Murray Little

More Than A Little

Murray Little like most breeders, has had his share of challenges when it comes to broodmares but through perseverance and good investment things are changing for the Invercargill lawyer.

Little’s life as a broodmare owner started when he was gifted a mare by his boss George Cruickshank whilst working as a young man at local law firm Cruickshank Pryde. This first mare was closely related to Haakondal, the dam of Sapling.

“I thought I was going to get her for nothing. Then the stud fee for Majestic Chance arrived. She ended up being no good,” said Little.

His next venture into the industry was with Rescue Me which was sold to him by Sam Ballantyne. However she didn’t exactly do what her name suggests.

She was by Preux Chevalier out of Genuine Risk. Genuine Risk was a half-sister to Jay Bee’s Fella, which won thirteen races for Greg Harper. His wins included the 1987 Lion Red 4 Year Old Mile at Alexandra Park when he beat another Southland bred Lord Lenny by eight and a half lengths.

Incidentally, Brydone stud master Keith Norman drove Genuine Risk to win and also reined Jay Bee’s Fella to win his first start as a two year old at Winton in March 1985.

Rescue Me qualified but didn’t race and Little decided to breed from her. Her first foal by Son Of Afella died. Her next two foals were by New York Motoring (a filly bred in partnership with Rex Chapman) named Belle Of The Bronx which qualified but didn’t race either, and Risky Fella (Son Of Afella).

Little bred from Belle Of The Bronx but none of her foals came to anything.

However he wasn’t deterred and leased Solitaire off Jill Smolenski with the idea of racing her with some mates.

“Wayne Adams had Solitaire. She could run a bit but she bowed a tendon and broke down. The deal with Jill was that we could get a foal out of her. Unfortunately we took the first foal (Dream Angel) which couldn’t pace and One Dream was the second foal so we missed out big time there.”

Solitaire is another mare that extends all the way back to Tactics and has Noodlum and Olga Korbut on the pedigree page.

Olga Korbut, Dream Angel’s third dam won her last five starts as a two year old including the Canterbury Juvenile Stakes, in which she beat male pacers Bolton Byrd and Main Adios. She also won the 1975 New Zealand Sapling Stakes and New Zealand Juvenile Stakes.

Dream Angel is a full sister to One Dream, a champion filly winning eighteen races from twenty three starts. She won at her second start and then proceeded to win her next nine. She raced successfully in Australia winning five of her seven starts there including the Australasian Breeders Crown for two year old fillies and The Australian Oaks. As a three year old she won the Nevele R Fillies Series Final and New Zealand Oaks double at Addington.

When Dream Angel was finished as a racing proposition Little bought his racing partners out.

“So that was really the start.”

Dream Angel has left five live foals; Low On Wine (McArdle) which won a race and was placed twelve times, One Christian which also won once and One Bad Dream which was placed.

But it’s the mare’s latest foal Mach’s Back (Mach Three) that Little is getting excited about.

“She’s finally left a real good one I think. Mach Three has been good to me. I’ve had four and they’ve all won.”

The four winners have been Donthavtime (7 wins), Popular (1 win) which Little bought at the sales for $3,000, Mach Varno (1 win) and now Mach’s Back.

“Mach’s Back was actually in the sales with a reserve of $20,000. He only got to $15,000 so I brought him home. It was a blessing in disguise. I remember saying to Bill McNamara before he went that I’d probably regret selling this horse. So hopefully he’ll carry on because it looks as though he’s got a bit of ability.”

Little’s biggest winner to date though is Donthavtime which is out of Time To Say Goodbye.

In her racing career she started thirty nine times out of the Wayne Adams barn winning seven races and being placed eleven times, banking $53,180.

Donthavtime was breed by Frank O’Meara and is out of his Il Vicolo mare Time To Say Goodbye which is out of Lady Locket. Lady Locket is a full sister to Lord Lenny, the winner of eighteen races and $301,790. and half-sister to Lookahead (Farm Timer) ten wins.

