Wildfire lights up Melton

By Peter Wharton

Steve and Anne Phillips have bred and raised a host of top flight performers over the years, originally at Pukekohe and more recently, in the Waikato district.

The list includes the Victoria Cup winner Brabham, former NZ 2YO of the Year Motoring Magic, the Victoria Derby winner Rare Gem and his half-sister Ebony Gem (Chariots of Fire) and the dual NZ Winter Cup winner Waitfornoone.

Like a Wildfire
(c) Stuart McCormick

And, you can add Like A Wildfire to that list, too.

The seven-year-old Big Jim gelding gave a sample of his class when he sat outside Inter Dominion finalist and Victoria Cup runner-up Triple Eight in the Italian Cup at Melton last Saturday and won by open lengths.

It followed tough wins earlier in the season in the $50,000 Terang Pacing Cup and the $30,000 The Pure Steel (Melton) and placings in the $100,000 Schweppes Sprint (Menangle) and $100,000 Tasmanian Easter Cup.

From 10 starts this season, Like A Wildfire has won five and been three times placed for $119,680 in stakes.

His lifetime tally stands at $252,969.

“He’s so honest. He seems to be improving each season,” Phillips, a former Harness Racing NZ board member, said.

“He’s right up there with the best ones we’ve bred.”

Like A Wildfire was gotten by the Western Ideal horse Big Jim (1:49.2) from the D M Dilinger mare Against The Wind, who took a record of 1:59 as a two-year-old.

“She was trained for us by Geoff Small and was quite a smart filly,” Steve stated.

Besides Like A Wildfire, Against The Wind, who won three races, left two high class pacers in Pass Them By 1:51.8 ($419,261), a winner of 21 races in NZ, Victoria and North America, and Neon Sky 1:53 ($194,008), who won 20 races including the Newcastle Oaks, and others in Seger (1:59.2) and Don’t Back Down (2:00.6).

Against The Wind was a half-sister to a fine racemare, Pullover Brown 1:56.7 ($311,937), a triple Oaks winner and Breeders Crown champion who, in turn, was the dam of Runaway Bay 1:52.6 ($329,435), Dina Bolt 1:50.6 ($173,621) and Dina Brown 1:52.4 ($113,412), all pacers of some worth.

A half-brother to Against The Wind was the speed merchant Montecito, a winner of 12 races in NZ and who later took a record of 1:49.4 in America and finished up with a stake tally of $522,723.

Their dam, the Fitch II mare Dinavinetto, was bred from by the Phillips and Alabar boss Graeme Henley before being sold to Cavallo Bloodstock. In all, she left 10 foals for six winners including five in 2:00 and two qualifiers.