The ‘General’ is good but sibling is Bettor!

By Peter Wharton

A family founded in the 1950’s by the Dillon Hall mare Margaret Hall continues to be a consistent source of winners for the well known Bagrie family, of Kaiapoi, in the Canterbury district.

“My grandfather Bill Bagrie bought Margaret Hall in foal to U Scott for 500 guineas at an all aged sale in Christchurch,” Tom Bagrie said.

Valiant Heart and her Bettor’s Delight colt with Peter and Anne Bagrie

“The first foal she had for him was Kinsella, who won seven races, and the next one was Orbiter.

“Orbiter took my grandparents on a hell of a journey. They sold him to America and bought the family farm where I train from now.”

Orbiter won 17 races in New Zealand including the 1963 Kaikoura Cup, the 1964 Hannon Memorial and the 1965 Easter Free-for-all and, at one stage, held the national mile race record at 1:58.8. He later competed with real distinction in North America and finished up with a stake tally of $380,894.

Meanwhile, Kinsella, the dam of seven winners, established a very strong branch of the Estella Amos tribe.

Tom’s parents Peter and Anne Bagrie have continued to breed from this line with fine success.

“Dad has had a lot of fun with this family,” Tom said. “He’s kept the majority of the fillies all the way through and has sold some of the boys through the sales.”

The family has made headlines recently through the deeds of the progeny of the Soky’s Atom mare Valiant Heart, a great granddaughter of Kinsella.

In a decorated career Valiant Heart won four races in NZ, 10 in Victoria including five at Moonee Valley and 19 in America. She took a record of 1:50.6 and had $633,920 on her card.

“Valiant Heart was a great mare. Dad bought her back from a mares’ sale in New Jersey and then brought her home,” Tom stated.

“She was an older horse when she finished racing and didn’t have a lot of foals.”

“Bettor’s Heart was the best one out of her. She won the NSW Ladyship Mile (in 1:49.7) and was named the NZ Aged Mare of the Year in 2020,” Tom said.

“Dad sent her himself to America to ‘Nifty’’ Norman. She did a pretty good job over there, winning more than $300,000.

“She’s in foal to Captaintreacherous now.”

Five Star General (by Art Major) is the second best foal out of Valiant Heart, according to Tom.

Five Star General in Western Australia
Credit // RWWA

The gelding won three races for Peter Bagrie before being sold to Western Australia in 2021.

The seven-year-old has won a further 10 races including eight at Gloucester Park and has lifted his stake tally to $182,032.

“He did a good job for us. Robbie Williams paid good money for him and has taken him to another level,” Tom said.

Others from Valiant Heart have been The General (by Christian Cullen), a winner of eight races in NZ, NSW and Queensland, Valiant Angel, a winner on the grass at Methven and now at the stud, and Military Girl, who debuted at Methven recently.

“Military Girl is certainly no champion but she might win a couple,” Tom said.

Valiant Heart’s last foal is a two-year-old colt by Bettor’s Delight and thus a brother to Bettor’s Heart.

“We’ve given him about a month’s work. We’re hoping he’ll do a job one day,” Tom stated.

Valiant Heart was 27 when she produced him.

Field Officer, who won the 2013 Rangiora Classic and the Gold Coast Cup, and Montana Vance, a winner of six Group races including the 1992 NZ Sires’ Stakes 2YO Championship and the 1994 Messenger were among the other top performers bred by Peter Bagrie.