Michelle Caig – The Sales and Sun Mist

Michelle Caig – The Sales and Sun Mist

Bruce Stewart

24th January 2021

Michelle Caig has been in the Standardbred industry for twenty five years and has experience of highs and lows that come with selling yearlings at the sales.

She’s fought a few battles in that time, but her upbringing has certainly made her resilient.

“I’ve come from pretty much doing. I went to eleven different schools and lived in twenty eight houses; living in State Houses and off Birthright. I never dreamt I’d own the land that I’ve got or have the horses I’ve got,” she said.

Over the years she developed a critical eye for horse flesh and started to hone those skills as a judge at the show pony section of local shows.

“I initially plaited horses up for the late Paul Browman and attended the national yearling sales in Christchurch for twenty three years. I’ve only missed two sales in that time.”

The first mare Michelle bought was Mitequila, an Andrel mare out of the four win Transport Chip mare Trist Mist which was raced in Southland by Terry Stumbles, Peter Donaldson, Ian Donaldson and Noel Eade. She won four races from eighteen starts for Wyndham trainer Gary McEwan.

Michelle bred her first foal by Courage Under Fire out of the mare. Named Mistefire, he was her first sales yearling in 2005 and was bought by Tim Butt for $30,000.

Most of her success at the sales in twenty three years has been with yearling out of Sundon trotting mare Sun Mist a daughter of champion trotting mare Merenai.

She leased Sun Mist in 2010 after she’d answered an advertisement in the Harness Racing Weekly.

“She had a terrible reputation as been cantankerous. They paid $38,000 for her at the yearling sales. She was trained by Geoff Small and used to stop the jogger. She just didn’t want to be a race horse so they sent her to Michelle Hackett’s on the beach. Most horses love the straight line training. She used to get up to the point where they turned around and she’d lie down.”

Sun Mist was promptly sent to stud and when she was leased by Caig she’d already left Sonofanearl.

Over the years Caig has bred Rosemma (10 wins), Stuey D (12 wins), October Rain (5 wins), He’s Like The Wind (6 wins), Shes Like The Wind (1 win), Dreamsinthemist, Leaf Stride (2 wins) and her weanling colt by Pegasus Spur was sold late last year for $25,000 to Neville Cleaver and is with Southland trainer Nathan Williamson.

In total, Sun Mist from nine foals that have raced, has left the winners of seventy four races.

Australians Sue and Mike McGuire have been great supporters of Sun Mist’s progeny, buying Pretty Sunday and Rosemma. They’ve raced both successfully in Australia and are now breeding from the pair. They’ve been given good chances to succeed with Pretty Sunday producing foals by Angus Hall, Majestic Son and Father Patrick while Rosemma has two foals by Majestic Son.

Caig is also breeding from one of Sun Mist’s daughters Shes Like The Wind, who’s in foal to Pegasus Spur.

“She (Shes Like The Wind) won in track record time at Omakau at her first start and hit the mobile arm at her third start in the Southland Trotting Oaks. She never wanted to be a race horse after that. She just got herself so upset when she got onto the track.”

Shes Like The Wind

Unfortunately two fillies by Sun Mist had to be put down.

This season she hoped, like a host of trotting breeders, to be able to send Sun Mist to Bold Eagle.

“I waited for the semen but it hasn’t come. It’s coming next year so she’s booked in. I had her served by What The Hill but I don’t know whether she’s in foal. She’s getting older and didn’t get in foal last season so it’s a bit of a challenge.”

At the end of her breeding career Michelle was also given Merinai.

“I met John Bedwell at Alexandra Park one night through my wonderful friend Neil Pilcher. We got talking about yearlings and mares and he realised that I had Sun Mist, a daughter of Merinai. She (Merinai) was at Woodlands Stud on a three year lease. John offered the mare to me and I said yes.”

Merinai and John Bedwell

Caig only managed to get one foal out of Merinai – Master Merlin, which won one race for Arna Donnelly. Merinai was served by Angus Hall, Majestic Son, Pegasus Spur and The Pres between 2014 and 2017 but never got in foal. She died in 2019.

