Johnson loving his breeding

3 Oct 2017

Like most breeders at this time of the year, New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Waikato branch member Ray Johnson is eagerly awaiting the arrival of a foal.

Johnson’s imminent arrival is by Swiss Ace out of the Stravinsky mare The Nightingale, and will thus be a half-sibling to the Singapore Derby and Kranji Mile winner Infantry and his stakes-performed sister Night Nurse.

Both those stakes performers are by boom Cambridge Stud stallion Tavistock and that is where The Nightingale is bound for this season.

Johnson is pretty excited about the recent results of both Infantry winning the Singapore-Gr.1 Kranji Mile and Night Nurse increasing her winning total to six with a recent win at Riccarton.

“It’s exciting planning matings and then waiting for the foals to come along and see what they can do,” Johnson said.

“I use Ken Beer a lot to help me with my matings and we are particularly excited about the Swiss Ace mating as it is very similar to that which produced the Gr.1 1000 Guineas runnerup in Bella Gioia and her stakes placed brother The Don.”

Johnson purchased The Nightingale from 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock Mixed Sale for a mere $500 in foal to Burgundy. That foal, now a rising two-year-old, was sold in a package of yearlings, which included youngsters byTavistock and Power, last year.

Johnson had previously purchased a racehorse from Cambridge Stud and struck up a relationship with stud manager Marcus Corban. He was in the market for another broodmare when Corban suggested he look at The Nightingale.

“I liked her pedigree and she had already left a winner. Marcus encouraged me to buy her on the basis that she had a couple of Tavistocks coming through, and look how well that has worked out,” Johnson said.

“This year when I was thinking about mating her I wasn’t sure what to do so I decided to discuss it with Marcus and we are headed back to Tavistock.”

Johnson, who is involved in the real estate industry, lives in Taupo on a lifestyle block where he keeps The Nightingale and his two other broodmares, including Miss Danni, a young Tavistock mare who was the original horse he purchased from Cambridge Stud.

The Nightingale was bred by Sir Patrick and Justine Lady Hogan, the registered breeders of Infantry.

She is out of the Sir Tristram mare Dawn Run, who won one race in Sydney before going to stud where she has left five winners including the Gr.2 Emancipation Stakes winner Beat The Fade, by Maroof, and the Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes winner Dawn Till Dusk, by Manntari.

The Nightingale hails from the same family as Major General mare Strong Queen, who won 16 races in Brisbane and was twice placed at Listed level, and 1973 Australian Horse of the Year Taj Rossi, who in the spring of that year won the Ascot Vale Stakes, Carrum Handicap, Moonee Valley Stakes, Cox Plate, Victoria Derby and the Sandown Guineas.

“Racing and breeding are something I enjoy, it’s a lot of fun, and you meet a hell of a lot of nice people especially at the sales," Johnson said.

"I get a real thrill out of Infantry winning even though I didn’t breed him and I am really excited about the foals I have coming this season. It’s all just fun and I enjoy doing it.” – Michelle Saba,