Brent Shirley

No Funny Business – Satire Franco

Despite not showing too much on the race track Falcon Seelster mare Satire Franco has certainly made up for her average start to life by becoming an outstanding broodmare for Invercargill couple Brent and Raewyn Shirley.

Of the nine named foals she’s left that are three years old and older, all have qualified and between them they’ve won forty eight races. The best of these being Costa Del Magnifico the winner of twelve races.

Satire Franco was bred by the estate of Wayne Francis and was by Falcon Seelster out of the Holmes Hanover mare Samantha Franco.

She was bought at a mixed age sale in Christchurch by Southland stockman Vin Nally on behalf of the Shirleys.

“I was overseas with Raewyn and said to Vin if she went under ten grand grab her. She was in foal to Live Or Die and he got her for about nine thousand nine hundred. I took a look at her when she got home and she was the ugliest thing I’ve never seen,” said Brent Shirley.

After the Live Or Die foal (later named When The Music’s Over) was born Shirley decided to put the mare back into work. As a racehorse Satire Franco showed some speed but didn’t set the southern scene alight. Her best placing in sixteen starts was a fourth. She was once again retired to the broodmares paddock.

At this point the Shirleys got an early indication that Satire Franco could be alright because When The Music’s Over was starting to show a bit of promise. He ended up winning five races for owners Raewyn Shirley and John Edminstin before winning another six in Western Australia.

Turbine by Tinted Cloud was the mare’s next foal and he became a bit of a “talk” horse. It started when he won his first workout by ten lengths at Ascot Park, pacing his last 800 metres in 55.7.

“He was a very swift horse who we waited on. He won two in a row quickly. He ended up getting a virus and crook lungs and he never really raced any good after that.”

He was retired with a record of 21-3-1-3.

Dingo Deans (Live Or Die) and Little Einstein (Life Sign) were the mare’s next two foals. Both qualified but didn’t amount to much. Little Einstein ran two seconds in thirteen starts while Dingo Deans had just the one start.

Rowchester, by Bettor’s Delight was the mare’s next foal and he looked quite smart winning three of his five starts in Southland before he too was exported to Western Australia where he won another eight races.

Satire Franco’s next visit was to Santanna Blue Chip. The mating left I Smart which was good enough to run in the 2014 Southland Oaks Final finishing seventh behind quality fillies like Royal Counsel, Raksdeal and Willow. The time of 2-39.4 recorded that day was a race record. I Smart ended up winning six races and was retired after her thirteenth start. She has a rising two year old American Ideal filly and is in foal to Rock N Roll Heaven.

“The American Ideal filly is an absolute cracker. The fillies by him seem to go better than the colts.”


Costa Del Magnifico (Mach Three) was the next foal off the production line and his twelve wins here included the 2015 Winton Cup in race record time, 2015 Wairio Cup, the 2016 Invercargill Cup and 2016 Southern Country Cups Final. He was also named 2016 Southland Horse of the Year.

He’s currently in Australia where he’s trained by Geoff Webster. He is still owned by Southlanders Murray and Sandra Allen.

John Coltrane (Real Desire) was the mare’s next foal and the rising four year old has been well drilled by Shirley. Prior to qualifying impressively behind Argyle Beach this season the colt has been to five workouts winning three and running second and third in the others.

“I thought we’d be better off leaving him because he’s a big type. I learnt that from pushing Little Einstein too hard. He’s got speed but he’s a big overgrown fella. We’ve give him a bit of time so hopefully he rewards us but you never can tell with racehorses.”

The mare’s next foal – a two year old filly by Well Said called Dunrobin has been off the property twice winning a workout at Ascot Park in March.

“She ran her last quarter in 27 (seconds) and beat older horses and looks quite promising.”

Satire Franco’s latest foal is an Art Major colt which is a rising two year old. She lost a foal by American Ideal last season and she’s back in foal to that sire.

When you dig into her pedigree it’s a family that Peter Van Der Looy had lots of success with racing Vanderel (Holmes Hanover) which won fourteen races and Impish which won six.

It’s produced its fair share of quality colts including Smart Son, Grobbelaar, Sherlock, Kincaid, Idealindiamonds and King Of Swing (Rocknroll Hanover – Twist and Twirl).

The fillies have been good as well with the pedigree page including The Fascinator (10 wins), Opulent (18) and Twist and Twirl (7 wins).

“It’s a small family and it’s been a good family without having too many branches in it.”

Another daughter of Satire Franco’s dam Samantha Franco, Stella Franco left quality pacers River Black (Courage Under Fire) the winner of ten races and Whitershadeofpale (Changeover) which won nine races.

So from a mixture of stallions Satire Franco has done a very good job for the Shirleys and although Raewyn has raced most of the mare’s progeny she has also involved members of some of the well-known Bluff families in various partnerships.

“It’s (the association) been mainly through Colin Dixon. He ended up one day coming down to the stables looking for a place to stay so we put him in the hut. John Edminstin came down one day so we put him in When The Music’s Over, Rowchester and Turbine.”

And it was at a combined fiftieth birthday party for Colin Dixon, Tony Whaanga and Stuart Kereru that more of the town became involved. Brendon Hiini, Ross Anderson and Earl Shannon all have shares in Satire Franco’s stock.

“The Bluffies are good to deal with. They’re very hard to offend. They’re realists – they don’t live in Disneyland they live in Bluff. They’re very good at taking knocks.”

And as for Raewyn, well Brent says she’s a busy mum but still keeps an eye on things.

“She’s got three colts of her own so she’s flat tack. She makes out she’s not interested but she always seems to know what the horses are doing and she loves those cheques.”

It’s great to see all their hard work paying off.