Ivan Court-bred mare sets a NZ record while in foal  

By Duane Ranger 

Silk – surging to victory at Addington in a new NZ Mares Record

Ladbrooks horseman, Ivan Court, has achieved many things in his illustrious career but never bred, owned and trained a New Zealand record winner – while in foal.

“This is my first New Zealand Mares’ record, let alone the horse being in foal or not. I still think Valor Lustre (McArdle – Regal Lustre – Caprock) went close to a New Zealand record, and I reckon she is still the best mare that I have trained,” said Court who has been conditioning standardbreds since the late 1980s. 

The Court trained and Gerard O’Reilly driven Silk, who is in foal to Downbytheseaside, broke the New Zealand 2000m stand of 2:27.2 by 0.1 of a second in race four – a R46-54 pace – at Addington Raceway Friday, 17 March. 

The previous record was held by the  Steve and Amanda Telfer trained Kerrie Maguire ( Somebeachsomewhere – Unrehearsed – Live Or Die) who paced 2:27.3 at Addington Raceway on February 18 last year. 

Silk, who sat in the trail, paced a 1:58.4-mile rate, coming home in 57.3 and 28.4 seconds. The 7-year-old Sir Lincoln mare was the ninth favourite of nine and paid $19.80 for her neck victory. 

“This is a great way for the mare to bow out. She only had until April before she had to retire anyway, and I thought well it’s mid-March now, why wait? She’s now won eight races and done a good job for us,” Court said. 

Silk had 68 starts and placed 11 times ($75,850) since her race-day third at Nelson back in June 2018. Court co-bred Silk with former employee Kayla Jordan. 

Court said he bought Silk’s mother – Brunswick (Bettor’s Delight – Dunstanburg – Falcon Seelster) after both Ricky May and Colin De Filippi had a go with her.  

“She was as mad as a meat axe, and she couldn’t pace to save herself, so after eight starts I decided to retire her in early 2015 (January 8), and later that year put her to Sir Lincoln and Silk was the result. She was born in November that year. 

Brunswick has left another three foals. 

“Silk is the only winner from the mare. Jute was 5-year-old Terror To Love gelding, who had five starts before he broke down. The mare has also left a 3-year-old Sky Major colt who is not far from training, as well as Johny Rock 2-year-old filly. 

“I’ve actually had three fillies in the paddock for the last eight months and they are due to be worked soon. To be fair I’ve accumulated too many horses over the years, and it came down to dollars and cents. That’s why Brunswick is no longer with us.  

“On hindsight I should have perhaps bred from her again,” said Court who works a team of 12 at Ladbrooks, which is situated 20 minutes south-west of Christchurch. 

He said Silk was the best of the progeny. 

“Early on she was go, go, go. She had a lot of speed and I’ve always like to train solid standing start horses. She took a while for the penny to drop but when it did, I thought she might be better than average. 

“She really started to pace well when she won three races in a row in June and July 2020. That’s when I think Silk matured into a racehorse and lost most of her Mum’s traits,” he said. 

Silk might be like former All Black captain Richie McCaw and bow out a winner, but Court says he will always have a soft spot for his best horse, the beautiful black now 12-year-old mare, Valor Lustre. 

“Silk will always be remembered and we are excited to see what she leaves on the racetrack as well, but I’m just so pleased I persevered with a breeding dynasty initiated by my late grandfather Tom Pickering in the early 1940s. 

Pickering bought 1940 Lusty Volo mare, Golden Lustre, and that grand old mare’s family now dates back six generations to the 2011 four-win 2011 Stoneridge Regal – Serene Lustre (Live Or Die) gelding, Prime Lustre. 

“My brothers gave up on the breed and I took over. They said I was mad because Dad had used some average stallions with the mares over the years and the bloodlines were a bit weak to work with. 

“But I always believed I could get it back to where it was. It’s taken a long time now though and I’m proud to have carried on the ‘Lustre’ breed for my grandfather. Every time one of the breed wins you can thank him for starting it all,” Court said. 

He said Valor Lustre (McArdle – Regal Lustre – Caprock), who won nine races and $106,090 between 2014 and 2018), had left four unraced foals. 

They are an American Ideal weanling filly; a Sweet Lou 2-year-old filly; an Art Major 3-year-old colt; a Sweet Lou 4-year-old colt named Forte Lustre, who had two workouts in January.