,” O’Shea said.


Abrahams indicated races like the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas would be ideal races for Lion's Roar in the autumn.


Contributer has had a stop-start career at Mapperley due to an injury, but is now back to full health.


“He’s been really unlucky and had a good book in his first season and then halfway through his second season he got a nasty kick in the breeding shed and got a cut inside his penis so we had to shut him down,” studmaster Simms Davison said.


“We didn’t do the surgery straight away and we took a conservative approach and just rested him.

“His third season started off fine, but then the blood came back in his semen so it hadn’t healed properly and we had to do the surgery. We flew out a top vet from the States to do a new technique and since then he’s been really good.


“The support is great this year and he’s got a really good syndicate behind him. He’s got a lot of nice horses in Australia and we’re racing a few 3-year-olds ourselves.


“We haven’t got stuck into them yet because of the tracks, but they will be trialling soon and be out over Christmas.”


Contributer has had 16 raceday representatives to date for four winners while Miss Dixie (NZ) placed in the Listed Wanganui Guineas.


His latest success story is Follow Your Dreams (NZ), a recent debut 2-year-old winner at Riccarton over 800 metres and a performance that didn’t come as any surprise to Davison.


“When you look at the stallion, he almost looks like a sprinter with a big, powerful build. John O’Shea said to me when he saw his yearlings at the start that his progeny will go early,” he said. "I thought they would all be up and going early as well."


Abrahams said Champion Thoroughbreds are often willing to take a punt on a yearling by a young stallion like Contributer, if it meant they could access a higher quality athlete.


"I think at our level there is an element of willing to take a risk with stallions. Going to the proven top-level stallions means you can get beyond your price bracket. You need to zig and zag and find a niche that allows you to get a good-looking animal at a price that no-one gets a nosebleed from," he said.


"We never want to compromise on type, so if you have to look for value, it may lead you to take a risk on an up and coming stallion as opposed to compromising on the quality of the horse."


Lion's Roar pictured as a yearling

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