“Frank wanted to sell two horses. One was a Christian Cullen (Therecomesatime) and the other one was a Mach Three filly. I said I’d buy the Mach Three. She’s turned out to be the best one I’ve owned to date.”

Therecomesatime won once for Sam Ballantyne before being sold to Australia where he’s won a further twenty three races and over $200,000, so he wasn’t bad either.

“I actually tried to buy the mare (Time To Say Goodbye) because she only had three foals and they’ ve won close to thirty races. I rang the stud where she was and they said I was an hour too late because she’d gone to the knacker’s yard.”

Little is now breeding from Donthavtime and her first foal, a colt by Bettor’s Delight called Bettorhavtime was sold to Ray Green for $50,000. He is now a two year old.

Her only other foal is a yearling filly by American Ideal.

During the past two years Little and his nephew Malcolm have purchased a couple of well bred fillies at the sales. Shezacullengirl (Christian Cullen – Chloe Hanover) and Excellent.

“She (Shezacullengirl) won first up as a two year old. She’s back at Nathans (Williamson). She’s had a few issues with tying up on the new grass but she’s not too far away.”

Excellent (Somebeachsomewhere) is out of the In The Pocket mare Regret which won five races for Dave and Cath Butt. She was purchased last year for $37,000.

“I think Nathan quite likes her.”

Another mare Little is breeding from is Suvarno Hanover (Holmes Hanover). She won nine races including the Group Two 2007 Jaccka Lodge/Nevele R Southland Oaks Final.

She’s out of Suvarno, a Locarno mare which is out of the tough trotting mare Carmen Suva. Carmen Suva won five races for Robin Butt in the 70’s.

“Ged Mooar from Nevele R rang me and said the guy Brown that owned her wanted to sell. I think I paid $25,000. for her in foal to Courage Under Fire. The Courage Under Fire looked a million dollars but was the laziest horse Wayne (trainer Wayne Adams) had ever had. He couldn’t get him out of a canter. He was given away as a riding hack and the girl that got him said he was the laziest horse she ever had too.”

Suvarno Hanover’s yearling foal by American Ideal is in next year’s sale while she has a foal by He’s Watching and has tested positive to Bettor’s Delight.

Also on the breeding front in the current season Little has given Dream Angel to Macca Lodge to breed from this season.

His other mares are One Christian which has a Net Ten EOM colt which was bred by Macca Lodge and she’s in foal to American Ideal. One Bad Dream (Badland’s Hanover) is also being bred from, currently in foal to Panspacificflight.

Popular (embryo transplant) is due to foal to Art Major and is going to Bettor’s Delight.

It’s not only breeding that takes up Murray Little’s time in harness racing. He’s currently the Vice President of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club, a Board Member of Southern Harness, and also helps out on race day as part of the crash crew.

He loves being hands on. So much so that he’s recently purchased a 10 acre block close to Oreti Beach which he visits twice a day to tend to his racing, breeding and young stock.

“I love mucking around with them. I probably get too attached to them. I’ve had Mach’s Back since he was weaned. He was a sick horse for a while. He’s become a mate. It’s hard to sell them when you’ve had them for that long. I’ve had some offers for him but I’m not going to sell him. It’s hard to get a good horse.”

Since Little lives pretty close to Oreti Beach, a visit to the stable isn’t a chore.

“It’s so dry and good for the horses feet out there. They don’t get mud rash. It can hose down and it’s still dry. I bought it last year and it’s got a 400 metre square shed at the back and another one that’s 150 square metres. Wayne Ewan trains out of that one. He’s put in a lane and some of the fencing. I’ve deer fenced all the paddocks for the young ones and it’s all electrified and has troughs. The horses are down there from when they’re weaned. I box them every night and feed them twice a day. My two best mares Suvarno Hanover and Donthavtime stay at Macca.”

So there’s plenty for Murray Little to look forward to. When other Southland breeders are trouncing through mud he’s wearing jandals feeding some pretty nice horses. Well maybe not quite jandals ………