Although Merinai had moderate success at stud her daughters lead by Sun Mist are doing an excellent job at stud.

Madam Spur won five races and has left two foals by What The Hill. Owned by Woodland Stud they’re offering an unnamed yearling filly at the Auckland sale next month.

Madam Spur

Miss Pegasus won nine races. She’s the dam of the highly promising Miss Crazed which has won three races from eleven starts. A yearling colt by What The Hill out of Miss Pegasus is also in the Auckland sale.

Miss Crazed

Classic Armbro was the winner of two races. As a broodmare she’s left Sertorius, the winner of ten, Tailored Elegance which won four including the Southland Trotting Oaks, and the promising I See Fire which has won two of his six starts for Tony Herlihy.

Michelle has been at her Price Road property for sixteen years, where she runs her mares and prepares her yearlings. She built a new house on the property and then subdivided the house and two acres, retaining the stable block and the balance of the land.

“It’s really good land. I’ve got a bit of iron in my bore. You can’t drink the bore water out of the ground but the horses do really really well on it. If I have a really good sale this year I’ll build another house.”

Michelle is taking four yearlings to the Christchurch Sale next month including a Pegasus Spur colt out of the Lindy Lane mare City Lane. Lindy Lane won seven races, competing in Victoria and New South Wales and has left Australasian Breeders Crown winner Our Renezmae and Saratoga, the winner of seven races.

Lot 165 – Pegasus Spur – City Lane

“He’s the nicest type that City Lane has had. Renezmae was pretty and feminine whereas this yearling is a real boy. He’s got a nice bright eye and he just trots around the paddock. He’s a lot like his mother and runs along with his head out like Speeding Spur. He’s easy to get along with and he’ll be a two year old.”

Lot 165 Pegasus Spur- City Lane

The first pacing yearling she’ll be leading into the sales ring is a filly by Rock N Roll Heaven out of Christian Cullen mare Sonjador. This is the family that’s left quality pacing stock including millionaire pacer Holmes DG which won twenty two, and Giovanetto the winner of eighteen races including the Welcome Stakes at two, Southern Supremacy Stakes at three and Superstars Four Year Old Championship.

Lot 228 Rock N Roll Heaven – Sonjador

“John Curtin really likes her. She can get a bit toey but every time you get her in she’s just getting better and better. She’s a lovely long rangy filly and I bet she can run. It’s an old family so why not a Rock N Roll Heaven filly out of a Christian Cullen mare?”

Lot 228 Rock N Roll Heaven – Sonjador

She’ll also be presenting an Art Major colt out of the Life Sign mare Zoe’s Charm. He too is out of the family that has left Holmes DG and Giovanetto.

Lot 269 Art Major – Zoe’s Charm

“He’s just got better and better. He could go through the ring now. He’s got a bit of Art Major in him but he’s stunning. He’s big and strong and could make a late two year old.”

Lot 269 Art Major – Zoe’s Charm

Her final yearling is the second lot on Day Two of the sale. He’s a colt by Sweet Lou out of the Grinfromeartoear mare Chloe Finn whose second dam is the tough Holmes Hanover mare Chloe Hanover which won eleven races and was named Four Year Old Pacing Mare of the Year in 1999-2000.

Lot 307 Sweet Lou – Chloe Finn

“They reckon the smaller Sweet Lou colts are the better ones and he fits into that bracket. I love him. I trimmed his ears the other day without the twitch which never happens so he’s pretty sensible. He’ll be tough because he comes from a tough family.”

Lot 307 Sweet Lou – Chloe Finn

Caig like all breeders, goes into the Christchurch sale with a good level of hope that her yearlings will attract plenty of buyer interest. She’s hoping those house plans can be implemented.

“I’m not one that requires the glory. It’s just a nice feeling to know that you’ve done it.”

Buyers can see Michelle Caig’s yearlings on Monday 8th February between 7:00pm and 7:20pm at 110 Price Road Winton.