Last goes first for Bruce Spurdle

By Peter Wharton

The Rock N Roll Heaven gelding Last Tango In Heaven, who hoisted a fresh lifetime mark of 1:51.2 winning at Menangle recently, is the last foal bred by Te Awamutu hobby breeder Bruce Spurdle.

“I sold his dam Monaro in foal to Rock N Roll Heaven to Alabar Bloodstock a few years ago,” Spurdle said.

“He’s the last foal that I ever bred.

“I sold my property. I am a real estate agent with about 13 offices in New Zealand. I had less time for horses and more time for real estate. I would have preferred it the other way around.”

Last Tango In Heaven as yearling

Alabar subsequently sold Last Tango In Heaven to clients of Tony Herlihy’s Papakura stable for $30,000 at NZ Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale at Karaka in 2019.

Last Tango In Heaven won six races and was 13 times placed from 27 starts in NZ for $91,808 in stakes. He won four races as a three-year-old and the Cambridge Gold Cup and Morrinsville Cup at four before being sold to big spending NSW owner Mick Boots in January 2023.

From 16 starts on Australian soil so far he has registered two wins and four placings for almost $40,000 and has worked his way back to a NR91 mark.

The Last Tango In Heaven story actually began in 1985 when Spurdle and friends Peter Oldham, Roy Candy and Bernie O’Malley bought the yearling filly Sporting Crystal cheaply at a mixed sale at Claudelands.

“It was the last auction ever conducted at Claudelands,” Bruce said.

“She was a well bred filly by Lordship and we liked the look of her and so we bought her.

“She was our foundation mare.”

A member of the famed Accident tribe, Sporting Crystal totted up three wins at Pukekohe, Wellington and Ruakaka before retiring to stud.

She produced five foals – including four fillies – for two winners and two winner-producing mares.

Sporting Crystal’s third foal, Club Sport, an unraced mare by Soky’s Atom, really established this family to some purpose.

Club Sport left 10 foals to nine different sires, eight of which raced and all emerged successful.

Perhaps the best of her progeny was Statesman, a winner of nine races in NZ including the NZ Yearling Sale Aged Pace and who was later sold to America where he finished up with a stake tally of $1,018,789.

Others from Club Sport to win were Calais (1:55.3), a winner of six races including three at Gloucester Park, the exported Imperative (1:55), Rubens (1:57.2), Real Torque (1:58.4), Jilletto, The Batmobile and the In The Pocket mare Monaro (1:58.5), whose seven successes included the 2007 Taranaki Breeders Stakes by open lengths.

Besides Last Tango In Heaven, Monaro was also the dam of a talented pacer in Walkinshaw (1:51.2), a winner of 37 races in NZ, Australia and America and $681,532, The Coordinator (2:00.1) and Maloo (2:00.4), who won seven and became the mother of Thee Old Bomb (1:50.9), a double winner at Menangle and Globe Derby Park.

Another of Club Sport’s daughters to breed on was Real Torque (by Real Desire), dam of one of the South Island’s most promising four-year-olds Major Torque (1:56.3), a winner of six races at Addington at two and three