Birthday boy, Frank Cooper delighted with Pixie
By Duane Ranger
Te Awamutu’s Frank Cooper
Te Awamutu breeder and retired kiwifruit ochardist, Frank Cooper, said the reason he bought into the family of Cambridge winner (July 6) – Pixie (Gold Ace) – was because of the strong maternal line.
“I bought Pixie’s great-grand-dam, Belle Amie (1989 Tuapeka Knight – Belle Direct – Tactile mare) at a Vance Lodge Dispersal Sale in Te Aroha in the mid-1990s.
“She was in foal to Sablevision and Liberty Belle (two wins) was the result. She is the grand-dam of Pixie. I thought $4,000 was a pretty good deal at the time
“Belle Amie had won four races and was trained by Trevor Payne. The Purdons (Roy and Barry) also trained her to win a fillies and mares race at Alexandra Park (March 25, 1994).
“I liked the fact that she was out of Tactile – Trusty Belle (Out To Win) ) three-win mare named Belle Direct. Over the years the family consistently left winners,” Cooper said on his 79th birthday (July 9).
“I did manage to breed the last foal from an unraced Belle Direct in 1990 – Vance Hanover mare named Mystical Belle. That’s what later got me interested in buying the foal before her, Belle Amie,” he added.
He said Belle Amie left six foals between 1995 and 2002, the best of them the 2000 Holmes Hanover gelding, Scapa, which won six races here and $62,690, before being sold to the United States, where he won several more races, and recorded a 1.49.2 mile.
“The $100,000 was just too good to turn down at the time (June 2006) and it helped us carry on the breed with decent stallions. It was so rewarding to see Scapa winning in America. He was a lovely pacer,” Cooper said.
Cooper said he then bred on from Belle Amie’s first foal, Liberty Belle, and she left five foals between 2004 and 2013.
He said only two raced and foal three – Pixel (2008 Holmes Hanover mare) was the only one to win a race. That being at Thames on June 22, 2012.
“Pixel was probably the best horse I’ve bred after Scapa. She had a lot of talent but got kicked in the wash-box one day and her knee never recovered after that.
“That was disappointing, so I put her to Sportswriter in 2015 and then the following year Gypsy was born. All up she’s left Glynyss (wife) and I three fillies, including foal, two, our most recent winner, Pixie.
Pixie is a 5-year-old Gold Ace mare owned and bred by the Coopers. Her one-and-three-quarter length victory in race five at Cambridge was her fourth in 30 starts. She’s also placed five times and banked just over $30,000 in purses.
Todd Mitchell does the training at Tauwhare, and Crystal Hackett was the driver. Pixie was the $4.60 second favourite.
“I’ve actually given the mare away to a lovely lady in Drury. Brad Mowbray actually had both Pixie and Gypsy when they were young. Brad still has Gypsy and has won a couple for owner, Glynyss Cooper.
“So, Pixie and our Sir Lincoln 2-year-old filly named Mi Sweetie, are all we have left from the mare. They will become broodmares one day, but whether it’s with us or not is a different story,” Cooper said.
Cooper said both he and Mitchell liked Pixie, saying she is better suited to the shorter 1,700m and 2,000m sprints.
“She loved Thursday’s 1,700m mobile, and even though she started from gate nine, she still returned some pretty impressive sectionals, including a 1:56.8-mile rate.”
Those sectionals were 58.5 and 28.8.
“Pixie is a real credit to Todd. It’s the first horse Todd has trained for us. He has done a wonderful job with our horse and continues to do so. He leaves nothing to chance and is very thorough.
“I would also like to applaud Crystal’s drive. I know she drove four winners on the night, but she couldn’t have driven Pixie any more perfect,” said Cooper.
As for Mi Sweetie?
“I really liked her from the moment she was born. She’s a slow mature so it would be six months to a year before I qualify her, but if I take my time and let her fill out, then I think she will develop into a nice pacer too.”
Cooper has worked in the orchard industry most of his life. He owned two large kiwifruit orchards in Tauranga and his hometown of Te Awamutu, where today he and Glynyss reside on 25 acres of farmland.