Two breeding wins in three days for Oamaru breeder, Warren Pitches

By Duane Ranger

Almost 12,000km away on a Northern California ranch, Warren Pitches’ grand-daughter, Alyssa, proudly rides her quarter-horses, knowing there’s a standardbred back in the New Zealand, putting her name up in lights.

Alyssa performing in North California

Missalyssa is no ordinary standardbred. In fact, the 8-year-old Monarchy mare, has given the Oamaru painter a new lease of life.

“They call her ‘Miss Alyssa’ on the ranch, and because she means so much to me, and because she’s so far away, I decided to name the first racehorse I have bred on my own after my grand-daughter. Missalyssa, the daughter of Monarchy and Uramao (Sundon) was born on December 7, 2014.

“Her mother, (Rachel) has been in California for 26 years, and Alyssa was named Northern California Rodeo Queen last year, and she is training to be a vet. She knows about the horse and would have been proud of her this week,” Pitches said.

“To think Missalyssa went past $100,000 on Wednesday, and still holds the New Zealand record as well (New Zealand Mares 1,980m mobile of 2:24.7 at Addington on November 13, 2020). Not bad for a lifetime fan, first-time novice owner/breeder,” Pitches said.

“We are novices so much that wife, Bronwyn, thought we had a colt when . She rang me telling ‘Gracie’ was a colt, when in fact she was a filly and Bronwyn was looking at the mare’s umbilical cord,’ Pitches said.

The North Otago businessman, who has specialized in painting since he left Waitaki Boys High School in the late 1960s, was at Roxburgh on Wednesday (January 4) to watch Missalyssa nail race nine – the Kea Wai Building R35 to R70 Trot.

South Oamaru couple, Warren and Bronnie Pitches.

Two days earlier he was also on-course at Omakau to watch Missalyssa’s three-quarter 3-year-old sister, Miss Gracie, win the second event – the Graeme Keogh Memorial Trot. It was her first win in seven starts for trainer/driver Andrew Faulks.

“Miss Gracie is also named after my wife Bronwyn’s daughter. She   is really promising. She also placed in a Listed race at Ashburton. Andrew likes her so much he said she’s more forward than what Missalyssa was at the same stage of their careers,” Said Pitches.

As for Missalyssa, she has now won nine of her 73 starts and also placed 11 times. She was driven by Sam Thornley at Roxburgh, and won by two lengths from the 20m back marker. The brown mare was the $3.80 favourite.

“I absolutely love them both as well as their little sister, just turned yearling filly Miss Melanie, who is named after my daughter. Like Miss Gracie, Miss Melanie is by Royal Aspirations – which is a son of Monarchy,” Pitches said.

Pitches has the Roy McKenzie-bred 2007 Sundon – Money Maker (In The Pocket) Uramao (one placing in seven starts) to thank for his obsession with breeding.

“Uramao is actually Oamaru spelt backwards. The North Otago Rugby Football Union’s chairman at the time, Colin Jackson, put a syndicate together, and I owned a quarter share (for $2,000). Then when the mare got injured, I decided to fork out the other $6,000 and buy her outright.

“It was the best move I ever made, because she could have been a nice trotter, but  she kept breaking in her races and would catch up and then break again.

“She had so much speed she couldn’t stay in her gait. That’s where Missalyssa gets her speed from, but I didn’t blame the other fellas for pulling out. They had had enough.”

“Now her progeny is really starting to kick goals. I always thought she might leave some nice ones because of the Monarchy and Royal Aspirations cross,” Pitches said.

Bronnie and her daughter Grace.

“The first foal, Missalyssa is by Monarchy, and because I couldn’t get his semen anymore, I opted for the next best thing which is Royal Aspirations.

“I love him. He did a huge job on the racetrack, and I think he will be an even better sire. I’ll keep going back to him. I’m dedicated.

“In fact, the mare is in foal to Royal Aspirations again. I just had that confirmed,” Pitches added.

If you thought that praise for Royal Aspirations and Uramao was big then, read what Pitches had to say about Faulks.

“He’s like family now. We have got to know each other real well since Missalyssa started racing in his colours. He’s a heart-of-the-earth genuine bloke who looks after my horses like they are pets.

“Even though he’s a bloody good farrier, I believe he’s an even better horseman. Andrew is one of the best going around. He gives so much attention to detail. I was so pleased to see him in the bike behind ‘Gracie’ the other day.

“There’s nothing I enjoy more than sharing a victory with Andrew. He’s quality,” Pitches said.

Pitches owns the Uramao progeny outright, and when they not at the Faulks Burnham stable they are free to roam at Pitches picturesque 4ha property at Totara, just south of Oamaru.