Meet the most generous breeders ever – Don Stenhouse & Denise Weaver

By Duane Ranger

If there was just one delicious cream cake left on the plate and there were three people in the room, then Don Stenhouse and Denise Weaver would undoubtedly offer it up.

The Geraldine couple are generous to a fault. So much so they could have had a New Zealand Cup starter in this year’s New Zealand Trotting Cup, but instead their generosity will see Colin and Julie de Filippi trained, bred, and owned Heza Sport in the big race on November 8. Colin will again do the driving.

Don Stenhouse and Denise Weaver pictured with Sam Ottley after she drove the Colin & Julie de Filippi trained Just Rose to win their beloved Geraldine Cup at odds of $39.20 – on December 1, 2012.

Stenhouse and Weaver own the mother of Heza Sport – the 2007 Sands A Flyin mare, Just Rose, but offered up foals three and four – the 2017 Sportswriter colt, and the New Zealand Cup third ranked Heza Sport: and his full 2018 brother, Here’s Herbie (three wins and six placings from 11 starts).

“We have a long memory, and Colin has done so much for us over the years. We are so pleased that Heza Sport will line up in the Cup for him, because he deserves all the success that comes his way for all the hard work, he’s put in both for us and the industry over the years.

“We raced B Grudge (10 wins and $132,623) and then we were in Just N Time (the dam of Just Rose) Syndicate with him back in the early 2000s.

“We bred the first foal out of Just Rose and then let Colin have a go with her. The last two foals we have syndicated to the Geraldine Trotting Club committee,” Denise (Weaver) said.

Weaver was speaking on behalf of Stenhouse, who has some health issues. Both South Canterbury-based pensioners are on fixed incomes which makes their generosity even more were startling.

“He knows I’m a good yapper. We are just so fortunate that the first mare we bred from has left us some amazing foals,” Weaver said.

However, the couple endured a rough start to breeding.

“When Just N Time (Fake Left – Rosanna) finished racing the Syndicate disbanded and we asked Colin if we could breed on from her and asked him what stallion to go to, and he suggested Sands A Flyin.

“It was our first foray into breeding and sadly the mare died giving birth to Just Rose. That was her only foal,” Weaver said.

The couple raced Just Rose for her three, four, and five-year-old seasons. She finished racing with breathing problems on May 19, 2013, at Oamaru with six wins, and two placings ($38,309) from 34 starts.

Then and then on October 18, 2014, Just N Awe was born.

“We owned him, and Colin and Julie did the training. He was only average and had soundness issues. The 2016 son of A Rocknroll Dance called We Will Rock You, was bred by Warren Hyndman, and unfortunately got kicked and had to be put down.

“Then after him came Heza Sport and Here’s Herbie.”

Heza Sport has been ranked three since the New Zealand Cup seedings were released on in early September. The 4-year-old Sportswriter bay gelding gained automatic entry into New Zealand’s greatest 3,200m standing start staying event by winning the Group Three Maurice Holmes Vase on August 26.

That head victory was Heza Sport’s first Group triumph and seventh win in 18 starts. He’s also placed three times and netted $84,065 in purses since his winning debut back on December 5, 2020.

“It would be a dream come true if he won the Cup. He’s such a lovely, strong gelding. We have been so lucky with just one breeding mare.

“We thought Just Rose winning our hometown Geraldine Cup was huge. I’d hate to think what we will be like if Colin and Julie do win it. We will go through our lounge roof,” Weaver joked.

She said Just Rose’s fifth foal is a two-year-old Terror To Love colt named Justa Terra.

“We love him so much and we also adore our beloved Geraldine Trotting Club, which took a 40 per cent share. We have had so much fun at the club over the years and my son, Mark, is president.

“Sadly, the future doesn’t look good at Geraldine. We want to do all we can to put its name back in lights, where it should be,” both Weaver and Stenhouse said.

“Justa Terra is now back doing his third prep with Gerard O’Reilly. The ‘Terrors’ take a bit of time, so we are thinking he probably won’t race until next year,” she added.

The Geraldine Trotting Club committee also has a Downbytheseasside weanling colt named Justa Rippa, who was born on December 18.

“He’s being handled by the Geraldine Trotting Club, and they have given us a 10 per cent share in him. The mare is also due to leave us a Captain Crunch foal on November 28.

“After that Don is not sure who he will put the mare to next,” Weaver said

“Regardless we just love Just Rose. She can be a bit grumpy, but we still love to go and see her when we can. Attitude or not, she’s brought us a lot of happiness,” Weaver said.