Plenty Of Smiles At Grinaldi
There are few Southlanders more passionate about their horses than Ben and Karen Calder.
They breed from a small band of broodmares, and often top up their racing stock by purchasing at the national sales.
And it’s one of their homebred pacers, Mr Mojito that’s providing them with much satisfaction at the moment.
Ben Calder is a no fuss sort of guy who shies away from the limelight and just goes about breeding and purchasing horses whilst enjoying racing them either with his wife Karen and good friends and family.
The first horse the Calders raced of any note was Grinaldi the winner of ten races, and $162,712. He also owned Sunning which won eight races including the Group One Victorian Trotters Oaks, Bought In The Pub, New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes winner, and The Oyster Man which won five races. And there have been a host of others.
Ben and Karen live at Ryal Bush 10 minutes north of Invercargill where they’ve set up their show piece property Grinaldi Lodge. Southland’s leading trainer Nathan Williamson currently works out of their stable.
The latest Grinaldi Lodge horse to emerge from the same bloodlines as Grinaldi is Mr Mojito; a rising star in the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable.
Mr Mojito was always highly rated by Ben and original trainer Brett Gray. He won a workout then qualified at Young Quinn Raceway in January 2015 as a two year winning by four lengths and running a mile in 1-59.5. He was purchased that day by Butterworth Racing Syndicate.
He was put aside to mature, and his much anticipated debut came later in the year on the same course in November. Sent out third favourite, he settled last and never improved, to finish over 200 lengths from the winner. Stewards ordered a post-race veterinary examination which confirmed the gelding had suffered an atrial fibrillation.
He returned to racing in April this year, winning easily at Central Southland Raceway. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to the Purdon-Rasmussen’s Rolleston stable.
Since joining that stable he’s been in hot form running second behind the highly talented Heaven’s Rock before putting a picket form line together of four impressive wins.
“He appears to have the X factor. He’s looked super and going forward in richer comp any he says to me that he can do it,” said Ben.
He was bred by the Calders out of their In The Pocket mare Wanaka Bay.
“All of the In the Pocket mares had a bad attitude. Wanaka Bay was trained by Becky (Alan Beck). She lay down on the track after one of her early workouts but won her first race.”
The Calders also have a two year old half-brother to Mr Mojito by American Ideal but had the misfortune to lose a Bettor’s Delight foal recently.
“It was slipped in the paddock and was about seven week premature.”
Sunning has also been a good broodmare for the Calder with only one of her seven live foals of racing age not winning races.
She’s left Burano (10 wins), Medora (3 wins), Sunny Vacation (5 wins), No Potato (5 wins), Santorini Sunset (5 wins) and Agnes Brown (2 wins). Her two year old Breaking Bad (by Angus Hall) is about to come back into work with Kevin Townley.
As well as breeding from a handful of mares Ben was active at the last round of yearling sales purchasing six yearlings, all with rich pedigrees.
Paramount King (Love You – Paramount Star) is with northern training partnership John and Josh Dickie who share in the ownership of the colt. His dam won seven races and is the mother of Paramount Geegee the winner of fourteen races including the Harness Jewels Thee Year Old Trotting Ruby, Great Northern Trotting Derby and New Zealand Trotting Derby and $357,236, and Paramount Queen which won eight races and $122,612. It’s a family that the Dickie’s have had a huge amount of success with.
They also have a Betterthancheddar – Baptism of Fire colt which is a half-brother to Highview Tommy the winner of fifteen races and $885,062.
“He’s broken in nicely and shows a bit. They like him.”
Other stock in the north for the Calders includes a two year old Art Major – Gretna’s Best colt who’s with Brent Mangos. Named Bronco Banner he’s closely related to Smooth Gretna the winner of fifteen races.
“He also broke in nice.”
Another sales purchase is Nuburgring (Bettor’s Delight – Cullen’s Creation)
“He’s trained by Kevin Townley and is related to Courage Under Fire. He got an infection in his tendon sheath and is coming home to heal.”
Townley a long time trainer and friend of the Calders also trains another yearling purchase Swoon (Monarchy – Hot Vacation).
“His second dam is the mother of Sheemon and Karen and I have a half share in him with Kevin and Margaret Townley. We may have to change his name.”
Robinson Crusoe (Somebeachsomewhere – Asabella) was also bought by Grinaldi Lodge at the sales. This is the mare’s seventh foal and she’s the dam of four winners including Ohoka’s Bondy (22 West Australian wins), Dancing Diamonds (9 wins and $343,276) and Code Red (12 wins).
“He’s trained by Brad Mowbray who shares in the ownership with his wife Mel and was strong minded and difficult to break in. He was big but so was Brad. He was put out for a spell and he’s come back as a true gentleman. I’ve tried to breed a Somebeachsomewhere a couple of times but didn’t have much luck so it’s nice to have one.”
Outside of their sales purchases this year the Calders have plenty of other horses ready to hit the racetracks.
Ash is a three year old Ben is looking forward to getting to the races. He’s by The Pres out of Tamarix and is a half-brother to Larix, Given and Larch. His four dam Haakondahl is the mother of Sapling (22 wins including the Great Northern Pacing Derby).
“We’ve had to wait on him as he’s gone through a growing spurt.”
Another trotter on the books is a Muscles Yankee colt out of Classic Armbro – a daughter of the great Merinai. Named Sertorius he’s also on the books of John and Josh Dickie.
Tour Director an Art Major gelding out of Bremner Bay who won once from five starts is also back on the active list.
“He’s stranded a tendon and is being worked up at Nathan’s.”
Foo Fighter an American Ideal gelding out of Lucy’s Way which is a full sister to Wanaka Bay (dam of Mr Mojito) qualified at Wyndham as a two year old. He’s owned by Juliette Earl, Karen Calder, Katie Williamson, Neville Cleaver, Kevin Strong, Sid Slee, Robyn Jones and Alan Jones. His first start is eagerly awaited as he qualified well.
He’s a half-brother to Treble Cone which won impressively at her first start when trained by John Earl. She had two other starts before heading to the broodmares paddock. She has a nice American Ideal colt called You Too which is owned by the Calders and Earls.
So between homebred stock and young horses purchased at the sales Ben and Karen Calder have plenty to watch this season.
And hopefully plenty more pleasurable moments to share with friends and family without too much fuss, which is just the way they like it.