Gracias the Edmonds!

By Peter Wharton

An association with the former NZ 2YO Trotter of the Year Flip Flop paved the way for the breeding of talented four-year-old Gracias, who turned in an astonishing performance to win at the all-trotting meeting at Melton recently.

Kelly and the late Murray Edmonds

Flip Flop (by Gee Whiz II) totted up 10 wins including the 1999 Yearling Sales Series 2YO Final for renowned Motukarara horseman the late Murray Edmonds. He later raced successfully in North America where he took a record of 1:56.2 and finished up with a stake tally of $109,793.

“Flip Flop was bred by Phillip Iggo out of the good broodmare Lady Robinson. Phillip offered Kim Bimler and myself a half-sister to Flip Flop named Thanx as a foal,” Edmonds’s widow Kelly said.

A daughter of Holdonmyheart, Thanx, also a half-sister to the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup victor The Fat Controller, did not race.

“I don’t think she even qualified,” Kelly said.

However, Thanx more than redeemed herself in the breeding barn, producing four foals for four winners.

Gracias winning at Melton.
(c) Photo Stuart McCormick

The best of her produce was Danke, a Sundon gelding who reached open company. He won 13 races with 55 placings for $150,975 in stakes.

Thanx’s first foal, Guerrero, won four races in New Zealand and six in Western Australia including the 2014 Pinjarra Trotters Cup.

Others from Thanx were George, a winner of six races and $75,902, and the Great Success mare Kititos (1 win).

Kititos’s first foal is Gracias (by Royal Aspirations).

“At his first start as a two-year-old he led up and got attacked and ran a second at Addington,” Kelly said. “We sold him to Merv Butterworth and he agreed to leave him with us for one more start. He was really disappointing, but the next day he came out with a cold and a cough.”

Gracias was shipped to Melbourne in May 2022 and entrusted to brilliant, young Romsey horseman Chris Svanosio.

He had two starts in Victoria as a two-year-old for a first-up second at Geelong and an unplaced effort at Melton and from five outings at three he posted three seconds, a third and a fifth.

“Chris and I agreed to give him a long spell and a four month long preparation,” Butterworth said.

Gracias returned to the fray at Melton on February 24, and the rest is history. Starting a short-priced favourite, the gelding led in the early part before going offstride and losing a conservative 40 metres.

Gratias joined the field at the 1600 metres, gained a three-wide trail in the back straight and charged down the outside to score by half a length. Gratias’s performance was an amazing one in every respect.

“After Gracias we bred a Marcoola colt out of Kiitos and Murray was about to wean him when he got the diagnosis and got sick,” Kelly said.

“We had great help from neighbours Michael Howard and his dad Graeme, Steve McNally and his dad Ray and Brett Gillan, a grandson of Graeme Howard. They all pitched him and helped wean him and break him in.”

Named Merci, the now two-year-old gelding is being trained by the Motukarara-based Michael Howard who rates him highly.

“Kiitos has got a Royal Aspirations filly foal on her,” Kelly said.

Kelly is still actively involved with the horses.

“That was our life for 45 years together, so it’s pretty hard to let go of it,” she said.

She is currently breeding from four broodmares in Unique Rose, a winner of three races, Eva Sophnally, who won six, Kiitos and Chivasion (8 wins), who she has a half share with Sue England.

Eva Sophnally is the dam of Heaven On High (1:50.5), a winner in NZ, NSW and America, while Unique Rose has produced a Majestic Son yearling colt as her first foal.

“I breed from them every second year. That way I can keep the training expenses down,” Kelly stated.