First breeding victory for ‘Killinchy Kid’

By Duane Ranger

The families of Andrew and Diane Henderson have been breeding horses for more than a century, but the long-time West Melton couple bred their very first winner at the Timaru Harness Racing Club’s meeting on May 28.

Killinchy Kid with the Killinchy Kid himself, co- breeder Andrew Henderson

“Diane’s grandmother was a Le Lievre, and her family started importing and breeding standardbreds early last century. Justin carried that on. They settled in Little River on Banks Peninsula,” said Andrew who has owned the West Melton BP petrol station for 30-plus years.

As for Andrew, he said he loved visiting his grandfather, Keith Boon’s Killinchy property, which was situated between Dunsandel and Leeston back in the 1960s and 70s. Today Killinchy has a population of 539 (205 households).

“I’m one of five brothers (two sets of twins above him) and we all loved going to Grandad’s farm on long weekends and school holidays. He actually bred the 1965 Auckland Cup winner, Lucky Son, who was trained and ridden by Bill Skelton.

“So, horses and breeding have been in our both of our families for a very long time. Diane and I only got into standardbred breeding seriously about six years ago, and we are so glad we did,” Henderson said.

“To breed our first winner and own her with family was a big thrill and one we won’t forget in a hurry.” he added.

In fact, the 3-year-old Sportswriter filly named after those grandfather memories, won her first race in 13 starts when victorious in race five at Washdyke – the Jack Phillips Memorial R40-R45 Pace – by a head.

The Geoff & James Dunn trained, and Gerard O’Reilly driven Killinchy Kid paced the 2,050m mobile in 2:32.5 and returned a 1:59.7-mile rate. Killinchy Kid is owned by her two breeders and their children Mason and Christy.

His nickname is ‘Cricket’.

“I always considered myself a ‘Killinchy Kid’ growing up and that’s exactly why I gave the first horse out of Pembrook Express (9yo  Bettor’s Delight – Diamond Bright – Christian Cullen maiden mare) that name.

“She’s one of four mares that Diane and I are breeding from. I liked her because she has Black Watch in her breeding and is closely related  to four winners.

“But in saying that I still think she would be our third ranked mare. Our oldest foals are now four,” Henderson said.

He said he stumbled into standardbreds through Canterbury breeder, Maurie Malloy.

“My brothers and I were always at the track, but we never got involved until later on in our lives. I had earlier told Maurie how much I liked the horses and later on he asked me if I wanted a 10 per cent share in a He’s Watching foal named Brother John (2016).

“He was out of Maurie’s New York Motoring mare, Shamrock Bay (1996), who won four races for Greg Hope. Brother John, who was also trained by the Dunns, has won three races.

“Then sadly Maurie died. We were asked by the family if we wanted the mare. It was a surprise, so we then put Shamrock Bay to Rocknroll Hanover and Rocknroll Motoring was born in 2018.

“He never went to the races, but we were raw back then (2017) and didn’t do the pedigree homework that we now do,” Henderson said.

“Tough mares crossed with fast sires seem to work,” he added.

Sweet Tartan – a 2yo Sweet Lou – Expressive Victor filly

He said Geoff Dunn sold Pembrook Express privately to the Hendersons in July 2020 as a broodmare proposition.

“We were looking for a broodmare and we bought Pembrook Express about two years after she retired from racing. She got injured after four starts, so we put her to Sportswriter in 2018 and Killinchy Kid was born on October 15, 2019.”

Shamrock Bay, who died in February this year, missed to Sportswriter in 2019, and because of that the Hendersons went to Sportswriter again.

Then Henderson let his brother Graham breed from Pembrook Express.

“He put her to Vincent but sadly that colt named Blaze Runner got colic and died in August last year. He then put the mare to Captain Crunch, but she has missed.

“Poor Graeme hasn’t had any luck at all with the mare, but he can have another crack. He’d probably go back to Captain Crunch again, but the mare is still very young (nine) and has plenty of time to produce more good racehorses hopefully.

“Killinchy Kid is her only foal alive,” Henderson said.

Henderson said he was excited about breeding six years into the venture.

“I’m now doing the correct homework and talking to the right people, and have two broodmares whom I  think are quite special,” Henderson said.

They were Expressive Victor – the 10-win ($90,440) 11-year-old Changeover – Diamond Dancer (Presidential Ball) mare.

Expressive Victor and Andrew

“She ran second in the Mares 4yo Diamond at Cambridge (2016). She’s left us three foals and was served by Sweet Lou in December.

“And 6-year-old black Bettor’s Delight – Caitlyn Banner – Washington VC maiden (five-race) mare Ebony Banner.

Henderson said Ebony Banner has left two Always B Miki bay fillies, who are a yearling and a weanling. She was served by Downbytheseaside on January 6 this year.

He said he also had the option of breeding from the 5-year-old unraced Bettor’s Delight – Rockahula  (Rocknroll Hanover) mare, Royal Arden.

Royal Arden left a Downbytheseaside bay filly on November 25 last year.

“We’ve got quite a few horses now we are picking and choosing when and who we breed from. The first two mares are our best, because they come from better and stronger families.

“We will continue to breed from a couple of mares each year,” Henderson said.

For the record Henderson was born and educated in Rangiora and played rep rugby for Canterbury. He is the youngest of five boys. He has two sets of older twin brothers. He was a midfield back for Canterbury during the Robbie Deans era.

“My eldest brothers played golf for Canterbury and my two middle brothers played rep cricket for North Canterbury, and I stuck to rugby, racing, and beer,” Henderson said.

Andrew and Diane have two children, Mason and Christy.